Job vacancy: Head of Audience

openDemocracy is looking for an experienced and creative Head of Audience to grow our audience and its engagement, accelerate our ambitious reader donations programme, and to lead the changes to our editorial culture and workflow this will require.

  • Employer: openDemocracy
  • Location: London office
  • Pay: £50,000 (FT)
  • Contract: Permanent
  • Reports: Editor-in-Chief/CEO
  • Manages: Social Media Editor

openDemocracy (established in 2001) is a global, non-profit media platform that seeks to challenge power and inspire change through tenacious reporting, thoughtful analysis and democratic debate.

With human rights as our central guiding focus, and open-mindedness as our method, we ask tough questions about freedom, justice and democracy, and we help those fighting for their rights gain the agency to make their case and to inspire action.

Our recent investigative reporting on ‘dark money’ has triggered law change, parliamentary probes and criminal investigations, and has been picked up across the global media, including by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, the New Yorker, the Daily Mail, CNN, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Al-Jazeera and many others across the world.

Our site currently attracts over 7 million visits per year, and we host a diverse range of independent projects focused on different subject areas – including those publishing in Russian, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese as well as English, with an ambition to bring on more languages.

We collaborate with a rich and diverse network of NGOs, media think tanks, activists and academics across the world; and we have an open submissions policy committed to diversity of voice and perspective.

Background to role

openDemocracy is currently 75% grant-funded – a high proportion of which is income restricted to special projects. This model, while it has some benefits, does not best serve our mission. It does not allow us the flexibility as journalists to respond to the challenges and opportunities of a fast-changing world, and it limits our ability to think and plan strategically and long-term.

In order to increase our independence and agility, we want to be raising $1m a year (half of our current operating budget) from our readers within three years. Given our track record to date, we think this is an ambitious but achievable goal – and we are looking for a creative and experienced Head of Audience to lead this work, driving up readership numbers, deepening engagement and converting more readers into supporters of our journalism.

There are a number of encouraging signs. For a start, our recent Crowdfunder campaign, pegged to our dark money investigation, raised almost £110,000 from more than 3,500 one-off donations in under four months. Our engagement rates are also encouraging. An initial audit shows that an average of 72.5% of subscribers to our weekly email have opened at least one email in the past year.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but we know that to hit our ambitious goals we need to improve engagement with our readers, ensure that they stay with us for longer and ensure that a higher proportion engage with our content and donate to us. We also need to improve user experience across our digital platforms and invest in making openDemocracy’s brand visible to new audiences that are likely to be receptive to our vision.

To do this, we need a senior staff member with the right expertise and vision to test, iterate and implement a user growth and engagement programme, and to lead the internal changes to our editorial culture and workflow that successful community engagement, at scale, will entail.

This is a senior role but, because we are currently a small team, it is also very hands-on. You will be reporting to the Editor-in-Chief, line-managing a part-time social media editor and working closely with a small editorial team and our technical manager. You’ll need to be able to deploy your own skills, from email drafting, devising creative social media experiments and campaigns, to getting stuck in to back-end analytics setup, reporting and analysis, testing and iterating reader journeys, and CRM testing and procurement. And you’ll need to work closely with journalists who do not have these skills or experience, to increase their learning and confidence in these areas.

With successful fundraising there will be scope, over time, to build a larger team, but this is a role for a proactive self-starter who doesn’t hesitate to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.

Purpose of the role and key responsibilities

  • Design, implement, test and iterate segmented reader journeys in order to increase engagement and meet ambitious newsletter sign-up and digital fundraising targets
  • Draft and test ‘rapid response’ email and social media campaigns
  • Develop and manage an annual calendar of email, social media and other marketing and outreach campaigns
  • Lead on customising audience and supporter insights, using audience, CRM and newsletter analytics
  • Design, test and iterate an openDemocracy audience/membership/community offer, in order to build a long-term supporter base for the organisation
  • Share skills, knowledge and insights about successful audience engagement and digital fundraising across the wider openDemocracy team, and work with journalists and editors to help them fundraise for specific projects

Person specification


  • Strong track record of community management, growth and engagement, preferably gained within a media or third sector organisation
  • Ability to work at speed, and flexibly, in an environment which is partially news-driven and responsive, and partly requires longer-term planning and strategising
  • Strong experience of developing integrated digital audience journeys across digital channels, which result in strong engagement, including a steady income.
  • Experience in acquiring and retaining new donors/subscribers/supporters/members to achieve income targets. You may have gained this experience as a digital fundraiser, digital marketeer or membership manager.
  • Data-driven and analytical approach to marketing and audience management; experienced at using insights to find creative ways to engage with existing and new audiences
  • Well-versed in marketing disciplines, with an instinct for and experience of producing engaging social media content on your own, or by working with agencies/designers
  • Experience of working with CRM systems – from set-up to implementation and day-to-day reporting. We currently use CiviCRM, but would expect you to lead an exercise to establish if this remains our preferred option, and in using SEO to support the building of a community
  • Experienced in supporting organisational culture change, building a positive and collaborative working environment and sharing knowledge across an organisation or team
  • Experience of managing, motivating and developing a team
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to successfully manage complex and sensitive organisational relationships to achieve cross-organisational goals
  • Follower of current events, politics and international news, and passionate about the role of journalism in challenging power and promoting democracy around the world


  • Fluency in one or more languages, in addition to English
  • Experience in audience acquisition via Facebook
  • Experience in digital fundraising for journalism

How to apply

Candidates must be able to provide evidence they have the skills, knowledge and experience detailed in the person specification section of the job description.

To apply please submit to Recruiterbox your CV and a cover letter outlining how you fit the criteria for the role as detailed in the job description.

Application deadline: 5pm, Monday 5 August 2019.

openDemocracy recognises the value of perspectives from black and other people of colour. We are committed to sexual equality and are constantly working towards an environment free of gender bias. We encourage applicants from all groups that are under-represented among media workers. This is a full-time position, but we are open to accommodating family-friendly hours and other caring responsibilities.

Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData