In 2015 a bunch of new friends met in a cafe in London. They were excited about one thing: the potential to use sortition (or random selection) to do democracy differently. And thus the Sortition Foundation was born.
But it was a slow beginning. Having no resources, no money, and not that much experience with changing "the system" it was a while before the basic website was adequate, some tentative steps onto social media were made, and a few (generally unsuccessful) grant applications were written (typical response: "Sort what?"). However, in 2016, in an Indian restaurant (also in London) the nine people present all decided to call themselves "directors" and try to get this thing further off the ground.
Then, on 4 March 2017 we registered as a member-run, not-for-profit company limited by guarantee in the UK. From this point on it was "official" - but we were still simply a bunch of friends with a great idea, and very few resources.
But things were changing... after giving talks, talks and more talks (Conway Hall, festivals, Scottish Parliament, Brighton, TEDx Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Paris, etc) we landed our first "selection and stratification" job at the end of 2018 - for the Scottish Parliament's Committee Engagement Unit - and haven't looked back since (not least because there has been no time to look back!). Our members also started organising, with groups of members getting together in the US, the UK, and soon enough in Australia as well, and we employed our first staff to help run the burgeoning recruitments for citizens' assemblies.
By the time of the COVID-19 pandemic our members were meeting (online) regularly and we were solidly based as one of the go-to organisations for doing stratified random selection in the UK (having completed almost 30 by the end of 2020) and around the world. We now have a growing presence in Australia and have helped organisations in Belgium, Switzerland, the US and Hungary to run citizens' assemblies and the like.
Fortunately for us, with citizens' assemblies managing to continue online in our new COVID-19 world, our recruitment services continue to be in demand. The idea continues to spread (via podcasts more than talks nowadays) and we hope to progress towards our aim of institutionalising sortition and transforming democracy.