The AC is one of ORG’s strongest assets, providing expertise across technical, campaigning, creative and political spheres. From journalists to academics, we have some of the best minds in the UK actively advising and helping us develop policy.
This year, we recruited Chris Taggart and Tim Davies to help us with Open Data policy, to help develop new perspectives on the ways that transparency can help government accountability but also other rights. Trevor Callaghan, a technology and legal expert working at Google, David Allen Green, the lawyer libe; reform campaigner, and Paul Thomson, an active observer of UK IP policy and Liberal Democrat, all joined. Graham Linehan and Alex Cox joined, as leading UK creators.
Out Board held an open recruitment process, and appointed Maria Farrell, with experience at ICANN, Simon Phipps, with senior management experience at Sun and active work in the open source world, and Alec Muffett, with security expertise and strong current connections in tech activism.
The Board also settled on a pattern of appointing two sets of three representatives, and electing a further three. Each group will serve a term of three years, ensuring a smooth rotation and inflow of new ideas and enthusiasm.
The Executive Director reports to the Board every two months, and develops a business plan for the Board annually. This year, the board has asked to continue a strong rate of growth – around 25% – and for the whole of ORG to look at our strategy for the next three years. This process will take place over the summer.
Our staff team changed considerably during 2011, and we diversified our staff skills and experience. Peter Bradwell, a former researcher working on copyright and privacy at Demos joined us at the start of the year. Nishma Doshi joined us in May, with a background in grassroots activism, to help us develop our community and events. We recruited Lee Maguire in September to take care of our technical systems and develop tech activism projects. He is currently working on our website and membership systems.
Our other staff members are Simon Barnes, an administrator with considerable financial and press experience, and Javier Ruiz, who has many years experience in technology, grassroots organisation and campaigning. Javier has been responsible for the Open Data, archives and genealogy work funded by FreeBMD.
There are areas where ORG still needs to develop staff capabilities, notably in legal expertise, communications and fund raising.
ORG depends on our volunteers, for regular financial support, legitimacy when we speak, and to amplify our campaigning voice at every level. We are committed to developing our community and keeping it central to our work.
At the start of last year, we felt we were in need of reconnecting with our grassroots. Our main connection with our volunteers was Michael, who left in 2010, and had previously organized regular meetings, social events and provided updates to supporters.
We felt we needed staff focused specifically on these community-building tasks, and also someone to work specifically on projects that would appeal to our tech community, to reactivate ORG’s work with them.
The projects that have so far come out of this approach include:
- The blocked.org.uk work, monitoring the mobile networks;
- Our parody campaign, fuelled by contributions from the B3TA community;
- Monthly London meetups, starting last summer with our Reconnect event; now growing in popularity and being given a strong push by Alec Muffett;
- ORGCon 2012, co-ordinated by Nishma;
- Our first practical steps with TOR, by providing a bridge run from our office;
- New and much more informative monthly emails;
- ORGZine, run and written entirely by ORG volunteers;
- Our office Intern programme, which is bringing many new and talented volunteers into ORG;
- Outreach to events and conventions, including the Radical Media Conference, Netroots Manchester, Haciaith Aberystwyth, PHP UK, Nominet, FLOSS UK in Edinburgh and locally focused events like Reading Geek Night.
We did not engage in any major recruitment campaigns during 2011, with the result that our supporter numbers were roughly static through the year. The main reason for this was that we were preparing plans for 2012 and doing the basic work to revitalize our community activities, alongside profile raising work at the Radical Media Conference.
We appointed Nishma Doshi mid year to carry out future recruitment work, which started in earnest with our event with Richard Stallman in November. Over 100 new supporters have joined in run up to ORGCon showing ORG’s continued ability to grow quickly and effectively.
In 2011, about half of our funding came from supporter donations. ORG received funding from the Open Society Institute, FreeBMD, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and the Sigrid Rausing Trust. The SRT have since awarded us £30,000 per annum for three years as core funding.
We received our first long term commercial sponsorship this year, from Bytemark, who offered us free web hosting services. We received a large number of one-off donations, including £1,000 from the Daily Mail, after they published photography by Alice Taylor without permission.
We were unable to run an ORGCon during 2011, instead scheduling it for the start of 2012. This was purely down to the logisitics of finding a venue and speakers after appointing our new Events Officer, Nishma Doshi, in May 2011. Our plan is to book a venue for next year’s event in the near future so the date is clear, known and fixed roughly nine months in advance.
ORGCon is a major plank in our programme to develop ORG’s community. It is a major training event, allowing ORG supporters to hear new ideas, get involved in new debates and get involved in our projects.