Volunteer Supporters Network/Hub Report 2022

Volunteer Supporters Network

Hub Report 2022


As a Hub-like structure, the Volunteer Supporters Network (VSN) provided an experimental field for future Hubs. It generated sustainable outcomes with the implementation of several goals of the Movement Strategy process. The project was conducted from March 2022 to December 2022 and was supported by a Movement Strategy Implementation Grant. This report aims at a better understanding of (thematic) Hubs based on practical experience.

It gave me a sense of community. – I feel included. – We are people with emotions. – We are not alone. – Collaboration between all of us. – We, in a very safe environment.

— participants’ feedback at the VSN’s annual conference

It consists of three main sections:

A. Administration and organizational development

B. Activities – input

C. Activities – outcome



Structure and activities


Administration and organizational development

From the beginning in 2014, VSN operated as an open working group with little administration needs. This open structure had weak points, which became increasingly noticeable. Our goal was to find an organizational structure that would eliminate these weak points while retaining the advantages of an open working group as much as possible. We approached our organizational reform under the (sometimes conflicting) perspectives of efficiency and participation.

Global skill-sharing activities

The skills and leadership development of people working in the field of community support was accelerated and amplified by 11 virtual meetings/workshops, each lasting about 60–90 minutes. A special focus was on community health issues and technical skills including Wikidata. In addition, a 2-days virtual “annual conference” held in November intensified the skill-sharing activities.
Input Outcome

Peer group support

Peer group networking culminated in the 2-days virtual “annual conference” in November. Throughout the year, several internal communications channels were established or reorganized.
Input Outcome

Global community competition

As an example of how to support a global community contest, the VSN contributed to the International Museum Day Wikidata Competition in May. The VSN served as a multiplier and expertise provider in order to engage Wikimedia affiliates as local organizers and to ensure high participation and free content numbers.
Input Outcome

Published resources

The VSN published several resources that can inspire and be adapted by others in the Movement. The resources include a concept for “Wikipedia Ambassadors”, different policies and resources related to skill-sharing.
Input Outcome

Movement conversations

The VSN participated in and initiated conversations relevant to Hub topics, in order to bring the learnings to a wider audience and to learn from other Hub-makers in the Movement.
Input Outcome

Key learnings


Regarding a Hub’s administration and organizational development we learned:

  • Know and publish your participation and decision-making structure as early as possible.
  • Inclusion based on equity: participatory consultation processes when necessary, centralized administration, communication and infrastructure decisions when possible.
  • Pay attention to how your communication channels can be maintained.
  • Be aware that it takes time. A lot of it. And time is capacity.
  • Be time-zone inclusive. And remember that people have different roles.
  • Share responsibilities.
  • Build on what you already have.

For more details around these recommendations, please see Administration and organizational development: Learnings and recommendations.

The VSN’s other activities also resulted in several key learnings:

  • Wikimedia affiliates like to share their knowledge and skills within the organizational framework of a Hub.
  • Using a Hub for skill-sharing activities does not work in a self-organized way, it needs a permanently maintained infrastructure and people who take care of it on a regular basis.
  • Skill-sharing activities are often not only interesting for the inner circle of the Hub. Expand your audience and find allies to reach them.
  • Participation in multi-day meetings can reinforce the cohesiveness of a hub as a peer group. This also applies to online events to some extent.
  • For activating Wikimedia affiliates to contribute to a global project like an international competition, communicating the project in discussions within the Hub and individual invitations complement one another; both strategies are more successful than general announcements.
  • Complex multi-stakeholder projects implemented by a Hub can and should meet a wide variety of stakeholder needs, including those that were not originally the primary purpose of the project.
  • Hubs can play an important role in a more equitable redistribution of financial and other resources of the Movement: not only in terms of resources managed centrally at the Wikimedia Foundation or the Hub, but also in terms of direct rebalancing between unequally positioned Wikimedia affiliates.
  • If a Hub produces material that can potentially be used as a resource for others, it should be published in some form. Findability and applicability solutions should be sought.
  • Because Hubs are an integral part of the Movement Strategy implementation, at least some people from the Hub should specialize in participating in relevant movement-wide discussions.

For the rationale behind these findings, please see the Input and Outcome sections of this report.

What’s next?


In the first-ever formal vote, held at the annual meeting on 3 November 2022, 100% of the VSN members present agreed to the following:

In accordance with our mission to enhance volunteer support in the Wikimedia movement, the Volunteer Supporters Network agrees on investments in skills and leadership development and funding for underrepresented communities as our key programmatic activities in 2023. We invite our members, liaisons and allies to implement these activities.

We welcome and support the allocation of movement resources by the Wikimedia Foundation (1) through a project grant paid to Wikimedia UK and/or Wikimedia Argentina for the coordination of our regular skillshare meetings, our membership management and the financial management of our annual meeting and (2) through the annual budget of Wikimedia Österreich for prizes of the International Museum Day Wikidata Competition in May 2023. We thank Wikimedia Deutschland and Wikimedia Foundation staff members for their intentions to contribute to our activities related to community leaders and peer support.