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

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.

Format
Risk Management Cycle

Tools

Open Road Resource
How to Build Contingency Protocols
This document outlines specific steps funders should consider when building out their contingency protocols.
Open Road Resource
Risk in Philanthropy Matrix
To help both grantmakers and NGOs better identify, assess, mitigate, and plan for risk in their portfolios, Open Road Alliance offers the following framework for evaluating risk.
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 / Apr. 8, 2019
Fast Company
2019 World Changing Ideas Awards
Open Road's loan fund, Open Road Ventures, was recognized in the category of General Excellence in Fast Company's 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards.
News / Mar. 13, 2019
ImpactAlpha
Broaden the talent pool and cultivate an “impact mindset” as a competitive advantage
by Caroline Bressan
Our Director of Social Investments, Caroline Bressan, was featured in ImpactAlpha where she shares three priorities for talent development in the impact investing space so that we collectively move towards a fairer market.
News / Feb. 18, 2019
Your Mark on the World
Your Mark on the World: Open Road Alliance Funds Solutions To Roadblocks In Social Projects
by Devin Thorpe
Watch Maya Winkelstein and Caroline Bressan interviewed on Devin Thrope's "Your Mark on the World."
News / Jan. 18, 2019
Alliance Magazine
The world is unpredictable, funder-grantee relationships don’t have to be
by Maya Winkelstein
The top three causes of funder-created roadblocks — and some suggestions on how to avoid them.