A just and equitable world where communities and ecosystems can thrive is possible. But social injustice, democratic backsliding, and the climate crisis threaten us all. The courageous people and communities daring to speak out face attacks and reprisals from powerful vested interests. Many pay the ultimate price.
Open Briefing is a vital part of the response. We build resistance and resilience among the people and communities challenging power. And last year, we received more calls for assistance than ever before. The number of requests for our support increased by 40% on the previous year to 483. Three quarters of these involved activists and organisations fighting for human rights and social justice and a quarter were focussed on the environment and climate action.
In response, our international team provided over 4,600 hours of direct support and trained over 1,000 defenders in 114 holistic security workshops.
A third of the cases that we worked on were with individual activists or informal collectives. We also significantly increased the number of countries that we worked across, from 68 in 2022 to 93 in 2023. Both of these developments reflect the increasingly-grassroots nature of our work.
Last year saw Sudan descend into civil war, the war between Israel and Hamas reignite, and global temperatures shatter records. Many of the cases that we worked on were complex – involving intersecting physical, digital, and psychological harms – and high risk, involving highly-capable adversaries acting with impunity. Despite these challenges, the activists and organisations that we supported reported an incredible 21% decrease in risk following our work with them.
The wider impact of our work was captured in an external impact evaluation commissioned by a donor last year, which concluded that:
The different issues around which the interviewees had sought support from Open Briefing were each very different but profound, serious, and challenging. The threats they face are complex and sophisticated, and the antagonists behind them often powerful and well-resourced. The scale of the risks is such that it would not be possible for them to operate without this kind of support given the danger. The nature of the support that Open Briefing has provided is therefore highly important, and has allowed activism to continue in contexts where it might not otherwise be able to.
Funders are increasingly recognising how essential holistic security is to challenging shrinking civic space and strengthening civil society. And last year, we welcomed Luminate, Waverley Street Foundation, and Mott Foundation to our community of donors, joining Oak Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Packard Foundation.
Alongside this local support, we provide consultancy and training to help international nonprofits and foundations enhance their own risk management, data protection, and staff care, and better protect their grantees and local partners. Last year, 32% of our income came from such mission-related services – supplementing our grants and donations by over £260,000, and allowing us to help more people than ever before.
Our team protects many high-profile activists and well-known organisations. In 2023, we were privileged to work with Global Witness, Privacy International, and Global Greengrants Fund, and again provide support to winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the Right Livelihood Award, the Martin Ennals Award, and the Iris Prize. But much of our work is behind the scenes, with ordinary people and communities who are targeted for daring to speak out.
In 2023, we worked with those around the world 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. You can learn more about our work together in our full impact report below.