Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has given $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations in one of the most substantial wealth transfers ever made to a single foundation by a private donor. The donations, which have been made quietly in the past years, were only disclosed recently in a move that reflects an ongoing process of asset transfer that has been underway for years. The money is meant to fund the future work of the society and brings his total giving to the foundations since 1984 to over $30 billion.
According to the organization’s spokesperson, his recent donation comes from his wealth. Forbes lists his net worth at $23 billion. CNN Money revealed that 87-year-old Soros plans to leave a vast majority of his wealth to the Open Society Foundations. With its current value placed at $18 billion, the organization is larger than the Ford Foundation. This brings the philanthropic organization to the second largest position in the United States, coming second to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Open Society Foundation was established in the United States in 1993 and is committed to fighting the most intractable problems in the world. It aims to create more transparent, accountable and democratic societies. While the funds are international, Forbes notes that they are also used to enable local partners. The organization has outposts in more than 120 countries to help equip local people with the rights, tools, and knowledge to look at themselves in the long term.
It spreads its efforts around ten themes, which include human rights movements and institutions, early childhood and education, the rule of law and justice reform. It also funds public health efforts and refugee relief.
According to nytimes.com, the society has increased its attention to the United States. It has invested in programs to reduce abuse meted on gays and lesbians by the police. It has also funded efforts to protect United States citizens from a spike in hate crimes observed after the 2016 election. To prevent such violence, Mr. Soros committed $10 million to the cause.
George Soros fled Hungary for Britain to escape Nazi occupation in the 1940s before moving to the United States where has become one of the world’s most successful investors. For decades, he has been involved in philanthropic efforts for decades. According to the foundations’ website, Soros began his philanthropy in 1979 by offering scholarships to black South Africans under apartheid.
He later helped promote an open exchange of ideas by funding educational visits to the west in Communist Hungary. He also created the Central European University after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was in a bid to boost critical thinking, which was a foreign concept in most universities at the time, in the former communist bloc. Follow George Soros on Twitter.
Currently, his giving goes beyond his foundations to support independent organizations such as the International Crisis Group, the European Council on Foreign Relations the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and the Global Witness. The Los Angeles Times places the foundation’s budget for 2017 at $941 million.