Evolution of a Chapter
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(This is an essay about the different stages of evolution of a Wikimedia Chapter.)
Wikimedia chapters are Independent organizations of Wikimedia Movement aimed at promoting the Wikimedia projects. There are over 3 dozen such chapters around the world. Classifying such organizations and putting a road-map on how to go from one stage to the next has been a challenging issue.
Below are some proposed ways to identify the stages of development a Chapter goes through. Often times, it's hard to recognize when a new chapter is ready to take the next step and grow. Some chapters might choose not to take that step and remain satisfied; there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. But for those that do, this essay might seem helpful.
The life-span of a chapter starts with recognition by ChapCom. They approve and recognize its existence, all that remains is to legally register the organization. And a new chapter is brought into the world, ready to face the big bad non-Wikipedia world alone. Now, it's ready to do what it wants, hold meet-ups, do outreach, organize activities, or just have fun with other Wikipedians.
Now the chapter will pass through different stages of development. Some will take longer than usual, some shorter, some might just refuse to grow and be young forever- there is nothing with that. Whatever pace and path it chooses, there should be help along the way to guide and give a helping hand.
Stages of developmentEdit
There are different metrics to judge the particular stage a chapter is in. The simplest one to use is the ability to fundraise-
- a) Stage 1- Formative stage- This is the stage exactly after approval from ChapCom and legal registration. Chapters can choose to stay in this stage indefinitely. But ideally it lasts between 1-3 years after approval.
- b) Stage 2- Chrysalis - A more of a transitional stage, it has chapters trying to prioritize their finances. Characteristics of this stage include, considering hiring their first staff, or a semi-permanent office. These chapters are usually between 1-2 years away from fundraising.
- c) Stage 3- Maturity - This stage has a wider spectrum, depending on what metrics are used for success. The primary characteristic is processing donations, focusing on finances, professionalizing operations and undertaking movement wide activities. The staff count is usually more than 3 at this stage. The spectrum of maturity involves a chapter being completely independent and accountable to the rest of the movement. While a chapter fulfilling its legal requirements within the local geography could also be considered within this spectrum.
A chapter is a legal organization incorporated in another country, recognized by the ChapCom and the community. The nature of its legal association can differ from country to country. To be considered a Wikimedia Chapter it has to be a)Recognized by ChapCom b)Recognized by the community and c)Be a Legally incorporated organization.
As stated earlier, there are multiple metrics to judge a chapter's evolution. For the sake of this argument, I am choosing Fundraising and Fund dissemination, as one.
I propose a Tier based system for Chapters and similar organization's classification. It is based primarily on Funding abilities.
- Tier 1
- Tier 2
- Tier 3
Another way to classify chapters is based on its philosophy and objectives. For example, a chapter might choose not to grow at any stage, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. A chapter might choose to specialize in certain areas of expertise, and carry out activities it prefers over others.
- Expansionary/Rounded approach -Chapters based in this philosophy will take a straight forward approach to organizational expansion and capacity building first. Their field of specialization might differ but they will try to avoid any certain area of focus and take a rounded approach till they achieve their ideal level development.
- Project based approach(Moderate) -Chapters based in this philosophy will focus on certain projects and try to focus their growth to compliment those activities. For example, a chapter might choose to focus on GLAM or technological outreach only. They will focus their energies and resources in trying to make the chapter an extension of those activities.
- low-activity chapters - Chapters based in this philosophy are defined by a low level of activity. Some might be new chapters or organizations that never took off, their founding members might have left or become busy in their personal lives. They might be available for general outreach but aren't as pro-active. Another variation might be chapters that choose to not-grow and remain satisfied with organizing regular meet-ups.