Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Shelley Whelpton, Arabella Advisors ; Maya Winkelstein, Open Road Alliance

Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.

In 2015, the Open Road Alliance surveyed hundreds of funders and grantees to explore questions about risk and contingency funding. The next year, Open Road partnered with Arabella Advisors for a qualitative analysis of existing foundation policies and procedures related to risk. The combined results suggest a need for contingency funding – and a lack among most funders and nonprofits of the basic structures, systems, and policies to address risk, which in turn leads to a breakdown in communication between funders and grantees.

The world is unpredictable; no amount of planning can prevent disruption by unscripted events. This article, through quantitative and qualitative research coupled with illustrative case studies, highlights the importance of risk management and encourages its adoption throughout the philanthropic sector.

More Perspectives on Risk in Philanthropy Resources

View All Perspectives on Risk in Philanthropy Resources
Open Road Resource
Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking
Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.
Open Road Resource
A Call for Nonprofit Risk Management
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Resource
Impact Investing: What Do Emerging Social Entrepreneurs Really Need?
This post was originally featured on Forbes.
Open Road Resource
Contingency Strategies, Mitigation Strategies
About Open Road
Watch this short 3-minute video to learn more about what Open Road does, and why we do it.

More Research Resources

View All Research Resources
Open Road Resource
Risk in Philanthropy: A Framework for Evaluation
This brief framework is designed to provide grantmakers and NGOs with tools to conceptualize and describe risk and its implications within the scope of their philanthropic work.
Open Road Resource
Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking
Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.
Open Road Resource
Risk in Philanthropy: Funders Don't Ask & Non-Profits Don't Tell (2015 Survey Report)
In 2015, Open Road Alliance conducted a 400-respondent survey designed to look at the frequency of need for contingency funding as reported by Funders and Grantees. This is what we found.
Open Road Resource
2015 Survey: Annotated Data
In 2015, Open Road Alliance conducted a 400-respondent survey designed to look at the frequency of need for contingency funding as reported by Funders and Grantees. The survey was designed to explore questions about risk and contingency funding. Here's a look at our annotated data.

More Tools Resources

View All Tools Resources
Open Road Resource
Risk in Philanthropy: A Framework for Evaluation
This brief framework is designed to provide grantmakers and NGOs with tools to conceptualize and describe risk and its implications within the scope of their philanthropic work.
Open Road Resource
Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking
Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.
Open Road Resource
Contingency Strategies, Mitigation Strategies
How to Build Effective Funder-Grantee Relationships
One of the most fundamental aspects of risk management lies within the funder-grantee relationship itself. Use this tool to build transparency and trust between funders and nonprofits.
Open Road Resource
Group of business people having a business meeting
How to Implement Non-Financial Risk Mitigation Strategies
Financial support is not the only way to mitigate risk, and it is not necessarily the most effective measure in every circumstance. This document outlines non- nancial strategies that funders could consider pursuing to partner with grantees in addressing and mitigating risks.

 

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