Having Achieved Project Goals, Nonprofits Close Doors

A few nonprofits have recently announced plans to cease operations not because they were having financial problems but because they had nearly completed their missions, the New York Times reports.

While the number of nonprofits accomplishing their ultimate goal and shutting down is too small to be considered a trend, it is still a notable contrast to the larger number of organizations that are forced to close down for financial reasons. Executives who have closed successful nonprofits told the Times that the feeling of pride in achieving the organization's goals outweighs any potential regrets about shutting the doors, and employees are hopeful that their involvement with proven organizations will make the search for a new job easier.

In light of the significant drop in mortality rates over the past decade, Malaria No More, a popular nonprofit that provides bed nets in malaria zones, announced that it expects to shut down by 2015. In New York City, Out2Play has nearly exhausted the number of public elementary schools in New York City where it can build playgrounds. Established in 2005, the organization has built roughly 120 playgrounds serving some 80,000 children, and plans to build 40 more before it closes.

Water Advocates, which shut its doors at the end of 2010, raised more than $100 million since 2005 to help boost awareness of water issues. According to David Douglas, one of its founders, knowing that the organization was going to close helped it foster collaboration among various groups. In England, the Otto Schiff Housing Association — established in 1933 to provide housing for Jews displaced due to Nazi persecution — has been selling off its assets and handing over operations to other organizations as demographic factors lead to a dwindling client base.

In the end, some organizations are able to declare victory and move on to other challenges, which are never in short supply. "I don't think it's going to be a widespread phenomenon because there are a lot of groups taking on problems like alcoholism and domestic violence that aren't problems that go away," said Jan Masaoka, director and editor of the Blue Avocado blog about community-based nonprofits. "But I do see that in some cases there is an opportunity for organizations to wind down gracefully and with their job done."

Stephanie Strom. "Mission Accomplished, Nonprofits Go Out of Business." New York Times 04/01/2011.