Learning patterns/Monthly reports
What problem does this solve?
Reports can be challenging, especially for all-volunteer organizations or organizations with a very small staff. Sometimes, reporting is not a top priority because you want to focus on doing more activities. At the same time, most organizations know reporting is a good way to share their work. AffCom or the Wikimedia Foundation may also ask your organization to submit financial or activity reports on a regular basis (for example, once a year). When reporting is put off until the last minute, putting together a quality report about your activities a few months after the year has ended can be hard, since you are now involved with new activities and events may not be fresh in your mind (or information you need may be too hard to get). This can result in a lower quality report that doesn't do a good job of showing everything your organization accomplished, or that contains inaccuracies. It can put stress and pressure on your organization to make a big report at the last minute!
What is the solution?
Each month, list the main activities that your organization did and write a short paragraph describing the results. You can include information like a description of what happened, the number of participants involved, the results (e.g. the amount of content added through your project).
Add some photos taken at your events, or examples of some of the content created to make your report visually appealing and to help others connect to your organization and your work. If you do this on a monthly basis, the information will be fresh in your mind and you can answer questions about it if anyone has any. Publicizing your work at the time it is happening can have a lot of other benefits. For example, people may see what you are doing and want to get involved, or they may be able to share lessons or experience with you. Reporting monthly will keep your work fresh on everyone's mind.
You can also include a list of income and expenses every month, so you have that on hand at the end of the year
Things to consider
- Monthly reports can be in English, your local language, or in both languages. Think about who is likely to read your monthly reports. Even if your annual report will be in English, recording monthly activities in your local language will still help you a lot.
- You can set up a schedule to help your group stay on track with monthly reporting. For example, you can set a meeting or call at the end of each month to discuss what to put in the report.
- You may want to divide responsibility for your report among different volunteers in your organization who do different types of work, or according to the responsibilities of office bearers on your board (e.g. your treasurer might work on financials).
- You can delegate one person in your group (e.g. secretary) to make sure monthly reporting stays on track.
- When you haven't done much in a month, you can still put out a report, but don't feel obligated to fill your report up. You can be honest if you've had a low month of activity.
- You can choose whether to announce your monthly reports to the broader movement on Wikimedia-L, or only on your local mailing list.
- Find a place on Meta where you can keep links to all of your reports.
- When you make a new report, you can update the Reports page on Meta.
When to use
- This pattern was created for organizations, but it can be used by individuals running projects too. For example, IEG grantees do this!
- Many chapters have a history of submitting good monthly reports as a way not only to meet their reporting requirements, but to communicate with their volunteers in their local language.