Shortly after Open Road Alliance began making grants in 2012, we started to detect a pattern. Despite the fact that we were making grants in all sectors, across all geographies, to organizations with annual budgets ranging from under $1 million to over $50 million, we noticed that organizations were encountering the same “roadblocks” over and over again. As a nascent “emergency room of impact,” we were surprised that organizations with such different variables were running into the same challenges. The more we saw, the more we wanted to know, why?

Answering this question marked the beginning of a journey for Open Road into what we now call Risk Management in Philanthropy. In short, the common denominator across all those “emergency room” visits was that their philanthropic funders did not sufficiently consider, understand, and/or plan for risk.

To address this root cause, we’ve spent the last seven years conducting research and advocating the adoption of long-term, system-wide risk management practices across the social sector. We are proud of our work and the changes we see in foundations large and small.

Perhaps the most significant evidence of our success to date is that organizations across the spectrum are engaging in a meaningful conversation around risk as an essential and necessary component of effective grantmaking. As much as we have poured into creating a standard practice around this work, in recent years, we have also realized that the mainstreaming of risk management will only be successful when it is an open-source community of practice for all. As we approach our 10-year anniversary in 2022, it is time for Open Road to pass the torch to our peers, our grantees, and to you, our community, to carry this conversation forward.

On October 12, we launched a new e-course in partnership with Candid, “Risk & Reward: Safeguarding Impact in an Uncertain World,” sharing all our lessons about risk over the years. We also partnered with Spring Impact to create and launch a self-diagnostic tool designed to assess a foundation’s risk preparedness. Together, these offerings will give our peers in the philanthropic community the tools, lessons, and resources needed to carry their practice of risk management in philanthropy forward.

A movement can never be owned by one organization. While Open Road will continue to practice what we preach, we leave the advocacy work in good hands, with you, to encourage, question, explore, share, learn, and cultivate the ongoing conversation and practice around risk.

Thank you for joining us on our journey so far. The future is even brighter.


Maya Winkelstein

CEO, Open Road Alliance