Project Risk and Impact: A Case Study From International Development

In 2014 Open Road Alliance commissioned an independent researcher to conduct a case study of a large health-oriented international development non-profit organization (hereafter known as “NPO-Health”) to better understand the ways that risk affects social sector programs.

The researcher conducted eleven in-depth interviews with a range of programmatic staff working across multiple portfolios and geographies. Risks were discussed in the context of a project cycle leading from proposal to contract to execution to close out.

The survey results provide a basic taxonomy of types of risks along the project cycle, including staffing, partner communication, logistics, and currency risks. Any of these potential roadblocks can result in mid-implementation budget shortfalls, which cannot easily be addressed by the established funding and project cycles.

The results of this study begin to define a framework for identifying types of risks inherent in a project before unforeseen events occur. The research further suggests that by not bluntly discussing and planning for these risks, NPOs and funders unnecessarily diminish the positive social impact of their combined effort. through this research and survey, Open Road hopes to begin to present a framework for NPOs to define and quantify some of these common challenges so that they can inform their own planning processes and also inform how funders can better develop and structure the RFP process

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT

More Research Resources

View All Research Resources
Open Road Resource
Survey Databook: 2018 Contingency Funding in Philanthropy Assessment
In 2017, to build on the findings from its 2015 study, Open Road commissioned Harder+Company Community Research to conduct an in-depth assessment of what happens to nonprofits when they encounter unexpected catastrophic roadblocks and how foundations respond to offer support.
Open Road Resource
Roadblock Analysis Report
The findings from this multivariable roadblock analysis provide the first-ever empirical dataset on “what goes wrong” in impact- focused projects and offer early conclusions on how specific roadblocks correlate with other variables.
Open Road Resource
Risk in Philanthropy: A Framework for Evaluation
This brief framework is designed to provide grantmakers and NGOs with tools to conceptualize and describe risk and its implications within the scope of their philanthropic work.
Open Road Resource
Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking
Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.