Open Society Foundations

Open Society Foundations
FoundedApril 1993; 31 years ago (1993-04)
FounderGeorge Soros
Alexander Soros
Binaifer Nowrojee
Revenue (2021)
$988 million[1]
Endowment (2021)$5.89 billion[1] Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
Open Society Institute

Open Society Foundations (OSF), formerly the Open Society Institute, is a US-based grantmaking network founded by business magnate George Soros.[2] Open Society Foundations financially supports civil society groups around the world, with the stated aim of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media.[3][4] The group's name was inspired by Karl Popper's 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies.[5]

As of 2015, the OSF had branches in 37 countries,[6] encompassing a group of country and regional foundations, such as the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. The organization’s headquarters is located at 224 West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. In 2018, OSF announced it was closing its European office in Budapest and moving to Berlin, in response to legislation passed by the Hungarian government targeting the foundation's activities.[7] As of 2021, OSF has reported expenditures in excess of US$16 billion since its establishment in 1993, mostly in grants towards NGOs, aligned with the organization's mission.[8]


On May 28, 1984, business magnate George Soros signed a contract between the Soros Foundation/New York City and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the founding document of the Soros Foundation/Budapest.[9] This was followed by several foundations in the region to help countries move away from Real socialism in the Eastern Bloc.[10]

In 1991, the foundation merged with the Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne ("Foundation for European Intellectual Mutual Aid"), an affiliate of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, created in 1966 to imbue 'non-conformist' Eastern European scientists with anti-totalitarian and capitalist ideas.[11]

In 1993, the Open Society Institute was created in the United States to support the Soros foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.[6]

In August 2010, it started using the name Open Society Foundations (OSF) to better reflect its role as a benefactor for civil society groups in countries around the world.[12]

In 1995, Soros stated that he believed there can be no absolute answers to political questions because the same principle of reflexivity applies as in financial markets.[13]

In 2012, Christopher Stone joined the OSF as the second president. He replaced Aryeh Neier, who served as president from 1993 to 2012.[14] Stone announced in September 2017 that he was stepping down as president.[15] In January 2018, Patrick Gaspard was appointed president of the Open Society Foundations.[16] He announced in December 2020 that he was stepping down as president. In January 2021, Mark Malloch-Brown was appointed president of the Open Society Foundations.[17] On March 11, 2024 OSF announced that Binaifer Nowrojee will start as new president June 1, 2024.[18]

In 2016, the OSF was reportedly the target of a cyber security breach. Documents and information reportedly belonging to the OSF were published by a website. The cyber security breach has been described as sharing similarities with Russian-linked cyberattacks that targeted other institutions, such as the Democratic National Committee.[19]

In 2017, Soros transferred $18 billion to the foundation.[20]

In 2020, Soros announced that he was creating the Open Society University Network (OSUN), endowing the network with $1 billion.[21]

In 2023, George Soros handed over the leadership of the foundation to his son Alexander Soros, who soon announced layoffs of 40 percent of staff and "significant changes" to the operating model.[22]


George Soros at a talk in Malaysia

The Library of Congress Soros Foundation Visiting Fellows Program was initiated in 1990.[23][24]

Its $873 million budget in 2013 ranked as the second-largest private philanthropy budget in the United States, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation budget of $3.9 billion.[25] As of 2020, its budget increased to $1.2 billion.[26]

In August 2013, the foundation partly sponsored an Aromanian cultural event in Malovište (Aromanian: Mulovishti), North Macedonia.[27]

The foundation reported granting at least $33 million to civil rights and social justice organizations in the United States.[28] This funding included groups such as the Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment that supported protests in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the death of Eric Garner, the shooting of Tamir Rice and the shooting of Michael Brown.[29][30][31] According to OpenSecrets, the OSF spends much of its resources on democratic causes around the world, and has also contributed to groups such as the Tides Foundation.[32]

The OSF has been a major financial supporter of US immigration reform, including establishing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.[33]

OSF projects have included the National Security and Human Rights Campaign and the Lindesmith Center, which conducted research on drug reform.[3]

The OSF became a partner of the National Democratic Institute,[34] a charitable organization which partnered with pro-democracy groups like the Gov2U project[35] run by Scytl.[36]

On January 23, 2020, the OSF announced a contribution of $1 billion from George Soros for the new Open Society University Network (OSUN), which provides university courses, programs, and research through shared faculty, and for institutions needing international partners, to serve neglected student populations worldwide. The founding institutions were Bard College and Central European University.[21][37]

In April 2022, OSF announced a grant of $20 million to the International Crisis Group in support of efforts to analyze global issues fuelling violence, climate injustice and economic inequality and providing recommendations to address them.[38]

OSF has given grants to Jewish Voice for Peace.[39]


In 2007, Nicolas Guilhot (a senior research associate at the French National Centre for Scientific Research) wrote in Critical Sociology that the Open Society Foundations serve to perpetuate institutions that reinforce the existing social order, as the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation have done before them. Guilhot argues that control over the social sciences by moneyed interests, taken it out of the hands of politicians and reinforced a neoliberal view of modernization.[40]

An OSF effort in 2008 in the African Great Lakes region aimed at spreading human rights awareness among prostitutes in Uganda and other nations in the area was not received well by the Ugandan authorities, who considered it an effort to legalize and legitimize prostitution.[41]

Open Society Foundations has been criticized in pro-Israel editorials, Tablet magazine, Arutz Sheva and Jewish Press, for including funding for the activist groups Adalah and I'lam, which they say are anti-Israel and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Among the documents released in 2016 by DCleaks, an OSF report reads "For a variety of reasons, we wanted to construct a diversified portfolio of grants dealing with Israel and Palestine, funding both Israeli Jewish and PCI (Palestinian Citizens of Israel) groups as well as building a portfolio of Palestinian grants and in all cases to maintain a low profile and relative distance—particularly on the advocacy front."[42][43][44]

In 2013, NGO Monitor, a Israeli NGO, produced a report which says, "Soros has been a frequent critic of Israeli government policy, and does not consider himself a Zionist, but there is no evidence that he or his family holds any special hostility or opposition to the existence of the state of Israel. This report will show that their support, and that of the Open Society Foundations, has nevertheless gone to organizations with such agendas." The report says its objective is to inform the OSF, claiming: "The evidence demonstrates that Open Society funding contributes significantly to anti-Israel campaigns in three important respects:

  1. Active in the Durban strategy;
  2. Funding aimed at weakening United States support for Israel by shifting public opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran;
  3. Funding for Israeli political opposition groups on the fringes of Israeli society, which use the rhetoric of human rights to advocate for marginal political goals."

The report concludes, "Yet, to what degree Soros, his family, and the Open Society Foundations are aware of the cumulative impact on Israel and of the political warfare conducted by many of their beneficiaries is an open question."[45]

In November 2015, Russia banned the activities of the Open Society Foundations on its territory, declaring "It was found that the activity of the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation represents a threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation and the security of the state".[46]

In 2017, Open Society Foundations and other NGOs which promote open government and help refugees were targeted for crackdowns by authoritarian and populist governments who have been emboldened by encouraging signals from the Trump Administration. Several politicians in eastern Europe, including Liviu Dragnea in Romania and right-wing figures Szilard Nemeth in Hungary, North Macedonia's Nikola Gruevski, who called for a "de-Sorosization" of society, and Poland's Jarosław Kaczyński, who has said that Soros-funded groups want "societies without identity", regard many of the NGO groups to be irritants at best, and threats at worst.[47] Some of those Soros-funded advocacy groups in the region said the renewed attacks were harassment and intimidation, which became more open after the 2016 election of Donald Trump in the United States. Stefania Kapronczay of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, which receives half of its funding from Soros-backed foundations, claimed that Hungarian officials are "testing the waters" in an effort to see "what they can get away with."[47]

In 2017, the government of Pakistan ordered the Open Society Foundations to cease operations within the country.[48]

In May 2018, Open Society Foundations announced they will move its office from Budapest to Berlin, amid Hungarian government interference.[49][50][51]

In November 2018, Open Society Foundations announced they are ceasing operations in Turkey and closing their Istanbul and Ankara offices due to "false accusations and speculations beyond measure", amid pressure from Turkish government and governmental interference through detainment of Turkish intellectuals and liberal academics claimed to be associated with the foundation and related NGOs, associations and programmes.[52][53][54]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Open Society Institute - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. May 9, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  2. ^ Duszak, Alexandra (December 21, 2012). "Donor profile: George Soros". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Harvey, Kerric (2013). Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. SAGE Publications. p. 919. ISBN 9781483389004.
  4. ^ "Open Society Foundations mission and values", OSI, Soros, September 6, 2012.
  5. ^ de Cock, Christian; Böhm, Steffen (2007), "Liberalist Fantasies: Žižek and the Impossibility of the Open Society", Organization, 14 (6): 815–836, doi:10.1177/1350508407082264, S2CID 15695686.
  6. ^ a b Callahan, David (September 14, 2015). "Philanthropy vs. Tyranny: Inside the Open Society Foundations' Biggest Battle Yet". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Open Society Foundations to Close International Operations in Budapest". Open Society Foundations. May 15, 2018. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  8. ^ "Financials". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  9. ^ Tény, Nóvé Béla, Soros (PDF), HU: KKA.
  10. ^ Hoduski-Abbott, Bernadine E. (2003). Lobbying for Libraries and the Public's Access to Government Information. Lanham: Scarecrow. p. 75. ISBN 978-0810845855.
  11. ^ Guilhot, Nicolas (January 1, 2006). "A Network of Influential Friendships: The Fondation Pour Une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne and East-West Cultural Dialogue, 1957–1991". Minerva. 44 (4): 379–409. doi:10.1007/s11024-006-9014-y. JSTOR 41821373. S2CID 144219865.
  12. ^ Schrier, H. Edward (2013). The Battle of the Three Wills: As It Relates to Good & Evil. Author House. p. 338. ISBN 978-1481758765.
  13. ^ Soros, George; Wien, Byron; Koenen, Krisztina (1995). Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve. New York: John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-11977-7. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  14. ^ "Criminal Justice Expert Named to Lead Soros Foundations". The New York Times. December 11, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  15. ^ "What Just Happened at the Open Society Foundations? And What Comes Next?". Inside Philanthropy. September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  16. ^ "Patrick Gaspard Named President of the Open Society Foundations". Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "Patrick Gaspard to Step Down as Head of Open Society Foundations". Open Society Foundations. December 4, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  18. ^ "Binaifer Nowrojee Appointed New President of Open Society Foundations; Mark Malloch-Brown to Step Down". Open Society Foundations. March 11, 2024. Retrieved June 15, 2024.
  19. ^ Riley, Michael (August 11, 2016). "Russian Hackers of DNC Said to Nab Secrets From NATO, Soros". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  20. ^ Chung, Juliet; Das, Anupreeta (October 17, 2017). "George Soros Transfers $18 Billion to His Foundation, Creating an Instant Giant". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Communications (January 23, 2020). "George Soros Launches Global Network to Transform Higher Education". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved January 5, 2023.
  22. ^ Delouya, Samantha (June 30, 2023). "George Soros' foundation lays off 40% of workforce after passing control over to his son". CNN Business. Retrieved July 2, 2023.
  23. ^ Hoduski-Abbott, Bernadine E. (2003). Lobbying for Libraries and the Public's Access to Government Information. Lanham: Scarecrow. p. 76. ISBN 9780810845855.
  24. ^ Kranich, Nancy (2001). Libraries & Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty. American Library Association. p. 186. ISBN 9780838908082.
  25. ^ Orlina, Ezekiel Carlo; Ramos-Caraig, Dorcas Juliette (March 6, 2015). "Top philanthropic foundations: A primer". Devex. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "Open Society Foundations - Who We Are". Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  27. ^ "Community News". The Newsletter of the Society Farsharotu. 17 (1–2). April 25, 2004.
  28. ^ Collins, Ben (August 19, 2015). "No, George Soros Didn't Give $33 Million to #BlackLivesMatter". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  29. ^ Ferguson Inc. — The city's protest movement tries to find a path forward; Politico; March 4, 2015
  30. ^ Riot Act;Snopes; January 17, 2015
  31. ^ Riddell, Kelley (January 4, 2015). "George Soros funds Ferguson protests, hopes to spur civil action". Washington Times. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  32. ^ MacColl, Spencer (September 21, 2010). "Capital Rivals: Koch Brothers vs. George Soros". OpenSecrets. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  33. ^ Preston, Julia (November 14, 2014). "The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  34. ^ "Partners". Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  35. ^ "Our Partners - Government to You | Gov2U |".
  36. ^ "Scytl acquires Gov2U's software division expanding its eDemocracy solutions portfolio - MarketWatch". Archived from the original on June 9, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  37. ^ "Open Society University Network". Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  38. ^ "International Crisis Group receives $20 million from OSF". Philanthropy News Digest. May 3, 2022. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  39. ^ "Who's behind the pro-Palestinian protests that are disrupting Biden's campaign events and blocking city streets?". NBC News. March 20, 2024. Retrieved June 23, 2024.
  40. ^ Guilhot, Nicolas (May 2007). "Reforming the World: George Soros, Global Capitalism and the Philanthropic Management of the Social Sciences". Critical Sociology. 33 (3): 447–477. doi:10.1163/156916307X188988. S2CID 146274470.
  41. ^ "Uganda prostitute workshop banned". BBC. March 25, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  42. ^ "Soros Hack Reveals Evidence of Systemic Anti-Israel Bias". Tablet Magazine. August 14, 2016.
  43. ^ David Israel (August 14, 2016). "DC Leaks Publishes George Soros' Files Showing Millions Contributed to Anti-Israel Causes". Jewish Press. Archived from the original on September 1, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  44. ^ Kaplan, Rachel (August 14, 2016). "George Soros hacked, documents posted online". Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  45. ^ Bad Investment: The Philanthropy of George Soros and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: How Soros-funded Groups Increase Tensions in a Troubled Region, Alexander H. Joffe, Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, May 1, 2013
  46. ^ "Russia bans George Soros foundation as state security 'threat'". Reuters. November 30, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  47. ^ a b "After Trump Win, Anti-Soros Forces Are Emboldened in Eastern Europe". The New York Times. March 1, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  48. ^ Sayeed, Saad (December 13, 2017) "Pakistan orders George Soros foundation, other aid groups to close," Reuters
  49. ^ Heijmans, Philip (May 15, 2018). "George Soros foundation to close office in 'repressive' Hungary". al Jazeera.
  50. ^ "Soros foundation to leave Hungary". BBC News. May 15, 2018.
  51. ^ "Soros foundation to close office in Budapest over Hungarian government's 'repressive' policies". The Daily Telegraph. May 15, 2018. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022.
  52. ^ "Açık Toplum Vakfı Türkiye'deki faaliyetlerini sonlandırıyor". Deutsche Welle Türkçe. November 26, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  53. ^ "Soros foundation to close in Turkey after being bashed by Erdogan". Al Jazeera. November 27, 2018.
  54. ^ "George Soros's Open Society Foundations to pull out of Turkey". The Guardian. Istanbul. November 26, 2018.

Further reading