Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Advocacy


This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.

Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.

Advocacy work or outreach to policymakersEdit

Some Wikimedia organizations are working to increase awareness around or encourage legislative change around issues relevant to the Wikimedia mission, such as copyright reform and other policies that may inhibit or enable the contribution and distribution of free knowledge. Wikimedia organizations work in global, regional, national, and local contexts on this change and use many different strategies.

In some cases, there may be restrictions on how what activities Wikimedia organizations can engage in under local law or tied to how they receive funding. Some organizations may engage in direct work around legislative change, while others will stick to more general outreach that is not tied specifically to any legislation.

Please take another look at the section in your organization’s Organizational Effectiveness Questionnaire Report about advocacy work or outreach to policymakers (Question 9 in your report). This section includes a chart that may indicate specific places where you have high scores (4 or 5) or low scores (1, 2 or 3). Below, we’ve listed a few questions you may want to think about before taking a closer look at these strategies and resources.

  • Is this strategy a strength or a challenge for you? What are you good at, and what are you less good at?
  • Does everyone in your group agree on your scores for this strategy? Is there variance (differences between your scores) or consensus (everyone has about the same score)?
  • Are any of these scores unexpected? Does it seem like they accurately reflect your organization’s capacity in this area? Are there key strengths or challenges that the Questionnaire or your scores do not capture?
  • Within this strategy, are there particular strengths or challenges that your scores reveal?
  • How important is this strategy to your organization’s ability to achieve impact? Is it a key strategy for your organization, or an optional strategy?
  • Is this an area where your organization is interested in prioritizing capacity building?

Recommendations for advocacyEdit

If your organization wants to get better at advocacy work or outreach to policymakers, here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.

Advocacy is about more than changing laws. It is about mobilizing communities, developing new and compelling voices who can speak on behalf of content liberation, educating the public and more. Keep in mind local restrictions that may exist around your organization’s ability to do different types of advocacy work. Doing advocacy work not related to or contrary to the Wikimedia mission could cause problems for your organization or endanger your recognition, so be careful that your advocacy work is well-aligned. Also note that some types of groups (e.g. user groups) may have restrictions around doing work to influence legislation directly, and that other organizations may have restrictions around what funding can be used to work on influencing legislation (e.g. APG grantees). In these cases, it may be possible for your organization to do work in this area that is not involved with influencing legislation directly (e.g. awareness around relevant legal issues). If you aren't sure, you should contact the Wikimedia Foundation with questions about your group's specific situation.

Understand your environment, and make clear priorities

  • Be clear on the range of activities you are prepared to take on and know what your organization’s capacity is to support those activities. For example, your organization may be focusing on influencing legislation directly, or may be involved with a more general awareness campaign.
  • Consider how your organization is best placed to work at a local, national, regional, or international level. Strategies and capacities needed to succeed on these different levels may be different. Working at a national, regional, or international level will require working with partners.
  • Understand your policy environment and your “baseline” for advocacy work. Make a list of the existing laws that are relevant to Wikimedia’s mission and your organization and find out when these laws or policies may be voted on, or subject to review and change. Consider how you will know once your mission is achieved.
  • If your organization intends to work with policymakers, make a list of the specific policymakers you want to influence. Think about who you know who many have connections to these policymakers.
  • Be clear on what you are advocating for. Have everyone involved in advocacy work write down their short and long-term goals. If these goals are not similar, prioritize and align them. *Be sure to keep these goals in line with the mission of your organization.

Resources and capacity for advocacy work

  • Make sure volunteers or staff are available to follow up with connections that you make. You may want some of your volunteers to be responsible for “owning” and tracking different relationships, or you may want to use a CRM or a spreadsheet to track your connections and activities.
  • Be prepared to mobilize quickly to take advantage of opportunities in your local context. Are there volunteers or partners in the Wikimedia movement you can rely on to help out in responding to opportunities in your region as they develop?
  • Find ways to build community among those who are interested in policy change and communicate regularly with that group of people, to share experiences.
  • Consider holding a training for volunteers who are interested in becoming involved with advocacy work. Consider recruiting a volunteer “advocacy expert” within your organization who can lead training or share skills in this area.

Identify your partners

  • Identify partners within and outside of the Wikimedia movement who may have similar advocacy goals. Reach out to these partners to potentially work together on advocacy.
  • Conduct a “power analysis” by making a chart with two axes: 1) level of alignment with your advocacy goals, and 2) level of influence or power. Map all the stakeholders (groups, NGOs, business, government, academia, unorganized groups, other open knowledge groups, etc.) on this chart to see who you should reach out to to advance your agenda, and whom to collaborate with.

Tell your story effectively, to move your advocacy forward

  • Find ways to document and celebrate the results of your advocacy work. Since this work is long term, results may be few and far between and change may seem incremental. Track when you successfully build a new relationship, and document when you think you have had a part in influencing legislation. Incremental changes should be celebrated, as they could be leading to your long term goals.
  • Consider how to involve your members in your policy work: keep your larger membership informed of your progress and mobilize members to deepen their involvement with your organization or its advocacy work in response to issues they care about.
  • Collect stories about your work that are relevant to your policy goals, so that you can be prepared to present them in a compelling way to people and groups that can help you make change.

Wikimedia organizations with expertise in advocacyEdit

If your organization has expertise in advocacy work or outreach to policymakers, please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:

  • Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
  • Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
  • ...

Learning patterns related to advocacyEdit

Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.

{{{learning patterns}}}

Ongoing challenges in the area of advocacy work or outreach to policymakersEdit

If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.

  • Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
  • ...

Community resourcesEdit

Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.

Create a capacity building plan for advocacy work or outreach to policymakersEdit

If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to advocacy work or outreach to policymakers, please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.

If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.

Coming soon!