WIN developed from a small group of NGOs that had built up legal, policy and advocacy expertise on whistleblowing and had supported each other’s work from as early as 1979. Over the years, other civil society actors sought the expertise of these more established NGOs who did their best to share their experiences and knowledge. Most national NGOs, however, remain burdened with heavy domestic workloads with limited capacity and little or no dedicated additional resources to work internationally.
The discussion started in 2011 as to how best to respond to the increased interest in whistleblowing and civil society's need to collaborate in a consistent and coherent way. This need became increasingly urgent as whistleblowing moved into the information age and the disclosures whistleblowers were making began to reveal some of the most negative impacts of the integration of trade and power on a global scale. In early 2013, five of the leading expert organisations on whistleblowing in the world signed a formal agreement
to establish the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN).
Operating as an organic network with a voluntary steering group for 5 years, WIN is now a registered incorporated charitable organisation based in Scotland with a committed international Board of Trustees and an engaged pool of Members and Associates.