Resources for Capacity Building
We recommend that Capacity Building be an institutionalized function of the movement sustained with a substantial comprehensive annual budget to fund both the centralized and decentralized elements found in the Capacity Building recommendations.
- A sustained, multi-year, committed budget for the capacity building unit
- A capacity building grant program based on self-determination
The independent unit/organization of the movement, with its own governing body that will assure oversight and accountability of funds,is further discussed in R10.
Capacity Building is a long term process and needs to be resourced in the long term. In many cases, it will take years to see results. We will need to measure outcomes and impact in the context of the strategic direction (see R6) . If resources and approaches are not consistent and sustained in the long term, it will be difficult to make any meaningful progress and impact. This means we need a long term plan for resourcing Capacity Building and we need to stick to it.
Secondly, we need to change the way we allocate funds, and trust the people and organizations to spend it in self-determination on the right activities in the right manner. Moving away from paternalistic grant making will go a long way to achieve impact.
We need to employ good practices in allocating monetary resources that we have learned about from other contexts and that we know support capacity building, including (1) participatory decision making that involves stakeholders in the funding process; (2) multiyear general operating support grants for groups and organizations (through a trust-based model that includes close mentorship, coaching, and support systems); (3) increase the ways individuals can receive monetary support, including long term support for individuals doing long term work; (4) fund partners (non-Wikimedia entities and people) to participate in capacity building; (5) offer grants specifically for capacity building that are available in addition to other forms of support, and; (6) make more funding available to networks and coalitions (see R3 on context Capacity Building), not only to individuals and specific organizations.
- People, organizations, and groups all need financial resources to do their work. This is one key element of “capacity”. This recommendation will focus on monetary resources (which are one of several types of resources needed to do Capacity Building work).
- We will continue to have a robust global network of Wikimedia Affiliates, which are supported at least in part with income raised on behalf of the global Wikimedia Movement. These affiliates will continue to be broadly focused on organizing work, including bringing in newcomers, engaging readers and contributors, creating enabling environments in their societies for Wikimedia and knowledge equity to flourish, and enabling the creation, contribution, and sharing of relevant content.
Capacity Building is the foundation for the future of the Wikimedia Movement, building the infrastructure for the infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.
The WMF and future movement decision making bodies have to assure long term resources for the proposed Capacity Building unit / organization, so that all components can be developed, sustained, evaluated and improved over time: develop and ensure access to high quality materials and content, allowing members to take part in a range of f2f, or online activities (local, regional and international) and building organizational and human leadership for the movement.
Ensuring resources for capacity building will promote us as the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.
Within 1-5 years, significant resources will be allocated specifically to the capacity building unit according to a long term plan, and stakeholders in this space will be supported and trusted to organize and engage in capacity building work. In some cases, we will start to see immediate results (within 5 years), especially in regions where organizations did not previously exist or struggled to generate resources. In other areas, progress will be visible more slowly, as people and organizations learn to trust and utilize the new system.
A coherent system for capacity building must be accompanied by a long term budget for resourcing these efforts. If it is, we will be able to see and measure an increase in individual and organizational impact across the movement on a horizon of 5-10 years.
Within 10-20 years this will have a ripple effect throughout the movement, as people and organizations increasingly share what they have gained with others. This can be the engine that powers our collective impact in complex and challenging pursuits such as knowledge equity and knowledge as a service.
Currently, the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation makes the most significant decisions about resource allocation in the Wikimedia Movement. This board of a US-based nonprofit organization controls most of the funding that is generated from fundraising campaigns on Wikipedia around the world, and through major gifts and international partnerships.
If this recommendation is implemented, the WMF would have to entrust a capacity building budget to the independently governed unit, and would surrender the fiduciary control to the unit. The unit in turn will make grants to organizations, groups and people for capacity building, with the recipients having a high degree of discretion on how funds are spent. This is a shift in terms of trust and responsibility in fiduciary power and in grant making.
Ultimately all other stakeholders in capacity building will benefit from a systematic, long-term funded and evaluated program.
Society at large will benefit if the Wikimedia Movement can use its significant financial resources to build the capacity of a global movement of changemakers. Individuals and organizations will become more effective agents of positive change in their individual societies and can share the capacities they have gained with other aligned movements and groups. Ultimately, this could have a positive impact in pushing back against closing civil society spaces globally and serve as a model to others.
We know that a one size fits all approach to capacity building is not likely to translate well across different contexts and working conditions, and so resources need to be available to fund capacity building in different contexts and different kind of organizations and other ways of gathering. A well-resourced but strongly linked distributed network, as envisioned in R3, may allow participants to pool their capacity building resources within contextual systems and still work independently.
Based on previous failures, we believe it is possible that the people making decisions about resources will acknowledge that Capacity Building is important, but will fail to resource it adequately because they underestimate the resources that are needed or because they want to prioritize efforts that will yield results in the short term. For example, they may decide to pay for a centralized staff team to support a capacity building system for the movement, but do little to support the staff and volunteers engaged in these global efforts. This one-sided approach is not likely to be effective and its failure may negatively reflect on the idea of “capacity building”.
Building capacity, even if there is a significant investment up front, will ultimately bring more resources into the Wikimedia Movement through partnerships, time, and actual money. We think it is the only way to make the movement sustainable over time.
Again: a long term view is essential to implementing our recommendations successfully. A commitment to continuing to resource capacity building in the long term (5-10 year horizon) will mitigate the risk that efforts are abandoned prematurely and gains made are immediately lost, and an acknowledgment that capacity building requires significant resources should include an acknowledgment that all stakeholders need to be adequately resourced in order to engage.
Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
The current structural reality does not include an independent function and organization such as proposed here.
We intend to align our recommendation with the recommendations of the resource allocation and the roles and responsibilities working group, which may be proposing significant structural changes to how resources are distributed in the movement.
This recommendation is connected to each and every other recommendation since all capacity building recommendations will require resources.
All capacity building recommendations have been developed in response to the scoping questions and community input through Meta, local and regional gatherings, and collaboration across the Movement working groups.
This recommendation is dependent upon the recommendations of the resource allocation working group, as well as the roles and responsibilities working group.