Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2017-2018/Final/Programs/Advancement

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About Advancement's Partnerships and Global Reach team

The Partnerships and Global Reach Team's core mission is to increase awareness and readership in countries where a significant number of the population do not know or use Wikimedia projects. In order to do that, we work with partners around the world. The global nature and scale of these partnerships require professional expertise and focused resources, which is the primary role of our team. In doing so, we always work in close coordination with the local communities to align with their goals and interests. This is the set of guidelines that we use to define the scope and methodology of our work:

  • We always strive to consult and work together with the local Wikimedia communities and affiliates before, during and after the execution of partnerships. Working with local affiliates and communities is essential to understand their interests and the best approach for that country or region.
  • In the case of readership and awareness based opportunities, we often lead the efforts to evaluate and facilitate the work among local communities, partners and the Foundation. On the other hand, when we identify editorship based opportunities, we present them to the local affiliates/communities and take a supportive role if they decide to pursue that opportunity.
  • We build strategic partnerships to support the Wikimedia movement with resources and platforms that will connect us to new audiences. Our partners include mission-aligned governments, non-profits, educational institutions and private companies.
  • Our team focuses on global regions with low Wikipedia awareness and use. This is predominantly in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.
  • Our approach in these regions is to conduct pilots that are carefully designed and monitored, with community feedback and cross-departmental support and evaluation. If successful, we may scale up appropriately.

Program 1: Partnerships for Reach - Asia

The awareness and usage of Wikimedia projects in Asia are extremely low compared to the population, internet penetration, and the number of people seeking content in their native languages in this region. Taking India as an example:

  1. Even though India covers around 17% of the world’s population, only ~4% of Wikipedia page-views come from India
  2. Our phone survey covering 12 Indian languages showed that even though 64% of the respondents used the internet, only 25% of the respondents had heard of Wikipedia
  3. Based on unique devices accessing Wikipedia from India, we computed that not even  1% of native speakers in each Indian language might be accessing their language’s Wikipedia.
  4. Out of 462M internet users in India, even with the most conservative estimate, at least 70% are Indian-language speakers, but not even 10% of Wikipedia page-views in India are for Indian-language Wikipedias.
  5. Most Indian language Wikipedias have only 1 or less than 1 editor per million population.

Aligned with New Readers program target countries, we will focus our efforts in India and Indonesia.

To address this issue:

  1. In India, based on insights gained during the New Readers research done in India in 2016-2017, we aim to increase readership for Wikimedia projects through strategic partnerships with government, media, private entities, and nonprofits.
  2. In Indonesia, we will use the insights gained from design research conducted during Movement Strategy process to build a partnerships plan, with due consultation with the local chapter and communities.

Goal: Increase the awareness and readership of Wikimedia projects in India and Indonesia, covering both native languages and English.

Strategic priorities: Reach

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach

Timeframe: For this annual plan, we are focusing on a 12-month timeline. But the scale of the problem requires that the program should run for a period of 5 to 6 years. Moreover, insights from the ongoing 2017 movement strategy process may help further define the long-term timeline.


  • Outcome 1: Indian-language speakers become aware that Wikipedia exists in their own languages, and understand what Wikipedia is.
  • Outcome 2: More Indian-language speakers become Wikipedia readers.
  • Outcome 3: We understand the knowledge seeking behaviors in Indonesia and have a plan in place to start the partnerships work in that country.


  • Activity 1: Build partnerships with media houses and state governments in India to introduce Indian-language speakers to Wikimedia projects at scale, by surfacing WP content through mass media and government channels. Since most Indian language Wikipedias have only one or less than one editor per million population, our awareness building activities with clear goals and focus on readership are not expected to bring a sudden influx of new editors that may overwhelm the existing community. Instead, these activities will complement the community initiatives which are mostly editorship focused.
  • Activity 2: Build partnerships with private entities and nonprofits in India such that new readers start reading Indian language Wikipedias, by surfacing our content/site in the partners’ user experience.
  • Activity 3: Based on insights gained from design research conducted during Movement Strategy process, build a partnership plan for Indonesia. Attend relevant local community and industry events to start cultivating relationships with local entities.


  • Milestone 1: India: At least one partnership launched with either media or government in 2017, such that 5M people are introduced to Wikipedia. A media or government partnership will allow us to reach people at scale to create overall Wikipedia awareness.
  • Milestone 2: India: At least one partnership launched with either a private entity or nonprofit in 2017, such that 500K people start reading Wikipedia. A private entity or nonprofit partnership will likely allow us to measure how many people started reading Wikipedia, i.e. track adoption, though the scale of reach will be smaller.
  • Milestone 3: Indonesia: The narrative and partnerships plan drafted and shared with the organization, partners, communities, affiliates, and the wider movement. Built warm relationships with Indonesia contacts and community members to start discussing future partnerships.

Program 2: Partnerships for Reach - Latin America

Potential new readers in Latin America face different barriers to be online and therefore accessing Wikipedia. Particularly, affordability and lack of connectivity infrastructure are the main obstacles keeping people offline in this region. Within the population that do manage to be online, awareness of Wikimedia projects is also still very low compared to their online populations. Aligned with our prioritization for target countries of the New Readers program, we will focus our efforts in Mexico and Brazil.

  1. Our 2016 Mexico and Brazil phone surveys showed that only 45% of Mexicans and 32% of Brazilians have heard of Wikipedia.
  2. 55% of the Mexican population (over 70 million Mexicans) and 34% the Brazilian population have never been online, reflecting the problems of internet infrastructure both Mexico and Brazil have.

To address these issues:

  1. In Mexico, we will increase awareness of Wikipedia by partnering with local governments and mission-aligned private companies to increase readership of our projects. We will also work with relevant stakeholders to bring Wikipedia content for offline reading to those with limited or no internet connectivity, enabling them to engage with Wikimedia projects once they're fully online.
  2. In Brazil, collecting information from existing and new sources, in addition to the findings obtained through the Movement Strategy process, we will build a strategic plan that identifies the opportunities to increase the reach of our projects in the country.

Goal: Increase the awareness and readership of Wikimedia projects in targeted Latin American countries (Mexico and Brazil) in Spanish and Portuguese respectively.

Strategic priorities: Reach

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach

Timeframe: 12 months


  • Outcome 1: Mexico: More people recognize the Wikipedia brand and understand the value of Wikipedia content, so they seek out Wikipedia when they are looking for information.
  • Outcome 2: Through offline distribution of Wikipedia, potential readers in Brazil and Mexico with limited or no internet will be able to access our content.
  • Outcome 3: Brazil: Our team has a clear understanding of the most impactful partnerships opportunities to increase reach and awareness in that country.


  • Activity 1: Mexico: Partner with local governments and mission-aligned private companies to launch initiatives that allow potential readers to discover Wikipedia or Wikimedia content and understand what Wikipedia is.
  • Activity 2: Mexico: Based on a more robust and comprehensive understanding of the offline space, we will identify and approach the relevant stakeholders to provide offline content distribution for those with poor or no connectivity.
  • Activity 3: Brazil: We will build a partnership plan by processing the findings obtained through the Movement Strategy process, along with the existing available information (including the Brazil phone survey), insights obtained from local contacts, communities, affiliates, and participations in key multi-stakeholder events.  


  • Milestone 1: Mexico: Launch at least one partnership in Mexico with a local government or mission-aligned private company, where increasing awareness and recognition of Wikipedia is the main goal.
  • Milestone 2: Mexico: Build a partnership with at least one relevant stakeholder to pilot offline distribution of Wikipedia content.
  • Milestone 3: Brazil: Draft and publish the partnership strategy plan (including context mapping, identified findings, and actionable steps).

Program 3: Partnerships for Reach - Middle East & Africa

In the Middle East and Africa, Wikipedia awareness levels are extremely low compared to their large populations. As more and more people continue to go on-line, internet penetration is increasing along with the need for local relevant content. Here are a few examples:

  • In Iraq, only 19% of internet users have heard of Wikipedia. In a country with a rich history of education and scholarship, this is very low.
  • Our phone survey in Egypt showed that even though 59% of the respondents used the internet, only 21% of these respondents had ever heard of Wikipedia. As Arabic is the main language in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, there are significant opportunities to increase Wikimedia’s reach in the region.
  • As we know, Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa (190 million people), our phone survey results showed that even though 65% of the respondents used the internet, only 23% of them had ever heard of Wikipedia.

To address this issue:

Goal: Increase awareness and readership of Wikimedia projects in Nigeria and Egypt in English, Arabic, and native languages.

Strategic priorities: Reach

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach

Timeframe: 12 months


  • Outcome 1: More people to be aware of Wikipedia, its brand, and understand what it is. This awareness will help drive a better understanding of the local relevance and value of Wikipedia.
  • Outcome 2: Nigeria: More Nigerians to become Wikipedia readers.
  • Outcome 3: Egypt: We understand the best potential partnerships to invest in and have a plan in place to start work more consistently in that country.  


  • Activity 1: Nigeria: Build partnerships with local governments (specifically with Ministries of Education) and educational institutions in Nigeria to increase the readership of Wikimedia projects.
  • Activity 2: Nigeria: Build partnerships with private entities in order to increase the readership of local language Wikipedias by including and branding our content in the partners’ service or product.
  • Activity 3: Egypt: Processing and communicating the research findings obtained during the Movement Strategy process to the organization and community at large.


  • Milestone 1: Nigeria: Launched at least one partnership in Nigeria with a local government or educational institution in which increasing awareness about Wikipedia is the main goal.
  • Milestone 2: Nigeria: Launched at least one partnership in Nigeria with a local government, educational institution, NGOs, or mission-aligned private company, to pilot a program designed to distribute Wikipedia with an offline reading solution.
  • Milestone 3: Egypt: The partnerships plan shared across the organization and movement

Program 4: Partnerships for Knowledge

Encouraging the creation of locally relevant content in native languages is key to driving increased use and value of our projects in emerging countries. By leveraging support from key technology partners, we intend to facilitate establishing the relationship between these partners and the local communities to create local content.

This program connects with the Strategic Priority of Knowledge (Approach 3) as it creates awareness among editors around the need for locally relevant content as a part of general awareness building of Wikimedia projects

Goal: Targeted increase of locally relevant content in native languages through partnerships that encourage content creation by building awareness about popular topics needed in native languages.

Strategic priorities: Knowledge

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach, Discovery, Editing

Timeframe: 12 months


  • Outcome 1: Editors  from emerging communities build new content from suggested topics based on knowledge gaps in their local Wikipedia.


  • Activity 1: Work with relevant Foundation staff teams and local communities to explore using article suggestions from search engines that failed to return Wikipedia content. These suggestions would be regionally oriented, based on local searches and languages. Also, the search results may take the shape of regularly updated resources (like this) when appropriate tools are made available by the Wikimedia Foundation.


  • Milestone 1: Partnership with at least one external entity or creation of at least one tool that allows editors to easily discover which in-demand local language articles are missing, and encourages them to contribute.

Program 5: Partnerships for Communities

The Partnerships and Global Reach team focuses on forging strategic partnerships to increase readership and awareness of Wikimedia projects. Many of these partnerships can enhance and add impact to the work undertaken by established and emerging communities. At the same time, many emerging Wikimedia communities also look out for formal support mechanisms to pursue partnerships based on their needs and interests. The Letter to Katherine written by participants of WikiIndaba 2017 is an example of communities’ needs and expectations to receive more proactive and direct support from the Wikimedia Foundation.

A joint and coordinated approach to partnerships between our team and movement affiliates/volunteers is not only natural but also desirable and necessary strengthen our movement and get us closer to our mission.

Goal: Communities and affiliates across our movement should know how to effectively connect to and work with the Partnerships and Global Reach team at the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation and the communities we serve should collaborate to identify and triage potential partners that have the capacity and means to advance our mission.

Strategic priorities: Communities

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach, Community Engagement, Communications

Timeframe: 12 months. (Note: As we see this program as one of the core activities of our team, we intend to maintain and improve its activities for the years to come based on the effectiveness of the outcomes we achieve this year.)


  • Outcome 1: Established communication channels and processes between the Partnerships and Global Reach team and the communities across our movement. Wikimedia Foundation’s roles, responsibilities and strategic goals for partnerships are clear to the affiliates and community at large.
  • Outcome 2: Movement affiliates from emerging communities learn and refine their partnerships related skills. They will have the knowledge to understand and apply these skills to their local context creating opportunities to further expand our mission.


  • Activity 1: Our team will continue to engage with our volunteer communities in different online and offline venues. We will maintain the quarterly Office Hours meetings per region (LATAM, Asia and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa), and will improve our online presence. The team will also attend and add value to global and regional community facing events like Wikimania and Wikimedia Conference by conducting workshops, panel discussions and facilitating exchange of community best practices regarding partnership skills.
  • Activity 2: Collaborate with the Community Resources team to refine the Partnerships module of the Community Capacity Development program. Our goal is to include the Partnerships and Global Reach team’s experience and best practices in this community capacity building effort.


  • Milestone 1: Hold quarterly office hours for each region (LATAM, Asia and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa).  
  • Milestone 2: Hold one Community Capacity development program session in each region (LATAM, Asia and Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa) during the next 12 months.

Program 6: Wikipedia’s Awareness and Usage Research

The program is designed to understand the adoption and perception of Wikipedia in our target countries. In order to formulate data-driven solutions, we conducted phone surveys in 5 target countries (Nigeria, India, Egypt, Brazil, Mexico) during the FY 16-17. These efforts were part of the New Readers research project. The quantitative data we gathered has been used to measure Wikipedia awareness, internet use, smartphone use, and other key metrics to extend our knowledge and reach in these countries.  

For the first time, we’ve used non-internet based surveys in countries where new users are just coming online using their mobile phones.  This approach enables us to discover if potential users know about Wikipedia, as well as important information about their internet and smartphone use.  One of our most significant findings is that awareness and usage of Wikimedia projects in our target countries is extremely low.  Knowing the magnitude of this problem is a key piece of information to consider as we define our future strategy.

Here are a few examples of things we have already learned:

  1. More people in Mexico learn about Wikipedia through word of mouth than by using the internet.
  2. Even in Mexico, the country with the highest Wikipedia awareness measured, nearly half of internet users have never heard of Wikipedia.
  3. In Nigeria, data cost is named as the most important reason why people know about Wikipedia but don’t use it.
  4. India is unique in that people use Wikipedia at the same rate for work as they do for school.
  5. Only 16% of internet users in Egypt actually use Wikipedia monthly or more.
  6. Among internet users in Iraq, less than 19% of them have heard of Wikipedia.  By comparison, 76% of them had heard of Google.

Goal: Get a better understanding of Wikipedia awareness and usage in emerging markets, especially within our target countries.  Gathering this information will help us define and prioritize our efforts with building partnerships, community initiatives, and product direction.

Strategic priorities: Reach

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach

Timeframe: This phase of the program will take 12 months, reaching an additional 4 countries in emerging markets.


  • Outcome 1: Understand and quantify key facts about Wikipedia awareness, internet usage, and smartphone usage.  Phone surveys are the only cost-effective means available to measure these key data points in these countries.  
  • Outcome 2: Understand how Wikipedia users in these countries discover, use and perceive Wikipedia.  This information will inform our efforts to build awareness and readership.


  • Activity 1: Conduct phone surveys in 4 new countries (mix of target and extended target country set).
  • Activity 2: Create on-wiki survey feature that works on all popular browsers in emerging markets.  This would be used to collect regional feedback from our readers around Wikipedia use, interest and needs of those users.
  • Activity 3: Share our learnings with communities across the movement, particularly in the regions that we have conducted this research through our office hours and participation in regional and international Wikimedia events.  Communities and movement affiliates will be able to use the collected data to review their own initiatives and identify which local partnerships will have the most impact.


  • Milestone 1: Complete 4 surveys by end of fiscal year.  We will complete one survey per quarter.
  • Milestone 2: Conduct an on-wiki survey targeted at Wikipedia Zero users.  This survey will  be a key assessment of the actual program’s impact.

Program 7: Wikipedia Zero: conducting impact assessment and focusing partnerships to target countries

Wikimedians of Iraq welcome Wikipedia Zero program by Asiacell. Screened during the launch of the program during Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, 2017

The Wikipedia Zero program was created in 2012 to expand the reach of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects in regions where data affordability was identified as a barrier to accessing knowledge and educational resources. To this date, we have launched the program in 73 countries, which has provided Wikimedia project access to a subscriber base of more than 782 million people during the course of the program. We have been implementing Wikipedia Zero partnerships only when the local communities welcome and endorse the program. As an example, the partnership with Asiacell in Iraq was initiated and requested by local community members. On the other hand, we decided not to implement the program in Mexico because of the stand taken by the local chapter. We have held extensive community discussions and released public statements when the local community requests clarification about our policy stands.

Goal: To be strategically consistent with our prioritization for programmatic activities in our target countries (also part of the New Readers program), we will focus Wikipedia Zero activities in Nigeria, Egypt, and Indonesia.

  • Nigeria: we conducted in-depth research in Nigeria under the New Readers program, evidencing that mobile data costs are still very high - something confirmed by our 2016 phone survey.
  • Egypt:  although we have not conducted generative research as in Nigeria, our phone survey also showed Internet data cost as being a barrier to access.
  • Indonesia: we plan to start a Wikimedia design research project during FY 16-17 as part of the movement strategy work.

After over four years of launching, expanding and stabilizing the Wikipedia Zero program, our primary goal this year is to evaluate the program's impact to better inform its future operation.

Strategic priorities: Reach

Team: Partnerships and Global Reach

Timeframe: 12 months


  • Outcome 1: We will understand Wikipedia Zero's impact, allowing us and the organization to make data-driven decisions about the program.
  • Outcome 2: Audiences in one of our target countries will be better aware of the existence of the program (and of Wikipedia in general), through better promotion of the partnership in collaboration with the mobile carrier and the local Wikimedia community.


  • Activity 1: Analyze the results around affordability obtained in the 4 new phone surveys (Research - Activity 1.1), the Community Engagement Insights feedback from program leaders and affiliates,  and utilize the on-wiki survey feature (Research - Activity 2.1) to understand the program’s impact in existing Wikipedia Zero countries.
  • Activity 2: Encourage a Wikipedia Zero partner to further build awareness of Wikipedia in the country. Our team will also remain open to incoming Wikipedia Zero requests from mobile operators in our target countries, and handle them as per our usual evaluation and implementation process.


  • Milestone 1: Deliver a report from data gathered from what we have learned from Wikipedia Zero users with the on-wiki surveys. We will evaluate the collected information in alignment with prior research made around affordability.
  • Milestone 2: One marketing/promotion campaign, designed and vetted with inputs/participation from the local community for appropriate messaging, planned and executed with a Wikipedia Zero partner in one of our target countries.

Program 8: Public policy to support New Readers

Team: Partnerships & Global Reach; also see work also being done by Legal and Communications
Strategic priorities: Knowledge, Reach, Community
Time frame: 12 months


We will advocate for public policy changes that are critical for the Wikimedia mission and operations of the Wikimedia Foundation. In recognition that the Wikimedia mission is deeply rooted in policy goals that knowledge should be available freely and globally, we will work across the Wikimedia movement to increase our reach and expand the public's ability to participate in knowledge creation.


We will work together with Legal, Communications, and specific Wikimedia communities concerned to protect and improve the policy environment upon which the Wikimedia initiatives depend. We will investigate and engage in initiatives to increase access to knowledge in the priority regions identified by the New Readers program. Additionally, we will empower the Wikimedia communities to further these goals.

Outcomes, Objectives, and Milestones

  • Outcome 1: Wikimedia Foundation and movement understand the value of public policy actions in emerging countries as a way to support programs to increase reach and access to Wikimedia projects
    • Objective 1: Support and participate in research around public policy in emerging countries
    • Objective 2: Participate in Wikimedia events to share our policy positions and strategy
  • Outcome 2: Governments, civil society, and other external stakeholders understand Wikimedia's role within the access to knowledge movement
    • Objective 1: Governments, civil societies, and other relevant stakeholders in emerging countries understand Wikimedia's role within the access to knowledge movement
    • Objective 2: Identify strategic partnerships with public policy stakeholders to support our goal to address barriers for accessing our projects in emerging countries