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.

Format
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.

 

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 / Dec. 10, 2018
The Center for Effective Philanthropy
A Failure to Communicate
by Maya Winkelstein
If good communication is a bridge where funders and grantees have to meet halfway, it’s actually up to the foundations to take the first step.
News / Nov. 16, 2018
The Nonprofit Leadership Podcast
Podcast: How a philanthropic initiative is providing reliable funding to help nonprofits move forward
by Dr. Rob Harter & Caroline Bressan
Open Road's Director or Social Investments, Caroline Bressan, is interviewed on the Nonprofit Leadership Podcast.
News / Sep. 28, 2018
Bloomberg
The Psychologist Staking $50 Million to Help Cure a Blind Spot for Philanthropists
by Tom Metcalf
Laurie Michaels, Maya Winkelstein, and Caroline Bressan spoke with Bloomberg to discuss Open Road Alliance and the first $10 million in loans via Open Road Ventures.
News / Jul. 20, 2018
Podcast: Open Road Alliance Helps Nonprofits Address What Can Go Wrong
This week’s Business of Giving features Maya Winkelstein, executive director of Open Road Alliance, which aims to bring conversations about risk to the forefront in philanthropy. Seventy-six percent of grant makers the organization interviewed said they do not ask charities at any time during their application process what could go... Read more »