Making Risk Routine
“Philanthropy is risk capital.”
If you work in philanthropy, you’ve likely heard that phrase many times. But a survey conducted by Open Road Alliance in 2015 clearly showed that as a sector, we’re not great about discussing risk, with 76 percent of funders reporting that they don’t ask grantees to talk about project risks in proposals. The survey data are further described in the introduction by Laurie Michaels and Judith Rodin to a special SSIR supplement on risk being published today. A Risk Toolkit put out by The Commons (a task force consisting of leading practitioners from every facet of the philanthropy marketplace working to examine ways to meet the challenge of managing for risk) offers plenty of insights into how to have those conversations at multiple levels—internally with boards and staff members, externally with grantees and partners, in requests for proposals and in monitoring and evaluation processes.