Why We Admire Open Society Foundations

On October 17th, 2017, George Soros, did something incredible. He donated $18 billion to the Open Society Foundations, dwarfing any other private charitable donation in history.

The nonprofit sector is full of impressive organisations doing amazing things. It’s inspiring and humbling to work alongside so many smart, compassionate people. Many foundations and charities share our values, but if I had to choose one that I particularly admire, it would be Open Society Foundations.

Founded by Soros in 1993, the foundation makes grants that support civil society initiatives around the world, contributing to what it describes as “the global struggle for open society”. It advocates for justice promotion, public health, media freedom and governance, among other human rights.

Headquartered in New York City, OSF is a decentralised global network with chapters in over 120 countries. Over the last three decades, Open Society Foundations has spent over $14 billion pursuing its mission “to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.”

In more concrete terms, George Soros’s generous donations have enabled the OSF to:

  • Defend the rights of LGBT people.
  • Uphold women rights.
  • Fight racial and ethnic discrimination.
  • Defend the rights of religious minority groups.
  • Promote reform in education, governance and justice.
  • Contribute to public health — including the creation of treatment centers during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, fighting of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and tuberculosis.
  • Reform drug policies, criminal justice and immigration policies.

Clearly OSF has more financial firepower than most nonprofits, managed by Soros Fund Management, which also houses the billionaire’s personal fortune. Whilst its budget and remit are much greater than that of Ananas, OSF shares our values of inclusion. It believes in welcoming all individuals, and so do we.

One area where we are particularly aligned is that of access. Soros spent the early part of his life living in closed societies — including Nazi-occupied Hungary — and these experiences have shaped his political and philanthropic thinking. He says, “When I had made more money than I needed for myself and my family, I set up a foundation to promote the values and principles of a free and open society.”

OSF is committed to increasing public access to knowledge and promoting a free, independent press. We share this sense of purpose at Ananas. In fact, we’re building a platform that makes every community’s beliefs accessible.

We’re doing this because fake news and alternative facts seem more popular than the truth. By creating our own cryptocurrency, the Anacoin, we align the interests of different groups and reward trusted contributors to the platform.

OSF is named after Karl Popper’s 1945 book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. This is significant. Popper’s work sought to identify and flag authoritarianism and ideologies that seek to replace human judgement by creating conditions that impede expression of critical thought. Things like laws, threats, intimidation, propaganda, fake news.

Ananas’s approach to fighting hate and promoting tolerance might differ from that of OSF through the use of blockchain, advanced data science and cryptocurrency, but we share the same crucial insight, “a full and fair discussion is essential to democracy”. And we have the same objective — measurable impact over the long term.

Here at Ananas we take inspiration from Open Society Foundations and we strive to emulate its achievements in the years and decades ahead.