Recommendation # 3: Capacity Building Should Occur in Context
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
We recommend accessible and sustained, transparent funding capacity building activities such as in-person regional conferences, thematic gatherings, immersion experiences, mentoring, cohort learning and other Capacity Building collaborations that are situated within the context of participants.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
The infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge can no longer be localized in a purely central place. Everywhere there are Wikimedians and their organizations working towards free knowledge. Already, they work with each other locally and regionally, support and mentor each other, or organize training and leadership development. These local and regional connections hold much potential for capacity building, if built upon and appropriately resourced. This will also open more opportunities for outreach and joining - for people from smaller and marginalized communities, who do not always speak commonly used languages across the movement.
The Wikimedia Movement is becoming too large to provide equitable access to capacity building through centralized bodies and events. In addition, in our feedback we often heard the ‘one size fits not all’ argument: that trainings provided may be interesting, however often the content is not applicable to the specific context of the recipient. The second important insight we received from both internal and external of Wikimedia movement is that one-time trainings alone are insufficient to meet the many needs of people across the movement.
Assumption: Training and peer support makes more impact in a joint linguistic and cultural, social-political context to relate and sustain the relationship.
Definition: ‘Context’ for the purposes of this recommendation, means groups of Wikimedians who have a common capacity building need. This context may come from:
- being located in the same or adjoining regions or the same country
- sharing a regional language
- communities or projects of a similar size or maturity stage (e.g., medium size Wikipedias)
- having the same type of organizational form or moving towards an organizational stage
- having assessed similar core capacity building needs based on thematic relationship
- individuals being in similar leadership or staff positions
In the current ecosystem to build capacities, we have seen more cases of making regional or thematic cohorts into capacity building, such as the small language communities platform in the Celtic Knots conference; or the example of Free Knowledge Advocacy Group of European Union that gather the public policy trend within Europe and hence make better advocacy capacity in the future.
Some of the new forms of capacity building initiatives may be benefited by cohorting participants with similar needs, such as Wikimedians working in public policy, or security training for the community organizers in regions with negative records of privacy or the global open ecosystem of free and accessible knowledge.
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
In the feedback from various community conversations across the globe, we have seen that many community members would like to have their capacity building needs addressed aligned with their cultural/social/geographic context.
To a degree, this has already been happening at regional conferences, and integrated into the current grassroot associations, conferences and cooperatives such as Iberocoop, ESEAP, CEE, Wiki-Indaba, Wiki-Arab, amongst others. It would be useful to include a clarification around developing objectives that can then be measured afterward to measure their success and impact.
Going in this same direction, in 2019 the Wikimedia Conference changed to a purely strategic event. The rationale here was that the conference was getting too big trying to meet multiple purposes, and that the training components would make more sense to be moved to regional events.
Theory of Change: By engaging in capacity building activities based on common contexts, utilizing a mix of methods from training to one-on-one peer support formats, Wikimedians will increase their knowledge, skills, and resources, while also developing human connections in peer-based communities of practice.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
- Trainings will move from a one-size fits all approach to a localized, tailored approach
- Exchange and communication may be easier in common language spaces
- New community connections may be forged
- Beyond-training formats/methods such as mentoring/coaching, on-site technical assistance and circuit riders are easier to implement in a local/regional context
- Tthe current foundation and WMDE centered model to host capacity building events may shift to the more resourceful affiliates in certain region as the key supporters for capacity building.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
Key direct target groups are the recipients and providers of capacity building, first and foremost community leaders and organizers, and affiliates, who are able to connect in contexts. Indirect beneficiaries will be editors and other community members, who will benefit from improved skills and resources in and for their communities.
Affected also may be WMF staff, who would no longer be the main provider of trainings.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Potential risks and their mitigation may include:
- Fragmentation/isolation of local efforts around building capacity
- Mitigation: It will be important to make up for that through the more centralized structures we are outlining in our other recommendations
- Lack of documentation, evaluation and quality assurance
- Mitigation: see recommendation on evaluation. By connecting people in local and regional contexts to evolving practices from other contexts, and by encouraging them to document and evaluate impact, this may be partially mitigated.
- Lack of funding for regional and contextual capacity building events and smaller initiatives
- Mitigation: see recommendation on resources. Local conferences, site visits, exchanges between people are all still resource intensive, and nowhere should it be assumed that this can be done without financial resources from the movement.
- Some marginalized people and regions still may be left out. A global conference may still be needed to make the peculiar community to work with others.
- Mitigation: A global conference may still be needed to make the peculiar community to work with others. Likewise, case studies of successful implementations can be written, discussed, and shared to help others learn about possibilities for successfully doing these within local contexts.
- Overreliance on regional associations that are already not working
- Mitigation: Once a new model is developed, including stated objectives and clear evaluation / success criteria, then all current gatherings in this format can be re-assessed.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
To date, contextual capacity building occurs mostly in regional contexts and through conferences. Scholarships are limited and not transparently awarded, as are methods and the resources to assure follow-up between face2face meetings. If implemented, this recommendation will expand on this and create more opportunities in more contexts for more people.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
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 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Resource Allocation/Revenue Streams: there will be a need for significant additional resources for building capacities regionally, locally and contextually. Travel funds will still be needed, as well as material costs, event costs etc. Affiliates and associations cannot be expected to raise these funds alone, however could be contributing in-kind and other resources.
Roles and Responsibilities: this recommendation creates a distributed, decentralized responsibility for carrying out capacity building, connected through central structures from other recommendations.
Diversity: this addresses diversity in that contextualized capacity building allows for respecting diverse cultures and varying levels of skills or organizational maturity. It will still be a challenge for communities provide equitable opportunities for learning and growing.
Community Health: Hopefully, providing resources to local and regional communities of practice will contribute to building healthy communities.
Partnerships: Building regional and contextual communities of practice will build collaborative capacity within the movement and in interacting with partners from regional contexts.
Advocacy: Building advocacy capacity in domestic contexts, as well as building it across the movement.