How to move forward
Mykola and Nataliia presenting
- What was this session about?
Nataliia and Mykola presented the story of (failures and) success of Wikimedia Ukraine and what others could learn from it.
- What are the next steps to be taken?
- Who is the person to reach out to?
You can reach both speakers, Nataliia Tymkiv and Mykola Kozlenko, if you have questions.
- Original Description
- It is not always easy to grow for a small chapter. Wikimedia Ukraine relied only on volunteers' work and free time, but with the growth of our projects and scope of activities, we were close to the burn-out of our most active volunteers. We knew from the experience of others that this burn out can be harmful. Thus we have been planning our transition to a FDC chapter for two years, learning from others along the way. We have a bunch of lessons learned, and we want to share them with others, so the process of growing for a small chapter to a successful one can be less painful and more fun.
- Session Format
- Listening (Presentation and Q&A)
- Desired Outcome
- Shared experience and ideas.
- Nataliia Tymkiv Board Member and Treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine, and Mykola Kozlenko, former Treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine
- Summary of the session
Nataliia Tymkiv (Board Member and Treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine) and Mykola Kozlenko (former Treasurer of Wikimedia Ukraine) opened the session on how the Ukrainian Wikimedia Chapter grew from a small to a “successful” one.
Mykola started the session giving an insight into the history and past activities of Wikimedia Ukraine (WMUA). The first idea regarding the creation of an Ukrainian chapter surged around 2008. The Chapter was created and recognized in 2009. Over the years, the amount of activities grew and volunteers organized the first international event and received its first grant (in 2010). In 2013, the Chapter had its first attempt to apply for an APG funding, but withdrew it on the last day at 3 AM. In 2014, the Chapter organized Wiki Loves Earth International and the first CEE meeting in Kyiv. Also, the chapter had its first employee (WLE Project Manager) and a first office in the capital. A second attempt to apply for an APG was withdrawn as well, as WMF advised them to apply for a PEG grant. In 2015, the Chapter had its first permanent employee (PR Manager). The board discussed and finally approved changes to the bylaws regarding the responsibilities of board members. The board also discussed and approved a strategy for the organization. Also, finally the attempt to apply for the APG program succeeded. In 2016, the chapter now has three employees, a budget of 75k USD and a better strategic management.
After this short introduction into the history of Wikimedia Ukraine, Nataliia took over and talked the organizational structure of the chapter. She explained that the ideal model (“The Board is responsible for strategy; it doesn’t micromanage and the work is delegated”) is not possible in small organizations because the board is involved in running most of the projects. Their advice to the board of a growing chapter is to give more responsibilities and authority to execute projects to volunteers and not micromanage. She highlighted that people are able to learn; a board is able to evolve. She also added that feedback from community, volunteers, and staff is important and pointed out that surveys might be useful.
The second topic of lessons learned was about the chapter’s human resources. Mykola and Nataliia developed and presented the pros and cons of having volunteers / contractors / permanent staff in charge for specific tasks. They said that the best thing was to balance the tasks for volunteers and staff/contractors. Hiring Wikipedians/Wikimedians was always an option to consider, they said.
Someone asks about the number of people in the Ukrainian chapter. The chapter has 60 members and 30 active volunteers, the speakers explain. They have a community development project to find the biggest problems on Ukrainian Wikipedia in order to fix them.
The third topic they talked about was the general project management of the Ukrainian Chapter. To perform well you have to manage to keep track of all things like overlapping events, volunteers performing tasks, partners (not) answering, etc. The best option they found was to use Phabricator to document their work. They advised to pay attention to private information in these documents and who can access them.
A person asked if external audits are required by WMUA's bylaws. The speakers answered that external audits can give recommendations for the board, but that's up to the board.
In the end, both speakers concluded that changes might be painful, so it was good to prepare for them. They highlighted the importance of documenting as well as assuming failures and learn from them.