Basic terms and facts
What is a movement?
Social movements are a type of group action, that carry out, resist, or undo social change. They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues.
Wikimedia volunteers use this word to describe the many communities, groups, and individuals that contribute to Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia movement has been defined as the people, activities, and values which comprise the Wikimedia sites and projects.
As we look toward the future, we are contemplating the “bigger WE” – who else is actively working toward the sum of all knowledge and is not currently part of our movement? This may include other non-profits, educational systems, partners, experts, and others.
What is a strategy?
A strategy is a method or plan to help us meet our vision and desired future. It defines goals and priorities, takes external circumstances and internal resources into account, covers a long period of time, and is a guide to evaluate short-term plans.
This movement-wide strategic direction will recognize the collective interests of the people whom our projects, groups, and organizations are supporting and serving. It will cover roughly 13-15 years between 2018 and 2030, and will be a guide for the authors of local strategies and tactics. It will be assessed as time and circumstances change, so that it adjusts to changes in the world.
Who and why needs a movement strategy?
First of all, deeply engaged individuals, Wikimedia Foundation, and the affiliates most need the strategy. They need a basis to help them prioritize the work to meet the challenges and opportunities that Wikimedia is facing. It will also help individuals work more collectively together to reach our vision.
Who and how will benefit from the movement strategy?
Ultimately, anyone who participates or will participate in Wikimedia, or uses/will use its projects. The strategy will help us be more effective as groups and individuals. It will also help everyone in the movement to understand our role in the world. It will help to communicate the work Wikimedia is doing with people outside the movement, so more people can join.
Why are we doing this now?
The previous strategy was built in 2009-10 and covered 2010–2015. We need to build the next plan and preparations. While the 2010–2015 strategy was collaboratively developed, it did not tie into an actionable implementation plan. As the Wikimedia movement has grown and matured since 2009, we realize that we need to collectively work together in order to meet our vision. The world and the internet have changed substantially around us, and free knowledge is more important than ever.
What about the previous movement strategy?
Beginning in 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation facilitated a process with the Wikimedia movement to build a five-year strategy for the movement and Foundation. This plan ultimately focused on the Foundation's work to support movement-wide goals. While the final strategic plan was well received and influenced much of the Foundation’s work, it did not lead to a lot of coordinated work across the movement as a whole.
This current process is different in a number of ways. Rather than build a detailed strategy or a set of benchmarks, our goal is to build a direction for the Wikimedia movement. This will involve looking ahead to know where we want to go together. The outcomes will also have a focus on the movement as a whole, rather than the work of the Wikimedia Foundation or a specific affiliate. It also is a multilingual process, while most of the previous work in 2009-10 was conducted in English.
When does it start and end?
On-wiki discussions began in early 2017. The current process aims at concluding in late September 2017 with a widely accepted strategic direction document. For detailed info, please visit the Timeline page.
Who can participate?
Everyone involved in or using Wikimedia and/or its projects is invited to participate. That includes editors, developers, readers (existing and future), affiliates, movement partners, and donors. It also includes those not yet in the movement, including experts from a variety of fields, as well as potential partners. In particular, there’s no minimal number of edits that gives you the right to discuss. There are opportunities to participate online and in-person.
How do I participate?
Please visit the Participate page for detailed information on helping plan or facilitate a future in-person discussion.
How is the diversity of feedback being provided?
The process is the first multilingually designed effort of its kind. The Foundation contracted 18 highly-experienced community members to engage with 16 different language communities in their local language, in addition to the global English-language outreach that more closely mirrors the 2009-10 movement strategy process (Track B). Additionally, there is dedicated support for affiliates and other organizations (Track A), and external stakeholders both in emerging regions (Track D) and areas where Wikipedia and its sister projects have been well-known for years (Track C). Because Tracks C and D reach out to people beyond the existing movement, these tracks combined are called "New Voices".
How will this impact me or my organization?
How you use the outcomes of this discussion is up to you. Some individuals or organizations may use it to inform programmatic or organizational strategy. Others may see it as a way to connect with the broader movement and invite others to contribute to Wikimedia. Some may not use it at all – and that’s okay!
Practically, this does not mean that volunteers will be more restricted in what activities they develop or engage in. Volunteers will remain free to engage in activities that interest them and they believe will most benefit Wikimedia and the world.
How does this relate to organization strategies?
The movement strategy will influence, but not replace, organization strategies that usually have a time horizon of three to five years. For example, the Wikimedia Foundation will develop, in consultation with the community, an organization strategy beyond 2018 that is guided by this movement direction. The organizational strategy then helps the Foundation to set its annual plans.
How does this relate to existing grants?
Existing Wikimedia Foundation’s grant agreements and requirements will not be changed by this process. However, for those grant recipients doing work which could benefit this process, they are encouraged to participate in it, if they are interested.
People working on the process
Why hire experts from outside the Wikimedia movement?
It is difficult to engage in this type of discussion as a participant when you are also a facilitator. Outside facilitators enable Wikimedia community members to actively participate in the process. In addition to that, they can better maintain neutrality in facilitation and provide additional perspectives.
To help increase their familiarity with the Wikimedia movement, external contractors are paired with existing Wikimedia Foundation staff or contractors, as well as an advisory group of highly experienced volunteers.
Who will be responsible for evaluating the strategy once implemented?
Once the strategic direction is determined, each organized group will create its own organizational strategy. During phase 2, the organized groups will meet to discuss specific 3-5 year goals they want to meet and how the work will be split up. Once this is completed, a plan for ongoing evaluation of the movement strategy will be developed during phase 2. During this process, a revised set of metrics that match the movement strategy goals will be established.
Why will it require up to US$2.5 million to develop a movement strategy?
Developing a strategy with a community as large and diverse as the Wikimedia community is a significant undertaking, which requires investment in expertise and resources that cannot be filled by volunteers. These include fees for consultants and contractors, bringing together both staff and volunteers for bigger discussions, travel, etc. Additionally, volunteers often prefer to focus their time on developing the content on our projects, which means there are several tasks that require additional human resources.
For comparison, the last movement strategy in 2009 had a budget of approximately US$1 million but was on-wiki, focused and conducted in English. The number of programs, movement affiliates, and strategic considerations has increased substantially since that time. The Foundation’s understanding of how to reach a wider audience for movement-wide discussions has also improved, which increased the resources required to support substantive community engagement in different languages.
How was the US$2.5 million allocated?
First, the Foundation's Executive Director, Katherine Maher, consulted with individuals in the Foundation to develop a preliminary plan and identify resources needed. Next, an external audit of past processes (2010, 2014, and some smaller initiatives) for what worked and didn’t was done. The Core team looked at what was missing in past processes, from external expertise to audience research, and talked to the Community Engagement department staff and elsewhere about the type of support community members would require to engage.
Based on these conversations, the team built a budget that had resources for the following: inclusive, multilingual community consultation; additional market research into our users and new users; consultation with external experts and stakeholders, a strategy track meeting at Wikimedia Conference in Berlin (with an additional 150 participants from organized groups and community), and process management and production.
Katherine presented this budget to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees at the November meeting, where they approved a spending resolution of up to this amount over Fiscal Year 2016–17 (July 2016 – June 2017) and Fiscal Year 2017–18 (July 2017 – June 2018).
How will the US$2.5 million be spent?
The majority of the budget is being spent on non-Foundation staff resources to complete this work (consultants and community contractors), as well as the in-person meeting at Wikimedia Conference in Berlin and travel. Also, some funds are being set aside for phase 2 activities (after September 2017), which have not been allocated yet.