Philanthropy vs. Tyranny: Inside the Open Society Foundations‘ Biggest Battle Yet

„The Open Society Foundations is bigger than you think. In fact, it may be the largest philanthropic organization ever built, with branches in 37 countries. While the Gates Foundation spends more money, OSF has a larger footprint worldwide thanks to its many local offices, including throughout Africa. OSF’s budget will be around $930 million this year—which is substantially more than Ford’s total grantmaking.

That budget is set annually by George Soros, who’s given away nearly $12 billion since he got into philanthropy decades ago. Nevertheless, thanks to his skills in financial markets, Soros—who recently turned 85—is now richer than ever, with a net worth estimated at $26 billion. The bulk of that fortune is slated to go one day to OSF, creating a massively endowed foundation that, in recent years, has been redesigned to exist in perpetuity.

While Soros himself is famous—or infamous, depending on your worldview—the giant foundation he funds is not as high-profile as you might expect. There are some reasons for that. In its communications with the outside world, OSF tends to spotlight the issues it cares about as opposed to its own doings. Don’t look on OSF’s website for press releases touting new grants or a blog where staffers muse about their theories of change. On the other hand, you may find articles about Islamophobia in Europe or the drug war in Brazil.

The foundation’s president, Christopher Stone, keeps a relatively low profile. Stone says he made a decision when he took over OSF in July 2012 not to participate much in events on philanthropy. “I’d rather focus my time in the field,” he told me in a recent conversation.“ (…)

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Philanthropy vs. Tyranny – or: Philanthropy as Tyranny ?