The following is the report for the Mid 2019 Rapid Grant.
The goals of the grant were:
- Engage with community members
- Recruit new volunteers
- Increase skills for existing volunteers
- Add or improve content
- Develop community partnerships
Specifically the outcomes that would show that the goals above have been reached would be:
- Continued sustaining the current volunteer base (who actively engage with the user group): 6
- Growth of the local volunteer base: 24, who have never participated in, or rarely participated in, a Wikimedia project
- Content created, or improved (to include, but not limited to, articles on Wikipedia (whether it be on English, Simple English, Spanish, etc.), media on Wikimedia Commons, content on WikiData, etc.): 100
Through the activities held by San Diego Wikimedians User Group, during the period of the grant we attempted to engage with community members/general public. We did so in a limited manner at the San Diego Central Library, Palomar State Park, La Shores Park, Balboa Park, and De Anza Springs Resort. Unfortunately, community members/general public that we engaged with, while they were interested in the work our existing volunteers have done, none have yet to be significantly active in adding or improving content across the various Wikimedia Foundation projects. Therefore, we did not gain new volunteers during the period of the grant.
That is not to say that this grant was not useful. The existing active volunteers within the user group remained active and engaged due to the grant. The grant funds were used during events held during the period of the grant. Existing active volunteers have increased their usage of Wikimedia Commons, and have continued to add and improve content on English Wikipedia. During the period of the grant, existing active volunteers interacted with a number of organizations, to include, but not limited to: San Diego County Office of Education, Chula Vista Public Library, San Diego Central Library, Fleet Science Museum, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, and Girl Scouts San Diego. We look forward to strengthening our connections with these organizations.
For specific outcomes, our starting volunteer base was lower than 6, but was 4; we have retained the starting volunteer base. Our goal of growth was 24 new volunteers; we did not achieve this goal due to circumstances during the events held. During the period of the grant the starting/existing volunteer base, made +500 different edits, resulting in+25 new Wikimedia Commons uploads, and +175,000 characters of content added.
Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:
- What worked well?
- This is the second grant from the Wikimedia Foundation since our inception in 2016 with a $750 PEG grant (insert link here), and the first grant since our user group was approved.
- The new support from Wikimedia Foundation gave new energy to our group. San Diego has the potential to be a huge hub for wiki activities, and each of the currently active organizers can see the potential.
- The new public outreach kit - with our sign, canopy, table and chairs - has given us new potential for outreach in high traffic public spaces, especially in the Balboa Park Museum District. Thanks especially to our new volunteer, Vid2vid, we now have plans to expand our recruiting for new volunteers with an information table/booth outside on the main pedestrian walkway in Balboa Park, near the Fleet Science Museum.
- What did not work so well?
- We did not have enough structure and step-by-step guides ready to get people signed up and started as we met them. There are many barriers to getting started, even for those most interested.
- While it is clear to us that wikiSoCal & the San Diego Wikimedians User Group have the potential to be radically inclusive, we have not had collaborative guidance and support we've repeatedly requested from the Wikimedia Foundation. While we understand that there are always staffing challenges, it is hard for us to continue to invest so many of our volunteer hours when we cannot get responses to our questions from staff.
- While our community has hundreds of people available and interested in joining the free knowledge movement, supporting a growing group of volunteers is not something any of us can do fulltime without support. While $1,980 for expenses has been very helpful, but without any contact within WMF, we are stuck on how to plan for ongoing funding and how to scale up. We were stalled badly when the Rapid Grants rules suddenly changed to restrict requests in so many ways. Our plans to scale up and our personal motivation to keep trying both tumbled backwards. Again. Several volunteers who had been ready to invest more hours had to scale back instead.
- What would you do differently next time?
- We most need a key contact within the foundation who can help us undersatnd how to scale up successully instead of wasting our time trying different tactics that do not get support.
- We want to have a much faster means for signing up new volunteers and emailing them a guide for taking their first steps. We should be able to go from a conversation with a potential volunteer to account setup and email from our phones.
- We also want to meaningfully engage with potential partners instead of only being able to start the conversations. Without WMF caring about the partnerships we have available, we can't put more time and resources. When we were asked to submit proposals for a strategy session, asked to revise and resubmit, we had to spend dozens of hours creating the event plans then had them fall apart when the requested proposal was then denied. Our partners have not seen any evidence that WMF cares about working with them.
- We want to have a clear and supported plan for scaling up with a small professional leadership and a small team who can reliably coordinate logistics, training and support of the incoming and ongoing wikiSoCal members and partners.
Grant funds spent
|Meetup.com yearly expense
|Printed materials (brochures, flyers, cards, etc.)
|Volunteer appreciation (keepsake swag, awards, gift cards)
|Office supplies (name tags, note pads, writing materials, etc.)
|Organizer travel (reimburse travel for Wikimedians attending an event explicitly to help facilitate and mentor participants)
|Miscellaneous costs (funds to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous costs)
Receipts are presently stored in a google drive folder, and are ready to be submitted.
There are no remaining funds from the grant. Any funds spent beyond those provided from the grant, not including the time spent in relation to the grant, were paid out of pocket by existing volunteers.
We hope to improve out content output, our volunteer growth, and community/public interaction with the assistance of future grants.