Volunteer Management is a critical element of the Wikimedia movement as the vast majority of tasks are accomplished by volunteers. This article does not refer to the editors of the various projects (see definitions).
The Wikimedia Foundation has numerous volunteers performing software development, public relations, correspondence management (OTRS), list moderation, event management, conflict resolution (Arbcom), Funds Distribution (FDC), etc. Attracting and retaining volunteers is critical to these roles.
Project Volunteer: A person who contributes to a Wikimedia project as a volunteer. This is normally on a casual basis, ie; there is no requirement to continue or produce a particular outcome. Example: An editor of Wikivoyage. Editors are asked to follow their wiki's policies.
Foundation volunteer: A person who accepts a defined role in assisting the Wikimedia Foundation. Example: A Funds Distribution Committee member. These volunteers are asked to follow Wikimedia Foundation Policies within the scope of their role.
Number of Volunteers
There are about 1300 volunteers working for the foundation in roles other than editing the wikis. This is a tentative list (as of 28 July 2014):
|Job/Function||Number||Source of estimate||Notes / Reason for modifying the sourced estimate|
|OTRS||420||Assumed 35% are staff|
|Mailing list moderators||400||List count||343 lists (counting only publicly listed lists, more exist), Estimate 2 mods per list, -30% overlap, -10% staff|
|Mediawiki SW devs.||400||Count||-10% staff|
|Research Committee||10||Count||+2 staff|
Motivation of Volunteers
The motivations of the various parties working in the 'Movement' is important. The venn diagram helps when considering the relationships between the participants. Circle A represents the users of the movement; they may be readers, editors, or other groups that make use of the 'projects', within the circle are all the needs the users have - information, education, tools, etc.. Circle B represents the foundation and the services it delivers; along with the needs of the foundation to maintain itself including funding and PR. Circle C represents the motivations and needs of the volunteer community, these may include a desire to help, a political agenda, a desire to learn, etc. (McCurley, 2011, p.6)
The motivational circles overlap and these areas lead to different problems and opportunities. Area 1 is termed the 'perfect match' where the needs of the user, the foundation, and the volunteer are all satisfied; in the WMF this might be the OTRS volunteers answering mail sent from users to the foundation. Area 2 is 'still a good match' in that the volunteer views the foundation as the recipient; possibly a member of the FDC advisory group. Area 3 is where the foundation provides the service to the user - providing servers is a clean example; but some could be offered by volunteers as historically happened in Taiwan and the Netherlands. Area 4 is where editors who only edit articles are, providing a direct benefit to the users. This area is the most likely area of conflict if a volunteer does something the foundation staff feels is their role.
Orientation of foundation volunteers is conducted to explain the purpose of the volunteering and build a common vision. It prepares the volunteer to make a contribution to the organization. A review of staff structure helps the volunteer to know where they fit in. A briefing on current and future plans prepares the volunteer for long term participation.
Foundation volunteers should be integrated in the organization and know their work group members and supervisor. It should be clear who to contact with any issues needing clarification.
The volunteer supervisor must exert some control over the work completed. This could be as little as monitoring a mailing list up to setting strict deadlines for task accomplishment.
Howard, B. W. (July 22, 1999). Managing_Volunteers, A paper presented to the 4th Annual Emergency Services Forum on Volunteers in Emergency Services, Sydney (pdf). Archived from the original on 2014-07-17.