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Thinking about… risk

Funded by the IVAR Research Development Fund, in partnership with William Grant Foundation.

IVAR research on funding practices and grant making processes has brought to light issues of concern to many funders, relating both to risk management and appetite for taking risks. In particular, our recent work suggests that there can be a lack of alignment within trusts and foundations in terms of understanding ‘what risk means to us’ and how it is best measured and mitigated. This can be especially marked in relation to the funding of smaller organisations who, in an operating environment characterised by turbulence and uncertainty, continue to engage with society’s hardest to reach groups, working holistically and in ways that are responsive to different contexts, with income trajectories that remain volatile.

Five funders (The National Lottery Community Fund, United St Saviour’s Charity, City Bridge Trust, Blagrave Trust, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland) agreed to take part in the research, which explored what this operating environment requires from funders in terms of risk culture and processes. We are considered risk in relation to the application, assessment and decision making stages of grant making, in order to draw out possible ways in which funders might rethink and reframe ‘risk’. 

We have developed a framework which we are now looking for funders to help us test, here

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