Wikimedia thematic organizations are independent non-profit organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a specified focal area. Like the Wikimedia Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally". Thematic organizations use a name clearly linking them to Wikimedia and are granted use of Wikimedia trademarks for their work, publicity, and fundraising. Currently, 2 thematic organization exists.
Recognition from the Affiliations Committee allows a group to apply for using the Wikimedia trademarks, access to unique grants, and additional affiliate support; however, recognition is not required to do any of the work a typical Wikimedia user group, and groups are encouraged to consider that model if they do not yet meet the requirements of a thematic organization.
Recognition from the Affiliations Committee allows a group to apply for using the Wikimedia trademarks and to get grants; however, recognition is not required to do any of the work typical user groups do or might do, it is an optional extra step with connected benefits and some requirements.
Benefits of becoming a recognized Wikimedia thematic organization includes:
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.
Once you've gathered the group, the wiki page, legal documents, and the big ideas on what you want to do, contact the Affiliations Committee and request to apply for thematic organization recognition. The Affiliations Committee will ask you some questions, review your application, and if appropriate will recommend the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees recognize your group as an official Wikimedia Thematic Organization. The Board of Trustees will then vote to approve or grant recognition based on the application, discussions with the Affiliations Committee, and recommendation from the Affiliations Committee. Recognition automatically renews each year. Recognition can be suspended or removed if necessary if a group becomes inactive or is no longer compliant with their agreement.
Delays during the application approval process most often arise from incomplete applications or applications that need to be modified before they can be approved. To prevent this from happening and help expedite your group's approval process, please double check this list before submitting your application:
- Does your name meet the affiliates naming requirements? Group discussions amongst Wikimedia thematic organizations regarding their name can take time, and generally you want to avoid having to re-engage in that conversation after your application has been submitted. You may contact the Affiliations Committee to seek input on your name before submitting your application.
- Does your group have a clear scope and purpose that is consistently and clearly explained? If your Meta page explains your thematic organization in a way that differs from your application, and if those differ from the activities your group is undertaking - that may delay the application's approval as a clear scope and purpose is required for the resolution to approve the thematic organization and the thematic organization agreement which the two primary contacts will be signing with the Wikimedia Foundation. Your scope and purpose statement should clearly and concisely explain what your group hopes to accomplish and who would be interested in joining. We recognize this may evolve over time, but you should have a clear commitment to a specific statement at the time of your application.
- Are your two primary contacts willing to identify themselves with the Wikimedia Foundation? Sometimes privacy concerns might cause someone to change their minds, which can delay the final steps in the user group recognition process.
- Is your group ready to accept new members and already include at least ten active Wikimedia contributors in good standing? Groups which have a closed or limited membership model may require more discussion and review. Groups which do not have at least ten active members who are also active Wikimedia contributors in good standing will not be approved.