Annual plan (2012–2013)
Wikimedia District of Columbia is the bridge between Washington and the Wikimedia movement. To that end, we will conduct programs that enrich both communities while simultaneously building our capabilities as a charitable organization.
Reaching out to Washington
The Wikimedia movement attracts considerable interest in the Washington area, ranging from Congressional staffers editing articles to the National Archives and Records Administration hiring a Wikipedian-in-Residence to help engage with the Wikimedia community. This interest results in a need for an active Wikimedian voice in the area, both to inform the general public on best practices, and to leverage local enthusiasm to benefit the broader Wikimedia movement.
This past year, we had the honor of hosting the international Wikimania conference. The momentum of this conference gave us the opportunity to build relationships with many organizations in the area, including the Library of Congress and the Saylor Foundation. To date, we have connected with 35 different organizations from the technology, diplomacy, government and public affairs, academic, and cultural sectors, and plan to explore opportunities for outreach and collaboration with these entities over the course of the coming year. In addition, we plan leverage these connections to develop a database of potential donors and grant-making institutions to help grow and diversify our fundraising.
Our key goals for local outreach in Fiscal Year 2012–13 are:
- To grow our contact database to a minimum of 100 contacts and to organize it into categorical sub-databases with more information in each entry, including contacts we have hosted events with, contacts we could host events with in the future, and contacts that could potentially be donors.
- To collaborate with at least two institutions in each sector through events open to the public as well as consultations, trainings, and contribution drives.
- To hold at least 1–2 events per month, including both educational and social events.
Serving the Wikimedia movement
As an organization with considerable experience in hosting programs for the community and collaborating with cultural institutions, we have much to offer other Wikimedia-affiliated organizations, especially growing regional chapters. Our program offerings should therefore reflect a second purpose: in addition to serving Washington, we serve the Wikimedia movement at large with our direct contributions to the projects, a public better informed of the Wikimedia mission, and accumulated wisdom and experience that can be used to help develop the Wikimedia movement across the United States.
So that other Wikimedia-affiliated groups can learn from our experience, we plan to prepare written reports for each event or activity we undertake; for example, a report for an edit-a-thon would detail the costs incurred, the number of people attending, the proportion of new editors, the articles improved, and any feedback from the organizers and attendees. Other groups interested in holding events will be able to learn from our experience by reviewing such reports.
Additionally, we have been successful in securing content for Wikimedia projects; by partnering with the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, we obtained thousands of new images for Wikimedia Commons. We plan to seek similar donations of content in the coming year.
Our key goals for Wikimedia involvement in Fiscal Year 2012–13 are:
- To develop a standard outreach event guide for Wikimedia organizations.
- To become the primary point of contact between government and cultural institutions in the chapter's area of activity and the Wikimedia movement.
- To secure two large contributions of content to Wikimedia projects, whether in the form of image uploads to Commons, data contributions to Wikidata, and so forth.
- To maintain a leading role in the movement for a nationwide federation of Wikimedia enthusiasts.
Building a mature organization
In addition to our strategic outreach, we must also build our organization and foster a community of enthusiastic Wikimedians in the Washington area.
As a membership organization, building a strong and healthy community of members is one of our fundamental goals; each new member is an opportunity to grow our connections to the broader metropolitan area. Much of our current membership growth has been through word-of-mouth; we plan to continue this while also leveraging outreach events and partnerships as opportunities to recruit new members.
In addition to membership, fundraising is a key strategic concern for our organization. To date, we have primarily relied on grants from the Wikimedia Foundation to support our programs. Given the increasing competition for such funding among Wikimedia movement entities, we must diversify our fundraising if we are to maintain our desired levels of organizational growth. We plan to seek additional funding through both individual donors and non-Wikimedia grants.
Our key goals for organizational development in Fiscal Year 2012–13 are:
- To increase our membership to 150, including both new and renewed memberships, with a focus on members who can assist with outreach programs and events.
- To increase our proportion of non-Wikimedia sources of funding to 25% of our overall fundraising revenue.
- To obtain our 501(c)(3) exemption from the Internal Revenue Service.
- To continuously monitor and implement best practices for nonprofit governance.
Last year, we identified five key program areas of interest to Wikimedia DC. We plan to continue our efforts in each of these areas over the course of Fiscal Year 2012–13.
Academic and educational outreach
We plan to work closely with the Wikipedia Education Program, which is being spun off from the Wikimedia Foundation, to coordinate outreach to academic institutions in the DC region. A number of local academic institutions, including the George Washington University, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University, have previously partnered with Wikimedia DC on events; these institutions are key targets for further collaboration in the coming year. In addition, we plan to pursue partnerships with the Sunlight Foundation and similar organizations working to provide data to the public in order to secure their assistance in developing the Wikidata project.
Galleries, libraries, archives, and museums have been a point of focus for the Wikimedia movement worldwide. We plan to increase awareness of the Wikimedia projects among cultural institutions in the chapter's area of activity by holding training sessions and editing workshops and by encouraging the establishment of Wikipedian-in-Residence programs at these institutions. Our flagship partnerships with NARA and the Smithsonian will remain critical in the coming year; in addition, we will focus on high-profile institutions such as the Library of Congress, as well as local organizations such as the DC Public Library and the Historical Society of Washington. In addition, we will encourage cultural institutions to contribute free content directly to Wikimedia projects.
Government outreach and engagement
Given that Wikipedia has been edited by federal employees in the past, it is in our interest to ensure that those in the federal government who edit Wikipedia know how to do so properly. To that end, we plan to conduct workshops for federal employees who are interested in learning more on how to contribute to Wikimedia projects. In addition, we will remain current on legislative issues regarding information freedom and the Internet, and shall work to inform the public of the values of our mission where necessary. This will include working with government agencies and organizations that share our goals to make government data available to Wikidata.
International and diplomatic outreach
As Wikimedia is an international movement, a healthy relationship with the many embassies in Washington helps us expand our scope of contributions to the projects. We will continue to reach out to embassies, partner with them to host events, and encourage them to contribute to the Wikimedia projects.
Public outreach and education
As evidenced by the success of the Wikimania 2012 conference, there is widespread interest in Wikipedia in our region. We will continue to hold public events, including training sessions and editing workshops, in order to foster a community around this interest, to increase awareness of the Wikimedia movement's goals, and to increase interest in contributing to Wikimedia projects.
We plan to hold two main types of events:
- Outreach and educational — These events are intended to build partnerships and to educate partners and the general public about the Wikimedia mission and the Wikimedia projects. Events of this type include training sessions, workshops, panels, and conferences.
- Networking and social — These events are intended to build community interest and to connect with and recruit potential partners, members, and donors. Events of this type include social meet ups, dinners, and parties
We plan to hold at least one outreach/educational event and at least one networking/social event per month, ideally on a consistent schedule. Some specific events to be held over the course of the next year are listed below; this list should not be considered exhaustive, and opportunities for additional events will be considered as they arise.
Outreach and educational
- Black History Month event at the DCPL
- Training event for new Capitol Hill staffers
- Women's History Month event
- Event at the Library of Congress
- Panel or workshop at the Newseum
- Panel or workshop at SAIS/CSIS
- Event at an embassy
- Embassy photo expedition
- Meet Jimmy event
- Cherry Blossom event
- Wikivoyage launch party
Our fundraising strategy to date has relied primarily on soliciting grants from the Wikimedia Foundation through the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) process. While this has been effective at sustaining our operations during the past year, the increased competition for GAC funding among Wikimedia affiliates and GAC's reluctance to fund administrative or staff expenses means that it is no longer sufficient to rely on this funding vehicle as our primary source of revenue.
To remedy this insufficiency, our fundraising committee intends to continue pursuing four additional sources of funding in Fiscal Year 2012–13:
- Sponsor memberships — Small ($15-$90) donation amounts are packaged with the standard $10 membership fee as sponsor memberships.
- Individual donations — Solicit individuals to make substantial donations to the organization.
- Corporate donations — Solicit organizations and corporations with whom we have an existing relationship to make financial or in-kind contributions to the organization.
- External grants — Pursue grant opportunities outside the Wikimedia movement, including both ad-hoc and established grant programs.
Effectively expanding our fundraising base will require that we develop a mechanism for soliciting and recognizing donors, particularly during the period where we will be unable to offer competitive tax exemption benefits.
The Wikimedia DC Board of Directors is currently assisted by several committees that aid in the governance, operational, and financial aspects of the organization. We plan to continue this arrangement over the coming year, and to recruit additional members for these committees as opportunity permits.
There is currently no clear structure for planning our outreach programs. To remedy this deficiency, we plan to organize a Programs Committee, which will be responsible for organizing activities in our five program areas. We will attempt to recruit individuals who represent stakeholder institutions or are otherwise critical in carrying out our program goals to the committee; where possible, this will include people outside the current leadership team, in order to encourage organic growth within the organization.
Our lack of 501(c)(3) exemption status remains a critical issue. To remedy it, we will work with external legal and financial advisors to prepare a new application, which will be submitted in the coming year.
Our intern over the summer of 2012 had many different duties, including external communication, event coordination, and social media outreach. Given our difficulties in securing funding for another paid position, it will be necessary to divide these roles to make them more manageable by volunteers. We plan to recruit several volunteer coordinators, who will be responsible for different operational areas:
- Event coordination — An event coordinator will be responsible for coordinating the scheduling of events and for connecting event planners with volunteers to assist with setup and logistics. The coordinator will also recruit and maintain a pool of volunteers that can be called upon to help with specific events as necessary.
- Social media — A social media coordinator will be responsible for updating our Facebook page and Twitter feed. The coordinator will also recruit volunteers to write guest posts on our blog as necessary.
We will additionally need to recruit groups of volunteers located in outlying cities of the region, including Baltimore, Richmond, Norfolk, Wilmington, and Morgantown; these volunteers will be available to assist with events located in those cities, which our core group of DC volunteers may be unable to easily support.
Logistics and infrastructure
The lack of fixed office space in Washington DC has proven to be a significant hindrance over the past year, both because it has made it difficult to host meetings with potential partners and because having an office is a prerequisite for obtaining insurance and similar business necessities. To remedy this, we plan to establish a virtual office in DC for the next year. The virtual office will provide us with meeting space, telephone services, and a physical presence that will enable us to effectively function as a mature organization.
Our current approach to website hosting and telecommunications infrastructure has been effective, and we plan to continue with this approach in the coming year. Beyond this, we do not anticipate making significant investments in equipment or technology due to a lack of available funding.