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How
we work

Every year, the Open Society Foundations give thousands of grants to groups and individuals that work on the issues we focus on—promoting tolerance, transparency, and open debate. We also engage in strategic human rights litigation and impact investing, while incubating new ideas and engaging directly with governments and policymakers through advocacy to advance positive change.

Choosing Priorities

We take strong stands on controversial and at times unpopular causes, and we are willing to work in hostile and difficult environments. We shape our strategic priorities by listening to both local and global experts, drawing on the extensive network of advisory boards that support our foundations and programs. This decentralized structure allows us to pursue long-term strategies, and to respond nimbly and effectively to sudden crises that require emergency funding. The conversation between these global and local voices is an essential part of who we are.

A Global Network

Foundations
Programs
Foundations Boards
Program Boards
Network advisory council
Global Board

Decision-Making

Our president, Patrick Gaspard, and a seven-member Management Committee oversee the day-to-day work of our thematic and geographic programs. They also provide support and guidance to our global network of autonomous national and regional foundations.

The Global Board, chaired by our founder, George Soros, works with our leadership to develop and review strategies.

The Global Board is supported by the Network Advisory Council whose members come from the expert advisory boards that support each of our programs and foundations.

Thematic programs engage in global issues, such as access to health care, education, and human rights. Geographic programs, such as Open Society-U.S. or our Asia Pacific Regional Office, address issues in specific countries or regions.

View Our Boards

20+ Regional and National Foundations
16 Thematic Programs
7 Geographic Programs
At every level, we embrace pluralism. Our grants are not meant to incentivize grantees to agree with us, but to support a diverse range of perspectives. Similarly, we believe in long-term thinking, because we understand that fundamental change requires patience, planning, and a willingness to pursue different—and at times even contradictory—paths to the same destination.

Our Approach

Supporting Independent Voices

Every year, the Open Society Foundations give over 2,500 grants to a wide array of groups both large and small. These grants can range from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars.

2,500+ Grants awarded per year

Advocating for Positive Change

We engage in direct advocacy to promote inclusive and just public policy at national, regional, and international levels. In the United States, these efforts are led by the Open Society Policy Center, a nonpartisan and nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. In Brussels, the Open Society European Policy Institute focuses on informing decision-making on European Union laws, policy, and funding. Advocacy teams across our network commission research on key issues, and draw on the deep expertise of both our grantees and staff.

Fostering New Thinking

Our fellowship programs offer support for one or two years to people pursuing innovative approaches to social change. Our scholarship programs have enabled thousands of young people from countries with constrained public debate to study at universities in Western Europe and the United States. Our program staff also commission independent experts to pursue research projects that define critical issues and explore new solutions.

400+ Individual Scholarships and Fellowships awarded per year

Confronting Abuses in Court

The Open Society Justice Initiative includes a team of lawyers that has engaged in more than 60 strategic litigation cases before regional and United Nations human rights tribunals, seeking to achieve changes in law and practice that support Open Society’s broader mission.

Impact Investing

In addition to funding nonprofit groups, our Economic Justice Program invests in business ideas that can benefit people who do not have access to economic opportunities, such as women, refugees, and smallholder farmers.

$230 Million Impact investments made since 1997

Working With Governments

Delivering positive public policy change is ultimately the task of national government—and working with governments, legislators and civil servants around the world has always been part of what we do. Today, we help connect policy makers with global expertise, on issues as diverse as economic policy, judicial and constitutional reform, natural resource management, and climate change. We also support constructive partnerships between government and civil society groups—in line with the aspirations of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Incubating Ideas

Over the past three decades, hundreds of new projects, organizations, and advocacy groups have been created out of our program work. The National Resource Governance Institute, for example, formerly known as Revenue Watch, began in the 1990s as an Open Society effort to promote transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industries.

200+ New advocacy groups created from Open Society projects

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