Open Society Foundations: Fundraising for Disasters & Refugees

OVERVIEW: Encompassing a worldwide array of national institutes, the Open Society Foundations heavily supports refugee relief projects. Open Society provides funding and advocacy support for disadvantaged populations globally, including migrants and refugees. Open Society does not have a specific disaster and refugee grantmaking program.

IP TAKE: Open Society has several grant opportunities for migration-related relief despite not having a specific refugee-related program. If seeking funds for disaster relief, emphasize a human angle, not an environmental one. 

PROFILE: Since its inception in 1979, Open Society Foundations has created a transnational network of democracy-promoting foundations present in over 100 countries. Open Society Foundations predominantly focuses on human rights issues related to statelessness and citizenship, the rights and protections for migrant workers, and human trafficking. Grant awards that address issues of migration far outpace disaster-relief based projects. 

Refugee-related grants are dispersed across over 30 issue-specific programs. Before proceeding with grant proposals, it is crucial to identify which program may best suit your project. Grants for refugee-related projects are likely found among Open Society's Rights and Justice program, Initiative for EuropeInternational Migration Initiative, or its Human Rights Initiative. In the case of its International Migration Initiative, Open Society clearly outlines the gaps it hopes to fill and your proposal should adjust accordingly.

If your work is more policy rather than practice, you may consider exploring Open Society's Governance and Accountability program or the Open Society European Policy Institute. 

To improve chances of securing funding for natural disaster relief, it is important that your grant proposal focuses on the human and societal toll that a disaster creates, rather than on the environmental damage itself. 

Open Society announces periodic grant opportunities throughout the year, which it posts on its website with regularity. As with all other grant programs from this foundation, be sure to read all the requirements and make sure that your project is a fit.


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