Proposal:Work on developing a sustainable international structure

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation

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This could be considered a sub-proposal of Make Wikimedia scale. It aims at making sure that Wikimedia makes informed choices in developing its organisational strategy and structure and produces the necessary framework to facilitate sustainable growth on an international level. See also Proposal:International Wikimedia Chapters Network.


Make sure that Wikimedia as a whole (all organisations, Foundation and Chapters) makes informed choices about where it wants to go, but more importantly, how it wants to get there, as an international organisation. Create a charter which would bind all Wikimedia orgnaisations at least morally, but also financially and structurally, with the aim to provide a framework that would help Wikimedia organisations be sustainable in the long run.

Conduct a thorough study of other international organisations

  • Focus on:
    • Organisations with similar goals (educational, knowledge)
    • Organisations with similar reach (international presence)
  • Determine
    • The way they are organised
    • The way they are funded
    • The major local trends in organisational structure (what levels of structure (international, national, regional, local)? Are all organisations non-profit? Do they have tax-deductibility? Are they membership organisations? etc.)
      • this includes: grants, fundraising on an international level, other means of funding (corporate?)
  • Summarize a list of best and worst practices, with examples
  • Provide recommandations for a sustainable organisational structure

Elaborate a common charter to be adopted by all Wikimedia organisations

  • Charter would include
    • Common vision and mission
    • Organisational structure
    • Moral obligations towards donors, participants, public and toward one another
    • Financial obligations towards one another

Implement the adoption of charter by all existing and future Wikimedia organisations

  • Review all existing Wikimedia organisations and help them grow to adopt the charter in a responsible way
  • Make sure future organisations understand and agree with the charter


Wikimedia is often deemed very "different" from other non-profits, for various reasons, including its grassroot genesis, and its amazing reach (few non-profits have access to such a wide potential audience). However, Wikimedia is not alone in having struggled or thought about how to grow and how to adjust on an organisational scale. As such, there is an enormous potential out there of organisations which have had the same growing pains and joys, and of which we should learn the history. The goal is to try and avoid making the same mistakes, as well as take the successes as a model, while adapting them to Wikimedia's specificities.

Key Questions

  • Is Wikimedia "International" different from all other international ONGs?
  • If yes, how?
  • What do other ONGs do well, what do they do badly?
    • Is Creative Commons a good example?
  • How and what can Wikimedia learn from other organisations?
  • How can existing best practices be applied to work for Wikimedia?

Potential Costs

  • A team of two to conduct this study, conduct interviews with other ONGs, read up on what is out there, collect ideas and models, and produce a report about this (two because it helps for preliminary discussion and prioritizing). 3/6 months time.
  • Legal advice specialized in non-profit at an international level for the elaboration of a charter
  • A coordinator/moderator to implement the charter


Wikimania 2009, Panel on Wikimedia chapters

A glance at other international organisations

Misc docs on non-profits internationally

  • Country information about non-profit law [5]
  • An example of cross-NGO charter [6]
  • International non-profit classification [7]

Community Discussion

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