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Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy/Affiliate health criteria and changes to User Group recognition process

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Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy
This message, "Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy: affiliate health criteria and changes to User Group recognition process", was sent by Nataliia Tymkiv on 12 June 2024.

Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy: Affiliate health criteria and changes to User Group recognition process[edit]

Dear all, I would like to thank all of you who shared feedback with us during this phase of the Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy process that started in November 2022[1], both on- and off-wiki[2]. Please find below the approved 1) affiliate health criteria; and 2) changes to the Wikimedia User Group (WUG) recognition process, as well as a tentative implementation timeline and next steps.

Affiliate Health Criteria[edit]

The Affiliations Committee (AffCom) is a volunteer committee responsible for making recommendations to the Board of Trustees on the recognition, approval, and de-recognition of Wikimedia movement affiliates, and for facilitating the creation of those organizations or groups. It is tasked in its charter with “promoting community health and growth”, including by “monitoring affiliates' continued compliance with affiliate rules and criteria” and by “provid[ing] support to affiliates as they attempt to grow in membership, build programs to further the Wikimedia mission and improve their governance practices”[3]. In 2023, insights from AffCom members, affiliates, community members, and Foundation staff, reflected in a report with immediate recommendations[1], surfaced a number of ways to improve how the Foundation works with affiliates, how collaboration can happen, and which criteria can help to ensure that all affiliates are healthy. Since that point, AffCom has been working with the Board of Trustees, Foundation staff, affiliates, and wider community members to enable them to provide appropriate guidance to affiliates regarding what it means to be an active and healthy Wikimedia organisation. As a result of those conversations, AffCom has voted[4] to adopt the following 10 criteria for affiliates, grouped into four main areas:

  1. Goal delivery;
  2. Organisational Development (Good governance & communication; Financial & legal compliance; Affiliate health & resilience);
  3. Leadership & Inclusion (Diverse, skilled, and accountable leadership; Diversity balance (especially gender); Universal Code of Conduct compliance);
  4. Engagement & Collaboration (Internal (membership) engagement; Community connection; Partnerships & collaboration).

You are encouraged to read more details about each of these criteria here[5], including guidance on how each can be met. All criteria will be tracked for all affiliates, except for the criteria around financial and legal compliance, which only apply to those affiliates receiving funds and/or that are incorporated.

Staff and AffCom are working on streamlining affiliate reporting requirements, and responding to feedback raised during the community feedback period about the reporting burden. The new requirements of data collected in reports would be useful also for different Foundation teams and departments, and allow for the creation of detailed regional or global reports that demonstrate affiliate health and impact.

In July 2024, AffCom will work to finalise the implementation plans for the changes to the affiliate requirements and application process. In August 2024, updates will be made to Meta-wiki and other supporting platforms. You can follow the process here[6].

Changes to User Groups recognition process[edit]

The insights from the 2023 process also included recognising a need to strengthen AffCom processes for evaluating potential User Groups’ furtherance of shared movement goals, sustainability, and general ability to be healthy and active movement participants. According to its charter, AffCom is charged with “establishing recognition criteria and processes for different models of affiliation”[3]. AffCom adopted the revised process for User Group recognition, adding to the recognition process: 1) a live interview (by video call) with AffCom; 2) the requirement that user group applicants publish a public letter of intent to affected wikis/projects and affiliates; and 3) the creation of a one-year trial period for applicants to demonstrate their activities and effectiveness [7]. You can follow the process here [6].

To implement the new requirements, AffCom finds it necessary to pause new User Group recognitions. This does not apply to those already in the pipeline as of 12 June 2024. During this pause, AffCom will share documentation about the new criteria with the community and emerging User Groups, and ensure streamlined reporting systems. Even after the documentation is released, AffCom will remain sensitive to needed adjustments that may become clear during the implementation process and will take any necessary steps to update the documentation to elaborate on the criteria.

AffCom currently expects to resume User Group recognition work in September 2024.

Appreciation and next steps[edit]

On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation Board, I would like to express appreciation for AffCom’s dedication and work to to support these goals: 1) the overall health of the ecosystem of affiliates; and 2) strengthening its processes around evaluating potential User Groups’ support of shared movement goals, sustainability, and general ability to be healthy and active movement participants and to build a system where affiliates can be set up for success.

No immediate changes are happening, except the pause of considering new User Group recognitions until September, for applications received after today, June 12, 2024. Once more detailed implementation plans are developed, there will be an update here [6] and on the relevant Meta pages with the next steps after Wikimania.

To provide your feedback, please leave a comment on the main talk page on Meta[8]. Alternatively, you can join Open AffCom office hours on June 19 at 14:00 UTC or request a conversation as a part of Talking:2024. You can use the Let’s Talk to sign up for a time to speak with me and/or other trustees.

Looking forward to your feedback!

Best regards,

Nat & Mike & Lorenzo

Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees Liaisons to the Affiliations Committee