CEE/Newsletter/November 2017/Contents/Germany report

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Germany report: Working together for a global movement – Supporting the volunteer supporters[edit]

By Anne Kierkegaard (WMDE), with finetuning by Cornelius Kibelka (WMDE)
12 volunteer supporters from 10 Wikimedia Chapters, and one PEC-man.

Two international workshops took place at WMDE this fall, we want to highlight one of these in this newsletter: The Volunteer Supporters Network meeting took place in November in Berlin and it was the first of its kind. It took place as part of the follow-up work between the annual Wikimedia Conference.

There are a growing number of affiliates that have a person employed to focus on volunteer support. This can be a demanding job and sometimes a little lonely in the sense that the volunteer supporters in their own country often are the only ones focusing on that specific task.

Over the years, a natural cooperation has developed between the volunteer supporters in the chapters related to the German-speaking Wikipedia: Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE), Wikimedia Österreich (WMAT) and Wikimedia CH (WMCH). The Volunteer Supporters Network (VSN) has grown out of this existing network, therefore Veronika Krämer (WMDE) and Raimund Liebert (WMAT) hosted this first meeting. For the past years, the two of them have been giving talks at the Wikimedia conference and Wikimania about their work. In 2016, Veronika also participated in the first WikiConvention Francophone, in 2017 at the CEE meeting in Warsaw. Through this she got to know her French, Polish and Serbian colleagues, who were all interested in collaboration within the network.

Discussion round

The workshop focused on an exchange of experiences and challenges from the participants’ daily work, e.g. on how to best reach out to communities. Secondly, the question “what is successful volunteer support – and how is it measured?” was discussed, e.g. how do you show that you have motivated volunteers? The participants also worked out a wish list of tools and skills needed to improve the impact of their work. About the outcome of the workshop, Veronika says: “The most important thing is probably that people know each other now, and feel comfortable asking each other questions. We know what each other are working on, and can ask for input and help.” In total, twelve staff members working in volunteer support coming from ten different Wikimedia chapters joined the meeting. Among them, Natalia Szafran-Kozakowska (WMPL) and Ivana Madžarević (WMRS) from the CEE region.

Cornelius KIbelka, who has supported the organisation of the meeting, says: “My job has been to motivate people and provide some practical support in order to make these meetings happen.” This has at times been uphill, as Veronika notes, because: “there are always other things to do….”. The meeting proves that it has been worth the climb; it makes sense to increase the collaboration between affiliates and in turn, hopefully strengthen the Wikimedia Movement. Cornelius: “The impact that we’re hoping for is to build trust, stronger connections between affiliates, and stronger cohesion in the long run.”

You can find a first short summary of the workshop on Meta, more to be published. The Volunteer Supporters meetup is planned to take place again next year, possibly in Austria or France.