Memorandum of understanding

A memorandum of understanding (MOU, MoU) in the context of the Wikimedia movement is an agreement between a Wikimedia affiliate and an external partner organization to collaborate in Wikimedia activities. An MoU typically places few or no obligations on either the Wikimedia affiliate or the external partner, but will set limits on the relationship. A common limit is defining how Wikipedians and the organization may talk about their partnership and the extent to which, if at all, either represents the other when both collaborate to present events.

Memorandum of Understanding provided by the Wiki Education Foundation. This document provides some minimal guidance relationships between that organization and its own partners.

History in the Wikimedia community


Models for collaboration between Wikimedia organizations and other external partners are described at "Wikimedia movement affiliates". Before 2016, there was no particular collection of written descriptions about the limits in relationships between Wikimedia organizations and external partners in Wikimedia projects. Beginning around 2015, more organizations internationally began to request advice on how to note and express some amount of affiliation with the Wikimedia community or Wikimedia movement.

One way of defining institutional relationships is with a "memorandum of understanding". While there is no process yet for becoming an official "Wikimedia external partner" in which an organization may establish affiliation with the Wikimedia Foundation, there are official partnerships with affiliates of the Wikimedia Foundation. For example, an organization might have a partnership with an official regional Wikimedia chapter.



Discussions about partnerships become more serious when the public image of an organization begins to overlap with the public image of another one. For example, a Wikimedia group and an external partner like a library or school may wish to present a Wikipedia event together. In promoting the event, the two groups are likely to discuss each other publicly, and whatever one group does will reflect on the reputation of the other. Typically, this kind of discussion arises when the external partner wants to use the Wikipedia trademarks to advertise an event, and the Wikimedia affiliate wants to claim the organization as a partner. The "memorandum of understanding" sets boundaries in these relationships.

A memorandum of understanding may request the following from external partners:

  1. The external organization communicates that it does not represent the Wikimedia community
  2. The external organization complies with any naming and logo conventions as described at wmf:Trademark policy and as explained by their Wikimedia partner organization

A memorandum of understanding may request the following from the Wikimedia group:

  1. The Wikimedia group communicates that it does not represent the external partner
  2. The Wikimedia group complies with any naming and logo conventions provided by the external partner

Either or both organizations in the relationship may request an MOU from the other. Sometimes only one organization may request it, and the other organization might be indifferent to the matter. Regardless of whether the agreement is in place, the organizations may expect typical behavior from the other group. The MOU does not make any extraordinary request; it is not a contract, but instead, it provides clear understanding in print about what organizations might expect of it each other from a simple partnership.



When an organization partners with a Wikimedia affiliate, then that organization and the chapter might share a "memorandum of understanding", or MOU. This sort of agreement might have any of these names:

In this relationship, an organization and a Wikimedia affiliate come to some agreement. Either or both the organization and Wikimedia affiliate may as the other one to sign or acknowledge a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum of understanding may give guidance on how the other may and may not use the brand of either organization or other resources.

See Partnerships & Resource_Development/Drafting a Memorandum of Understanding for an explanation from the Wikimedia Foundation legal team.



Organizations which have MOU models which have influenced Wikimedia partnerships include the following:

Other models of affiliation

  • The standard model is to be a member of the Wikimedia community. Any individual or organization may do this by doing routine Wikimedia activities with everyone else.
  • Groups of Wikimedia community members may become Wikimedia movement affiliates to get recognition from the Wikimedia Foundation.