"Risk Is a Fact of Life." A Conversation with Stephen Heintz of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Stephen Heintz has led the Rockefeller Brothers Fund since 2001. He is among the nearly 50 social sector leaders that Vivien Hoexter and Linda C. Hartley interviewed for their new book, Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders.
Among other topics, he addresses risk, explainging that: Risk is a fact of life, and we all manage it in a variety of ways. Some risk you can anticipate, so you plan for the potential of those risks, you get fire insurance. Some risk you can’t anticipate.
The question is: How do you respond to risk as it happens? Some are considered risks we all take. In investing money, we’re taking risk. We study, we learn, we listen, we get advice and we might make an investment and hope that it’s going to produce a certain return. We certainly hope we’re not going to lose money, but sometimes we do. In grant-making, we’re taking risks too. Because we’re betting on people, we’re betting on institutions. Let me step back and say, philanthropy is a very small sector. American foundations give away about $60 billion a year, a significant sum of money except when you compare it to the scale of the problems we are addressing....