Open Society Foundations

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Open Society Foundations
Open Society Institute (logo).jpg
Founded 1993
Founder George Soros
Key people
George Soros, Chairman
Christopher Stone, President
Jonathan Soros, Global Advisory Board Member
Endowment $1,590,570,302[1]

Open Society Foundations (OSF), formerly the Open Society Institute, is an international grantmaking network founded by progressive-liberal business magnate George Soros.[2] Open Society Foundations financially support civil society groups around the world, with a stated aim of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media.[3][4]

The OSF has branches in 37 countries,[5] 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; its headquarters are in New York, New York.

Since its founding in 1993, OSF has reported expenditures of over $11 billion.[6] The group's name is inspired by Karl Popper's 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies.[7]


On May 28, 1984, Soros signed a contract between the Soros Foundation (New York) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the founding document of the Soros Foundation Budapest.[8] This was followed by several foundations in the region to help countries move away from communism.[9]

Open Society Institute was created in the United States in 1993 to support the Soros foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.[5]

In August 2010, it started using the name of Open Society Foundations (OSF) to better reflect its role as a funder for civil society groups around the world.[10]

Soros believes there can be no absolute answers to political questions because the same principle of reflexivity applies as in financial markets.[11]

In 2012, Christopher Stone joined the OSF as the second president. He replaced Aryeh Neier, who served as president from 1993 to 2012.[12]


The Open Society Foundations reported annual expenditures of $827 million in 2014.[13] 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.[14]

According to the foundations' website, 1993-2014 expenditures included:[13]

  • $2.9 billion to defend human rights, especially the rights of women, ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, drug users, sex workers, and LGBTQ communities;
  • $2.1 billion for education
  • $1.6 billion on developing democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union;
  • $1.5 billion in the United States to promote reform in criminal justice, drug policy, palliative care, education, immigration, equal rights, and democratic governance
  • $737 million for public health issues such as HIV and AIDS, TB, palliative care, harm reduction, and patients’ rights;
  • $214 million to advance the rights of Roma communities in Europe;

Expenditures in 2014 included:[13]

  • $277.3 million Rights and Justice
  • $238.0 million Governance and Accountability
  • $116.0 million Administration
  • $91.7 million Education and Youth
  • $60.0 million Health
  • $43.8 million Media and Information

Within these totals, OSF reported granting at least $33 million to civil rights and social justice organizations in the United States.[15] 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 shooting of Trayvon Martin, the death of Eric Garner, the shooting of Tamir Rice and the shooting of Michael Brown.[16][17][18] According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the OSF spends much of its resources on democratic causes around the world, and has also contributed to groups such as the Tides Foundation.[19]

OSF has been a major financial supporter of U.S. immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and net neutrality.[20][21]

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

The Library of Congress Soros Foundation Visiting Fellows Program was initiated in 1990.[22][23]


Critics on the left have argued that the Open Society Foundations serve to perpetuate institutions which reinforce the existing social order. Nicolas Guilhot, writing in Critical Sociology, connects the Soros charities to the history of capitalist philanthropy maintained by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. Guilhot argues that control over the social sciences by monied interests has depoliticized this field and reinforced a capitalist view of modernization. He argues that despite critiques of malfunctioning free markets, Soros is actually a neoliberal who believes that competitive markets are the best way to organize society.[24] According to this view, the apparent radicalism of Soros' "open society" serves as cover for the capitalist order, the basic rules of which are never actually questioned or "opened".[7]

Glenn Beck has accused Soros of using OSF to intentionally undermine societies with the intention of establishing a unitary global government. Beck has argued that the Open Society Foundations have too much control over academics and media, and in some countries have obtained political power that qualifies them as "shadow governments".[25][26]

Some of its activities in Africa have been met with controversy, including an effort in the African Great Lakes region aimed at spreading human rights awareness among prostitutes in Uganda and other nations in the area. In 2008, this initiative was not received well by the Ugandan authorities, who considered it an effort to legalize and legitimize prostitution.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IRS Form 990 2013" (PDF). Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Duszak, Alexandra (December 21, 2012). "Donor profile: George Soros". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Harvey, Kerric (2013). Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics. SAGE Publications. p. 919. ISBN 9781483389004. 
  4. ^ "Open Society Foundation mission and values", OSI, Soros, September 6, 2012 .
  5. ^ a b Callahan, David (September 14, 2015). "Philanthropy vs. Tyranny: Inside the Open Society Foundations' Biggest Battle Yet". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Expenditures". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  7. ^ a b de Cock, Christian; Böhm, Steffen (2007), "Liberalist Fantasies: Žižek and the Impossibility of the Open Society", Organization (SagePub) 14 (6), doi:10.1177/1350508407082264, retrieved 26 October 2012 .
  8. ^ Tény, Nóvé Béla, Soros (PDF), HU: KKA .
  9. ^ Hoduski-Abbott, Bernadine E., Lobbying for Libraries and the Public's Access to Government Information, Lanham: Scarecrow, 2003. p. 75
  10. ^ Schrier, H. Edward (2013). THE BATTLE OF THE THREE WILLS: as it relates to good & evil. Author House. p. 338. ISBN 9781481758765. 
  11. ^ Soros on Soros John Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-11977-7
  12. ^ "Criminal Justice Expert Named to Lead Soros Foundations". The New York Times. 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2012-07-18. 
  13. ^ a b c "About Us: Expenditures". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  14. ^ Orlina, Ezekiel Carlo; Ramos-Caraig, Dorcas Juliette (March 6, 2015). "Top philanthropic foundations: A primer". Devex. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  15. ^ Collins, Ben (August 19, 2015). "No, George Soros Didn’t Give $33 Million to #BlackLivesMatter". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  16. ^ Ferguson Inc. — The city's protest movement tries to find a path forward; Politico; March 4, 2015
  17. ^ Riot Act;Snopes; January 17, 2015
  18. ^ Riddell, Kelley (January 4, 2015). "George Soros funds Ferguson protests, hopes to spur civil action". Washington Times. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  19. ^ MacColl, Spencer (September 21, 2010). "Capital Rivals: Koch Brothers vs. George Soros". Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Preston, Julia (November 14, 2014). "The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  21. ^ Bedard, Paul (February 26, 2015). "Soros, Ford Foundation shovel $196 million to 'net neutrality' groups, staff to White House". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  22. ^ Hoduski-Abbott, Bernadine E., Lobbying for Libraries and the Public's Access to Government Information, Lanham: Scarecrow, 2003. p. 76
  23. ^ Kranich, Nancy (2001). Libraries & Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty. American Library Association,. p. 186. ISBN 9780838908082. 
  24. ^ 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. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Beck, Glenn (November 10, 2010), "Five Step Plan", Fox News Channel:, The five steps to control. The first one is form a shadow government using humanitarian aid as a cover. Now, is he doing this? Well, let me start with the central George Soros operation, which is OSI. This is his main group. OSI, it is the Open Society Institute. 
  26. ^ "Glenn Beck Explains George Soros Conspiracy Theory On 'O'Reilly Factor'", The Huffington Post (video), November 13, 2010 .
  27. ^ "Uganda prostitute workshop banned". BBC. March 25, 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Carothers, Thomas (1999), Aiding Democracy Abroad: The Learning Curve, Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace .
  • Krizsán, Andrea; Zentai, Viola, eds. (2003), Reshaping Globalization: Multilateral Dialogues and New Policy Initiatives, Budapest: Central European University Press .
  • Miniter, Richard (2011-09-09), "Should George Soros be allowed to buy US foreign policy?", Forbes, Soros, through foundations and his Open Society Institutes, pours some $500 million per year into organizations in the former Soviet world... And Soros gets results. Through strategic donations, Soros helped bring down the communist government in Poland, toppled Serbia’s bloodstained strongman Slobodan Milosevic, and fueled the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia. Soros has also funded opposition parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia, and Macedonia, helping them into either power or prominence. All of these countries were once Russian allies. .
  • Palley, Thomas (2003), "The Open Institute and Global Social Policy", Global Social Policy 3 (1): 17–18, doi:10.1177/1468018103003001312 .
  • Roelofs, Joan (2003), Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, Albany: SUNY .
  • Stone, Diane (2010), Transnational Philanthropy or Policy Transfer? The Transnational Norms of the Open Society Institute, Policy and Politics 38 (2), pp. 269–87 .
  • ——— (July 2007), "Market Principles, Philanthropic Ideals and Public Service Values: The Public Policy Program at the Central European University", PS: Political Science and Politics: 545–51 .
  • Peizer, Jonathan (2005), "The Internet Program: Web Surfing a Revolution", The Dynamics of Technology for Social Change, Ingram Book Group, pp. 1–26 .

External links[edit]