In a community of philanthropists seeking maximum impact, we believe that traditional funding structures and attitudes have room to improve.

Browse this page for case studies, stories and perspectives on risk in philanthropy.

Risk Management Cycle

Perspectives on Risk in Philanthropy

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.
Open Road Resource
Accountability: The Golden Opportunity in Impact Investing
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Resource
The “Other” Investment Policy Statement
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Resource
Philanthropy Lessons: Risk and Mistakes [Video]
This video is one of the newest videos released by Exponent Philanthropy as part of their series Philanthropy Lessons.
Open Road Resource
How to Find Breakthrough Ideas
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Resource
Expanding your comfort zone: Managing risk
This post was originally featured on National Center for Family Philanthropy.
Open Road Resource
Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Resource
What Are the Five Most Common Traps I Should Avoid in My Philanthropy?
This post was originally featured on Bridgespan.
Open Road Resource
The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle
This post was originally featured on Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Open Road Alliance
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. 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.
News / Feb. 23, 2018
Fast Company
When Nonprofits Have A Financial Emergency, There’s Now A Fund To Bail Them Out
by Ben Paytner
Open Road Alliance knows disaster is just one missed donation away for many nonprofits. Now it’s offering a lifeline.
News / Feb. 23, 2018
Open Road Alliance expands working-capital loan fund for social-sector organizations
by Dennis Price
The fund is designed to help organizations withstand one-time cash crunches
Open Road Ventures will disburse $50 million in loans to nonprofits and social enterprises over the next five years. Open Road Ventures (ORV) is Open Road’s latest instrument to “keep impact on track” in the social sector.
Continue to Open Road's Homepage Learn More About Open Road Ventures