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Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Iteration 2/Capacity Building/1

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Capacity Building Principles[edit]

Working Group Capacity Building September 2019


Capacity Building comprises

  • the activities and communications
  • that systematically build, obtain, strengthen, retain, and share
  • the knowledge, skills, beliefs, tools, processes, and resources for all Wikimedia stakeholders to move towards the Strategic Direction.

Glossary of Terms

1.Diversity, Inclusion and Equity … and Language[edit]

The Wikimedia Movement consists of many different communities, working towards the joint vision from highly unequal and inequitable start positions.

Our understanding of capacity includes skills, structures, and resources.

Capacity building, when done right, will increase equity in the movement by redistributing resources, and deliberately deploying activities where they are needed most. Capacity building, when done wrong, perpetuates inequity, cements privilege, creates one-way, colonial relationships, and disenfranchises recipients.

In order for the movement to be inclusive and grow, good capacity building will serve to increase outreach, create opportunities to join, build welcoming and tolerant community cultures, and target resources for diverse leadership development, in both emerging and established communities.

In order for capacity building to be effective towards the strategic direction, activities for diverse communities should account for and accommodate diverse community environments, (in terms of culture, language, availability of human and financial resources, organizational status, size of editing community, etc.) by

  • Utilizing formats and methods more culturally appropriate than trainings, such as (and not limited to) mentoring, coaching, and organizational development grants. (Recommendation 1)
  • Emphasizing two-way peer-to-peer capacity building over one-way expert-to-learners training (Recommendation 2 and 8)
  • Enabling capacity building to happen in cultural, linguistic, thematic, and regional contexts (Recommendation 3)
  • Provide and resource culturally appropriate, asset-based capacity building to both individuals (Recommendation 9) and organizations (Recommendation 4)

In terms of language, we trust that a recommendation by the #Diversity WG will take into consideration resources for translation, interpretation and contextualization of capacity building materials, tools and events.

In order for capacity building to be effective towards the strategic direction, structures of a diverse capacity building system should reflect

  • A community-based collection of capacity building resources and tools (Recommendation 1)
  • Financial resources for regional community capacity building events and activities (Recommendation 3 and 5)
  • Independent, community-based oversight, evaluation and decision making about programs and funding (Recommendations 6 and 10)

We trust that the organizational model recommended by #roles and responsibilities WG will accommodate new movement entities providing functions, such as the one we envision to develop and oversee capacity building.


We believe that much of our strength and potential impact lies in collaboration.

The Strategic Direction requires the Wikimedia communities to recognize their place and role with the wider open knowledge movement, as well as partners who hold knowledge and resources. This wider ecosystem comes with capacities that can benefit from movement capacity building and vice-versa can the movement benefit from capacities located in the ecosystem.

As individuals and groups within the Wikimedia communities make investments in developing and increasing their capacities, this will impact on the communities with shared or aligned goals. When choosing to invest time and resources into the building of capacity in certain contexts, the potential of joint improvements and gains in the broader open knowledge communities within a specific context should be recognized and realized. As such, not all of the benefits will specifically manifest within Wikimedia Projects directly, but may further the shared goals of open knowledge for a community, region, language group, or other context.

Viceversa, movement capacity builders should be aware of capacity building knowledge, expertise, and funding in the open knowledge ecosystem, and identify opportunities for sharing resources, co-organizing events, and cross-benefitting from activities.

Finally, one of the core capacities needed in any civil society context is collaborative capacity, that is, the skills, cultural competencies, tools, organizational forms and funding to work with partners - whether it is on small local projects or on large collective impact initiatives. In order for the movement stakeholders to move towards the strategic direction of an open movement, that others can freely join, collaborative capacity will be essential, and should be a focus of activities related in recommendations 1,2, 3, 7,8 and 9.

Building Capacity for Capacity Building[edit]

Q 1 What is your Recommendation?[edit]

We recommend to co-create and design with communities, the basic infrastructure for capacity building. This means establishing the expertise, toolbox of methods and processes for core capacities to then be built with people, organizations, and groups across the movement.

Concrete Asks:

Establish the structural, centralized base for capacity building, which will require the following elements:

  • A community-led understanding of ‘core’ capacities required by most movement stakeholders. This will go hand in hand with translating/interpretation/contextualization tools, so that the joint understanding/taxonomy is not solely rooted in western/global north terminology.
  • A growing toolbox of methods to support multiple learning needs, including sharing information, assessment, training, online learning, on-site technical assistance, consultation, mentoring/coaching, physical immersive exchange, communities of practice, and partnerships, to meet the various capacity building needs.
  • A training of trainers, mentors, coaches, and circuit riders from our communities to create teams of human capacity builders within the movement. They can then help adapt capacities within local and cultural contexts to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion of content and capacity building strategies are represented.
  • Guided self-assessment and capacity building plans as crucial first steps in any larger capacity building intervention. These will include assessment tools for different stakeholder types usable through a guided process, such as through appreciative inquiry, to cover both assets and gaps.
  • Easily available guidance in accessing financial resources for capacity building projects.
  • Dedicated staff to support developing the recommendations above.
  • Dedicated staff to serve as capacity guides or coaches: supporting Wikimedians from first contact through assessment, planning, and funding, to capacity building activities and evaluation.
  • All this done by an independent, community represented capacity building unit (see Recommendation 10 for more specific information on its governance).

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?[edit]

Building the capacity (or the base, and the centralized features) for capacity building will ensure that we can build an equitable movement with shared goals and opportunities, regardless of location or size of community being served.

There is much we do not know about which capacities are needed and which methods work best for emerging communities especially. The centralized infrastructure, in concert with the knowledge base (R2) and building capacity in context (R3) as well as with evaluation (R6), will allow to test new ideas and formats, improve them, and add them to the toolbox.

Building on the assumption that we can build much of the needed capacity for growth through mutual support within the movement, capacity builders will benefit from a shared language, a joint understanding of core capacities, and the skills to apply the mix of methods most likely to be impactful in a given context.

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?[edit]

Theory of Change: Determining commonly needed capacities, and providing access to opportunities and tools to build these with help from movement peers and resources, adapting them to each local context will result in a stronger movement that is able to grow while taking new members along on the ride and meeting their needs.

The open knowledge communities all get to the point that they need to invest in their people and their organizations. The majority of people in the movement currently are volunteers, globally dispersed with varying levels of access, language, and connection with the international Wiki community.

Mapping commonly needed capacities (such as governance, fundraising, community organizing, event organizing, leadership) collecting knowledge on further emerging ‘core’ capacities, and creating a shared language around them will help the staff of the Unit/organization (see also reco on matching assets with needs) to do their work based on a joint taxonomy.

Training movement stakeholders in capacity building methods (such as providing one-on-one mentoring, running effective workshops, creating high quality open educational resources) will serve to grow our movement through newly emerging leaders, experts, and create social capital for growth.

As Capacity Building involves people, organizations, and groups across the Movement, language translation and accessibility resources will need to be assigned for this ongoing effort. This may include, as a concrete item, contracted language liaisons for communities.

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?[edit]

We will have

  • A taxonomy of core capacities needed across the movement
  • A toolbox of methods to build them
  • People trained and empowered to provide capacity building to their peers

avenues for translation/interpretation/adaptation

  • A shared language on fundamental capacities and capacity building to enable communication and evaluation for us to demonstrate how we are advancing movement growth, knowledge equity and knowledge as a service.

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?[edit]

All stakeholders of the Wikimedia Movement involved in providing or receiving capacity building knowledge and services.

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?[edit]

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?[edit]

Implementation risks

  • Given the many pressing capacity building needs (how do we organize volunteers, how do we schedule and run editathons, how do we deal with applying for or managing funds, how can we navigate local legal issues related to editing Wikipedia, etc.), there may be a perception that this recommendation for Core Capacities will be implemented too slowly.
  • There are 304 Wikipedias and even more language communities not part of the movement yet. It will not be possible to have all materials, training and resources available in all languages. Decisions will need to be made about where to invest, which ones will be used and how translation/interpretation (costs and logistics) will be handled.


  • A transparent roll-out plan, which in all phases includes responding to community requests. In other words, as resources and response to capacity building needs are built, priority is given to requests (or clusters of requests from community) rather than following a preconceived notion of what capacities should be built. All resources, developments and training opportunities are actively communicated, always celebrating the contributions of community members.
  • There will be a budget for translation, funds available upon request, which can also be directly allocated to local communities to engage their own translation/interpretation/ adaptation assets.
  • Dedicated staff of the new unit is available and responsive to community requests.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?[edit]

This recommendation will create entirely new structures, resources, and capacities for capacity building.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?[edit]

All capacity building recommendations are interconnected and interdependent. Combined they form a capacity building system that is based on central structures and resources, while capacity building activities take place largely in a decentralized, contextual and tailored fashion.

Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?[edit]

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.

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?[edit]

Resource Allocation: as some of our other recommendations, associated costs would be part of the budget of the capacity building unit. The idea here, therefore, is not to create numerous line items in the WMF budget, as well as numerous grant programs, but add the cost of developing capacity for capacity building to an annual CB Entity budget.

Diversity: providing access to tools, methods and materials in English and a few other languages will not create knowledge equity within the movement, let alone the world. Therefore, the recommendations of the WG: Access to resources for multiple language communities will have to take into account capacity building materials, events, and evidence-based tools.

Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?[edit]

For Context: Topical areas of shared capacities for POGs (people, organizations, and groups) that could emerge as core capacities if deemed important by communities may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Governance and Management of affiliates, groups, or organizations:
    1. Fundraising
    2. Legal
    3. Financial management
    4. Reporting / evaluation
    5. Event management
    6. Human resources (volunteer management, staff)
    7. Community outreach
    8. Communication ( PR, media, community relations)
  2. Organizational capacities:
    1. Collaborative capacity (partnerships)
    2. Adaptive capacity (resiliency)
    3. Innovative capacity (ability to create out of the box)
    4. Technical capacity (IT, facilities, operations)
    5. Advocacy capacity (lobbying, speaking for the cause of free knowledge)
  3. Human interaction/Interpersonal capacities:
    1. Leadership development
    2. Community Organizing
    3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
    4. Volunteer recruitment and engagement
    5. Public speaking and self-presentation
  4. Dealing with Adversity (some of these need to be addressed at movement level)
    1. Being a Wikimedian in dangerous political environments
    2. International travel/visa
    3. IT safety