Wikimedia Eesti/Restructuring report 2016 H1


In 2013, after 3 years of activity, the volunteer board of Wikimedia Eesti found itself at the verge of burning out as a result of the intensive work of managing a variety of activities and due to problems related to grant management (applying, reporting etc.). It was decided that hiring its first employees would put the chapter into a better position and support its future development. As a result, the positions of project writer and board assistant were created and according to the agreement made with Wikimedia Foundation, this process was monitored and reported on (see professionalisation reports 1, 2 and 3 for more information).

The process showed that although a significant amount of time had been invested into the creation of the original staffing plan, the part-time position of project writer turned more and more into a full-time position with responsibilities similar to executive director’s. As a result, a request was made to Wikimedia Foundation to restructure the position of project writer into an executive director’s and this proposal was approved. At that time, it went unnoticed that although the scope of work of this position seemed similar to the position of an executive director, the responsibilities and authorities afforded by the contract of employment fell short of what was actually needed.

As a result, starting from July 2014, Wikimedia Eesti functioned with an executive director working alongside a volunteer working board, which resulted in some misunderstandings related to authority and field of responsibility of different positions and brought along different confusions related to projects and finances. This also coincided with some past volunteers becoming inactive. As several projects initiated in the project writer period needed leading, as well as reporting, the workload of employees and board members increased rapidly. This process finally resulted in evident burnout for the second quarter of the year 2015, which to some extent paralyzed the activity and reporting capacity of the chapter. The ambitious plan established for the year did not help, either.

In September 2015 Wikimedia Foundation made a staff visit to Wikimedia Eesti and these issues were thoroughly discussed, as well as shortcomings in financial processes of Wikimedia Eesti (once again related to distribution of authority and responsibility) were brought forward. These discussions and discoveries led to a mutual understanding that certain restructuring process needs to be undertaken in the chapter to guarantee sustainability of the organisation.


Wikimedia Eesti took immediate action after the staff visit and review by Wikimedia Foundation. There were substantial changes in the way the finances are handled in the chapter - the role and authority of the bookkeeper increased, more responsibilities were given to the staff and double control system was introduced. All these changes have made handling of the finances in Wikimedia Eesti more structured and coherent to the amounts handled, as well as to expectations of Wikimedia Foundation. There were several discussion meetings about how to complete the transformation process from a small organisation with voluntary working board to a bigger organisation with employees and a governing board happen. Several options were weighed and Wikimedia Eesti also consulted with local specialists in the field of nonprofit activity. It was decided that Wikimedia Eesti will continue in its juridical form, but the board will transform into a governing role, which would also mean increase of responsibilities for staff members.

2016 H1 REPORT

Restructuring forms an essential part in agenda for 2016 of Wikimedia Eesti and in drafted plan discussion related activities have taken the central role. In the course of first half of 2016 these discussions have resulted in understanding that 1) external facilitation is not needed to carry out the process effectively and 2) mentorship may be useful once the roles and responsibilities of different parties have been well determined.

At the same time it was understood that it will not be possible to finish all the activities as soon as planned (i.e. by the end of the first half of the year) and the results will be achieved by the end of the year instead. As a result the activities of the first half of the year consist of:

  1. Clear determination of roles and responsibilities of board members, including in relation to employees and other volunteers;
  2. Restructuring of financial processes and documentation to support transparency and help the board to take control of governing role.

Planned activities for the second half include:

  1. Clear determination of roles and responsibilities of staff members, recruitment of new education program manager, transition to new assistant and new executive director;
  2. Improvement of financial practices through introduction of new bookkeeper;
  3. Creation of the plan for continued activities for 2017, including training plan to increase capacities of board members and employees, as well as volunteers to better fit into their transformed roles and changed responsibilities and authority.

Current report will concentrate on the activities carried out in the first half of the year 2016 and will be followed by a report from the second half.


In the first half of 2016 board roles were introduced in Wikimedia Eesti and board members now have good descriptions of their field of responsibilities and authority. This is also supported by the decision made by general assembly of Wikimedia Eesti in February 2016 that the mandate of current board members will be prolonged by 2 years.

Currently there are 4 members in the board of Wikimedia Eesti and their roles are distributed as follows:

Chairman (Sven-Erik Soosaar) - directs and oversees the work of the board and is their general representative.

  • Oversees the work of the board in comparison to their respective roles;
  • Manages board activity calendar;
  • Represents board in external discussions;
  • Prepares all board meetings (agenda, decisions to be made etc);
  • Leads all the board meetings;
  • Prepares all documents needed in the work of the board and collects signatures;
  • Verifies minutes taken on meetings and prepares memos shared with wider audience.

Treasurer (Eva Lepik) - oversees financial processes and documentation of the chapter.

  • Oversees and updates financial documents of the chapter;
  • Confirms payments in the bank;
  • Approves payments that exceed certain amount;
  • Leads preparation of annual budgets;
  • Oversees cash flow and schedules their timing;
  • Signing of grant agreements and reports;
  • Participation in grant discussions;
  • Collecting membership fees;
  • Taking care of cash and inventories.

HR manager (Teele Vaalma) - oversees staff, volunteers and their activities

  • Coordinates creation of staffing plan, including recruitment of staff and volunteers;
  • Communication link between staff and volunteers and board;
  • Signing contracts with staff members and volunteers;
  • Communication and meetings with staff and volunteers;
  • Coordinating and executing development talks;
  • Creation of training plans.

International Affairs (Tanel Pern) - is the contact person with international movement, discussion and activities:

  • Coordinating international position statements of the chapter;
  • Representing chapter on international level and discussions;
  • Giving updates about international situation and important discussions.

As a result there is a much better understanding of board roles and responsibilities, which makes their governance work more effective and transparent.

WMEE Board Roles 2016



By August 2017 Wikimedia Eesti board has 3 members and their roles are distributed as follows:

Chairman (Sven-Erik Soosaar) - directs and oversees the work of the board and is their general representative.

  • Oversees the work of the board in comparison to their respective roles;
  • communicates regularly with WMF and WMEE accountant;
  • represents board in external discussions;
  • leads board meetings;
  • confirms payments in the Internet bank;
  • signs contracts.

HR manager (Siim Tuisk) - oversees staff and their activities.

  • Oversees the work of staff members in comparison to their respective roles (meets with staff members regularly, helps staff members set monthly goals; creates training plans etc);
  • is a communication link between staff and board;
  • coordinates and executes development talks (next year's annual grant + long term strategy);
  • confirms payments in the Internet bank.

International Affairs (Tanel Pern) - contact person for the international movement.

  • Coordinates international position statements of the chapter and gives updates to the local community about international discussions;
  • briefs new board members on the policies of the Wikimedia movement;
  • represents the chapter at international discussions;
  • prepares all board meetings (agenda, decisions to be made etc) and shares memos with staff and chapter members afterwards;
  • confirms payments in the Internet bank.


WMEE Financial Processes 2016

Already in the end of 2015, following rather negative financial review by Wikimedia Foundation important changes in financial processes and documentation were made in Wikimedia Eesti, but these reached a concrete and clear form in the first half of 2016. As a result following financial processing and documentation procedure has been implemented:

Only board members, contracted staff and volunteers can make expenses for the organization (with an exception of travel compensation for which chapter members can also apply),

Person responsible for expenditure (board member, contracted staff or volunteer) has to make sure expenditure document will be obtained or created.

Expenditure document is registered in document registry by the assistant, which includes adding project code according to annual budget to the expenditure.

Then expenditure document is approved by Executive Director or from certain amount or in case of Conflict of Interest by Board Treasurer.

Payment is prepared in internet bank by assistant and approved by Executive Director (50%) and Board Treasurer (50%). If there is conflict of interest another Board Member is involved in payment approval.

Chapter also has a bank card and up to certain amount assistant is allowed to use that, although proper documentation has to be presented and processed in that case.

After payment the document and payment will be registered in accounting software by accountant, after which document is archived for 7 years. Wikimedia Eesti uses digital signatures mostly and document is archived digitally. In some cases also a paper copy is produced.

After registration of the document and payment in the accounting project expenditure reports can be created by the accountant and expenditures added to respective line items in internal budget control documents of the chapter by Executive Director and Assistant. In addition financial and project reports will be presented once every quarter. (This point still to be implemented!)

Created reports are overseen by Board Treasurer, Revision Committee and External Audit. They also have access to documentation in other phases of expenditure processing, i.e. document registry, bank account, accounting software and document archive.

This is the end of the cycle of an expense made in Wikimedia Eesti.