How we run mySociety
mySociety has the following charitable objective: “to conduct and promote research into the use and effects of information and communication technologies in the context of the operation of any body or bodies which has or have an electorate […] and to disseminate the useful results of such research for the benefit of the public.”
The registered charity was originally founded as UKCOD (UK Citizens Online Democracy) in 1996 as an experiment to find out whether people could use the internet to discuss and become better informed about the complex issues that affect their lives. UKCOD fell dormant around 1999, and was revived in 2003 by a new generation of trustees and volunteers, who used the name mySociety for their activities; in 2020, we formally changed the charity’s name to mySociety.
mySociety has also established a commercial trading subsidiary, SocietyWorks Ltd (company number 05798215).
SocietyWorks Ltd delivers services for local authorities and other clients in the UK and abroad, access to our data APIs, and custom development. This commercial activity is aligned with our overall mission and profits are reinvested into the charity to enable it to continue with its work. There have been other commercial subsidiaries in the past, but SocietyWorks Ltd is the only one currently trading.
mySociety’s staff have the opportunity to work on both charitable and commercial projects. mySociety charges SocietyWorks Ltd for the staff time used for commercial work.
Many of the current charitable projects started out as private initiatives run by volunteers in their spare time, and mySociety continues to be supported by a large and disparate community of volunteers, too numerous to name here, who provide invaluable support, advice, technical expertise and common sense. The trustees and staff are of course immensely grateful for the contributions they make.
Ultimately we are governed by mySociety’s board of trustees, who oversee all of the group’s activities and are responsible for ensuring that we comply with all relevant legal and constructive requirements. Trustees give their time and expertise on a voluntary basis and are entirely unwaged.
SocietyWorks Ltd has its own board of directors. There is some crossover in membership between the two boards, but never 100%, and the entities maintain an ‘arm’s length’ relationship.
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