George Soros’ Open Society Foundations plan to limit their grantmaking until February

Jul 20, 2023, 7:55 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Open Society Foundations said Wednesday that they plan to limit new grantmaking until February, as the nonprofits transition to a new operating model run by billionaire investor George Soros’ son, Alex. A spokesperson for the foundations said that the pause will not affect current grantees.

In a letter addressed to “friends and partners,” Open Society Foundations President Mark Malloch-Brown wrote, “Technological, environmental, political, and socioeconomic shifts are challenging open society ideals around the world. This flux demands that we reimagine our philanthropy.”

Part of that reimagining will cut OSF’s global staff of 800 in 20 countries by 40%, which Malloch-Brown called, “painful news for all concerned.” It also means changes to the length of OSF grants.

“This will often mean multiyear commitments enabling our partners to invest in ambitious, long-term action—with clear, measurable goals that would not be met without Open Society’s involvement,” wrote Malloch-Brown, who said OSF would honor existing financial commitments, but may not renew some of them.

Major changes at important foundations are never easy for grantees, said Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations.

“When foundations are open and transparent, keep funding flowing as much as possible, and give grantees time to plan, it’s a bit easier,” she said. “Given that it’s not just individual organizations that are affected, but often a whole ecosystem of nonprofits, foundations going through major change ask themselves: How can we be a good partner and maintain the strength of this field?”

Some current grantees worried about the impact the staffing changes and new model will have on their funding, saying the uncertainty itself has a cost especially for small organizations. OSF are one of the largest funders of human rights organizations and also have funded nonprofits that advocate for free speech, work on treatments and policies for drug addiction and more recently climate justice.

OSF donated $1.5 billion globally in 2021, the most recent year that has full data available. That included $401 million in the United States and $209 million in Europe and Central Asia.

Malloch-Brown also unveiled OSF’s new executive leadership team, which includes vice presidents, Pedro Abramovay and Binaifer Nowrojee, and vice president and chief operating officer, Sandra Breka. Alex Soros was elected OSF’s chairman of the board in December.


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

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George Soros’ Open Society Foundations plan to limit their grantmaking until February