Risk Management

TNI regularly assesses legal, security, financial, reputational and operational risks. Overall risks are assessed annually in terms of probability and severity of impact and improved mitigation measures put in place where necessary.

Below we discuss the main high probability and high impact risks addressed in 2021 and identified for 2022.

Financial Sustainability

As a non-profit organisation TNI is primarily dependent on grant income, which is a perennial and priority risk the Institute must manage.

In 2021, we had identified two key risks. The one concerned the sustainability of our Myanmar programme in anticipation of the coup, which subsequently happened in February. Fortunately, the funders were prepared to continue supporting TNI’s work in Myanmar, even under the worsening conditions, and further, have committed to extending their support to mid-2024. The other risk concerned one foundation, which has been generously funding multiple projects at TNI, and is undergoing profound restructuring and reorientation. Fortunately, of the seven projects funded by the foundation, three will continue to be funded into 2023. Meanwhile, all other existing funders have remained loyal and renewed contracts.

In 2021, we increased the proportion of funding from sources other than the Dutch Ministry of Trade and Development (via the Fair, Green and Global Alliance – FGG). The proportion went down from 48% in 2020 to 41% in 2021, reducing the longer term risk should this not be renewed from 2026. At the same time, we made progress in our goal of increasing the proportion of funding received from foundations, from 14% in 2020 to 20% in 2021. Three new foundations are supporting our work, helping us to further diversify our funding base. Meanwhile, the proportion of total income generated from own sources increased from 4% to 6% over the last year. We are pleased to note that donations increased by 37% in 2021, and that our building generated a surplus for the first time ever. This allows us to continue to build our reserves, which is the ultimate guarantor of sustainability should we lose a major grant.

Source Specification % of total income in 2021 % of total income in 2020
Dutch government Netherlands Ministry of Trade & Development 41 48
Other public sources Swedish International Development Agency; Swiss Development Cooperation; GIZ; Irish Research Council 29 19
Philanthropic foundations Open Society Foundation; Funders for Fair Trade; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Schöpflin Stiftung; European Cultural Foundation; Asia Foundation 20 14
European Union Development Education and Awareness-Raising; Justice and Home Affairs; Erasmus+; H2020; EuropeAid 3 14
Own means Rental, book sales, donations, currency gains, interest, consultancies/secondments 6 4
Other income Sub-contracts 1 1


Another important risk identified for 2021 was the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. All our staff are vaccinated, yet most had contracted Covid-19 by the end of 2021 – fortunately none required hospitalisation.

TNI continued to allow staff to work from home throughout 2021, lending equipment as required, and arranging regular online team/staff meetings. Staff who did not normally work from home continued to be compensated in line with the recommendations of the National Institute for Budget Information. Meanwhile, for those who needed to come into the office, measures to minimize contact risk continued to apply, including ventilation, and provision of appropriate equipment, such as shields between desks and the availability of sanitisers. Protocols agreed included not coming in to the office if any potential symptoms were manifest, doing self-tests if there was any possibility of infection, and informing staff if Covid-19 had been contracted and there was a chance of contamination.

Almost no international travel took place in 2021, with most activities remaining online. This resulted in under-spending, but fortunately funds could be carried over to the following year. Where necessary, no-cost extensions and/or permission for budget reallocations were sought from funders, all of whom were exceedingly considerate and cooperative.

Going into 2022, it is clear that Covid-19 has become a reality with which we all have to learn to live. The extended pandemic, social isolation, and limited face-to-face moments have taken their toll on staff, and care and self-care have become important organisational values.

Security and safety

Security and safety continued to be a key risk monitored in 2021, particularly in light of the coup in Myanmar and increased repression of activists in a number of countries where TNI has partners. We also kept an eye on adherence to ICT policies in light of the potential breaches due to staff working from their own computers at home.


With the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar, the security and safety protocols drafted in anticipation of this went into effect. This included strictly only using secured email and telephonic channels, and putting physical files into safekeeping. The situation in the country is expected to deteriorate further in 2022, so data security and safe communications remains a risk to be mitigated.

5.3.2. Data security and safe communications

TNI has had a comprehensive Information & Communication Technology (ICT) policy in place for some years now, including data protection, data security and data breach policies and procedures. Our Computer Support team conducts regular education of staff in this regard, working one-on-one with staff as required.

In 2021, with staff working from home during the pandemic, every effort was made to ensure ongoing adherence to the ICT policy and awareness of the need for safe communications. There were no data breaches or other ICT incidents in 2021.

In 2022, data security and safe communications will remain a priority risk area to monitor and regularly upgrade. This will include encouraging more people to use password managers, and two-step authentication processes.

For 2022, the goal is to continue to diversify our funding base with a particular emphasis on raising the proportion of income from foundations and donations. Strategies include employing an embedded fundraiser and/or commissioning experienced consultants to undertake prospecting and match-making on our behalf; continuing to invest in training of staff and in relations with existing (and potential) funders; and better linking our communications, audience engagement and individual giving.