Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Partnerships
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education)
Leveraging partnerships is a key strategy for many Wikimedia organizations. Wikimedia organizations work with partners in the culutral sector (such as museums or libraries), the educational sector (through programs featuring Wikipedia in the classroom, for example), around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and with closely aligned partners in the Wikimedia movement or the broader free knowledge movement. Partnerships can bring many benefits to the Wikimedia movement and local organizations are often best-placed to bring partnerships to fruition, engaging local organizations that might not otherwise become involved with Wikimedia. Many organizations may have access to important content that can be released as the result of partnership efforts, and partnerships with respected institutions may also increase the reputation and ability to work for Wikimedia organizations. Partnerships can also bring in resources, both financial and in-kind, to support activities that benefit both organizations. Partnerships may occur over a one-time event, or may be sustained in the long term.
Recommendations for partnerships
If your organization wants to get better at partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education), here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.
- When seeking partners proactively, carefully consider what type of partner your organization needs for your project to be successful. For example, some projects may need to engage with larger institutional partners while others may be more successful with a smaller partner. *Consider also your organization’s capacity to engage with partners of different sizes.
- Make a list of all the institutions in your local region (or within your thematic focus, if you aren’t tied to a geography) who are directly or indirectly related to your mission, and their contact information.
- Consult your volunteers to get ideas for potential partners to approach. Volunteers you work with may have connections or inroads with high-potential partners
- If your organization has limited resources to engage with partners and many partners willing to engage, you will need to prioritize partnerships that will achieve the strongest immediate and long term outcomes. Be strategic in selecting partnerships that will help you achieve your long term and short term goals.
- When considering a partnership, make sure your organization can deliver on its commitments. Continued successful partnership work will require your organization to maintain an excellent reputation among different partners. Entering into a partnership (even one that seems like a good opportunity) that is unlikely to be successful due to lack of capacity could damage your work in the long term.
- If there are similar organizations in your context competing with you for resources, consider if a partnership might allow for more efficient collaboration.
- When you attend events where relevant partners are present, keep track of your interactions with different partners. Consider recording them in your organization’s CRM if you use one, or in a spreadsheet where different people in your organization can track these interactions.
- Build relationships through both targeted and untargeted interactions with potential partners. While it may sometimes be useful to explicitly state a partnership idea you are interested in, in other instances, it may be more useful to build a slower relationship without specifically focusing on working together.
- When communicating with partners, think about the partnership from the partner’s perspective and clearly articulate the benefits of the partnership to them. As the conversation progresses, you will also need to be clear about the responsibilities of the partner.
- When thinking about potential partners, consider who uses or relies on Wikimedia projects the most, e.g. academic institutions or schools. Think about the concrete benefits that you would both get from collaboration. When reaching out to these institutions or networks list these benefits and be clear about the resources (time, volunteer skills, other) you can devote to the partnership and what you expect to receive in return.
- After meeting with potential partners, make sure you are clear with them about next steps. Set a clear date for following up with your potential partner and make sure your partner knows whom to contact at your organization.
- Establish a clear protocol for how to engage with potential partners and partners at different stages. Make sure the people in your organization involved with this work are aware of this protocol.
- Be clear about the roles of volunteers and staff (if you have staff) in working with your partners. Consider having one volunteer or staff person “own” each partnership, to make sure that interactions with the partner are regular and consistent.
- As appropriate, find opportunities for your partners to engage with different volunteers or contributors in your organization to gain a better understanding of your work
- Depending on your context, you may have opportunities to connect with networks (or groups of partner organizations) relevant to your work. This may allow you to connect efficiently with a larger group of partners, and scale your results.
- When entering into a partnership, think about ways your organization can engage with a partner in the long term. For example, once your formal partnership ends, make sure your partner knows how to continue its work with Wikimedia.
- Document and share the long term benefits of your partnership strategies. For example, you may be gaining significant leverage through a partnership that is not yet showing impressive outcomes, but you may have positive indicators that the relationship or the work is progressing to enable future impactful work.
- Regularly evaluate the time and resources you are putting into a partnership and what you are getting out of it or hope to get out of it. Some partnerships take a long time to cultivate and get going: create milestones and a timeline to track your progress and make sure you are balancing immediate outcomes with long term benefits.
- Set clear targets for the work you are doing with your partner in terms of content (# articles, # files uploaded or used) and online participation (if applicable), and work with your partner to measure your success against these targets. Set clear expectations about this in advance, before beginning your project.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in partnerships
If your organization has expertise in partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education), please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:
- Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
- Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.
Ongoing challenges in the area of partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education)
If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.
- Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.
Create a capacity building plan for partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education)
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to partnerships (e.g. GLAM, Wikimedia collaborations, education), please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.
If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.