George Soros gave $18 million to philanthropy he founded


George Soros

George Soros speaking in Berlin, Sept. 10, 2012. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Jewish-American billionaire George Soros has given $18 billion to Open Society Foundations, a philanthropy that he founded.

The gift, made over several years but first disclosed on Tuesday, is one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to one foundation, the New York Times reported.

Open Society is now the second largest philanthropic organization by assets in the United States, behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wall Street Journal reported. The foundation now holds most Soros’ fortune.

Soros, 87, a major Democratic donor, earned his wealth as a hedge fund manager. Open Society, founded by Soros more than 30 years ago, promotes democracy and human rights in more than 120 countries. In recent years in the United States the philanthropy has provided funding to programs to protect gays and lesbians and reduce abuses by police, according to the Times.

Soros is frequently vilified by European right-wing politicians for his support of pro-democracy efforts through Open Society, and by pro-Israel activists for his support of Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups consistently critical of Israeli policies. He currently is under fire in his birth country of Hungary, where he has been derided for his support for efforts to allow migrants to enter the country.

He is reported to be planning to give another $2 billion to the foundations in coming years. He currently is worth about $23 billion.

Open Society provides about $900 million annually for programs and grants.

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