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

  • Charitable Grants will only be offered to organizations responding directly to COVID-19 that are also demonstrating how their intervention moves towards longer term adaptation and systemic/sustainable impact beyond the immediate outbreak.
  • Eligible organizations must be one of the following:
    • A US-registered 501c3 nonprofit in good standing
    • A for-profit social enterprise or foreign charity with a US-registered charitable fiscal sponsor/partner organization in good standing (501c3, Private Foundation, DAF, etc.)
    • A foreign-registered charity able to successfully complete an equivalency determination (ED) process. (Note: Disbursement of funds may be delayed until the ED process is complete)


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

Direct COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 continues to bring great uncertainty to the social impact sector. The situation continues to evolve rapidly with no end in sight while, simultaneously, a ‘new normal’ gradually emerges. As the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 promise to be a permanent fixture of our world, ‘flattening the curve’ is increasingly dependent on adapting for the long term as well as responding to immediate and short-term needs.

In light of this shift, as of May 18, Open Road Alliance is updating our grant criteria to focus on supporting organizations that are responding directly to COVID-19 and can also demonstrate how their intervention moves towards longer term adaptation and systemic/sustainable impact beyond the immediate outbreak. We believe this step will not only hold the line of impact from our collective efforts, but will also build on these efforts with the vigilance and ingenuity required to support communities to emerge stronger from this crisis.

Who: For organizations engaging in direct COVID-19 response. We will prioritize organizations and activities that move towards longer term adaptation and systemic/sustainable impact beyond the immediate outbreak.

What: Charitable Grants for organizations whose work meets the following criteria:

    • Up to $100,000 USD
    • Mid-implementation – programs that are otherwise fully funded (not pilot projects)
    • One-time cash need – well-defined discrete funding need (not pooled funds)
    • Prioritizing clear, demonstrable, and deep impact that
      • Can demonstrate clear potential to ‘flatten the curve’; AND
      • Supports longer-term societal and economic adaptation beyond the immediate outbreak
    • Any geography and any sector
    • Preference for organizations/interventions operating at scale or systems-change

Apply 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.