better coordination on issues of joint interest -> better distribution of work across the network of actors -> greater diffusion of free knowledge values and principles
R7: Advocates for the Wikimedia movement are able to collaborate with and build upon an existing global network of partners working on aligned advocacy issues.
The global nature of the Wikimedia movement means that it is possible to have advocates for the movement in nearly every country or region. However, this global nature also means that the number of advocates in individual countries or regions may be limited, and the expertise of those advocates varies. Because of this variability, it is important that advocates from the Wikimedia movement are able to work with local partners who are also engaged in advocacy on aligned issues to advance their efforts. Partnerships allow advocates for the movement to stay informed, to multiply their voices, and to learn from experts in their own context.
Even with capacity building within the movement, partners will always be important for advocacy because partners bring expertise, resources, and legitimacy to advocacy work. Our assumption is simply this, that we cannot take on the issue of free knowledge alone, and we will need aligned partners to achieve the global shift that our vision anticipates.
Forming partnerships is not new to the Wikimedia movement or advocacy; both the WMF and individual chapters have been building partnerships with other advocacy organizations on an ad hoc basis as opportunities and issues arise. By investing in advocacy-specific partnership building through activities such as establishing partnership criteria, increasing attendance at partner conferences, and creating a shared “directory” for partners in various regions, advocates throughout the Wikimedia movement will be able to gain more autonomy when performing advocacy actions in their local context.
This recommendation builds upon the work already being done by the WMF Partnerships and Public Policy team, as well as work done by community volunteers and staff who work on public policy and GLAM. Currently, partnerships undertaken to further public policy goals are formed ad hoc, and generally sit with whatever relationship-holder initially formed them. Partnerships in the GLAM space, which could be considered in some contexts to be advocacy partnerships, are not currently viewed this way.
It is likely this recommendation will influence everyone who engages in advocacy for the Wikimedia movement. Closer relationships with partners will have to be formed at the local, regional, and global level, as NGOs at all levels work on free knowledge issues. This means groups that have a local or regional focus (such as user groups or chapters) may be expected to form or maintain advocacy-specific partnerships in ways they are not currently.
This recommendation will lend movement advocates legitimacy when forming their own partnerships on the local and regional level by stating clear criteria about how to form partnerships, something smaller groups may hesitate to do without WMF approval at the moment. Additionally, partnerships already held by the WMF will be “formalized,” with a focus on identifying current partners, the contact for said partners within the WMF, and the creation of a “directory” of resources that can be made public so that advocates can easily see if a partnership could be helpful to them and know who to contact about that. Both of these steps will allow advocates in search of partners greater access to those partners, either through individual relationship building or through a more transparent accounting of what partners WMF is working with in what regions and on what causes.