Special Collection: Risk and Philanthropy

Special Projects

October 31, 2016

Almost every philanthropic decision involves some consideration of risk, whether it’s financial, programmatic, or reputational. But how do foundation staff talk about, let alone manage, those risks?

That’s exactly the question that Open Road Alliance asked us. And in response we gathered dozens of articles, blog posts, reports, case studies, and the all too rare toolkit, from across the web to see (and hear) what foundations and the organizations that support them are saying – and not saying – about risk.

What we found is that there is no shortage of talk about the need for foundations to be bold and to take meaningful risks in the name of social change. Blog posts and plenary sessions abound, addressing the unique potential of the philanthropic sector to take risks that neither the private or public sector can afford. Add to that the social investment literature of the last 15+ years, which frames risk and risk management through a return on investment lens; urging philanthropists to leverage their grant-making dollars as “risk capital”.

But what is often missing from this larger discussion are the support and tools for foundations to walk the talk of risk-taking; to anticipate, manage, tolerate, and mitigate risk, close up.

And if you know of a resource we’ve missed, don’t hesitate to suggest it!