Our Story

Anyone who works in the nonprofit sector or on social issues knows two things to be true:

▪  It seems there is never enough funding or other resources to do the work that is necessary

▪  Any social reform is far too complicated for any single organization to tackle alone

In light of these two challenges, the Open Gov Hub was founded in 2012 to break through traditional silos between different sectors and organizations, and to catalyze sharing and collaboration needed to rise to the global challenges of our time, particularly related to good governance and opening up governments.

By bringing together researchers, data analysts, communicators, technologists, lawyers, journalists, and more, we began to uncover the tremendous potential of this themed model of co-location and collaboration, particularly as we worked on opengov related issues in many different countries and contexts.

The year of our founding was a key moment in time. A window of opportunity appeared to capitalize on the momentum around a new global movement for open government. This term began to take off around 2011, when President Obama announced the creation of the Open Government Partnership at the UN General Assembly that year in response to the historic Arab Spring and other people-powered social movements worldwide. At the same time as this movement, an exponential growth in the number of physical hubs, such as coworking spaces, incubators, and resource centers, began to be established around the globe.

With both a clear vision and the serendipity of the commitment and needed resources coming together between our two founding non-governmental organizations — Global Integrity and Development Gateway — the Open Gov Hub was launched and a new vehicle for social impact was born.

The first version of Open Gov Hub existed in 2013 and 2014 in the old offices of Development Gateway at the Organization of American States building. This 1.5 year incubation period gave time for our founders to recruit early tenant members and to find an appropriate space for the vision they had in mind for the Hub. Then, on April 1, 2014, the second version of Open Gov Hub was launched at our current 20,000 custom-built space in downtown Washington D.C.

Since then, both the membership, programs, and collaborations of Open Gov Hub have grown tremendously. We invite you to explore the rest of our site to learn more. 


 

Our Approach

The Open Gov Hub is a nonprofit social enterprise that supports a network of over 40 organizations working worldwide. There are three core components of what we do to support our member network and partners, as well as fulfilling our mission of working together to empower citizens.

 
 
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Operations

We offer world-class coworking and other essential services to our member organizations, including staff support with Events, Communications, IT, and more. This helps our members save time and money and work more efficiently by accessing pooled resources. We estimate that our members save thousands per year from these forms of operational and administrative support.

 
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Programs

We run a huge variety of one time and ongoing programs to active connections within our network and beyond, in order to help us catalyze collaboration and be far more than the sum of our parts. In practice, this means that we convene an average of 3 events per week, from social activities like happy hours and Waffle Wednesdays, to panels, skillshares, workshops, mapathons, and more. About half of our programs are exclusively for members, while the other half are open to the public. 

 
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Advocacy

As the Open Gov Hub network and knowledge base has grown, so too has our ability to offer a unique bird's eye perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the global open government movement. As such, in 2018 we began to formalize and expand our activities with external partners. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about how we intentionally design our activities to maximize collaborations, check out our Strategy. You can also see our 2017 Year in Review and 2016 Year in Review to read about what we've been learning on creating an environment that is conducive to collaborations and how we've adapted over time.


 

Our Impact

Whether at the coffee bar in person at our large shared office, during our events, on our member Slack channels, or in other ways, every day our members are sharing resources and connecting, and collaborating with each other in small and big ways to have greater social impact.

At the same time, the Open Gov Hub team constantly works to facilitate an environment that is conducive to collaborations across our network, and we regularly curate connections and collaborations.

40+

Member organizations

Our members range in issue area, scope, and geography, but we're all striving to make the world more just. 

 

150+

events per year

We are constantly organizing a range of events for the public and our members so we can innovate, learn from and with each other, develop new skills, and work together to achieve greater social impact.

 
 

75+

countries members work in

Not only do our members work in this many countries, but we have two global affiliate Open Gov Hubs in Nepal and Liberia, with plans to open more in the near future. Check out our Where We Work map (coming soon).

 

And here are just some of the ways we all work together to empower citizens and open governments around the globe. Stay tuned for a network visualization of our Hub network detailing the shared topics many of our groups work on.
 

Featured Current Collaborations

Defending Democracy: Lessons from Around the World

This is a collaboration between Open Gov Hub, Global Integrity, and Sunlight Foundation in partnership with Transparency International. The goal is to support American democracy advocates facing growing challenges to the health of American democracy by helping learn from other countries’ experiences defending democracies in distress. It focuses on three themes: combating corruption, preserving civic and press freedom, and protecting free and fair elections. This program features an ongoing events series called Democracy Dialogues and an online case study library. Learn more here.


DC and Liberia Open Gov Hubs Staff Swap

The Open Gov Hub in DC and our affiliate Hub in Monrovia, Liberia are partnering on a staff swap program to better connect Hubs across the Global North and South, learn from one another, and deepen collaborations. Our teams will physically visit each other's Hubs and run joint events and virtual exchanges.


Global Giving Shared Space Partnership

The Open Gov Hub has a shared space partnership with its office neighbor Global Giving, the world’s first crowdfunding platform that connects individual donors to support grassroots projects around the world.  We also occasionally partner on events on topics of shared interest, like nonprofit management issues.
 

Ongoing Shared Staffing

Numerous organizations within the Hub network partner with each other to share staff. Read our Stories of Collaboration post about this.


Skillshares and Working Groups

The Open Gov Hub supports several ongoing collaboration groups with its members that each meet monthly, including Skillshare groups on Communications, Innovation, and Operations, plus Working Groups focusing on Open Data, Closing Civic Space, Adaptive Learning, and Local Open Government.

 

 

FAQs

 

What is Open Gov?

These images are from Hub Member's Open Government Partnership and their report entitled The Skeptic's Guide to Open Government, which highlights the benefits and impacts of open gov.

 

Who runs Open Gov Hub?

 

Is this an incubator?

Technically speaking Open Gov Hub is not a separate legal entity but rather is considered an initiative of its two founding NGOs, Global Integrity and Development Gateway. These two organizations co-operate the Hub, managing its financial and legal obligations, while the Open Gov Hub team (link to team page) is housed within Global Integrity.

 

No, we are not a start-up incubator in the classic sense in that the Hub does not directly invest in its member organizations and grow their work, and almost all our of members are nonprofits or NGOs, not businesses. Rather, the Hub seeks to bring together both small and medium-sized organizations working on the broader open government agenda and to support them through access to shared essential resources, as well as regular collaboration and learning opportunities.

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