Over a seven-month period in 2016, I was honored to be a part of a task force of 25 members representing institutional and family foundations, nonprofits, law firms, and advisors that work in the philanthropic sector. This group, called the Commons, was co-convened by Laurie Michaels, founder of Open Road Alliance, and Judith Rodin, then president of the Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with Arabella Advisors. Together, we discussed risk in philanthropy and developed best practices for risk management, all aimed at ensuring and maximizing impact. These conversations culminated into the publication of Risk Management for Philanthropy: A Toolkit, the first practical, comprehensive framework providing guidance to funders on how to implement best practices in risk management.

This is a critical conversation for our sector as we talk about ‘betting big,’ taking risks, and the need for funders and nonprofits to see each other as partners to achieve the impact we all desire. One aspect of that partnership is to understand how each of us defines risk and how our risk appetite affects the work we do.

The Toolkit includes ten adoptable and adaptable tools that cover a spectrum of practice including how to determine your organizational risk profile and how to integrate specific financial, governance, and other procedural risk management activities into daily philanthropic practice. The tools are designed to be used in total or a la carte.

In order to maximize impact in our philanthropic endeavors, it is critical that we better understand and manage risk – within our organizations and collectively as a sector. I encourage you to read the Toolkit, share it with your colleagues, and engage with the exercises included.

This toolkit is just the beginning of a longer conversation among leaders in our sector. I invite you to share any questions or feedback in the comments below. You can also follow the active conversation regarding risk and impact on Twitter at @OpenRoadTweets.

About the Author

Robert Kissane is Chairman of CCS. Bob has more than thirty years of international experience designing and directing innovative fundraising programs for leading health, educational, religious, cultural, human service, and environmental institutions. He has developed and coordinated groundbreaking campaigns that have raised more than $15 billion for capital, endowment, research and technology, and new programs at preeminent universities, medical centers, museums, and cultural institutions in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, Bob has worked with global organizations on public-private partnerships, co-investments, and other initiatives to eradicate polio, fight HIV, champion human rights, global security, and the environment.