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Applying for a Grant: Frequently Asked Questions

What issues do the Open Society Foundations work on?

The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. In pursuit of this mission, we work on a wide variety of issues both geographically and thematically. National and regional foundations affiliated with Open Society also focus on the open society issues and concerns most relevant in their countries or regions.

What types of grants do the Open Society Foundations award?

The vast majority of the grants made by Open Society are to organizations. Every year, Open Society awards grants for a wide range of activities, everything from discrete project grants to general operating support.

In some circumstances, we give organizations flexibility in how they use our funding, while in others we make grants for specific projects. Ultimately the kind of grants an Open Society program makes depends on its strategy and vision of how best to allocate its budget to allow for greatest impact.

Open Society also awards a limited number of grants to individuals, primarily through scholarships and fellowships offered across a number of different programs.

Additionally, Open Society is able to make recommendations to the Open Society Policy Center for 501(c)(4) grants in support of policy advocacy (lobbying).

Who can apply for a grant?

We are able to provide funding directly to formally established organizations around the world as well as to informal organizations or networks through intermediaries (fiscal sponsors, fiscal agents).

Each program within the Open Society Foundations has its own strategy and process for selecting grantees. Organizations or individuals whose values, goals, and work align with said strategies may inquire with the relevant program to see whether or not there is a fit (see program pages for more information).

How can I apply for a grant? Do you accept unsolicited grant proposals?

The process for applying for grants varies by program. Some use requests for proposals (RFPs), others invite letters of inquiry (LOIs) or concept papers, and certain others accept proposals by invitation only. Given that each program has specific grant-making processes, it is best to inquire with that particular program to explore fit and process.

Do you fund general support or only projects?

Open Society is able to provide both project and general support. When appropriate, we at the Open Society Foundations seek to provide grantees with flexibility on how to use the funds where appropriate, including but not limited to general support.

Do you fund 501(c)(4)s?

Open Society programs are able to make recommendations to the Open Society Policy Center for 501(c)(4) grants in support of policy advocacy (lobbying).

Can we apply for multiple grants at once?

Yes. There are many situations where a single organization simultaneously receives grants from different Open Society programs or affiliates. Recognizing that this can place burdens on a grant recipient while also adding to Open Society administrative costs, we seek to combine multiple proposals into a single grant where feasible.

How can I find out about new grant opportunities?

In addition to the funding opportunities listed on this website, the Open Society national and regional foundations post additional funding opportunities on their websites. These grants, scholarships, and fellowships are based on national and regional priority issues, and are distributed directly through the foundations. You may see a full list of the foundations in our network on our Offices and Foundations page.

To be notified about new Open Society grant opportunities, please sign up for our email updates.

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