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openDemocracy is launching a new Friends scheme

To be independent and influential openDemocracy must stand on its own feet. Yet it is an important principle that openDemocracy is free to read for anyone around the world, whether rich or poor. It follows that those who read and use openDemocracy should volunteer some of the costs, with other income from advertising and the independent sections. With a total budget of £300,000 compared to the millions spent by comparable magazines and websites, this does not need to be much.
openDemocracy Opendemocracy
26 September 2011

We are launching a new Friends scheme where people decide what they can contribute above £200 (€250, $300). But in parallel with this we want to test a bolder route to sustainability that is not just about asking users for a donation.

We want to build a Friends editorial network: a force of intelligence and judgment that shapes openDemocracy - an agency of change that supports democracy, openness, human rights and alternatives to market fundamentalism - which people want to join and be part of.

Becoming a Friend is a relationship. It gives you various options.

  • Receive our premium email ‘The week in 400 words’ 
  • Have your name on site with a link of your choice
  • Social events with editors and authors
  • Participate in a quarterly web-call with editors & other Friends
  • Be an openDemocracy citizen editor (see below)
  • Nominate a friend who has all the above options for free
  • Volunteer as a part-time sub or researcher

We want Friends to contribute at least £200 a year - or £100 if they are an underpaid academic.

Payments can be made online or preferably by cheque - with Gift Aid in the UK or 501c3 in the US, or through CAF. See the box on the right or get in touch with Clare Coatman ([email protected]) for additional options.

This will also give you the right, if you wish, to nominate one other person, hopefully young, to be a Friend for free. You may not want to play any editorial role yourself, but by contributing financially and nominating someone else you can also assist the creation of both a network and the resources to make it a success.

Together we could create a light and efficient global editorial network of citizen editors, that’s to say of people like you who can help identify a story or encourage a new voice or an important contributor to a debate or participate in shaping oD’s coverage.

Citizen editors

The most novel aspect of this is for you to have the authority to commission other people. We want to inspire initiative and judgment but not get overrun if someone tries to take advantage of the opportunity.

The idea is that there will be a presumption that we will publish a contribution that a Friend, if they want to get involved in the editorial network, commissions from someone else provided that it meets our usual quality. As the Friend, you will have to get the contribution, read it and forward it. Our guarantee is that this will get prompt editorial attention, constructive feedback and the editorial time and effort to try and ensure publication (such as getting other readers if necessary, providing pictures, checking links). The final decision remains with the relevant oD editor.

That’s the heart of it. You can do this up to four times a year. Citizen editors have a dedicated email address to send material to, to ensure a prompt response: [email protected]

Becoming a Friend does not oblige you to take up any of the options at all. But we want you to know that you can make an active difference if the opportunity arises. It may be that this will simply increase the number of great submissions from new contributors who already send them in at the moment because you encourage this. But we feel sure there is a tremendous opportunity to build a public force of openDemocracy supporters.

If you know of others you think might be interested in joining the Friends network please click on the email link at the top of this page and you can forward this page on to them. 

Thank you!

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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