Wikimedia Foundation elections/Candidate Resources

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Welcome to the Wikimedia Foundation Board Candidate Resources!

This resource toolkit is intended for community members who are considering submitting their candidacy for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, and who want to better understand what to expect and how to prepare for the role.

IntroductionEdit

What is included here?

On this page, you will find a curated list of freely-accessible resources. The resources are in English and include articles, reflection questions, podcasts, and videos.

These themes are covered, with a section for each:

  • Self Reflection
  • Purpose and Function
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Expectations
  • Skills Needed

How do I use this toolkit?

To use this toolkit, we suggest beginning by asking yourself the self reflection questions in the first section. Reflection and self-awareness are key to preparing and succeeding in this Board role.

Each of the five sections are stand-alone. They can be viewed on their own, so feel free to choose where you would like to begin and what resources you want to explore. A summary is provided for each resource, outlining its purpose and relevance.

Where possible, the resources have been ordered so that the first resource in each section provides a general overview, and those that follow offer more detailed perspectives.

We provided resources in multiple media formats. Be aware that the Board's work involves reading and meaningfully responding to a lot of written documentation, most of which won't be available in video form.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about this toolkit, please email the Community Development team directly at comdevteam@wikimedia.org.

Self Reflection

This section includes reflection questions for community members who are thinking about becoming Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustee candidates. We suggest that you take some time to think about these questions and write down your answers. Answering these questions can not only help you understand whether you are ready for this role, but also help you prepare a clear and convincing message for answering questions from the community as a candidate.

Purpose

  • Why do I want to be a Wikimedia Foundation Trustee?
  • How do my goals and values align with this opportunity?

Time Commitment

  • Do I have the time and energy to commit to this? (Board members should expect to spend around 12 to 15 days per year on Board business.)
  • How will I prioritize this work alongside other responsibilities?


What I Know

  • What do I know about this role?
  • What do I not know?
  • What do I want to know more about?
  • What assumptions do I have about this role?
  • What are my expectations of what the Board of Trustees or an individual trustee does?
  • What would surprise me about this role? About working with other board members? About working with Wikimedia Foundation staff?


What I Bring

  • What experiences and skills do I bring to this role?
  • What social and cultural perspectives do I bring? (e.g. age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration history, religious tradition)
  • How can I apply my past experiences and skills to this role?
  • How will my particular membership of the Board of Trustees support the Board’s work?
  • How will my membership of the Board of Trustees support, more broadly, the Wikimedia Foundation’s communities and initiatives?
  • In what ways could my membership of the Board enhance public perception of the Wikimedia Foundation?
  • To what communities, sectors, or ideas could I provide the Board access?


What I Gain

  • What will I gain from being a member of this Board? (e.g. new skills, relationships, perspectives)
  • How could this role benefit or harm my existing relationships inside and outside the Wikimedia community?


Challenges

  • What tensions can I foresee in my membership of the Board with myself, my family, my community, other board members, Wikimedia Foundation staff?
  • How will I handle conflicts that arise between me and others in this role?
  • What do I think are the biggest challenges that will come from this role? Do I feel willing and able to tackle them?

Purpose and Procedure

What is the purpose the Board of Trustees? Why does a board exist? What are the procedures around the Board?Edit

  • Why do non-profit organizations need boards?

Type of media: Article

Title: Why do you need a board?

Source: Bridgespan

Summary: All non-profit organizations need a board. Although the specific responsibilities vary due to mission focus and different phases of an organization’s existence, the basic role and purpose of all non-profit boards remain the same. There are legal, ethical, and practical reasons to build a board when a non-profit is created.

  • What is the purpose of the Wikimedia Foundation board?

Type of media: Web page

Title: The role of the (Wikimedia Foundation) Board

Source: Wikimedia Meta

Summary: This is a section of the Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook that describes why the Wikimedia Foundation Board exists and how it oversees the Foundation to fulfill its values, mission, and vision.

  • How are trustees selected, onboarded, and equipped to serve?

Type of media: Web page

Title: Number of Board members; election to the Board; new Board members

Source: Wikimedia Meta

Summary: This is a section of the Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook that describes details of how Wikimedia Foundation Board members are elected, appointed, and onboarded.

Roles and Responsibilities

What are the basic roles and responsibilities of the Board of Trustees? What does the role of a Trustee involve?Edit

Board responsibilitiesEdit

General information on board responsibilities

Type of media: Article

Title: Board Responsibilities and Structures

Source: BoardSource, Inc.

Summary: BoardSource's list of basic functional and legal roles of non-profit boards and board members.


Type of media: Article

Title: Checklist of Board Roles and Responsibilities

Source: BoardSource, Inc.

Summary: BoardSource checklist of basic roles and responsibilities of the non-profit board.


Type of media: Article

Title: Board Roles and Responsibilities

Source: National Council of Nonprofits

Summary: National Council of Nonprofits page of links and basic information on board roles and responsibilities


Type of media: Video

Title: How to Manage for Collective Creativity

Source: TEDx Cambridge

Summary: Harvard professor Linda A. Hill, co-author of Collective Genius, has studied some of the world's most creative companies to come up with a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing -- from everyone in the company, not just the designated "creatives."


Type of media: Podcast

Title: Managing International and Global Organizations (Episode 27 09.11.2020)

Source: Nonprofit Management and Leadership - Duke University

Summary: Overview of the types and structures of NGOs and how they differ from non-profit organizations in the United States.

Fiduciary dutiesEdit

This role involves understanding and abiding by fiduciary duties

Type of media: Article

Title: Conflicts of Interest

Source: National Council of Nonprofits

Summary: A policy governing conflicts of interests is perhaps the most important policy a non-profit board can adopt. To have the most impact, the policy should be in writing, and the board and staff should review the policy regularly.


Type of media: Article

Title: Common Board Shortcomings

Source: BoardSource, Inc.

Summary: Ten weaknesses and mistakes common to boards or individual board members -- and how to remedy them.

Overseeing financial healthEdit

This role involves overseeing the organization’s financial health

Type of media: Article

Title: Finance Committee Fundamentals

Source: BoardSource, Inc.

Summary: Basic roles and practices for the Finance Committee

Overseeing alignment of mission and strategic directionEdit

This role involves aligning the organization’s mission and strategic direction

Type of media: Article

Title: What Every Non-profit Should Know

Source: Forbes

Summary: Edited 2021 interview with Alnoor Ebrahim, associate professor and faculty chair of the “Governing for Nonprofit Excellence” executive program at Harvard Business School, on the challenges and opportunities facing nonprofit boards.


Type of media: Podcast

Title: Mission, Vision, and Values (Episode 3, 05.09.2020)

Source: Nonprofit Management & Leadership (Duke University)

Summary: Class lecture - the purpose and relationship of a nonprofit's mission, vision, and values statements to each other and to the work of the organization.


Type of media: Article

Title: Productive Board Meetings

Source: Adapted from BoardSource, Inc.

Summary: What happens before, during, and after board meetings to make best use of the time.


Type of media: Article

Title: Intended Impact & Theory of Change

Source: Bridgespan Group

Summary: Intended impact and theory of change clarify what impact a nonprofit will hold itself accountable for and how it will achieve it. The resources here include an article that describes the concepts in-depth, a toolkit with templates for building an intended impact and theory of change, and case studies detailing how a number of organizations approached developing their own.

Overseeing activitiesEdit

This role involves monitoring activities and providing oversight

Type of media: Article

Title: Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness

Source: GuideStar

Summary: This guide is about organizations' fundraising effectiveness, future strategy, and annual planning.

Type of media: Article

Title: Strategic Planning 101

Source: Blue Avocado

Summary: A poor relationship between the Board and the Executive Director (or CEO) can create unnecessary friction that diverts time and energy from other institutional challenges. This article provides a step-by-step guide to strengthen the board-executive director relationship with a nonprofit’s mission.

What does the role of a Trustee not involve? What do we avoid doing?Edit

  • This role involves avoiding unproductive conflict

Type of media: Video

Title: How to Disagree Productively

Source: TED Talk | Leadership & Disagreement Productively

Summary: Drawing on her background as a world school-debate champion, Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way we talk to each other so we can start disagreeing productively and find common ground.

  • This role involves avoiding conflicts of interest

Type of media: Article

Title: Conflicts of Interest - an introduction

Source: Legal Center for Nonprofits, Inc.

Summary: Avoiding conflicts of interest is part of the fiduciary duty of loyalty owed by directors and officers to their non-profit corporations. The duty of loyalty requires directors and officers to act at all times in the best interests of the non-profit.


  • This role involves avoiding biases and recognizing one's implicit biases

Type of media: Online Test

Title: Implicit Bias Test

Source: Project Implicit

Summary: A variety of test instruments for discovering one's implicit biases regarding age, race, gender, religion, and more. (Note: the "demographics" part of the questionnaire is rather US-centric, but all questions can be skipped if desired.)


Type of media: Video

Title: How to Outsmart Your Unconscious Bias

Source: TEDx Pasadena

Summary: Author, speaker and CEO, Valerie Alexander, explains how the human brain instinctively reacts when encountering the unexpected, like saber-toothed tigers or female tech execs, and proposes that if we have the courage to examine our own behavior when faced with the unfamiliar, we can take control of our expectations, and by doing so, change the world.

Board Officers and Committees: what are these?Edit

  • General information

Type of media: Article

Title: Officers and Directors - Not the Same Thing

Source: Nonprofit Law Blog

Summary: It’s important for every trustee to understand their fiduciary duties and responsibilities, including those related to complying with the laws and the corporation’s governing documents (sometimes referred to as the duty of obedience). Among the critical compliance matters for the board is the proper election of directors and officers. Conflating these processes can create problems that the board should not let happen.

Type of media: Article & Video

Title: Board Officers and Committees: What Structure Works Best?

Source: Mission Box

Summary: A well-functioning board of trustees is essential to the health and sustainability of any nonprofit. This document and video discuss board structure.


  • What is the Board Chair and what does this person do?

Type of media: Article

Title: How to Be a Good Board Chair

Source: Harvard Business Review (Archives)

Summary: The chair leads the board, not the organization, and that means being a facilitator of effective group discussions, not a team commander. This article offers eight principles of the chair's role.


Type of media: Article

Title: Board Chair and Chief Executive Responsibilities

Source: BoardSource

Summary: A strong partnership between the chief executive and board chair is essential to leading an effective organization. When the relationship goes awry, it’s often due to confusion or disagreement about their respective responsibilities.


  • What are committees and what do they do?

Type of media: Article

Title: Nonprofit Board Committee Structure

Source: Board Effect

Summary: Even when you have good people all around on a nonprofit board, the structure of the board and its committees is important to the health and sustainability of the operation. Well-chosen board officers enhance an existing good nonprofit board committee structure. Since much of a board’s work is done in committees, the structure of standing and ad hoc committees can make a big difference in how much work the board can accomplish.


Type of media: Article

Title: The Basics of Board Committee Structure

Source: American Society of Association Executives

Summary: If the committee structure has not been revisited in a few years, the board should consider looking at the current committee structure and what the committees actually do. If there are overlapping responsibilities or no work being done, then it is time to re-align the committee structure. Committees with no work can be abolished, and committees with overlapping work can be merged. Committees should not take on a life of their own, nor should they overshadow the board itself.


Expectations


What is expected of me as a Trustee?Edit

  • General information

Type of media: Web page

Title: Wikimedia Foundation Code of Conduct of the Board of Trustees

Source: foundation:Home Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki

Summary: This page is the Wikimedia Foundation Board’s Code of Conduct, which is binding on all trustees.


  • What is my role in relation to the community?

Type of media: Web page

Title: Community Participation

Source: Wikimedia Meta

Summary: This is a section of the Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook that describes the distinction between Board work and community participation.


Skills Needed


This section includes resources that relate to [soft skills] and [hard skills].

It is not expected that you possess all of these skills prior to joining the Wikimedia Foundation Board, however these are skills that are important to learn when becoming a board member. The purpose of the resources below is to direct your attention to the types of skills that are important for the Board role.

What “soft skills" do I need?Edit

Strategic thinkingEdit

This role involves strategic thinking skills

Type of media: Video

Title: Introducing the Art of Strategic Thinking – Getting Execution Right

Source: Balanced Scorecard Institute

Summary: This 30-minute session will focus on seven specific competencies individuals and teams should develop to build organizational capacity to get strategy execution right. • See the big picture for your organization • Articulate strategic objectives • Identify relationships, patterns, and trends in seemingly unrelated issues or problems • Get creative by looking at alternatives • Analyze information • Prioritize your actions • Make trade-offs


Type of media: Video

Title: The Difference Between Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking

Source: Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning

Summary: A 2-minute "mini-explainer" on the differences between strategic thinking and strategic planning.


Type of media: Article

Title: How to Develop Strategic Thinking Skills

Source: Harvard Business School Online

Summary: Approaches to develop strategic thinking to spot new opportunities, address emerging challenges, and plan for future success.


Type of media: Article

Title: 4 Ways to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills

Source: Harvard Business Review

Summary: First, routinely explore the internal trends - such as issues that come up repeatedly. The second ability is asking relevant tough questions. Third, structure communication in a way that helps your audience focus on the core message. Finally, make time for reflection.

Trust-building and collaborationEdit

This role involves trust building and collaboration skills

Type of media: Video

Title: Understanding Trust in Civil Society

Source: Independent Sector

Summary: While we intuitively know that trust building is vital to the success of any social movement, we don’t always have the data necessary to understand where we stand, or what we need to change to build and strengthen that trust.

Type of media: Essay

Title: So you've made a mistake and it's public...

Source: Wikimedia Meta-wiki

Summary: On the importance of a genuine public apology when a community-affecting mistake was made.

Consensus-building skillsEdit

This role involves consensus building skills

Type of media: Video & Article

Title: Ten Steps to Building Consensus

Source: SmithCulp Consulting

Summary: A step-by-step process for reaching a consensus decision.


Type of media: Article

Title: Facilitating Group Consensus

Source: Professionalism Matters

Summary: A process for reaching consensus -- especially with difficult personalities.


Type of media: Article

Title: Consensus Decision Making: A Short Guide

Source: Seeds for Change

Summary: Consensus decision-making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement in a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority get their way, a consensus group is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports – or at least can live with.


Type of media: Video & Article

Title: Consent is a Third Option

Source: Circle Forward

Summary: An Alternative to Consensus: The Consent Principle means that a decision has been made when none of the participants in the decision have any significant objections to it; i.e. when no one can identify a risk that the group cannot afford to take. Those risks typically involve conflicts with the stated purpose or strategies, or the creation of conditions that would make it very difficult for a member to perform his or her role. Under those conditions, the group or person would be out of their range of tolerance.

Communication skillsEdit

This role involves communication skills

Type of media: Video

Title: Marcus Alexander Velaquez - The Art of Effective Communication

Source: TEDx

Summary: This presentation is intended to challenge its hearers to evaluate their current methods of communicating for the purposes of saving time and emotions, as well as increasing the effectiveness of one’s communication. Effective communication can be defined as the delivering of information that is accurately received, in the least amount of time, without being an emotional burden. We can conserve our time, which is our greatest asset, by effectively communicating.


Type of media: Video

Title: Patricia Ryan - Don’t insist on English!

Source: TEDx

Summary: Patricia Ryan is a longtime English teacher who asks a provocative question: Is the world's focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? In other words: What if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL? It's a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas.


Type of media: Article

Title: The Five Steps to Conflict Resolution

Source: American Management Association

Summary: Disagreement in the boardroom is not only inevitable – it is desirable. The board makes critical and often difficult decisions between competing benefits. How we handle disagreement matters. The article offers a simple process for handling conflict productively.

Type of media: Video

Title: How great leaders inspire action - Simon Sinek

Source: TED

Summary: Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

What “hard” skills would I need?Edit

Financial skillsEdit

This role involves financial skills

Type of media: Glossary

Title: Glossary of Financial Terms

Source: Nonprofit Finance Fund

Summary: An extensive glossary of financial terms used by foundations and other nonprofits.


Type of media: Article

Title: Where to Find Nonprofit Financial Information

Source: BridgeSpan

Summary: Use a foundation's annual report, the IRS Form 990, and the annual audit to find financial information about the organization.


Type of media: Article - pdf

Title: Board Members Finance and Accounting Booklet

Source: Jacobson Jarvis & Co PLLC

Summary: A useful handbook for board members with little to no previous training in finance and accounting.


Type of media: Video

Title: Understanding Cost Allocation

Source: Propel Nonprofits

Summary: Learn the four methods of cost allocation – direct assignment, staff time, cost drivers based on volume, and estimates — and what questions to ask yourself as you go through the process.


Type of media: Video

Title: Understanding Reserves

Source: Propel Nonprofits

Summary: Three reasons to have a reserve fund: for unforeseen expenses or cash shortfalls, replacement or repair of equipment or property, or unexpected opportunities.


Type of media: Article

Title: Endowments

Source: National Council of Nonprofits

Summary: The purpose, use, and fiduciary requirements of a financial endowment.


Type of media: Article

Title: Nonprofit Audit Guide

Source: National Council of Nonprofits

Summary: The purpose of a financial audit -- and the board's role in the audit process.


Type of media: Video

Title: Understanding Audited Financial Statements

Source: Wallace Foundation

Summary: A video guide explaining the components of nonprofit audited financial statements and key indicators of financial health and performance.

Social media skillsEdit

This role involves social media skills

Type of media: Article

Title: Social Media Meets (and Makes) the Nonprofit Board

Source: Board Effect

Summary: Board members serve as ambassadors and advocates for the nonprofit organization. As the expert points out, sharing positive commentary via social media can amplify the nonprofit’s online presence, helping to attract more attention and increase credibility of its mission. Furthermore, board members’ online activity can support planned communications campaigns around events and also diffuse any negative attention that might develop around the organization.

AdvocacyEdit

This role involves advocacy skills

Type of media: Article

Title: Working with Legislators: Advocacy Briefing Guide for Board Members

Source: BoardSource

Summary: Board members can effect change by advocating for the mission to legislators. This overview covers how to prepare for meetings with legislators - as well as the restrictions on lobbying placed on different types of foundations and nonprofits.

Type of media: Article

Title: Advocacy Basic Every Nonprofit Should Understand

Source: PICnet

Summary: Many organizations use advocacy in an attempt to address the root causes of the problem they are trying to solve. As Desmond Tutu said, "There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in." Advocacy can be a way for many nonprofits to "go upstream".

Strategic planningEdit

  • This role involves strategic planning skills

Type of media: Video

Title: Overview of the Strategic Planning Process

Source: Virtual Strategist

Summary: Erica Olsen, COO and Co-Founder of https://OnStrategyHQ.com illustrates the full strategic planning process in less than five minutes. Understand the importance of defining your direction, setting up an effective strategic plan that can be communicated to your staff so everyone knows what the priorities are. With everyone pulling in the same direction, momentum is easy to achieve.


Type of media: Article

Title: Ten Keys to Successful Strategic Planning for Nonprofits and Foundations

Source: TCC Group

Summary: A more detailed look at strategic vision, planning, and execution. What strategic planning is (and isn't), the components of an effective plan, and a bibliography of additional resources.


Type of media: Podcast

Title: Strategic Planning (Episode 13, 03.10.2020)

Source: Nonprofit Management and Leadership, Duke University

Summary: Audio recording of a university course session on boards and strategic planning. Although some board members may have experience with strategic planning, most arrive on a nonprofit board knowing anything about how nonprofits work. Strategy is about aligning and coordinating organizational actions with intended outcomes.

Type of media: Video

Title: SWOT Analysis

Source: Virtual Strategist

Summary: SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to create a synthesized view of your current state.


Type of media: Video

Title: Putting Your SWOT to Work

Source: Virtual Strategist

Summary: After creating an initial SWOT analysis, use it as a platform for designing and executing responsive actions that align actions with strategic priorities.


Type of media: Video & Article

Title: 16 Strategic Planning Models To Consider

Source: ClearPoint Strategy

Summary: Strategic planning tools, or models, are designed to help organizations develop their action plan to achieve their goals. There are many types of planning tools available. Here are 16 of the most popular with the scenarios in which they are most useful.


Type of media: Article

Title: Scenario and Contingency Planning

Source: ClearPoint Strategy

Summary: Scenario planning enables leaders to explore and prepare for hypothetical circumstances and environments (e.g., economic downturn vs. recovery, or fundraising decline vs. growth). Contingency planning is a form of scenario planning focused on navigating worst-case scenarios (e.g., loss of primary funding, programmatic failure, adverse policy change).


Type of media: Article

Title: Making Sense of Uncertainty: Nonprofit Scenario Planning During a Crisis

Source: The Bridgespan Group

Summary: Scenario planning helps organization leaders navigate uncertainty while providing structure for making key strategic decisions. This article, and the accompanying tool, can support you and your leadership team through a scenario planning process that could help preserve your organization’s ability to pursue its goals for impact.


Type of media: Video

Title: Preparing for Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) in India

Source: ASSAR Project

Summary: An example of scenario planning in action: In 2016, stakeholders from Bangalore’s government, civil society, and private and academic sectors met to think about Bangalore's water future. Here, participants learned about Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP), which helps stakeholders from diverse perspectives to discuss a complex issue by collectively developing a range of relevant and plausible future scenarios and their possible outcomes.


Questions and Feedback


If you have questions about Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees elections, visit the election hub for more information.

If you have any questions or feedback about this candidate resource page, please email the Community Development team comdevteam@wikimedia.org directly or fill out our Google form.