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We believe Capacity Building is an important area of work for our Movement, because it intentionally recognizes the need for the development and support of the human volunteers, staff, and stakeholders as well as their organizations to advance in our Strategic Direction. To this purpose, we developed a definition of capacity building to guide our efforts:

Capacity Building is the activities and communications that systemically build, obtain, strengthen, retain, and share the knowledge, skills, beliefs, tools, processes, and resources for all Wikimedia stakeholders to move towards our strategic direction (By 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.)

In this context, stakeholders include individuals, affiliates, communities, partners, volunteers, and anybody else who finds themselves a part of the Wikimedia Movement.

In approaching the scope of Capacity Building, we identified 7 topical areas of inquiry:

Topic 1: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Participation

Participation on the Wikimedia platforms does not reflect the diversity of the societies they are intended to serve. Global participation is uneven with respect to geography and population, and even in societies that seem well-represented, people, groups, and knowledge from underrepresented points of view are not equally present. This area may expand to include Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Participation related to resources (funds), representation, local/cultural mores, how language is used, assumptions in language, and assumptions in representation. We see many emerging communities that have important capacities that non-emerging communities generally lack. Unevenness in resource distribution (across geographies, for example) may have a big effect on who is participating in capacity building.

Topic 2: Allocation of Resources

Capacity building activities will have to be sustained by human and financial resources. Dedicated resources will have to be allocated at the system level over time to ensure that activities are effectively planned, completed and evaluated, data is collected across the programs and processes and systems can be continuously improved, and movement-wide learning is enabled and prioritized. We should also consider how resources, including funding, can be allocated at the level of the recipients of capacity building, including for time of people.

Topic 3:  Methods and Tools for Capacity Building

Capacity Building activities are conducted using shared, appropriate and accessible methods and tools for stakeholders to develop, grow and strengthen their work across the Movement. It will be important to determine how the development, documentation and sharing of promising practices can assure the ongoing success of an intentional capacity building strategy. To date, in our movement we have used the terms training and learning interchangeably with capacity building. Methods and tools to be added to our toolkit could include online-learning, peer-to-peer consultation, mentoring, on-site technical assistance, and infrastructure funding, to name but a few.

Topic 4: Roles, Responsibilities, and a System for Capacity Building

This topic deals with who provides capacity building, who receives capacity building, and how decisions are made. The Wikimedia Movement struggles with retaining talent and capacity. We do not have ways of systematically recognizing, retaining, and creating opportunities for people able and willing to take positions of responsibility, and this applies to all areas of our work, including capacity building. Currently capacity building is still seen by some as an add-on to core movement activities instead as of an intentional body of work within the movement. Under this topic we will recommend the level of centralization vs. decentralization of capacity building structures and systems, and how to make sure that they stay smart and impact oriented. Here it will be particularly important to recommend ways to unleash the potential of existing knowledge in the movement for those stakeholders who might benefit.

Topic 5: Categories of Capacities for the Movement Stakeholders

Currently we do not know much about the set of organizational and individual capacities that would enable movement stakeholders to better achieve their missions. In order to create a capacity building system for the movement, it will be necessary to understand what we want to build for whom, and develop a shared language (see the glossary) aligned with assessment and evaluation instruments. Categories of capacities may include communication, governance, advocacy, community organizing, fundraising, organizational management, and leadership development, to name but a few.

Topic 6: Communication as a Capacity within the Wikimedia Movement

When Wikimedia communities, as organized structures or individuals, face real-world problems or challenges, the issues they encounter are often treated as ad hoc and unrelated to previous situations due to shifting political concerns, local needs, and related factors. As a result, existing materials and processes may not meet emergent needs. However, there are sometimes others in the movement who could help, offer suggestions, share resources, or simply stand in solidarity and community with those experiencing a challenge. Due to the diversity and global presence of the Wikimedia movement (cf. Topic 1), the current communication channels, resources, and capabilities are not adequately established to handle these situations. Capacity building across the Wikimedia movement may require a communication approach that includes a clear process and can meet community needs when the needs arise.

Topic 7: Continuous Evaluation of Capacity Building

Evaluation of current, evolving, and best practices will have to be built into a capacity building system, allowing those within a specific community or group, as well as the wider Wikimedia movement, to  understand and acknowledge what works and what doesn’t, and to improve methods, initiatives and programs in a continuous manner. It would enable groups and individuals to assess their own work and progress in building capacity, as well as to communicate their learning and outcomes to others.  Our recommendations will include to what extent the emphasis of evaluation should be on longer term impact, rather than on short term outputs, as capacity building is something that requires time, effort, and sustained resources.



Many affiliates are encouraging participation from members with little experience in key areas like governance, communication, training and program management.  However, efforts at capacity building until now have been decentralized and underfunded, resulting in many pilots and fits and starts rather than a coherent program or approach. From some efforts, we have learned about what works (example: CCD pilot), but these efforts have not been resourced to an extent where they can scale or be made available to the breadth of communities that could benefit from involvement in capacity building work. So far, we have learned that effective capacity building is generally a high-touch effort that requires significant amounts of time and attention. Additionally, this has not been any one person or group’s responsibility, and as a result it has developed (or not) organically, or as a result of the initiative of specific people or groups.

A program of capacity building should allow staff and volunteers to build the skills and sustainable systems for the collective work of the movement. We will need to consider whether and how responsibilities should be assigned in the area of capacity building and how this may affect different types of systems or approaches (ranging from highly structured to informal approaches). The Movement should assure not to miss or lose volunteer talent in existing and emerging communities.



Capacity building can be viewed as building, growing and strengthening the foundations, the infrastructure and the social capital of our movement. Capacities, for the purposes of this discussion, include resources, physical and non-physical assets (networks, knowledge), skills, resilience, community empowerment, human connections … and many other pre-conditions for the stakeholders in our movement to move towards our strategic direction.

Our strategic direction is an ambitious, disruptive and innovative call for renewing the movement. If we take it seriously we have to question how we have done things to date. We have to rethink, restructure, and rebuild. We have to focus on the parts of the movement that have been unsupported, and step down efforts that are no longer appropriate. This involves recognising the systematic problems within the movement and addressing them, when communities, individuals and elements of the wider Wikimedia movement go without meaningful support. We also will look to what we are doing well to best leverage our existing strengths. Capacity Building is needed to ensure that we can take the journey toward the strategic direction, and that everybody is enabled to come along.




  1. How do we make capacity building inclusive and equitable?
  2. Which stakeholders should be a part of capacity building efforts, and how?
  3. What resources are needed to do capacity building?
  4. What tools and methods work best locally, regionally and internationally?
  5. How do we grow the available tools beyond training, identifying innovative and effective formats?
  6. What role should communication play in a capacity building system, and how can this be integrated with a movement-wide approach to communication?
  7. What processes or systems will support effective capacity building?
  8. What structures and bodies are needed to retain and promote capacity, and who should maintain these?
  9. To what degree do we extend capacity building efforts beyond the movement stakeholders and into the knowledge ecosystem?