Most traditional grantmaking programs have inflexible, restrictive, slow, and unwieldy procedures for releasing funds. Many do not provide funds outside of their fixed grant cycles at all. These practices leave grantmakers unprepared to help non-profits who need funds quickly to manage contingencies. This structure leaves well-conceived programs with little or no access to capital when unanticipated obstacles are encountered mid-implementation.
The result? Many projects stall or stop completely. Alternatively, the implementing NGO pushes forward on insufficient resources or diverts other allocated funds to the detriment of efficiency, effectiveness, and ultimately impact.
The funders who invested in the project at the outset forfeit their social return alongside the non-profits and beneficiaries who may suffer even more severely. In a community of philanthropists seeking to maximize impact through deploying capital, this structure is a poor investment proposition, and one that we can change.
This page offers potential solutions in the form of tools and templates that any foundation can download, print, and bring to their next Board or staff meeting.
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.
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