Phase 3 - Contract

3.6 Develop your exit strategy

SIBs are often billed as more sustainable than other types of funding: in the long-term, because of cost-savings, the commissioner may decide to integrate this intervention into their standard programme of service delivery, allocating regular sums of money to this type of work. You may hope that the contract will be extended in the meantime.

Of course, neither of these may happen, so it is good practice to discuss ‘legacy’ from the beginning of delivery rather than waiting until the final year. If this becomes a regular discussion point, consider including it as a standing agenda item for board meetings.

Case study : ThinkForward and the importance of an exit strategy

Running a five-year programme and enrolling new young people each year, ThinkForward planned to continue its intervention after its three year DWP contract concluded.

In the last year of the SIB, they began working to secure additional philanthropic funding as a bridge to further statutory funding opportunities. Work with some cohorts of young people was therefore still funded by DWP as new cohorts started under new philanthropic funding.

There was a short hiatus after the SIB contract that created an opportunity to reconsider their positioning. No longer bound by DWP’s requirements, ThinkForward’s board, coaches, and management team undertook a new theory of change to re-evaluate how they could best serve their beneficiaries, and which outcomes made most sense for them to work towards.

At the same time, new funders also had different ideas about the outcomes that they wanted to see, along with fewer requirements for outcome evidence. The management team had to set up a new performance management system to adapt to this funding shift. As the original system had been attached to the SIB, a standard way of operating to drive outcomes was not integrated into ThinkForward’s culture. In transitioning out of the SIB, they have had to refocus energy on data collection and performance management to build this capacity across the organisation.


Have you thought through the various scenarios that would cause the programme to stop mid-delivery? It’s best if possible to be prepared and develop an exit strategy for each of those scenarios. How will you continue to engage with your partners if this happens?

Thinking about an exit:

“When you go into your last year you're already thinking 'What's my resource mix going to be? What's the shortfall that I need to make up?'. You don't want to have more staff on your books than you can afford.”

– SIB Provider
Next: 3.7 Engage legal support