[Wikimedia-l] The one-employee secretariat model

Florence Devouard anthere9 at yahoo.com
Wed May 1 13:18:02 UTC 2013

Le 5/1/13 2:50 AM, Asaf Bartov a écrit :
> 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
> conversations).
> 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
> [1]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Proposals/2012-2013_round2/Wikimedia_Czech_Republic/Proposal_form

True. Not all associations are looking for such support and indeed, the 
association needs to show a decent amount of activity to make it worth it.

Note that in many cases, the secretary hired for such positions is NOT a 
student, but rather an experienced person willing and able to do 
multitasking stuff in an autonomous manner and rather looking for a 
long-term position. This balances the fact the volunteers come and go 
and that the board term is often for a limited time (2 or 3 terms 
maximum). This secretary provides an unvaluable element of stability.
And indeed, for entreprenarial associations, it is frequent that a 
secretary is actually shared by two organizations.


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