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 / Nov. 16, 2017
GrantCraft
What We’ve Learned After Five Years of Risk Management in Philanthropy
by Laurie Michaels
Laurie Michaels is Founder of Open Road Alliance, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary. This article is the first in a four-part series sharing what Open Road 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. This series will include findings from Open Road’s research and practical guidance on best practices for managing risk in order to maximize impact in philanthropy.
News / Nov. 14, 2017
Global Development Incubator
5 Minutes with a Social Agitator – Caroline Bressan of Open Road Alliance on fast, flexible contingency funding in the philanthropic sector
by Mckinley Sherrod
Interview with Open Road's Director of Social Investments, Caroline Bressan, by Global Development Incubator.
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.

 

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The Foundation Review

Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking

(free and available to the public)

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