1 in 5 projects encounter unexpected obstacles
83% of funders don't budget for contingencies
48% of non-profits are uncomfortable talking to their funders about risk

Risk & Philanthropy

The world is unpredictable. However, the philanthropic financial market is not structured to deal with the unexpected.

No industry standards currently exist for discussing, assessing, or planning for risk in philanthropy. Few grantmakers assess risk during the grant application process, and even fewer have processes in place to respond to anticipatable risks once a project is underway. The problem is not that philanthropists consciously seek to avoid risk; in fact research shows that funders often describe themselves as risk-taking. The problem is that, without the appropriate structures in place, philanthropy’s noble intention to take risks for the common good remains largely a noble intention. Without taking steps to accurately identify, understand, and manage risk, philanthropy’s ability to play the risk-taking role it has set itself is severely limited. By the same token, foundations have a significant opportunity to increase the impact of their grantmaking by taking concrete steps to proactively identify, measure, and mitigate risk.

Through research, collaboration, and advocacy, Open Road Alliance hopes to solve this gap in practice by providing tools, templates, and best practices for risk management in philanthropy.

 

Research

Tools & Templates

Stories of Risk Management in Action

In addition to this work, we provide the necessary, fast, flexible capital to help organizations overcome the unexpected.

OR In The News

News / Sep. 19, 2017
What It Takes to Be a Leader: Advice From People at the Top
by Drew Lindsay
Recent Chronicle profiles of top charity and foundation executives offer insights into effective leadership — and a few pieces of advice. Think Big In 2013, Patty Stonesifer (profiled in August) left her post as CEO of the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest grant maker, to run Martha’s Table, a small... Read more »
News / Jul. 14, 2017
Devex
Q&A: How a new toolkit is helping nonprofits budget for risk
by Catherine Cheney
An interview with Open Road's Executive Director, Maya Winkelstein.
News / May. 24, 2017
The Rockefeller Foundation
Making Risk Routine
by Pam Foster & Ellen Taus
“Philanthropy is risk capital.” If you work in philanthropy, you’ve likely heard that phrase many times. But a survey conducted by Open Road Alliance in 2015 clearly showed that as a sector, we’re not great about discussing risk, with 76 percent of funders reporting that they don’t ask grantees to talk... Read more »
News / May. 19, 2017
SSIR
Navigating Risk in Impact-Focused Philanthropy
This special supplement in Stanford Social Innovation Review, produced by Open Road Alliance in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, examines the concept of risk in philanthropy, providing insights, examples, and practical steps to help philanthropists better account for and manage risk as an integral part of the grantmaking process.

 

New in

The Foundation Review

Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking

(free and available to the public)

Read Here