Applying for a Grant: Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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 fellowships offered across a number of different programs.
Open Society took the difficult decision to wind down our Scholarship Programs in 2021. No new competitions will be held for the following programs: Civil Society Leadership Awards, Civil Society Scholar Awards, Disability Rights Scholarship Program, and the Palestinian Rule of Law Program.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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