George Soros is making changes to his foundation while he can

Behind every discussion is the fact that Mr. Soros has just celebrated his 91st birthday. He was a year older than Warren Buffett when he recently stepped down as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The sprawling foundation that Mr. Soros has funded for decades wants to refocus while he can still weigh in on the question many great philanthropies face, how to keep the founder’s vision alive after his departure?

Mr. Soros declined through a spokesperson to be interviewed for this article. Mr. Malloch-Brown, 67, the group’s new chairman and veteran of the United Nations, the World Bank and the UK Foreign Office, is leading the organization during the transition period.

“In its early days, the foundation was much better for adding things than for closing things. It was the luxury of what then and today remains a very generously funded foundation, ”said Mr. Malloch-Brown. “We had lost that more strategic focus and that tip of ‘Hey, the things that we really care about are under attack all over the world and we just have to get a lot more strategic to face it and deal with it.'”

Some staff, including many associates with the United States Employees Union, have come to view change not only as Mr. Soros’ priorities, but also as those of outside consultants with a more cohesive view of what is happening. has always been a complex establishment. They described a business-like rationalization recommended by the Bridgespan Group, the non-profit spin-off of Bain & Company. The redesign included few contributions from people working directly with beneficiaries, employees said.

Thursday, more than 150 employees, nearly one in 10 of the foundation in the world, saw their takeover and some were already cleaning their offices.

“Why not consult with the people closest to the frontline work to find out what the transformation should look like? Said Ramzi Babouder-Matta, program administration specialist at Open Society Foundations, who is among those leaving. “It looks like a small group of leaders making top-down decisions without meaningfully engaging staff. “

The Legal Action Center, which works on criminal justice reform and drug policy and has received $ 350,000 a year from the foundation, or about 5% of the centre’s overall budget, got its approval in July. “It is very difficult to find this funding in the areas in which we work because there are so few philanthropic organizations supporting it,” said Paul N. Samuels, president of the center.

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