Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Supporting online contributors with resources
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Supporting online contributors with resources
Some Wikimedia organizations have programs that offer people who contribute to the Wikimedia projects (for example, people who create or improve articles on Wikipedia or upload images to Commons) resources they need to do contribute more effectively. In some cases, organizations may offer small grants or reimbursements for travel related to Wikimedia work. Some organizations lend or give equipment (such as photography equipment) to contributors, or have equipment (such as scanners) available at their offices or through partner organizations. In other cases, organizations may maintain a space where contributors can meet or do their activities, and in other cases organizations may offer direct to support to contributors through volunteers or staff people who are available at a help desk or through another community support mechanism.
Recommendations for community support
If your organization wants to get better at supporting online contributors with resources, 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.
Many organizations call this “volunteer support” or “community support”, and it includes specific strategies for working with online contributors beyond the basic community-building that all organizations do in our movement.
Determine what support your organization can provide
- Find ways that contributors can communicate with your organization, to let your organization know what they need.
- Consider conducting a regular survey asking contributors what resources they need or appreciate. Use this information to inform how you support online contributors.
- Apply resources strategically where they will be most effective in helping online contributors work toward your organization’s goals. Understanding the needs of contributors is key, but your organization cannot fulfill every request.
- Consider if there are opportunities for your organization to connect contributors to resources (for example, in-kind resources like meeting spaces), that you may not be able to provide directly.
- If you are not able to fulfill a request from a contributor, consider if there are other opportunities you can refer that person to. For example, is this a request the Wikimedia Foundation could fulfill, would crowdfunding be an option for this person, do you know of somebody in your organization's membership base that could help, could you feature that person in your newsletter or blog to draw attention to the need?
Communication and coordination
- If you have resources available, find ways to help online contributors learn about and access this resources. Proactively make resources available to “high impact” contributors if you know who they are; don’t wait for requests.
- Be transparent about what support and resources are available to online contributors and volunteers.
- Be transparent about how resources can be requested and how they are allocated.
- If there are other organizations working with the same group of contributors (for example, on the same language Wikipedia), coordinate your support efforts to make sure communication with contributors is streamlined and processes are efficient. Consider the different role of each organization in providing support, and how these roles can complement one another.
Tracking and documentation
- Track the time and resources it takes to make a microgrant or fulfill other requests. This will help your organization balance the resources it takes to give grants effectively with the results you are achieving.
- Track how resources (like microgrants and scholarships) lead to online impact. Assess this against the resources spent in this area to make sure support is efficient.
- Document your processes for offering resources in writing, to ensure that they don't depend on just one or two volunteers.
- Organizations running a reimbursement program or technology pool may use tracking software to help volunteers submit and track project-related expenses.
- Make a list noting when people ask for support or resource, and note if, how, and when your organization addressed each request. Note if there are frequent requests for resources your organization cannot provide.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in community support
If your organization has expertise in supporting online contributors with resources, 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 supporting online contributors with resources
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.
- Check out other grants programs in the movement to see if you can adapt some of these ideas and processes to your own context: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants
- This program is a collaboration between several chapters (WMDE, WMCH) and the Wikimedia Foundation to support travel: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:TPS
Create a capacity building plan for supporting online contributors with resources
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to supporting online contributors with resources, 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.