Chapters Committee/Chapter assessment
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Chapcom has been evaluating chapters in the making for some time now, but unfortunately has not really followed up on what chapters become. For some, the results (in the good way) are obvious, so an actual real follow-up has not been not so critical. For other chapters however, a follow-up (or success assessment process) on how well a chapter is doing, should be something that Wikimedia needs to develop, in order to be able to assess the performance of chapters down the road.
Once a chapter has been approved by the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation, it enters a chapters agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation. This agreement is a contract that runs for one year and is usually reconducted, year after year. However, to this day there is no real process on which one could base the renewal (or lack thereof) of the chapters agreement. Chapters come to be, and practically, they continue to be. Fortunately, we haven't been faced with a case where an approved Wikimedia chapter was involved in any kind of "mischief", so the question has not really been a hot one. We have had two cases thus far, where approval was given and then "taken away". Not so much for problematic behaviours, but rather because of lack of activity (and in the one case, UK where it happened, the founders of the chapter gave up on their own to leave room for another group to take over on a slightly different legal basis) or because of failure to comply with the basics of the approval (Brazil, where no legal entity was founded). The question then pops up about what we (Wikimedia) can do to make sure that chapters develop healthily in order to help fulfill the Wikimedia mission across the globe.
This is in somewhat of a chronological order
Compliance with the basic terms of approval: success in founding a locally and legally recognised organisation
Chapters are approved (usually) when they are not yet a legal entity, in order to avoid unnecessary legal complications if an organisation needed to change their bylaws to comply with Chapter creation rules and guidelines. As such, the first step to assess the viability of the chapter should be success in legally grounding the organisation.
- Timeframe: 6 months after approval (some administrations have a tendency to make things go slow).
- Possible exceptions:
- Chapters that already have a structure in place when applying for chapterhood: Those should then make sure that their bylaws are in accordance with the last versions approved by chapcom and board.
- Chapters which need more than 6 months to get legally recognised: in specific and known circumstances, a chapter could ask for an extension of the timeframe in which it can be recognized by local authorities. This would then become the new "deadline".
Compliance with own bylaws
Bylaws usually require many different things from an organisation. This might be the election of the board, the recruitment of members, the holding of a General Assembly. These steps should be taken by the chapters, and they should be able to show a timeline of actions accomplished to comply with their own bylaws.
- Measure of success: Basic needs to make the chapter comply with its own bylaws should be taken care of. This would include: a board has been elected, a general assembly has been held, a bank-account has been set up to receive membership fees (if applicable), X members have been recruited etc.
- Timeframe: 6 months after incorporation as a legal entity
Chapter must be active
In order for a chapter to be an asset to the Wikimedia movement, it should be actively involved in pursuing the mission. Although degree of activity might vary depending on location, time of the year, age of the chapter, means of the chapter etc., it still should be able to report some activities. Most of these will probably be compiled in a legal document needed for the local authorities anyway at the end of the "fiscal year", something like an annual report.
- Measure of success: Chapter publishes an annual report that lists at least its activities for the year past, whether official (for local authorities) of unofficial (for the benefit of the Wikimedia movement).
- Timeframe: 1 year after chapter approval (potentially 1 year after incorporation if that happens a long time after approval).
In order for a chapter to develop activities, it will need to finance them. There are several steps to financial stability:
- have the necessary framework in place (bank account, treasurer, possibly accountant etc.)
- Measure of success: [here make a list of the steps to financial framework development]
- Timeframe: will vary depending on the financial growth of the chapter, basics (bank account) should be in place within a year of incorporation.
- show ability to gather the money (whether it is through internal - Foundation - grants, external grants or fundraising)
- Measure of success: [here potentially some kind of scale depending on how much "money" the chapter gathers]
- Timeframe: will vary depending on the fundraising/financial growth of the chapter
- show ability to develop financial planning
- Measure of success: chapter develops an annual plan
- Timeframe: within 1 year of incorporation for the first annual plan, annually after that
- show ability to spend the money towards the mission (this is a step forward from just an activity report in previous step)
- Measure of success: [here develop budget planning vs actual spending]
- Timeframe: will vary depending on the fundraising/financial growth of the chapter, as well as legal (or lack thereof) obligations
- Internal and/or external financial audit
- Measure of success: Provide results from a financial audit, whether external or internal
- Timeframe: Will vary. Some chapters have an internal audit inscribed in their bylaws (WMDE...), other have legal obligations to perform an external audit after a certain amount of donations received (WMFR...). For an external audit, timeframe should take into account amount of donations processed (up to 5 years?)
Become an organisation that can offer tax-deductibility
One of the assets of having Wikimedia organisations across the world is to be able to offer the best donor experience, this includes in many countries the ability to offer tax-deductibility to the donors.
- Measure of success: obtain local tax-deductibility
- Timeframe: 1 to 3 years after incorporation (can be adjusted depending on local laws and procedures)
- Exceptions: Some countries do not allow organisations to offer tax-deductibility. In this case, this point is moot.
Here, we're talking about active members/supporters (people who *do* things) as well as staff.
- Measure of success: How many volunteers are actively involved in chapter's activity? How many staff does a chapter have, in what capacity? [probably a need to develop thresholds and a "good growth rate" here]
- Timeframe: ongoing, a chapter should know what human resources are at its disposal at all times.
What are the greatest risks facing the chapter?
- Identification of risk and potential impact
- Plans to offset greatest risks
Who conducts the assessment?
- Council of "peers" (chapter members, Wikimedia projects editors, others?)
- Subcommittee of the AuditCom
- Subcommittee of the ChapCom
- External group?