Our Theory

 
 
 

Every day, OPEN groups enable millions of citizens take action online and offline. As progressive organisers and activists, they face multi-national challenges like climate change, bad trade deals, and eroding access to democracy. Yet the most effective means for citizens to meet these challenges are almost always at the national level, changing public policy, media narratives, and their communities.

Each OPEN member organisation is an independent group working within its national context. But we problem-solve and innovate together. We share research, tools, and tactics that build our collective power. And we form bonds of trust and respect that allow our disparate organisations to become stronger together.

 

Our Program

 
 

Connect

OPEN connects groups to each other so they can share innovations, technologies, analyses, and lessons learned. These connections speed innovation and magnify impact.

Groups connect year-round to share lessons learned, cautionary tales and best practices to supercharge every aspect of what we do and how we do it. The combination of shared values, similar practices and almost no institutional competition creates an extremely honest, generous and valuable exchange.

We connect virtually through thousands of messages every month, live web seminars and facilitated learning circles across multiple issue and role cohorts. We gather physically at regular global and regional summits and through international staff exchanges. Over 120 such physical visits have occurred since 2014.


Collaborate

OPEN facilitates multinational campaigns on issues that cross borders, like climate change, trade, and corporate accountability.


Enhance

OPEN enhances the effectiveness of member organisations with best-in-class technology, training and strategic analysis.

OPEN network members benefit from special access to best-in-class external resources ranging from video production to management coaching. And OPEN’s staff of seasoned campaign veterans provide expert training and strategic support where appropriate.

OPEN also coordinates collaborative tech development across the network to innovate the next generation of digital tools for grassroots advocacy. Priority frontiers for this work include unleashing the full organising power of mobile-first platforms – especially in the Global South – and turbo-charging campaigns led by local volunteers.


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Grow

OPEN helps new organisations launch, thrive, and make a difference in countries all across the globe in record time, bringing new allies and new leaders into the network.

When OPEN launched in 2013, there were five founding organisations following 15 years of linear progress. Three years later, the network has more than tripled. Our priority growth areas are Europe and the Global South.

OPEN helps each start-up initiative achieve the high-quality leadership, strategy, technology, funding and institutional foundation they need for success. And the OPEN peer network ensures that every startup begins with the accumulated wisdom of those who have come before.

Today, recent OPEN startups across 5 continents are already fighting and winning campaigns on critical issues from air quality in Poland to child poverty in New Zealand to police brutality in South Africa.

Innovations in tactics and technology regularly flow from new groups to older groups and back again, accelerating progress for all.

 

The OPEN Way

 
 
 

The OPEN Network operates on three principles that increase members’ capacity, multiply impact, and build what OPEN is calling network generosity – an open-handed willingness to exchange resources and knowledge in order to further the global movement for progressive social change.

Low Competition

Full OPEN membership is restricted to national organisations and limited to one group per nation. This eliminates the territorialism and competition for resources, credit, and membership that so frequently block full transparency and generosity between coalition partners.

Member Ownership

OPEN’s work is supervised by a rotating Core Group appointed from member organisations. Each full member organisation contributes 0.7% of their annual revenue to support OPEN and pledges to pay as much of their own networking costs as they can afford. OPEN’s general support potential grows as the network and its newest members grow. OPEN has a goal of being entirely member-funded by 2023. Member contributions increased 134% from 2013 to 2014 and are pledged to increase 247% in 2015.

Culture of Trust and Respect

High respect motivates every group to learn from and support every other. High trust enables full transparency. OPEN seeks a high degree of ideological and methodological alignment across the network, to ensure each group recognizes every other as being on the same team, even if they work on different issues at different times. This fuels the engine of collaboration.

 
 

The OPEN Team

 
 
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Ben Brandzel

Founder + Executive Director  •  ben@the-open.net  •  Bangalore, India

After serving as MoveOn.org’s original Advocacy Director from 2004-2006, Ben has become a significant global catalyst of progressive digital organising. After leaving MoveOn he helped found or advise what would become OPEN groups in Australia, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, India and South Africa. He came home to serve as Director of New Media Campaigns and Fundraising for President Barack Obama during the 2009-2010 health reform campaign. Ben was a founding Campaign Director at Avaaz where he served on the Board of Directors from 2007-2016. From 2011-2012 he served as Strategy Director for the Citizen Engagement Lab, where he devised, tested and refined best practices for incubating and networking digital campaigning organisations. In 2013, he co-convened the OPEN Summit which led to OPEN’s creation and has been living this dream ever since.

 
 

Shilpa Mudiganti

Director of operations  •  shilpa@the-open.net  •  bangalore, india

Shilpa Mudiganti is our Director of HR & Operations and has been our very first staff on board. She is passionate about bringing systems, structure and progressive people practices in the Non-profit and Social Enterprise space. Shilpa has more than 15 years of work experience which includes working with international Fortune 500 corporates to local NGOs to UNDP in Sierra Leone. When she is not working, she loves to dabble in acting and production for plays and in learning sustainable living practices.

 
 

Phil Ireland

Managing Director  •  phil@the-open.net  •  Newcastle, Australia

For over 10 years Phil has worked as a campaigner, organiser, and strategist  with some of the world’s leading campaigning organisations. Growing up in Newcastle, Australia, one of the world’s largest coal ports,  he spent much of his life participating in work related to climate change and politics. This has included local organising, leading Oxfam’s advocacy engagement with Australia Pacific region in the United Nations climate change negotiations, and the completion of a Ph.D. in climate change politics and adaption with a focus in South Asia. Phil is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and plays a leadership role in organisational governance around the world  including being the Chair of GetUp, one of Australia’s largest campaigning organisations, Vice-Chair of the Global Campaign for Climate Action and advising a range of boards. He also serves as a Conjoint Lecturer at The University of Newcastle and is on the experts register at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. Phil has authored several peer-reviewed academic articles, book chapters, and articles in the public media.

 
 

Michael Snook

Technology Director  •  snook@the-open.net  •  bangalore, india

Michael Snook is an organiser and technologist from Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, currently based out of Bangalore. His time in the political world has taken him from field organising, to fundraising and speechwriting, to analytics and targeting, to tech administration, to software development. In 2009, Michael helped found BoldProgressives.org and later served as Chief Information Officer, directing a team of designers, developers, and data analysts to keep things running smoothly while building new organising tools to bring innovative new tactics and strategies to life. He gets excited about space exploration, cognitive linguistics, and distributed leadership models.

 
 

Hiemanshu Sharma

Lead Engineer  •  hiemanshu@the-open.net  •  bangalore, india

Hiemanshu has been a technologist for as long as he can remember. He started programming at the age of 15, and has worked on a wide array of different technologies. He loves tinkering with new technologies and finding just the right tool to solve a problem. He has experience working with large scale collaborative projects including Android and Fedora Linux. In his down time, Hiemanshu likes to play with his son, try out new video games, and build prototype apps to solve messy old problems in elegant new programming paradigms.

 
 

Becky Jarvis

network architect  •  becky@the-open.net  •  cardiff, uk

A South Wales native, Becky was an early staffer at 38Degrees and has a strong track-record of mobilizing millions to take action on the issues they care about. She’s led on the strategy, planning and execution of some of 38Degrees’s biggest campaigns. She has a particular expertise in email and web engagement, strategic planning, public affairs, project management, event coordination, field campaigning and working with external stakeholders. Prior to joining the staff team at 38Degrees, she worked as Director of Policy and Communication in the family sector for a children’s charity.

 
 

Stephanie Danielle Roth

european coordinator  •  stephanie@the-open.net  •  berlin, germany

With a research & journalism background, Stephanie brings several languages and 15 years of direct campaign experience from throughout Europe. She was the campaign coordinator of the successful ‘Save Rosia Montana!’ campaign which brought to life massive citizen engagement in a post-communist Romania. For this engagement she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Stephanie is amongst a handful of campaigners who developed and managed large transnational EU campaigning amongst a diverse range of organizations, teams & facilitated inclusion and exchange in continuous networks. Examples include the TTIP/CETA european citizens initiative as well as the latest reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

 

 
 

Ranjani Rajashekaran

Finance Manager  •  ranjani@the-open.net  •  london, u.k.

Ranjani has a Master’s Degree in Accounting with 9 years of experience in diverse fields like accounting and finance, supply chain, advertising and operations. While most of her experience comes from the corporate sector, she is very enthusiastic about being associated with OPEN and contributing meaningfully to society.

 
 
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Sarah Knutson

 Program & Development Officer•  Sarah@the-open.net  •  Philadelphia, U.s.a.

Sarah joined the OPEN team after a serendipitous encounter during her most recent backpacking trip. After falling in love with OPEN's innovative approach to connecting the world's best change makers, she decided that canceling her plans to be a part of their efforts was an even better adventure. Previously, Sarah worked as a Communications and Development Associate with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in the U.S. In her free time she is often volunteering for more locally, usually arts, focused nonprofits and revels in creating useable resources to help citizens in politically divided times peaceably engage in dialogue and nonviolent organizing.

 
 

Libby Lenkinski

Development & Growth Advisor  •  libby@the-open.net  •  brooklyn, u.s.a.

Libby directs strategy at the New Israel Fund, and previously worked with leading human rights organisations in Israel and Palestine. She has led outreach and engagement campaigns for documentary films and media outfits as well as social change initiatives. Libby is an advisor for +972 Magazine, an online magazine that brings progressive voices from Israel and Palestine and serves on the Board of Comet-ME, an organisation that provides renewable energy systems to off-the-grid Palestinian communities in the West Bank.