Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Promote Sustainability and Resilience
Connection to other recommendations
This recommendation proposes the idea of staying relevant and receiving adequate support for the growth of the Movement towards 2030 and beyond. It is supported by the recommendations ‘Innovate in Free Knowledge’, ‘Improve User Experience’, ‘Ensure Equity in Decision-Making’ and ‘Create Cultural Change for Inclusive Communities’.
For this, we must support people: a dynamic and often changing volunteer base able to bring new ideas, leaders, and methods for inclusion, and staff that provides the support systems and aid communities in building long-term partnerships to allow our outreach to expand. We must empower and support local groups and all stakeholders to tap into existing and new ways of acquiring funds and other resources and become more self-sufficient.
People. Our future is dependent on a healthy, collaborative environment and continual inflow of people. Contributor retention depends on multiple factors. Collaborative online spaces rely on the quality of user interactions and support systems to engage newcomers, assist experienced Wikimedians, remain sustainable, and grow in resilience. Across our Movement, we need to account for diverse engagement methods, and appreciation mechanics fitted to the global nature of our Movement, recognizing the on- and offline contributions of our stakeholders in a contextual way.
In our current setting, support and appreciation is distributed unevenly. To create the space for sustainable growth and resilience for our Movement, we need to take a more proactive approach in reaching out to those who are not yet represented in our communities and who advocate for our Movement. This needs to be balanced by better means of valuing the people who are already in our Movement and who have developed collaborative relationships, or we lose efficiency, momentum, and capacity because of high turnover. Some of our partners are impacted by our current failures to provide metrics on their contributions’ usefulness, lack of some Movement stakeholders’ ability to commit to long-term planning, and a limited vision of our mutual accountabilities without public recognition. Without addressing these issues, we will be unable to reach the highest potential for our partnerships with institutions, galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, among others.
Financial Resources. The ambition of our strategic direction will require an increase in revenue for the Movement beyond incremental growth, as the current level will be insufficient to grow our Movement to create local capacity for leadership, decision-making, and accountability and bring about the desired change. The current model, being heavily dependent on banner donations, also lacks resilience against external changes, such as disintermediation trends or cultural shifts that make Wikipedia less attractive to small donors, and misses the potential that would come with a diversified approach that would make the most of opportunities emerging from our local presence across the globe and revenue possibilities related to the use of our platform and product. With almost all revenue streams passing through the few largest Movement organizations, there are missed opportunities and inequity due to limitations on international donations and funding, and the inherent power disparity.
People. To achieve sustainable growth and resilience of our Movement, we recommend an approach based on diverse pathways for continued and improved engagement of people along with financial and staff support for it. These pathways need to include existing Movement organizing, building of partnerships, and technical engagement opportunities, but also acknowledge new ways of contributing, like encouraging and empowering Movement advocates.
Supporting individuals in this way will enable more people to take part and lead to more online and offline activities. As these new organizers will receive professional training and coaching, among other tools, it will benefit their level of expertise and professional lives overall. As a result, they will either continue to be ardent spokespeople for the vision and goals of our Movement or build a livelihood through and from their engagement, having options to become contractors or staff of regional structures, supporting the continued growth of the Movement.
Following a people-centered approach, we must begin to recognize and appreciate not only editing contributions, but the value of mentoring, training, advocating, and other activities which strengthen our Movement. We must develop further support systems to enable and engage all stakeholders. Finding improved ways to recognize and appreciate their work, providing a proper environment, and tailored pathways that attract and retain more people from a variety and diversity of languages and cultural backgrounds will increase our outreach on a local or global level.
We need to provide more visible and easy-to-access support to strengthen our mutual ties with all types of stakeholders. Developing protocols to enhance and expand our mutually beneficial relationships with partners and providing them with metrics on the impact and use of materials they provided will be mutually beneficial and could extend our outreach as stewards of free knowledge.
We need to recognize and celebrate that there are more avenues to participate in the Movement than editing alone. Volunteering occurs as a privilege to those who have time to commit to unpaid services. If we are to grow, we need to consider designing systems which compensate people for non-editing volunteerism, such as advocacy and capacity building, through various means which could include honoraria, stipends, reimbursement of expenses, scholarships, equipment, internet access, or other forms of recognition.
Financial resources. To achieve sustainable growth and resilience of our Movement, we recommend an approach based on several actions to ensure the availability of needed financial resources through diversification of the overall revenue channels. More targeted efforts in local contexts could lead to higher yields with smaller efforts and could serve to bring more balance and equity in revenues globally. For example, building up and increasing the capacity to raise, spend, and account for funds could promote equity between unequally privileged regions of the world.
Fundraising strategies should be tailored to local context and needs, but we must also ensure that we have agreed upon limits that are respected by all — such as the design serving the mission and honoring basic donors’ rights, or the principle that products and properties created by the Movement remain non-commercial. To allow for movement growth we must develop an overarching long-term strategy, which is adaptable to local contexts, to be overseen by the global Governance Body, to provide for sufficient revenues to guarantee the sustainability of the Movement.
One avenue that could be explored is considering that the application programming interfaces (API) of Wikipedia and Wikidata. We are not capitalizing on this to meet our resourcing needs, i.e. while keeping the APIs free for everyone, we could explore offering “tiered” premium service for large users of our API. Successful open-source software projects tend to rely on a wide array of stakeholders with diverse goals and interests sharing the resource burden (money, staff, volunteer time, etc.) of improving the software, which does not currently happen for our platform. With more intentional stewardship we might be able to realize its potential.
In general, the resource generation opportunities in our products and platforms need to be further explored, through the development of a long-term strategy to increase revenue across stakeholders for not only meeting current but also future needs.
- Design and provide standards for multilingual professional training for organizers, advocates, and staff to help the members of our Movement to achieve and sustain our strategy.
- Elaborate a list of indicators to ensure cultural change happens and measure them on a regular basis.
- Grow communities and hire dedicated local staff, when relevant, who are part of the communities they serve, to increase community involvement in leadership and the ability to advocate on their own behalf.
- Design a systematic approach to evaluate volunteer needs to take into account their volunteering profile and local context as the basis for comprehensive and effective volunteer support and recognition.
- Conduct research into opportunities to better recognize all types of contributions through various compensation paths for non-editing volunteerism.
- Design systems to track and support contributors taking up new roles, to increase their satisfaction and productivity over the life of their participation.
- Design a document that captures basic rules for fundraising and defines what parts might or might not be changed and adjusted according to local context and needs.
- Improve brand awareness for current and future projects, to secure the attention, trust, and interest of users, volunteers, and partners.
- Utilize research to develop a long-term strategy, which can be adapted to local contexts, to inform fundraising and increase revenue streams across the Movement that are consistent with our shared principles and is overseen by the global Governance Body.
- Identify and resolve the core issues which prevent our software platform from having a more thriving third-party ecosystem.