Open Society Foundation: Second Largest Philanthropy in U.S.
Of course, we’ve all heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also known as the Gates Foundation. It is said to be the largest transparently operated foundation in the world.
But have you heard about the Open Society Foundation led by George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager and major Democratic Party donor? According to a New York Times article, he has given $18 million to his Open Society Foundation which is “one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single foundation.”
This privately donated gift which was recently disclosed “transformed Open Society into the second largest philanthropic organization in the United States” positioning it strategically behind the Gates Foundation. Soros’ generous gift makes him a “lightning rod for conservative critics” and places him “squarely in the middle of social and political debates” currently underway.
When Soros founded the Open Society Foundation thirty years ago, he promoted “democracy and human rights in more than 120 countries” worldwide, increasing attention to the United States in recent years to gay rights and police brutality. Additionally, the organization helped fund treatment centers for the 2014 Ebola outbreak and “efforts to protect citizens from a national wave of hate incidents after the 2016 election.” The 87-year-old philanthropist then committed $10 million to preventing hate crimes alone.
In November, he said, “we must do something to push back against what’s happening here”, calling out the “dark forces that have been awakened by the election. Patrick Gaspard, the vice president of the Foundation will be taking over as president in December. He said, “the election of President Trump has given the organization’s work a new sense of urgency.”
Gaspard specifically cited Trump’s commission on voter fraud as “utterly lacking in integrity.” He said, “our work on equal access and protection is more vital than it’s ever been.”
George Soros grew up in Nazi-occupied Hungary and escaped a Communist regime in Budapest in 1947, moving to London and on to the United States where he found success as a Wall Street investor.
In 1992, he made a $1 billion bet against the British pound. “That trade earned him the nickname ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’ when his aggressive selling of the currency pushed the government to devalue the pound,” a New York Times report said. As his fortune grew, Soros began funding more efforts to promote democracy and human rights. This is when he established the first Open Society Foundation of Hungary in 1984.
“Mr. Soros took the name from a book by the philosopher Karl Popper “Open Society and Its Enemies,” in which he argued for democratic governance, free expression and respect for individual rights.”
“He eventually became one of the largest donors to Democrats and during the last election gave millions to super PACs that opposed Mr. Trump, supporting other Democrats and their causes. He also bet big in the markets that Mr. Trump would lose the election.” That wager cost him about $1 billion!
“For decades Mr. Soros funded the Open Society Foundation through annual donations of around $800-$900 million annually, but a few years ago he increased contributions as part of estate planning, bringing the organization’s endowment to about $18 billion in 2017, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.” It is expected that Soros will contribute at least another $2 billion in coming years.
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation said, “there is no foundation in the world, including the Ford Foundation, that has had more impact around the world than the Open Society Foundation in the last two decades.”
“There is no part of the world that they have not been,” Walker said. “Their footprint Is deeper, wider and more impactful than any other social justice foundation in the world. Since its inception, the Open Society Foundation has worked with leaders in civil society, whether they are the Roma in Eastern Europe or African-Americans in Cleveland, Ohio, who continue to be a subject to a second-class form of justice.”
Additionally, the Foundation spends about $900 million per year on programs and grants. That is more than it is legally required to do.