Wikimedia Conference 2018/Program/34

34. Working with consultants: value for money?


Sandra Rientjes (Wikimedia Nederland), Jenny Ebermann (Wikimedia CH) and Claudia Garád (Wikimedia Österreich)

Length (min)


Audience / Target group

affiliates considering hiring consultants for specialised activities; in particular staff and board members

Session Format

presentation, discussion


With most affiliates having only limited staff - or no staff - hiring a consultant for specialised projects or activities can seem like the logical thing to do. Finances, governance, public relations and fundraising are areas that come to mind. This session will use experiences of WM-affiliates in working with consultants to help you get value for money. Topics to be discussed are: what are good ways to select a consultant? How do you assure work stays on track and within budget? How do you help the consultant find her/his way in the wiki-world? And of course: what are the pit-falls to avoid...

Desired Outcome

List of dos and don'ts when hiring/working with consultants

Next Steps and Milestones

Learning pattern


The session started with questions: What is a consultant? Who has worked with consultants?

Why would you hire a consultant? For expertise, legal requirements or a new perspective, sometimes it’s cheaper

Disadvantages: Explaining Wikimedia, have their own ways, they have an interest in getting more work/money, can be upsetting for volunteers. Relationships can be hard to understand, WMF + Affiliate, Affiliate + Project. A lack of understanding about issues like Wikipedia + PR.

If it interrupts daily business it’s going to be a problem. Internal expertise is required to make it work to an extent.

Advantages: Consultants can be used to drive organisational development. Strategy is complex, facilitation is useful, and a consultant can add capacity so staff aren’t diverted from input into a strategy process. Often useful for the group dynamic, and can act as a neutral person.

Discounts were key, Wikimedia is an interesting organisation to work with, so there is opportunity to get consultants in for free. The quality was good, we used a network to get people that we could trust. Being clear what the mandate of the facilitator is and what they can do.

Example suggestions:

  • Clearly define what the consultant is there to do.
  • Invest time in finding the right person.
  • Should we hire community members as consultants?
  • If you start something, learn as much as you can quickly
  • Always prefer a fixed price as opposed to anything open ended