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Our history


We launched Open Briefing in 2011. Our Big Idea at the time was to help nonprofits and foundations achieve social change by supporting their campaigns and decision making with open-source intelligence and investigations. We undertook groundbreaking work on corruption in pharmaceutical supply chains, the spread of armed drones, and the misuse of private military companies. We shaped strategy and influenced policy. We paved the way for the rise of the citizen investigative journalist.


In response to unmet need, we naturally began working more and more on security and risk. In 2016, we pivoted away from intelligence and investigations and launched our safety and security team. We embraced and progressed the holistic security approach, and expanded our teams to include digital and information security in 2017 and wellbeing and resilience in 2018. We provided consultancy and advisory to help nonprofits and foundations take the right risks when supporting and resourcing grassroots change. This work continues today.


The challenge was that only well-resourced organisations or those with international partners to sponsor the work could easily access support. This changed in 2019, when we launched our rapid response mechanism. Through requests or referrals for fully-funded support, we build resistance and resilience among the people and communities challenging power. We help those fighting for human rights and social justice, protecting the environment and protesting climate chaos, exposing corruption and reporting the truth, defending their communities and their land, striving for peace and democracy, and standing up for reproductive justice and the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.


The scope and scale of the demand for our support has grown significantly. We are answering more calls for assistance across more countries than ever before. The cases are more complex – involving intersecting physical, digital, and psychological harms – and higher risk, involving highly-capable adversaries acting with increasing impunity. In response, in 2023 we embarked on an ambitious three-year strategy to transform into a global platform and meet this challenge responsibly and sustainably at scale.

Our founder

Our founder and CEO, Chris Abbott, worked with indigenous communities in Ecuador and the Philippines in the late 1990s, supporting their struggles against multinational oil and mining companies. He then spent a decade working at the policy level to protect civilians in conflict during the ‘war on terror’ and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The human rights champion Archbishop Desmond Tutu described Chris’s work at that time as “radical in the proper sense”. He has regularly featured in the international media, and has been interviewed by the New York Times, BBC, Channel 4 News, Esquire, ABC, and the Australian. Today, as well as leading Open Briefing, Chris is a director of Peace Brigades International and a founding collaborator in the Civic Ecosystems Initiative.

Open Briefing is a certified social enterprise and a member of
the CIVICUS global civil society alliance and the Vuka! coalition