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The requirements to set up an officially recognized Wikimedia thematic organization are designed to be help groups meet the movement's expectations for them once they are recognized.
- Wikimedia supportive mission
The mission of the organization must be in line with the mission and vision of the Wikimedia Foundation, as well as the guiding principles of the Wikimedia Foundation and principles of movement affiliates. Regardless of the chosen legal form or incorporation method, the thematic organization must have goals similar to those of the Wikimedia Foundation, and its activities should not stray from them.
- Thematic focus
The thematic organization has a clear cultural, linguistic, or otherwise thematic focus. Thematic organizations need a clearly defined and unique scope. Wikimedia is an international movement, therefore, when setting up a thematic organization questions of language, geographic area of operation, and membership criteria need to be determined. While there can be multiple user groups serving a similar or single focus area, there can only be one thematic organization covering their designated thematic focus area.
- Legal structure
The thematic organization must have a legal structure/corporation that is legally independent from the Wikimedia Foundation. Thematic organizations are meant to give a real-life structure to projects that might arise from contributors or external parties in line with the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation. However, thematic organizations are not meant to operate the Wikimedia projects nor to be legally responsible for the content of the projects. In order to achieve that, it is necessary that the legal structure chosen for the creation of a thematic organization is clearly independent from the Wikimedia Foundation. The organization's governing documents, generally by-laws, must be reviewed and approved by the Affiliations Committee.
- Critical mass of active Wikimedia contributor involvement
The thematic organization must involve at least ten, preferably at least twenty, active contributors to the Wikimedia projects. An active contributor is defined as a members with 300 or more contributions to a Wikimedia project on a registered account that has existed for more than 6 months in good community standing (meaning they are not currently suspended or otherwise prevented from participating). While thematic organizations should welcome the input of people who are not active contributors to the Wikimedia projects, they should not stay too far from the community. The active involvement of contributors to the Wikimedia projects is necessary for a thematic organization to be able to bring real-life initiatives tied to the Wikimedia projects to life. Initial membership should broadly reflect the intended scope, thematic and geographic area of activity and chosen languages of operation of the organization.
- At least two years of activities
Groups must have two years of demonstrable programmatic results prior to applying for thematic organization recognition. Ideally these activities should be done as a recognized Wikimedia user group. These activities, and their results, must be documented on-wiki, ideally on the group's Meta-Wiki page. Wide outreach efforts to encourage participation and involvement in setting up and shaping the organization are necessary. Activities should be a mixture of online and offline activities designed to encourage participation on the Wikimedia projects. The group must be up to date on its activity and financial reports prior to being considered for recognition.
- Capacity, or planned capacity, to meet the future expectations
Something that makes thematic organizations and chapters unique from user groups are the increased expectations. Does your group have the capacity to meet the expectations of thematic organization once you receive recognition? This will be something both the Affiliations Committee and Board of Trustees will consider in reviewing your application. If your group does not have a track record of activities which indicate that you will successfully be able to meet these expectations, that can cause your application to be denied. Consideration will be given for the financial circumstances of the group, realistic demands in your group's focus area, and plans to secure future funding to meet these expectations.
Beyond the requirements for recognition, which continue to be requirements for groups after they are recognized, there are a number of expectations from the Wikimedia community on the activities and operations of a Thematic Organization.
- Regular on-wiki financial and activity reports
Thematic Organizations are required to post at least one detailed annual report on their activities and finances on the Meta-Wiki reports page. The community has come to see that signs of a healthy organization also include reports throughout the year and a published annual plan for the organization. While an annual plan and regular reports are not required for affiliation status, they may be required for grants, and are a community expectation.
- Notification of governing document and leadership changes
The group's governing documents are initially reviewed and approved by the Affiliations Committee. The agreement with thematic organizations also requires that they notify the Wikimedia Foundation of any changes to those documents. The community also expects that the current governing body of the organization is identified on Meta-Wiki.
- Multiple offline and online activities each quarter
The fundamental goal of the Wikimedia movement affiliates model is to promote collaboration on the Wikimedia projects. Affiliates are expected to hold a variety of events, both online and offline, to help support this goal.
- Monitor and respond to communications issues related to group's scope
A thematic organization is expected to have the capacity to monitor, and when necessary, respond to communications issues related to their thematic scope. That includes monitoring of media coverage of their topic when it involves Wikimedia, and distributing information about Wikimedia activities to the group's members and network. Thematic organizations are expected to coordinate with the Wikimedia Foundation Communications department while performing these tasks.
- Monitor and respond to public policy matters related to group's scope
A thematic organization is expected to have the capacity to monitor, and when necessary, respond to public policy matters related to the group's scope. All Wikimedia organizations are expected to utilize effect strategy when performing these tasks, and not engage on issues outside the scope of Wikimedia's mission. Movement affiliates are encouraged to focus on five primary areas the Wikimedia Foundation has identified for Wikimedia public policy activities. They are strongly encouraged to utilize the public policy site maintained and developed by the Wikimedia Foundation, and coordinate with the Wikimedia Foundation Legal department while performing these tasks.
- Compliance with movement policies and governing principles
Wikimedia movement affiliates are required to maintain compliance with movement policies and governing principles. Primary examples of these include the Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles, affiliate principles, trademark policy, visual identity guidelines, and friendly space policy.
- Maintain expertise within group's scope that is accessible to Wikimedia community
Thematic organizations are expected to both maintain an expertise within the group's scope and make that expertise accessible to the broader Wikimedia movement. This important resource role helps volunteer working on the Wikimedia projects to have documented knowledge bases to contact for assistance in performing Wikimedia tasks.
- Collaboration with other affiliates and volunteer projects
Wikimedia thematic organization are expected to play a coordinating role within their respective thematic focus, and this is a distinctive role they play among Wikimedia organizations. While there can be several other affiliates working with the group's thematic focus, there will be only one thematic organization. Entities working on a thematic focus are not in a hierarchy, but need to agree how to co-exist to streamline their communication and avoid duplicate work.
- Represent Wikimedia at public events related to group's scope
Based on their thematic focus expertise and utilizing their communications capacity, thematic organizations are expected to have the capacity to represent the Wikimedia movement and its interests at public events when called upon to do so.
- Diverse funding sources
Thematic organizations are expected to seek funding from diverse sources. Thematic organizations are strongly encouraged to utilize the Wikimedia Foundation's grants program. However, thematic organizations are also expected to explore other means of funding, such as member dues, outside grants, or traditional fundraising activities.