In this time of uncertainty, nonprofits and social enterprises are being hit hard. Many of you have reached out to Open Road directly to share how COVID-19 is already impacting your organization and work.

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the impact sector has reached natural disaster proportions in its scope and scale, which means that the global need for our ‘emergency’ capital vastly outstrips our available resources. Given this reality, we have decided to use our limited resources to best serve the sector under the following circumstances:

Charitable Grants

  • As of June 2020, we updated our grantmaking process to reflect our original criteria with our broader focus on keeping impact on track, beyond just flattening the curve. Details provided below.


Open Road will be offering four loan products to organizations affected by COVID-19:

    • Lost Event Revenue
    • Accelerating Incoming Emergency Funds
    • Co-investment to Support Social Enterprises
    • Deep Impact Loans

As always, all of our grant and loan products will be subject to Open Road’s traditional criteria:

We only make a loan or grant to an organization that is (1) otherwise fully funded, then (2) hit an unexpected, external roadblock (i.e., COVID-19), where (3) Open Road’s loan can fully solve the problem at hand and (4) demonstrate the potential to create catalytic impact. In this time of exceptional need, we will be prioritizing impact.

Charitable Grants

JUNE 2020

As we continue to see our grantees rise to the challenge of COVID-19, we understand that nearly 5 months into this pandemic, the reality and effects of COVID-19 are our new normals. As we frequently say, the world is unpredictable, and our strength doesn’t just come from how we endure through our uncertain times, but more importantly how we adapt and evolve to our ever changing world with intelligence and resilience. Through this shift we are readapting our grantmaking process to reflect our original criteria with our broader focus on keeping impact on track, beyond just flattening the curve. Urgent work around the world continues and applications will now be evaluated against our original criteria, as outlined below. We invite any and all eligible organizations that meet this criteria to apply.

Open Road makes one-time grants for discrete solutions that help projects overcome unexpected roadblocks. We have no sector or geographic focus, but rather all situations must meet the following four criteria to be eligible for an investment:

  • Mid-Implementation: If not for this roadblock your organization wouldn’t need funding – all of the necessary operating funds for the year/period/grant were secured, and then something unexpected occurred necessitating additional funding.
  • Unexpected: The roadblock experienced must be unexpected – it cannot be the result of an internal error or pivot but rather something external to the organization.
  • Discrete: The solution to your roadblock must be discrete, requiring a one-time infusion of funds that is not recurring, and does not “kick the can down the road.” We want to fully solve the problem at hand.
  • Catalytic: The organization’s impact model must have the potential to be system-changing, either in design or scale, creating an amplifier or multiplier effect.

For more about our charitable grants click here.

Open Road Alliance


Lost Event Revenue

Organizations with annual revenue UNDER $1 million:

Open Road will offer a one-time, fixed, low-interest, $50,000 loan to organizations that are rescheduling/postponing their fundraising events until later this year. Loan criteria and terms include:

    • $50,000 loan to organizations with annual revenues of $1 million or less
    • 1-2% simple interest
    • Final principal repayment due by December 31, 2020

To be eligible, the event in question must:

    • Be postponed – not cancelled
    • Have a new, confirmed date with appropriate confirmations from venue, host committee, etc.
    • Have a track record of successful fundraising performance in the past two years

Organizations with annual revenues OVER $1 million:

Organizations with annual revenues over $1 million that are facing a similar cash crunch from rescheduled/postponed events may apply for a larger loan up to $250,000 and will follow our existing underwriting process. Apply Here.

Accelerating Incoming Emergency Funds

Terms: Low-interest, 3-6 month loans up to $1 million with an average loan size of $500,000.

Target Partners: DFIs, governments, multilaterals and other institutional donors, as well as frontline organizations approved to receive emergency funding from these or similar entities.

Purpose: During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, it took some health organizations on the ground 45 days to receive funding due to delays in government and institutional mechanisms for providing emergency relief. In this environment, timing is critical. The difference of days can have a significant negative impact on both an organization, and the people they serve.

Our bridge loans can accelerate incoming funds from other investors or donors who can’t move as quickly as us, which we hope will prevent delays similar to the 2014 Ebola outbreak. We are looking to work with government and DFI partners to accelerate their committed emergency funding into the bank accounts of social enterprises and nonprofits. Through our existing relationships and underwriting model, we have created a streamlined process that allows us to fully process applications within a two week period and disburse funds 48 hours following approval. Apply Here.

Co-Investing to Support Social Enterprises

Terms: Low-interest, 1-12 month loans up to $500,000.

Target Partner: Impact investing funds, both equity and longer-term debt funds that have deep relationships with their portfolio companies.

Purpose: We recognize that many of our peers are also stepping up to support their portfolios during this crisis. We also know that many of these social enterprises will need additional support to weather the storm.

We will take referrals from existing investors, and expect to share the risk of keeping these portfolio companies afloat through a co-investment strategy. For these loans, we will bridge to future committed funding or delays in accounts receivable, equipment, etc. where the organization’s cash flow is typically strong enough to repay within a 12-month period. By combining forces with other investors, we will also be able to solve for larger short-term financing gaps. Apply Here.

Deep Impact Loans

Terms: Low-interest, 1-18 month loans up to $250,000.

Target Partner: Organizations that deliver vital community services.

Purpose: We recognize that not every situation will tie up neatly into a clear future cash flow. There are situations where simply “holding the line” of impact is deeply important. These are scenarios where clear and lasting damage will be done to the wider health of the community if a given organization does not stay afloat through this crisis. Potential areas of deep impact could include health care supplies, the safety of food chains, or critical communication services that allow frontline workers to share information.

These loans will also require an initial referral from an existing investor. Apply Here.