George Soros is making changes to his foundation while he still can

Mr. Soros began Open Society work in the United States with a focus on drug policy reform and palliative care in 1994, and established a formal program in the United States in 1996. The foundation has focused on issues such as mass incarceration, immigration policy, and reproductive rights. .

In 2018, the same year, the foundation closed its office in Budapest, the group left Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Mr. Soros in a speech. Amid growing threats and intimidation, say former leaders, the foundation must focus its attention and resources.

Open Society had spread its spending across 47 different granting units, many with small budgets. Its median grant size was $86,000 – small compared to peers like the Ford Foundation, where the median grant is around $200,000, and the Gates Foundation, where it is around $700,000. according to a Bridgespan presentation shared with employees. Half of the grants in 2019 were awarded for one year or less. In the same country, there can be half a dozen entities from different foundations granting grants, sometimes in concert but also sometimes in competition or without knowing each other.

“In the past, if you asked OSF, ‘What is your strategy?’ you would have to put together 40 different strategies,” said Binaifer Nowrojee, vice president of the foundation who is leading the transformation process. “Now you have these intertwined global issues, like climate change or the pandemic, or the rise of authoritarianism across the world and suddenly the national foundation model or this kind of work at the national level is not enough for him. alone,” Ms Nowrojee said.

The foundation’s former chairman, Patrick Gaspard, said the process began three years ago at a meeting in London. In attendance were the global board, senior executives, and George and Alex Soros. Mr. Gaspard said he asked them if the foundation would look the same if it had been founded then rather than a quarter of a century earlier. The answer was no.

“I was very clear that everything was on the table,” Mr. Gaspard said in an interview. “People shouldn’t say it happened in the middle of the night.”

Darcy J. Skinner