In this section of our Review of Activities I will outline the principles and details of our funding model, which has brought us almost to financial sustainability in just four years. Our aim is to secure the core fixed costs of our normal operations through funds raised by relatively small, regular donations from a large number of individual supporters, whilst funding larger campaigns via contributions from grant-giving bodies. This broad base of grassroots support enables ORG to maintain its independence from any single patron or influence. This has been vital in gaining and retaining the trust of our supporters, the media and politicians and is giving us growing legitimacy by virtue of the number of people who stand behind us when we speak.
It is our intention to be a transparent and open organisation and so we voluntarily publish a level of detail consistent with best practice guidelines for voluntary sector organisations, which is considerably in excess of our statutory obligations. If after reading this statement and report you have any questions or feedback I and the rest of the Board would be very pleased to hear from you so that we can make any changes necessary in advance of next year’s Review of Activities.
Your generosity has enabled us to quickly and effectively establish a confident and considered voice for citizens and consumers in technology-related public policy debates. Following the successful pledge to found ORG in 2005, ORG supporters like you donated around £19,000 in our first financial year (ending 31 October 2006). This public support increased to over £35,000 in the following accounting period (the year ended 31 October 2007), and then to around £50,000 in our most recent published accounts (appended to this report). Despite the recession, we have continued the upwards trend and will report further significant growth in our next accounts.
In the financial year ended 31 October 2008, as noted in last year’s report, ORG secured further grant support from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (JRRT) Ltd. An award of £20,000 plus £10,000 in matched funds was directed to capacity-building activities, including core infrastructure and community fundraising works. In the same period, the organisation received a grant of £19,800 from new media development centre 01 zero-one to prepare and deliver educational materials for creative businesses using the open architecture and culture of the internet. The Open Society Foundation also granted ORG €30,000 to expand our campaign for copyright reform in Europe. This paid for a third (part-time), campaign-dedicated staff member.
More recently, in the as-yet unreported year to 31 October 2009, JRRT granted £14,000 to host a series of Database State seminars, which facilitated conversations between civil society and Westminster regarding improving public sector management of our personal data. We are also delighted to report that the Open Society Foundation generously committed to continue funding our campaign work on copyright reform with an increased grant of €58,000, which will support a full-time campaigner in 2010.
The Board (all unpaid volunteers) remain focused on the financial self-sustainability of ORG and concern ourselves continuously not just with providing all the support we can to the Executive Director and his staff in growing the supporter numbers, and hence income of the organisation, but also with keeping our operating expenditure tightly managed, lean and efficient. Our task in doing this was greatly eased by all of the individuals and organisations that have supported us either by donating their valuable time to us as volunteers or providing goods, services or resources to us at reduced or no cost. Thank you.
Looking ahead to the coming year, we are again targeting further significant growth in our supporter numbers and aim to increase our receipts from individuals by another 25%.
If you’re already a supporter I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for your continued generosity and ask politely if you’re able to consider increasing your gift. If you’re not an ORG supporter, then I hope that this report has helped show you the care we take to maximise the effect of our supporters’ hard-earned donations and has done its part to convince you to become one.
For and on behalf of the Board of Directors
Vijay Sodiwala Treasurer