NGOs are now seen as conduits of public participation in a politically disenchanted age, trusted more than both governments and media corporations.
One charity which is very directly attempting to bridge the democratic deficit is opendemocracy.net.
Open Democracy, which fully launched in November supported by a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, is edited by Anthony Barnett, the founding director of Charter 88 and former New Statesman journalist.
Despite an apparent sympathy with the NGOs/global justice movement agenda, the site aims to strike a political balance and there is a special section on people and protest and a long report on the European Social Forum in Florence. One external editor is conservative philosopher and scourge of the RSPCA, Roger Scruton.
Contributors give their work free but the site has managed to accrue some interesting names including the head of intelligence during the Clinton presidency, Philip Bobbitt, and former Czech prime minister, Vaclav Klaus.
UK charities can contribute not only ideas but also their web addresses because each theme Opendemocracy highlights, such as "people and protest" or "American power", includes an "action contacts" section. Mathew Little
Editor: Anthony Barnett