As Wikimedia has grown as a movement from a website and cool idea to a family of sites and a network of national and international non-profits, we have developed many ways to engage partners and the media, raise funds, and make large-scale decisions. National chapters have become significant non-profits in their own right, and collaboration between chapters and the global Foundation has become more intricate. For instance, chapters today run and support international events, offer scholarships and grants to community members, raise significant funds directly through the annual sitenotices, and run branding initiatives — including the global campaign for “Wikipedia as World Heritage Site” organized recently by Wikimedia Deutschland.
In 2009, during Wikimedia’s strategic planning process for the coming five years, a task force focused on movement roles was set up. Its task was to research how individual contributors, Chapters, and the Foundation currently interact, and how they should ideally work together, and how this happened in other global organizations. This was the most abstract part of optimizing operations, which included discussions of how we guarantee financial sustainability, build partnerships and infrastructure, and influence public perception and policy.
This group tackled questions of how the different parts of the movement develop strategy, make decisions across the movement, and communicate with one another. A few initial recommendations were made, but these issues required more detailed discussion. So a Board working group was created to continue the work.
This group chose to focus for its first year on the roles of formal organizations in the movement — the WMF and its Committees, Chapters, and other structured groups that should have similar formal recognition. We tabled the equally complex issue of the roles of individual contributors, wiki projects, and other informal groups to a separate discussion.
The result of this work will be a set of recommendations to the movement as a whole – expressed in a movement charter that all formal parts of the movement can endorse, to the WMF, and to chapters. The project and its recommendations are being developed on the Meta-wiki. All are welcome to participate in the working group and discussions (or simply browse our meeting notes). By Wikimania this year, the group aims to have recommendations on new models for organizations that the WMF should recognize (Associations and Partner Organizations), on movement standards for transparency and auditing, and more.
I will post a series of updates about the project over the coming weeks, leading up to in-person discussions at Wikimania. If you have questions about the project or any of its targets, suggestions about important issues we aren’t yet considering, &c – please let me know on my talk page.