[Wikimedia-l] The one-employee secretariat model

Asaf Bartov abartov at wikimedia.org
Wed May 1 00:50:08 UTC 2013

On Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 4:21 PM, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Florence Devouard wrote:
> >I was thinking of the numerous (quite successful) associations in
> >France, which are simply made of entrepreneurs wishing to do things
> >together (from networking, to training, to visits, conferences etc.).
> >Most of those associations have only one staff member, a long-term hired
> >secretary who takes care of secretarial work. The rest of the
> >association activity is 100% taken care of by the volunteer
> >entrepreneurs (usually through an extended board of volunteer members).
> Yes, this kind of association is also somewhat common in the United States
> as well. I agree that it might serve as a very good model for a healthy
> number of Wikimedia chapters.

Yes, this model clearly works in some countries and for some non-profits.
 It has also been working for some Wikimedia groups, e.g. WMPL.

However, it is not obvious that this model is what all (or even most)
groups are looking for (judging by grant applications and informal
conversations I have had with many groups).  I would be willing to consider
funding such a position on a part-time basis (say 3 days a week) if a group
presented a compelling case for the need for such a person.

>In many cases, the secretary is paid with sponsorship and membership
> >fees.
> The Wikimedia Foundation seems to be in a good place to ensure that this
> need is met for chapters in need of a full-time staff person. A little
> seed money. What needs to happen in order to ensure requests like this are
> met if membership fees and sponsorships aren't sufficient?

The Foundation is indeed in a good place to fill this need, where it
exists.  I think very few groups have been able to demonstrate the need for
_sustained_ support of this kind (i.e. not the two afternoons needed to
finish some particular report, but actual ongoing labor of the order that
would require such a position).  Again, I am happy to discuss this with any
group, on any channel, including privately if they prefer (I prefer public

For example, in the context of the recent FDC proposals, WMCZ's staffing
plan[1], assuming that "student" could be a *part-time* employee, could
certainly have gone through the Wikimedia Grants Program (NB: not "the GAC"
-- the GAC is the advisory body to the Wikimedia Grants Program), as in
WMCZ's case, I am aware of a relatively large amount of administrative work
around reimbursements, related to their two current grants.

A case will still need to be made for such positions, each and every time
-- we can't, and shouldn't, assume that this model is a panacea, so
"requests like this" will be met wherever they make sense, in terms of both
need and capacity (unfortunately, retaining paid help has a non-trivial
up-front cost in time and planning, and the capacity to put in that time,
responsibly, needs to be there for us to approve such a position).



    Asaf Bartov
    Wikimedia Foundation <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!

More information about the Wikimedia-l mailing list