This early draft served as a basis for discussion in our Workshop on February 18th and is currently being reviewed as we move towards the next steps of project implementation.
Our Challenge edit
How do we keep our sights on a larger European Community where we work together on different aspects while we make small significant steps which have a practical impact.
We have decided to start Wikimedia Europe with a focused scope of activities:
- EU Lobbying
- EU Grant Support
These are very practical goals which will immediately give benefit to the Wikimedia movement (and even though this is a relatively small scope they are still very significant)
However we have a bigger ambition. We would like to aim for a European collaboration which
- Is larger than the EU
- Includes affiliates of all shapes and sizes
- Facilitates the exchange of knowledge, services and resources between the participating affiliates and other forms of capacity building
- Inspires all its members
- Cooperates and coordinates with various nodes and projects on our Movement in Europe and beyond
Stages of growth edit
The table below summarises the draft phases we think are relevant (these are explained in detail below)
|Scope of membership
|Scope of activities
|Mostly EU Chapters plus some other chapters/ affiliates?
|More European Affiliates
|More European Affiliates
Phase 1: EU Lobbying and Grant acquisition edit
We have a well-worded vision of the online ecosystem that allows for programming in key proactive ideas. We are able to bring in additional expertise on strategic issues. We have the necessary networks and resources to keep learning and deepening our understanding of circumstances shaping our work. As a result, we are routinely consulted by policymakers and our opinions are taken into account in the lawmaking process.
We formed communicational habits to reach Wikimedians where they are, online and offline. We involve volunteers in advocacy where they can make a difference on EU policy; they engage with decision makers from their own geographies. We produce accessible, digestible information and provide a good experience for our community in exploring policy issues.
We are positioned as a trusted partner to those who want to support Free Knowledge by financial and non-financial contributions.
Our work is backed and sustained by steady, diversified and ethical funding (and that includes applying for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation). We mobilise new and existing donors to support a range of topics in advocacy - it includes scaling up the activities. We provide regranting opportunities and facilitate access to a variety of resources needed to run advocacy work in and by our communities. We plan acquisition and spending of the resources that allows us to create backups and respond to unexpected opportunities and challenges in an adequate way.
Phase 2: Broader scope of countries/Affiliates edit
So what other affiliates are we hoping will join us?
This is where we have a dilemma. We want to welcome as many “European” affiliates to Wikimedia Europe as possible… but at the same time we do not want to interfere with the other regional initiatives within Europe.
We do not want to limit ourselves to just the larger initiatives like chapters, but really any other affiliates that share the ideals and goals that we will set for Wikimedia Europe.
The advocacy work remains the nucleus of the collaboration within Wikimedia Europe. The connections, experience and visibility established through that work enable expansion into a more comprehensive assistance to our European communities.
New chapters and other Affiliates are drawn to the project as a result of active outreach, communication and jointly determined concrete goals. The structure is reinforced enough to cater to a greater array of needs that the participants benefit from, in and outside the EU, whether they have formal structures or organise informally.
Among other activities, institutional and private large scale funders are identified and brought in. The new funding supports projects beyond the joint policy activities. It expands to issues such as research and development, cross-border cooperation, volunteer activation and support, investments in tech infrastructure, etc. All these objectives are determined and shaped by an ongoing exchange and assessment of real needs.
Phase 3: Broader scope of activities edit
Policy and advocacy work has secured our position as a thought leader on frameworks for a functional, human-centred internet in Europe. This visibility and reputation is shared by affiliates who oversee the activities of Wikimedia Europe. The entity provides know-how, support, intelligence and strategic interventions enabling its members to navigate through the changing political, social and economic environment. At this stage, the expansion of fundraising efforts and implementation of resulting projects and investments in Phase 2 allows for expanding the scope of activities.
Capacity building is one of the crucial objectives. Experiences and assessments of needs carried out so far help map out capacity priorities, as we don’t just assume we understand them (as we sometimes do). These may include a range of skill-set building (for example: public speaking, professional and life coaching, grant writing, etc.), providing opportunities for gaining on-the-job experience (for example: training in a new role, internship, job shadowing, etc.) or access to knowledge and educational opportunities (for example: programming language course, accountancy qualifications, etc.).
In designing capacity building we do not just look inward, but join together with other (European) initiatives that are already doing the work in many areas. Capacities are built with the help of a network of external specialised providers but also through identifying, amplifying and supporting capacities of affiliates so that they can offer support to each other.
The expansion of scope is backed up by continuous fundraising efforts accepted among the affiliates. Acquired resources provide sustainability of the core activities as well as allow for regranting and experimenting with innovative approaches, new projects and communication activities. These are based on collaboration of all interested Affiliates who benefit from pulling in joint resources as well as from opportunities and exposure that Wikimedia Europe provides.
Leaving the path for growth open, some recommendations edit
While the text above describes some of our ambitions it does not describe the path of how to get there. This is not a problem, nor something we can fill in the coming months. However we can identify things which we should not do, because they will make reaching our end-goals difficult.
Some of the things that come to mind when setting up our first version of the concept of Wikimedia Europe:
- Create an inclusive vision statement leaving room for a broader scope. Wikimedia Europe is founded on European values - to define what exactly they are - a point for the mission statement
- Base it on a commitment of cooperation and coordination with other Movement nodes and entities, existing and emerging (CEE hub, WikiFranca, etc.). These can be regional groups, but also activities. There is no point in competing with other initiatives. We want to avoid overriding initiatives and duplicating work; rather the objective is to divide work when appropriate, pull in resources when beneficial for European Affiliates, step in and help when asked.
- Do not focus too much on the EU mindset. While this is a convenient starting point it will make it harder for other affiliates to join us if the whole initiative radiates from the EU. As with the EU advocacy project, the assistance and resources are provided indiscriminately of geography within the continent and that principle should guide future developments of the hub.
- Celebrate success widely, recognising efforts and contributions of all European Affiliates with all the diversity in size, experience and background.
- Design to be flexible. It is not good enough to know that there are other initiatives, it might be most effective to defer to them as part of the European network. An example that comes to mind is an initiative in the CEE region that is looking for support in its development. While Wikimedia-Europe might be able to support some of that, it is likely that the regional CEE Hub might be much better placed to fulfil this need. At the same time both Wikimedia Europe and CEE might be able to work together on a Donor database or something else.
- Wikimedia Europe is not there to compete with other players in the movement globally. This includes the Wikimedia Foundation - we need to think of ways to include movement governance and Wikimedia Foundation in the governance model of Wikimedia Europe
- Do not focus on membership, we aim to work together with all European Affiliates regardless of whether they are a member. Wikimedia Europe, being founded on the principle of solidarity, should provide assistance, access to resources and opportunities to existing, developing and emerging initiatives across the continent according to its capacity.
- An ongoing process to assess the needs and capacities of the Affiliates on one hand, and identifying opportunities on the other, should be built in the DNA of Wikimedia Europe and backed with adequate resources to carry it out.