How would you like to have the opportunity to help campaigners and activists around the world to push their governments for greater accountability, and better governance? How about doing so via an NGO that is skilled at (but realistic about) digital technologies?
Who we are
mySociety’s mission is to help people become more powerful in the civic and democratic parts of their lives, through digital means. We deliver on this mission by building software tools and platforms that focus on the nuts and bolts of democratic life - contacting politicians, finding out how they vote, asking for a street to be fixed, asking for key information only the government holds.
We need your help to make sure that current and future partners around the world (and especially Sub-Saharan Africa) can successfully launch and grow web and mobile services that make sense to their campaigns.
We started as a charity exclusively in the UK, building FixMyStreet.com, WhatDoTheyKnow.com and TheyWorkForYou.com for British users. Now we are working on projects mainly for use by different groups around the world. These include projects such as Alaveteli, focussed on Right to Information, and Mzalendo, focussed on political accountability.
What you would be doing in this job
In 2013 mySociety’s Head of Operations, Paul Lenz, is becoming our Head of International Projects. Paul has great experience of helping groups like Mzalendo in Kenya to launch a parliamentary transparency site, with mySociety’s help.
Between 2013 and 2015, mySociety is aiming to greatly increase the re-use and impact of our democracy and transparency software platforms & tools in increasingly diverse countries. Our International team is being substantially grown to help us with our ambitious goals.
There are three broad ways in which we do/will get involved with projects:
- We partner with a group and carry out all (or most) of the technical
development required for them to achieve their goals. We did this with
Mzalendo.com. Because of the resource overhead, we have relatively few
projects like this (and they are directly grant funded) however we
expect there to be 6-8 projects of this type in the next two years. The
successful applicant will be involved with a number of these projects,
working with partners to agree requirements and oversee the delivery of
project by the technical team (though direct technical skills are not
required). Close working relationships are required with the partners
to ensure their needs are met, and in addition to technical support,
strategic, marketing and outreach advice is often given.
- A group with technical skills re-uses our code with relatively little
technical intervention from mySociety (though some support and
development if needed). An example of this is http://kimittud.atlatszo.hu
Your role in such cases would be to ensure that the partner has
technical support they need from mySociety, to offer strategic guidance
and to help link the partner into the growing community of groups that
use our code.
- A group with (potentially) little or no technical skills uses one of
our hosted, self-service ‘Software as a Service’ tools. Whilst in the
early stages of development, mySociety is increasingly developing tools
such as PopIt that can be used
by groups with effectively no intervention on the part of mySociety.
Your role would be to evangelise about our tools to potential users and
to provide advice and support to those who choose to take them up.
In summary, your role would be all about helping our current and future partners to succeed in their goals. It would involve finding potential partners - such as NGOs, campaign groups and news companies - and helping them to decide whether or not our services are appropriate to their needs. Where we can help, you would act as a bridge between those partners and mySociety, helping them to acquire the skills, data, campaigning knowledge, allies and tools necessary to make a difference in their particular contexts. In some instances we will be working to develop platforms and tools (based upon our technology) directly for these partners and this role will include the scoping and delivery of such project.
You would also build long-term relationships with current partners, helping them to evolve and iterate their projects to become as useful as possible for their campaigns.
Day-to-day the job would involve very diverse activities, such as:
- Identifying and making contact with potential partner groups.
- Looking at at the objectives of partners (and potential partners) to see if our tools and skills could be of use in helping them achieve their goals.
- Working with a partner to specify the requirements of a new parliamentary transparency website.
- Helping a partner choose what a ‘good’ metric would be assessing the performance of their nationally elected politicians.
- Giving advice to a partner who is struggling with funding issues.
- Helping a partner to write a letter to a government ministry, persuading them to release some important data.
- Giving feedback on a media strategy for a campaign that’s about to launch.
- Booking into a conference in Uruguay, to speak about Alaveteli.
- Helping a partner to understand what lessons can be gathered from looking at their web analytics.
Why you should work with us
mySociety is a project of the registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy. We fund around 50% of this charitable work from major foundation grants from groups like the Open Society Foundation and the Omidyar Network. We fund the other half through the delivery of world class web development services, particularly to government and major media companies from Channel 4 to the World Bank.
There are versions of our websites being run by diverse partners in several countries already, from Australia to Ghana. To get to this stage we have had to work hard both on improving the software, but also on building relationships and helping individuals and groups to overcome the barriers between project initiation and running services that citizens in country find helpful and empowering.
Now we face two challenges. The first is making sure that those partners who have already deployed systems have what they need - both technical and non-technical - to use these assets to drive meaningful change in their countries. The second is to seek out new potential partners who could use current or future mySociety technologies and learnings to help them achieve their goals.
We’re widely geographically dispersed, and a lot of people work from home. This job will offer a wide range of travel opportunities, especially in Africa and Latin America.
You’ll also be collaborating with some amazing volunteers who are incredibly skilled and dedicated in their own right. Being part of mySociety means being in the kind of organisation that is so motivated that the management’s job is often to tell people to take it easy. We welcome people who, deep down, burn to make a difference.
Here’s the minimum skills we need you to have:
- Project management (formal qualifications not required).
- Written and spoken English to a graduate level.
- Decent spreadsheet skills
- Good attention to detail.
- Everyday familiarity with widely used internet and mobile technologies (e.g. Facebook, SMS).
- You will have written blog posts and reports about your work.
- You will have led and managed diverse projects to completion - whether student theatre productions or large humanitarian assistance programmes.
- You will have corralled and persuaded people who do not work for you to achieve common goals.
- You will have vetted other people for appropriate skills and motivations (whether formal job interviews or informal ‘checking people out’).
- You will be able to tell us about an occasion when you solved a problem or persuaded someone of something using data.
- Optional: You may have worked with or for international development NGOs, or companies based in low income countries.
- Optional: You may have run a website or an app, either for yourself or an employer.
As a person, we hope you will be:
- Interested in politics and/or international development.
- Empathetic, especially of people in very different circumstances from your own.
- A finisher completer.
- Friendly and motivated.
- Focussed on results and outputs - on the change that you want to make.
- Keen to visit new places and meet new people.
- Creative and lateral-thinking.
- Good at managing your own time and avoiding distractions.
- Aware and realistic about your own strengths and weakness.
What working for mySociety is like
Working for mySociety is not an everyday job. You’ll be part of an unusually skilled, motivated team, arranged in a very flat hierarchy, working to build tools that help people and communities. We’re widely geographically dispersed, and a lot of people work from home (although we have a central London office too, with an Oxford office coming soon). There is a high expectation of self-direction and self-discipline, you’ll normally be left alone to solve problems, unless you choose to consult colleagues. You’ll also be collaborating with some amazing volunteers who are incredibly skilled and dedicated in their own right. Being part of mySociety means being in the kind of organisation that is so motivated that the management’s job is often to tell people to take it easy. We welcome people who, deep down, burn to make a difference.
Home working anywhere within two hours journey from Oxford, where our Head of International Projects is based. The role is likely to involve considerable travel both within the UK and to other countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America.