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.



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 / Apr. 23, 2018
Nonprofit AF
Funders, your “wait and see” approach is killing nonprofits during leadership transitions
by Vu Le
This week, I read the Road Block Analysis Report by the Open Road Alliance that shows that the biggest barrier nonprofits face is…our very own funders. In fact, according to the executive summary.
News / Apr. 20, 2018
Fast Company
How Funders Often Hurt The Nonprofits They Are Trying To Help
by Ben Paytner
A new report finds that the largest cause of damage to nonprofits’ missions is the demands of the people funding the projects.
News / Apr. 12, 2018
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Foundations Are Often to Blame for Charities’ Financial Emergencies
by Drew Lindsay
When foundations try to identify obstacles to a grantee’s success, they had better look in the mirror. That’s according to a new analysis of 102 nonprofit projects that ran into trouble and required cash. Grant makers, government agencies, and other donors were to blame for the disruption in nearly half of these cases, often because they changed their funding strategy or delayed promised money.
News / Mar. 5, 2018
The Next Five Years: Three Reasons We Must Adapt
by Maya Winkelstein
This article is the final in a four-part series sharing what Open Road Alliance has learned about risk management in philanthropy and how the organization has evolved over the past five years to better address the need for fast, flexible contingency funding in the sector.