According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, As part of a shift in strategy aimed at reinvigorating its efforts to address the spread of authoritarianism and threats to human rights worldwide, the Open Society Foundations will refocus its resources and eliminate or scale back a number of grantmaking programs.
The development follows an internal announcement reported by Inside Philanthropy last December that the organization, as part of a transformation under discussion since late 2019, had suspended new initiatives in its thematic, advocacy, and geographic program areas and implemented a hiring freeze.
According to the Chronicle, OSF plans to dedicate an additional $75 million to its network of foundations and programs in a hundred and twenty countries — boosting its annual giving to roughly $400 million — while consolidating the grantmaking programs based in its global headquarters in New York City.
The scholarship program for students in countries with limited academic freedom will be eliminated, while the Economic Justice Program and International Migration Initiative will be scaled back or absorbed into other areas. The moves are expected to result in the elimination of about two hundred jobs from the organization’s global workforce of nearly seventeen hundred.
Binaifer Nowrojee, Open Society’s vice president for organizational transformation said, “We cannot afford to be in so many multiple different separate pieces of work that are siloed. So we’re making some hard choices to pare back some work, to consolidate some work.”
Mark Malloch-Brown, a member of the OSF global board and a former United Nations deputy secretary‐general who took over as OSF president after Patrick Gaspard announced his departure in December, told the Chronicle that the organization was returning to its initial focus on human rights, a founding principle of George Soros’s philanthropy.
In keeping with Soros’s decentralized approach to philanthropy, it will also direct more funding to organizations working nationally or regionally outside the U.S., giving more spending authority to people at the local level. At the same time, OSF’s central offices will streamline its fifty grantmaking entities and concentrate the funding it will continue to administer — separately from the increased funding for international organizations and offices — on larger-dollar “big bets,” to be decided at a later date.
Malloch-Brown declined to details about the foundation’s future plans, but told the Chronicle that it will be offering more multiyear grants. OSF also will establish a $100 million reserve fund for its international offices, which it expects to grow several times over.