How we fund
Every year the Open Society Foundations give thousands of grants to groups and individuals that work on the issues we care about: promoting democracy, transparency, and freedom of speech.
Building long-term relationships of trust with the entities we support, and understanding their health, effectiveness, strengths, and the challenges they face, is an integral part of the Open Society Foundations’ organization-centered approach to grant making. The vast majority of our grants are awarded to organizations that we approach directly. The kind of grants any Open Society program makes depend on its strategy and its vision of how to use its budget most effectively. Search our database of awarded grants.
Open Society awards grants to organizations, which can include movements, coalitions, networks, collectives, and even informal groups. Guided mostly by our program staff, we support a wide range of activities—everything from discrete project grants to general operating support that cover the day-to-day costs of operations. In most cases, we will not provide more than one-third of any organization’s budget.
Open Society offers a range of fellowships, reflecting the variety of our work—from funding for individuals who have worked in public service in the United States to allow them to develop innovative policy solutions, to providing opportunities for new migrants to engage with local government in their host communities in Europe.
Every year, some 300 students and academics receive scholarships from the Open Society Foundations, continuing a program that has been part of George Soros’s philanthropy since the 1980s. Some scholarship recipients come from countries that restrict freedom of expression and debate at home. Some face other barriers, such as students and academics displaced by war, or members of Europe’s Roma communities.
Social Impact Investing
We make private sector investments through the Economic Justice Program’s investment vehicle—the Soros Economic Development Fund—to yield social impact.
Our global grants seek to address intractable problems, often rooted in deep social and economic inequalities. Our funding, while considerable, is dwarfed by global financial flows of international aid and investment that may reinforce inequalities. We know that real change comes slowly, and strive to recognize both successes and failures.
More than 20,000 people around the world have benefited directly from attending universities and colleges supported by scholarships from the Open Society Foundations. In the 1990s, our giving directly helped citizens in the former countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the difficult transition from Communism. Today, our grants help sustain a vast array of human rights and civil society groups around the world.