Open Road Alliance is pleased to announce a new fund, Open Road Ventures, which will disburse at least $50 Million in loans to nonprofits and social enterprises over the next five years. Open Road Ventures (ORV) is Open Road’s latest instrument to “keep impact on track” in the social sector.

In 2017, Open Road piloted ORV’s loan fund with an initial investment of $5 Million in order to test the demand for one-time bridge and working capital loans in the social sector. Based on the Fund’s early success, ORV is scaling its fund to help nonprofits and social enterprises overcome discrete and unexpected obstacles. Loans are offered at below market-rates and available to organizations of any size. Open Road Alliance is currently accepting unsolicited inquiries for both charitable grants and ORV loans. Additional information on funding criteria and application process is available at www.openroadalliance.org
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Open Road Alliance?

Established in 2012, Open Road Alliance is a philanthropic initiative that serves the social sector by keeping impact on track in an unpredictable world. Open Road provides short-term solutions by disbursing fast grants and loans to nonprofits and social enterprises facing discrete, unexpected roadblocks during project implementation. It also conducts research and advocates for the adoption of long-term, system-wide risk management practices across the social sector.

What is Open Road Ventures (ORV)?

Open Road Ventures is a fund established by Open Road Alliance to disburse below market-rate loans. While ORV is a legally independent entity, it is wholly managed by Open Road in accordance with our philanthropic mission.

The loan fund is designed to break even, covering the costs of any potential losses. Any income generated from interest will be used as reserves to absorb future losses. No earnings will be distributed to investors.

Tell me more about ORV’s $50 million commitment.

In 2017, Open Road piloted ORV’s loan fund with an initial investment of $5 million in order to test the demand for one-time bridge and working capital loans in the social sector. Based on the Fund’s early success, Open Road is scaling the ORV fund to help nonprofits and social enterprises overcome discrete and unexpected obstacles.

Scaling the fund in 2018 will allow ORV to disburse up to $50 million in loans over the next five years.

This commitment will enable Open Road to solve for the immediate cash flow needs of nonprofits and social enterprises, enabling organizations to keep impact on track despite the unexpected. The expansion of the loan fund also serves as evidence of the overwhelming demand for fast, flexible, creative funding mechanisms in the social sector. To this end, Open Road encourages other foundations and impact investors to develop their own flexible funding mechanisms to better serve the needs of nonprofits and social enterprises working for impact.

Who are/is the investor(s)?

Open Road Alliance and Open Road Ventures are solely and privately funded by its Founder, Dr. Laurie Michaels.

Why loans?

After five years of funding nonprofits and social enterprises facing roadblocks, we’ve learned a lot about “what goes wrong” during project implementation and what organizations need to overcome those barriers.

From observation, empirical data, and many, many conversations with our social impact partners, we’ve realized that oftentimes the problem is not a lack of money in general, but a lack of money NOW. In other words, whatever the cause of the problem, the result in financial terms is simply a cash-flow issue. In these cases, additional funding is coming – whether through a committed grant, equity raise, confirmed sales, or other source – but it is not coming quickly enough to address the problem at hand. As such, these organizations need a financial bridge – a loan – to keep impact on track while waiting for the additional, committed funds. Once those pre-identified funds come in, Open Road is paid back.

In addition to loans, Open Road also continues to make charitable grants to both nonprofits and social enterprises in cases where an organization does not have committed revenue or expected income.

By establishing a loan fund, Open Road is able to generate greater impact as the funds are recycled over and over to multiple organizations pursuing their social missions. Serving more organizations ultimately means more impact across the sector.

Who is eligible for a loan?

Open Road is sector (issue area) and geographically agnostic and serves both nonprofits and for-profit social enterprises of any size. Our funds are only used to support mid-implementation projects overcome unexpected obstacles. To learn more about our criteria, please visit our investments page.

How can my organization apply for funding?

Please see our investments page to learn more about our criteria and how to apply for both loans and grants.

Do you charge interest? Why?

Loans are offered at below market-rates,ranging from 0-7%, to serve as a bridge or working capital. The average loan term is 12 months, with a range of 45 days to two years. By charging interest at below-market rates Open Road is able to preserve the value of its capital in the face of inflation, as well as cover expected losses. The loan fund is not designed to generate profits and does not distribute earnings or dividends to investors.

Why five years? What happens after that?

We all retire.

Just kidding! Open Road is committed to keeping impact on track. As long as we are able to pursue that mission we will continue our work using all the tools and resources at our disposal. To stay abreast of our latest developments, you can join our mailing list here.

I want to learn more/get involved.

We are always looking to partner and collaborate with others seeking social impact. Here’s a few ways to learn more:

• Check out our Risk Management Toolkit and let us know what you think at [email protected].
• Request a speaking engagement/learning session for your organization.
• Learn more about risk in philanthropy. Review our research here.
• Take our survey: https://goo.gl/goGwGv (nonprofits); https://goo.gl/4cST7a (funders)
We’re hiring an Investment Officer

Want to connect? Click below to email us:

I want to apply for funding.
• I am a funder/investor and want to learn more or refer organizations your way.
• I am a member of the media/press.
• Can you come to our conference/event?
• I love what you do and just want to learn more!