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Talk:Boards training workshop March 2014

At the Hong Kong Wikimania several chapters asked me about the process of moving from a volunteer run chapter to one with staff and the session I took part in on the Wednesday showed a great deal of interest in this topic. Without assuming a 'one size fits all' approach this could be a very useful and practical event. We could certainly host it in London if that helped. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 11:10, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not against but to reduce travel costs it should IMO better be done as a pre-meeting at the next Wikimedia Conference even if one day is not enough. Moreover, it would be easier to get hold of experts within the movement and some external facilitators. --Pakeha (talk) 14:27, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Existing workshops/seminarsEdit

Very nice. Aren't there also national or international workshops to join (organised by others)? I remember at least WMIT and WMAU board members attending training workshops in their countries and that's been useful; having more options (more frequent, less organisationally demanding and possibly less expensive at least in terms of travel) would allow the learning to be more widespread. --Nemo 14:29, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Yes, there are, and we at Wikimedia UK have found that very useful too - I would certainly encourage anyone in a chapter to take advantage of lots of local training. However, there are some common challenges faced by Chapters that are specific to the Wikimedia situation. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 17:19, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
At the moment, we're considering sending committee members to online courses organised by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. "Real world" courses offered by professional bodies tend to be very expensive, and probably out of our reach unless we can convince our employers or the Foundation to pay for them! Craig Franklin (talk) 11:27, 14 August 2013 (UTC).

BoardsourceEdit

I'm on the board of the proposed thematic organisation, Wiki Project Med. I've never been on any kind of board, so I've been looking for some knowledge on best practice.

Boardsource is a US-based (501(c)(3)) nonprofit that "focuses on improving nonprofit effectiveness by strengthening nonprofit boards."[1]

They offer in-person (in the US) and online training,[2] and they produce a number of publications on different aspects of nonprofit boards. (Free Not free). I'm presently reading The Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives, and I've got Board Fundamentals: Understanding Roles in Nonprofit Governance, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards and Managing Conflicts of Interest on the shelf. (These four were recommended as a starter kit when I signed up.)

I'm only 200 pages into the Answer Book but am finding it very useful: relevant, concise, clear and very readable. Though it's addressing US nonprofit governance, its message is universal.

The Answer Book and Board Fundamentals go into some detail about the roles of the board, the chief executive, the staff and volunteers, their relationships, and their different responsibilities, strategic planning and board self-assessment and independent assessment - all touched on in your proposal - as well as many other aspects of nonprofit board membership. Ten Basic Responsibilities addresses, among other things, selecting the chief executive (Ch. 2) and supporting and evaluating the chief executive (Ch.3). I notice the booklist includes publications addressing the recruitment of the chief executive, assessment of the chief executive, dealing with a dud chief executive, transition, and staff remuneration best practice.

You might consider approaching them for an online training module, tailored to your needs (presumably using one or more of their publications as course texts). Or you could possibly even consider forgoing the idea of formal training altogether and, instead, all reading some relevant books (they needn't be Boardsource books - the UK Charity Commission or the Australian Charities Commission should be able to recommend relevant English language publications, and the equivalent organisations in other countries should be able to help with guidance in their languages). --Anthonyhcole (talk) 18:23, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Hi Anthony. I certainly recommend the "read a book" approach - I have a few from NCVO, which is the British umbrella body for charities. However in-person training is valuable as well. Online training would definitely be helpful but creating some is actually a rather bigger project than organising a one-off training workshop. Thinking about the ideal future situation for Board training, I would probably say;

  • Attending local nonprofit training
  • Access to books and resources
  • Wikimedia movement in-person training
  • Wikimedia movement online training modules

all have a role to play. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 11:04, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Location/TimingEdit

I acknowledge the bit in there about how this event will probably be held in Europe for practical reasons. Can I ask the organisers to consider holding it alongside or next to another event such as the Wikimedia Conference? The prices to get from Asia or Australia to Europe are often extortionate, and the amount of travel time involved means that it's often difficult for those of us with jobs to get the time off to go. If it could be held alongside another event, that means there'd be only one set of airfares to pay for, and one leave application to be written, which would make this event so much more accessible for us. Craig Franklin (talk) 11:29, 14 August 2013 (UTC).

Hi Craig - yes, we are thinking about this - however I would also observe that holding the workshop earlier doesn't necessarily mean there will be no training on offer at the Wikimedia Conference. :-) Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:08, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
If the first, Europe, workshop goes well, would you consider following up with a roadshow to other regions (North America, South America, South Asia, SE Asia/Australia and East Asia)? I'm thinking one or two trainers flying to those regions would work out cheaper, more efficient and more accessible than hundreds of students flying to a central point. (And paced well, it would be a great gig for a trainer!) --Anthonyhcole (talk) 03:53, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
In my perspective, a desirable scenario for this project would be: Firstly, a pioneer workshop in Europe (e.g. London). Secondly, a follow-up workshop during the next Wikimedia Conference with more participants from outside Europe. Thirdly, some participants of the first two workshops implement the concept in their part of the world, with help from us and / or the trainers of the first workshops where necessary/applicable. I would love to see the concept being easily adopted by others, meaning all the experiences and materials should be well documented and shared - as always in the Wikiverse ;-)--CDG (talk) 14:17, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Chris, glad we're not being forgotten :-). Happy to have a pilot of only European chapters to see how it works, but I think it would also be good if possible to have an environment where European chapters can learn about the experiences of non-European chapters, and vice-versa. The Wikimedia Conference provides a good opportunity to do this for much less than it would ordinarily cost, since we're all already there anyway. Craig Franklin (talk) 11:28, 24 August 2013 (UTC).

"Landscape" of Wikimedia BoardsEdit

I would like to recommend some pre-conference work on behalf of the organizers! I think it could really help lay the foundation for the conference if we did some sort of landscape of the types of boards that exist right now across the Wikimedia entities. By "type," I suppose I mean the roles and functions these boards take. For example, some of the boards are decision-making bodies, some are advisory, some are actually the executers of the different programs/projects. In addition, it would also be useful (and this might be somewhere that I don't know about) to know some simple statistics about the different Wikimedia boards: how many boards, how many board members, average turnover rates, average amount of time required from a board member, etc. I'd be interested in helping with this project, if necessary! Jwild (talk) 21:59, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

I quite like the idea - the question is whether this is something that needs to be finished before the first workshop or whether it can be completed along the way. Moritz Rahm, the assistant of the WMDE board conducted interviews with boards from different chapters during Wikimania. I will ask him whether he would share the results, they might be a good baseline for this. --CDG (talk) 09:49, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
This would be great to see. Definitely have Moritz Rahm share his results! I propose [some of] this synthesis to be done pre-conference because it could help set the agenda for the conference a little more clearly. If, for example, 80% of boards operate in a certain manner, perhaps sessions should be skewed towards addressing the challenges of that board type, with a couple of other conversations to address the board outliers. Just a thought - shouldn't take too long, especially if there is already information collected! Jwild (talk) 17:36, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
Partly it is about what Michal is doing. Ziko (talk) 18:04, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
Hi Jessie. It's an interesting question, but I think we have enough of the answer that gives us what we need for this workshop. There are many organisations in the movement which are either in, or planning to begin, the transition from an organisation which is entirely volunteer-driven (no staff, no budget) to one where the Board takes a governance and strategic role but doesn't run the organisation day to day. That throws up a lot of particular challenges and helping people deal with those challenges is a particular focus of this. (PS - it is a workshop - not a conference - conference carries too many expectations ;-) ) Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 17:06, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

content of the workshopEdit

I miss volunteer management in particular what is imo amongst the basic skills needed for board members (it is totally different in many ways from paid staff mgmt) and fundraising. (Omg, we got a donation...what to do now? :)

I'd go for general project (and time and workflow...) management instead of particular this and that kinda specific things. Imo first get the "big picture", than the specific ones (Glam, editathon, etc.)

Are you plannig to hire a professional NGO trainer (individual[s])? A training company specialized on NGOs? Or we should educate each other? --Vince (talk) 07:22, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

UpdateEdit

Just to keep you updated, we are planning to go ahead with this some time in January 2014, in London. There is a small budget from Wikimedia UK to cover the costs. We'll be contacting people who have volunteered to help, to start to shape the sessions better. When we have a definite date we will open applications. And - once again - the fact we are running this for January does make it more likely (rather than less likely) that something similar will be on offer at the Wikimedia Conference in the Spring. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 07:56, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

The date is now confirmed for the weekend of 1st and 2nd March 2014, and location London. Should be able to share details of the programme and more news about registration/application process before too long. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Accommodation costsEdit

Is there any way to bring this down? The cost per night appears USD$200 a night, which is a huge amount to ask for people from the Americas, Asia and many places in Europe. It appears to be a big limiting condition because you're also asking people to travel to attend. I'm not even sure the amount actually fits in the constraints that people could ask for participation grants or similar because it exceeds the recommendations. --LauraHale (talk) 15:10, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Typo?Edit

I am assuming this is a typo: 120 pound per night for accommodation? I know London is expensive, but it must be possible cheaper than that if you're negotiating *and* know in advance? (otherwise I wonder why this part of London was selected if it is that expensive) Effeietsanders (talk) 15:19, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

No, that's correct - and the hotel price has already come down quite significantly. So the total cost of participating will be £300 or so plus travel. We will have a certain amount of budget for scholarships for those organisations that don't have (enough) budget for Board travel or training. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:46, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
This is about $500 USD for registration and two nights accommodation. It presupposes that you arrive either the day before the conference and leave the day of (which means flights need to be available late at night, or you spend half a day of the conference in a hotel) or have to arrive the day of (in the morning) and leave the day after. This seems unrealistic. You need three nights or you miss part of the conference. The cheapest flights from Iceland are $350 USD. The cheapest flights from Madrid are $120 USD. The cheapest flight from Santiago, Chile is US$1500. These flights are to Luton. My recollection is you need to add about $20 to $30 USD around trip to get to and from the city centre. Looking at it, this then becomes $700 for hotel and registration... and yeah. You're asking volunteers to spend around $1000 to $2,500 USD to attend a two day conference. There is no information available about scholarships. (This makes registering a non-starter for many people because they cannot book unless they know they have a scholarship and there are only 20 places.) The conference appears geared at chapters who do not currently have a funding pool to draw from and who are trying to make a move towards doing that. It seems unrealistic to expect them to have the ability to send people to this given the cost constraints, especially given the price points you've built in. --LauraHale (talk) 20:01, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
The price for accommodation and the venue is too high, at least for a two day event. It would be better to have the venue at a cheaper place not so close to the centre of London. Outside funding is not easy for all the chapters that wish to attend, especially newly established ones, which need the workshop the most. -Svavar Kjarrval (talk) 20:43, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

£120/night is quite expensive for London - which hotel is it? Going for a different option like the Tavistock would save at least £40/night/person... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 02:19, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Participation:Support says people may request 75% of the amount from here. For London, the rate is USD$184. 75% of that is $138 USD. The current rate of exchange is £85 GBP. So assuming grants could be attained at the current rate, that's still leaves £35 to cover out of pocket. Was Participation:Support taken into consideration? Because this is seriously concerning that the organizers want to make this an international conference but do not appear aware of the high cost of attending it puts on volunteers, especially since the policy for requesting WMF funding appears to have been ignored. --LauraHale (talk) 08:43, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
To be honest, I don't really expect that people will be paying out of their own pockets for this. Most attendees will be from chapters which have enough resources to send them, any chapter/organisation who is keen to attend but doesn't have the funds will be able to indicate this when they register, and we will see how far we can make the scholarship budget stretch. (Being a Wikimedia event, so far as I can see it is explicitly outside of the scope of the Foundation's participation support grants).
Also, I am very careful not to use the term "conference" in relation to this event. This is a small, focused training workshop aimed at a very specific group of people and with limited attendance.
Thirdly, no-one is pretending that this event is the whole solution to the problem of chapters needing more support. It might the start of a solution to part of it. A number of people - myself, Claudia, Michal and Markus - have set this up out of goodwill in our spare time, with a small budget and small amount of staff support from Wikimedia UK. I hope there will be other people similarly taking the initiative in future for other events. So if you're keen to see more of this kind of thing happening, it would be much more helpful to think about how that might work and who would do it, rather than shouting "NO YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG" on this page.
Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:04, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you're characterizing the feedback on this page fairly, Chris. People have expressed their concerns for the cost of participation because they would like to see more people able to participate. They have constructively suggested to choose a location more to the outside of London, and even a specific hotel has been suggested near the current venue. The fact that you organized it in your spare time is definitely appreciated, but it doesn't mean it is perfect and not possible to improve upon.
To be honest I find it an odd response that the expense might not have to come from volunteers' own pockets. When we're talking about board members being responsible, it seems an odd moment to spend unnecessarily high amounts of money on accommodation - maybe even especially when funded from Affiliate organizations' budgets.
In any case, you don't seem to have responded to the actual concerns - but only put it in perspective (it has already come down, it is not too bad, not out of their own pocket - paraphrased). I'm sorry to see that, but I guess your opinion is clear: no change needed. Effeietsanders (talk) 18:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes. What's more, I think the tone of this discussion - and the similar one on the chapters' mailing list - is reducing the chances of other people stepping forward and filling holes in our movements' structure in future. I think you need to think seriously about whether you want to encourage initiative, or carp over flaws you see in what other people are doing. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 09:36, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
There is an issue of systemic bias in the movement regarding who it attracts. This sort of price point logic re-inforces it by saying only the affluent should strive towards professionalization. If you're from a poor country or you're a volunteer inside a chapter who doesn't have a job that pays well and has much flexibility? Don't apply. The lack of money is a major factor for many people in terms of being involved in this way. --LauraHale (talk) 12:31, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

ScholarshipsEdit

Hi. 5 spots left. I cannot apply as I do not have the 50 pounds to do so and intended to apply using a scholarship because I do not have 200 USD a night to attend. How do I circumvent the registration fee to apply to attend as a potential scholarship attendee? --LauraHale (talk) 20:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

I have the same question. Thanks, --Vojtech.dostal (talk) 21:01, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Hi both; if you select "other payment option" on the Eventbrite page then you can complete registration with an offline payment option. If you need & receive a scholarship then payment will not be needed.
Also - I think of particular relevance to Laura - please note that the workshop is only for existing chapters/ thorgs, not those in the process of being set up / recognised. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 09:42, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Than you, Chris :) --Vojtech.dostal (talk) 09:56, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
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