For George Soros, giving away money to charitable organizations is equally an important part of his life as investing and making money in the first place. Over a history of philanthropy spanning decades, Soros has donated more than $12 billion across a wide range of organizations and individuals, assisting in efforts to expand freedom of expression, open governments, and serve justice in society. For Soros, the Open Society Foundations have been key to this philanthropy and have also shed light on the important ties that the investment leader has between his charitable giving and his personal story.
Experience of Intolerance
Soros' own experience as the recipient of intolerant treatment has influenced his opinions about philanthropy to this day. Born in Hungary prior to the Second World War, Soros witnessed firsthand the horrors of the Nazi regime and the effects that it had on his Jewish family. The Soros family managed to avoid the gravest consequences of their situation by utilizing false identity papers and obfuscating their own religious history, according to the Open Society Foundations website. Soros himself has indicated that not only did his family manage to survive the terrors of that period, but they were able to help others to survive as well.
While Soros' own path led from Hungary to London for business school and then to the United States, where he entered the world of finance and subsequently made his fortune, his later years have nonetheless been colored by his early experiences as a Jewish child growing up during the Nazi era.
Genesis of Open Society Foundations
The Open Society Foundations, founded in the early 1990s, comprise a large network of organizations and projects with representation in more than 100 countries. The Foundations are modeled after economic philosopher Karl Popper's view that societies should be totally free and open to various beliefs, modes of expression, and democratic forms of government.
Soros' philanthropic efforts began in 1979 and focused on supporting black South Africans under the apartheid regime. His subsequent efforts have included promotion of the free exchange of ideas in the Communist Bloc countries, the creation of the Central European University after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and, in more recent years, support for the medical marijuana and same-sex marriage movements. Although Soros is now in his 80s, he maintains an active role in the work of Open Society Foundations, frequently traveling and supporting the organization's efforts in a variety of ways. His history of charitable giving and commitment to the ideals of a world that is open, tolerant, and free suggest that he will continue to make such efforts throughout the remainder of his life, and his legacy will certainly continue far into the future as well.