Chief Executive Report2016-06-11

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Board Meeting June 2016 Chief Executive's Report

Overview[edit | edit source]

The first quarter of the new financial year has been very promising in terms of programme activity, with some excellent metrics in terms of content in particular. This has also been a busy time of year for finance and operations, with the Annual Report and Accounts ready for final sign off at today’s board meeting following Independent Examination.

As detailed below, since the last board meeting the team has consulted with the community on the strategic framework, started developing the draft communications strategy, and completed the delivery plan for 2016/17. We have also made progress in terms of communications and advocacy, with significantly increased social media engagement, a number of high profile presentations at events and conferences, and a current campaign to support Freedom of Panorama across Europe.

An education meeting in Leicester, organised by Josie Fraser and Fabian Tompsett and attended by over 20 volunteers, demonstrates what can be achieved when trustees and volunteers take the lead on events and other projects, working closely with the staff team to plan and deliver a successful event that feels well integrated with the work of the office. Indeed, between the education meeting, Partnerships Advisory Board and the fundraising meeting - none of which are formal board obligations - trustees committed a lot of time to the charity during this quarter, for which I am very grateful.

Planning[edit | edit source]

Following a review of the draft strategic framework and business plan at the board meeting in March, the strategic framework was shared externally for community consultation throughout May. Whilst the level of engagement with the consultation was fairly low, with only five people responding, these responses were generally very detailed and considered, and demonstrate a high level of commitment to the charity. During the consultation, I responded to feedback as soon as possible, either providing a more detailed explanation of mine and the board’s thinking on a particular area of the strategy, or committing to consider the issue raised in more detail.

I have included with the papers for this meeting a summary of the feedback on the strategy - highlighting where this has led to a change in the draft framework - and the strategic framework is on the agenda as a consent item following the input of the team, board and wider community into its development over the past six months. Once the framework has been approved by the board, I will update the full business plan - incorporating the other changes discussed at the meeting in March - and circulate by email for approval, with a view to being able to provide copies for this to interested members and volunteers at the AGM.

The delivery plan for 2016/17 was completed earlier in the year, with input from everyone in the team. The plan illustrates how our activities during the year will help us to achieve our new strategic goals and objectives, as it made more sense to do this than to align the plan to the previous strategy. Michael has a copy of the staff delivery plan for the year, however I haven’t shared this with the wider board given the level of detail included.

At today’s meeting I am presenting for discussion a very early draft of a new Communications Strategy for the charity, which I have written with support and input from our new Communications Co-ordinator, John Lubbock. This clearly needs a great deal of further work and development but I felt an early discussion on our progress would be useful, before presenting what I hope will be a final version in September (with additional drafts circulated by email at the board’s request). At this stage we are not planning on consulting widely on the strategy, however John and I are keen to engage volunteers and trustees with specific skills and experience that could be of benefit; for example, both our new members of ARC have a communications background.

Programmes Report and Update[edit | edit source]

Our 2015-16 FDC Impact Report was submitted to the Foundation at the end of March, and circulated to the board in early April. We are currently awaiting feedback on the report, which represents a huge amount of work by the programmes team, and gives a full picture of the charity’s delivery and achievements in the last financial year, including lessons learnt.

Included in the papers for this board meeting is the Q1 KPI report, produced using the new reporting template agreed in March. I hope it gives a clear indication of progress against numeric targets, as well as a narrative overview of achievements during the quarter; however the following points might also be helpful in understanding our performance:

  • We have already exceeded our annual target for individuals involved, largely thanks to the high number of talks and presentations given by staff and volunteers during the quarter. It’s worth noting that at the time of setting our KPIs for 2016 - 17 we had no baseline data from a previous full financial year by which to gauge a reasonable target, as the metric was introduced in 2015.
  • Whilst the number of lead volunteers is significantly below target, we have made excellent progress against our target for volunteer hours. Lead volunteers is a challenging target as we set a high bar for this metric, with the key criteria being that the project or event would only have happened with the volunteer’s involvement.
  • The data shows that we are underperforming on our volunteer targets around female participation, although this is partly due to the ongoing problem of not knowing the gender of many people involved in our programmes. We don’t have a gender target for the number of individuals involved as this would be almost impossible to track, but anecdotally this included a higher proportion of women than the volunteers metric, due to events such as the WOW Festival presentation.
  • Our annual target for images added has been exceeded as a result of the one-off donation of 24,000 images, which wset as “20,000 + poss. mass uploads” to account for the variability of this metric. Of the 36,000 images we uploaded in Q1, 24.000 images were received in one donation.
  • The Global Metric target for articles improved or created has tended to be underreported as there has been no clear mechanism for collating data on articles improved. However, in gathering evidence for the Q1 KPI report, the programmes team has trialled the newly-launched Wikimetrics Magic Button. Whilst this is not a perfect tool, we believe the figure provided for the metric is as accurate as we can provide at this point. With a figure of 27,064, we have already substantially exceeded our annual target of 10,000 - largely thanks to Wikidata work.
  • We have already exceeded our target for articles created, mostly thanks to focused and semi-automated work on creating articles for Welsh Wikipedia via Wikidata. At the time of setting the target we felt it was an ambitious one, as we knew we were unlikely to run as many content-producing Wikipedia classroom assignments as in previous years, and weren’t able to predict the rapid growth of Wikidata and its influence on smaller language projects. We are therefore very pleased at our performance against this target during the first quarter.
  • We have already exceeded our annual target for bytes added - now an optional Global Metric - mostly thanks to the Awaken the Dragon competition, a volunteer-led initiative in Wales.

Some of the highlights from the narrative report on the first quarter include the start of the Wellcome Library residency in May, and our substantial presence at OER16. Bodleian Libraries and Museum Galleries Scotland residencies both came to an end during this quarter however we are working on legacy and sustainability with these partners, and awaiting a funding decision regarding an extension of the Bodleian programme.

We are also awaiting funding decisions on several projects where Daria supported applications as a potential project partner. These include a Gaelic Wikimedian in Residence, which we hope will be supported through the Gaelic Language Act Implementation Fund, and Life in Data: Exploring data literacy, open data and education policy in Scottish cities. The latter project would include a second phase focused on Wikidata, and the funding application was made to Scottish Universities Insight Institute. We expect decisions on both of these, as well as the Bodleian application, in the second quarter.

Other programme-related developments that we hope will come to fruition over the next year or more have arisen as a result of significant trustee input. Firstly, a Partnerships Advisory Board meeting in April was very helpful in starting to shape and formulate our ideas for scaling up programmes activity to develop multi-partner collaborations. As well as agreeing my proposed terms of reference for the group, two specific ideas emerged from the meeting. The first was the potential to work with the National Heritage Science Forum, a group of 22 leading organisations working across heritage; and with Nancy’s considerable influence and input I have been invited to present a paper at their next board meeting in June. The second idea is longer term and would need a high level of external involvement and funding, but would be a major project involving libraries and Wikimedia, encompassing issues of digital literacy, intergenerational participation and training.

In May, Josie organised a very successful Wikimedia UK education event in Leicester, attended by volunteers and educators and designed to take open open education in relation to Wikimedia projects forward across the schools, further education, higher education and adult education sectors. Josie worked with Fabian Tompsett to plan and organise the event, which was supported and hosted by the Learning and Work Institute. Notes and pictures from the event can be found here, and I will also ask Josie to give a brief oral update at the board meeting on the day and potential outcomes.

Other potential partnerships in development include the House of Commons, who Daria and I will be meeting with in early June, to explore the possibility of a Wikimedian in Residence and/or other partnership working. I’m also at the very early stages of exploring the potential for a partnership with the new Cultural and Education Quarter for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; however this would be a very long term initiative if it was to happen.

Coming up soon after the board meeting, we are looking forward to Wikimania 2016 taking place in Esino Lario. The charity will be well represented at the conference, with Stuart (who is there because of his involvement with Wikimania) delivering a talk on Art+Feminism in the main conference, and both Karla Marte and Daria from the programmes team attending the pre-conference learning days run by the Foundation as well as the conference itself. Michael and I will be joining for the main conference and we have also funded three volunteers to attend, Jason Evans, Edward Hands and Fabian Tompsett.

Staff and Board Update[edit | edit source]

John Lubbock joined the team during the quarter as our new Communications Co-ordinator - bringing us to a full complement of nine staff - and I was confirmed in post following my six month probation period.

I’m pleased to report that Megan Griffith Gray and Alastair McCapra have now both attended their first ARC meeting as non-board committee members, and I’m positive that both will be a very valuable addition.

External Relations[edit | edit source]

This has been a rather busy quarter in terms of external relations, encompassing our communications and advocacy activities. I was very pleased to welcome John Lubbock to the charity at the beginning of April, who is settling in well to the team and proving a strong asset, particularly in terms of our social media engagement and creating digital content.

As mentioned briefly in the Quarter 1 KPI report, Wikimedia UK are participating in the current EU consultation on Freedom of Panorama and Ancillary Copyright, and are in touch with individual stakeholders and organisations, encouraging them to submit a response. We have chosen to run a low-level campaign around the consultation, focused on the benefits of increased freedom of panorama across Europe, rather than the risk (which we understand to be extremely low) of the harmonisation of legislation leading to reduced rights in the UK.

As reported elsewhere, Wikimedia UK was very well represented at the Open Educational Resources Conference in Edinburgh in April - captured beautifully in a blogpost by outgoing Wikimedian in Residence at Museums Galleries Scotland, Sara Thomas. I felt that my presentation on Wikimedia UK, cultural heritage and education, supported by Josie, went well, and was pleased to catch the excellent presentations given by Sara and Martin Poulter.

Wikimedia UK was also represented at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, also in April, where Daria gave a presentation on evaluation beyond global metrics, and Stuart Prior and I were also active participants. This was a very useful conference for me in terms of making connections across the global Wikimedia movement and the Foundation.

In May, I gave a lecture at the Open Data Institute (ODI) on the gender gap on Wikimedia, and was also interviewed for a podcast; with these events launching the ODI’s ‘Women in Data’ series. The lecture required a significant amount of research but was very valuable in terms of reach - with about 50 people in the room for the event, and a further 265 (at the time of writing this report) watching or listening to the lecture online. There have also been nearly 180 plays of the podcast interview on Soundcloud.

Following the lecture at ODI I have been invited to speak at a ‘Databeers’ event. These are informal meet ups for data scientists or enthusiasts and are usually attended by about 150 people, around 30% of which are women.

As mentioned in the Programmes Update, I am presenting a paper to the National Heritage Science Forum Board on 14th June. The Forum was originally set up as a result of a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Report on Science and Heritage, and whilst the primary objective of my attending is to develop a potential multi-partner collaboration, it is also a useful advocacy opportunity within the cultural heritage sector. Separate to this, I am still progressing with the idea of convening a meeting of lottery funders and other key partners to develop sector-wide consensus around the open licences, although this is proving more challenging than I initially anticipated.

Funding and Fundraising[edit | edit source]

Since the last board meeting we have received a donation of £3500 from the Violet Mauray Charitable Trust, who previously donated to the charity in 2013. I have accepted this unrestricted donation on behalf of the charity, as per our donor acceptance policy.

During the quarter the charity has supported a number of applications led by partner organisations, and I have worked with the programmes team to write our funding proposal for the extension of the National Library of Wales residency. I have also identified other projects and programmes for fundraising purposes and am in the process of researching and contacting potential trusts and foundations who might support our work, as well as writing to previous major donors.

We currently have about 8000 donors, most of which give a modest amount of money on monthly or quarterly basis. As discussed at previous board meetings, there is a concern that some donors may think they are directly supporting Wikipedia, and the charity has been reluctant to communicate with donors on this basis; however we are committed to communicating with donors this year and I am planning a physical mailout in September. The message for this mailing will need to carefully crafted and Chris has offered to work with me on developing this, given his role as Head of Supporter Retention at the National Deaf Children’s Society. This will be the first formal communication with donors for several years and I had initially been planning to highlight the work and achievements of the charity, encouraging donors to 1) increase their donation, 2) complete a Gift Aid declaration form and 3) become a member. However Chris and others have suggested that we will need to prioritise which of these is most important for the purposes of this initial mailing, and I will also need to take into account the new General Data Protection Regulation and recent changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice.

A few weeks ago I convened a small group of trustees who had expressed interest in supporting the charity’s fundraising activities, and had a useful and wide-ranging discussion about potential approaches and priorities. To summarise an intense few hours of discussion, I think it’s generally felt that the need to focus on this year’s fundraising target and to develop small-scale project-based proposals, as well as develop our individual giving programme, needs to be balanced with a longer-term, more ambitious approach which encompasses the potential for releasing government funding.

Volunteers and Members[edit | edit source]

The programmes team is continuing to re-engage with the volunteer community, as highlighted in the Q1 KPI Report. Our new Communications Co-ordinator, John Lubbock - who was first involved in the charity himself as a volunteer - has also been giving thought to how to work most effectively with volunteers. This has included attending three meetups, and contacting volunteers regarding content for our blog and newsletter. I have been in touch with a small number of volunteers directly, for example Charles Matthews, Harry Mitchell and Andy Mabbett, the latter of whom is involved with the AGM in July.

As the board is aware, the current level of membership of Wikimedia UK is very low, at less than 200 individuals. This represents a governance risk for the charity as it would be relatively easy for a small group of members to unduly influence trustee elections, and whilst this will require a long term solution, with the next AGM coming up on 9th July this is also a pressing short term issue. I am therefore planning a two stage membership campaign this year, with an initial targeted membership drive in early June including:

  • Rewriting our automated and manually-generated email messages to potential new and existing members to be more welcoming in tone
  • Updating our online donation pages to encourage donors to become members
  • Refining our internal processes so that membership is granted within a week of applying unless there are exceptional circumstances
  • Contacting people with lapsed membership and encouraging them to rejoin
  • Promoting membership, with a link to the online sign up page, via the mailing list, social media channels and the next newsletter (going out at the end of June)

The second stage of the membership drive will happen later this year, ideally in early autumn, and will probably be connected to a mailing to individual donors; although there are some issues around this, as mentioned in the Fundraising section of this report.

One of the issues that the board has previously raised regarding membership is the current status regarding direct debits, which the charity uses for donations but not membership fees. This is a complicated issues for various reasons however we are proactively working towards a solution. I will provide an oral update on this at the meeting.

Policy Update and Review[edit | edit source]

Following the decision at the last board meeting to separate out those policies that should be appropriately set by the board, from operational policies that should be within the remit of the Chief Executive, I have reviewed and updated the following HR Policies:

Disciplinary Policy and Procedure Home Working Grievance Policy and Procedure Recruitment Policy Sickness Management Staff Training and Development Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) Volunteer and Intern Agreement

Most of these policies only required minor amendments, although some - particularly Recruitment and Sickness Management - required slightly more extensive changes. I am in the process of updating the Maternity Leave Policy (which incorporates paternity and adoption leave). This is more detailed than most of the policies listed above and needs some more substantive updates (for example, to reflect the shared parental leave entitlement).

The other operational policies that it was agreed fell under the auspices of the Chief Executive were mainly IT, including fundraising-related policies. Some of these will need to be substantially updated given the new legislation coming into place regarding consent to contact with donors, and I am planning to amend these over the summer and early autumn.

Any changes or updates to the remaining policies will need to be approved by the board, and I would like to propose the following timetable for revised policies to be discussed and approved:

December board meeting:

  • Bullying and Harassment Policy
  • Child Protection
  • Diversity and Equalities
  • Volunteers
  • Whistle Blowing

March board meeting:

  • Confidentiality
  • Copyright
  • Transparency
  • Donation and Grant Acceptance

As previously agreed, the Finance Policy will be reviewed by ARC with recommendations put forward to the March board meeting.

The Conflict of Interest Policy was updated in December 2015 and so will not need to be updated until 2018; unless factors arise in the meantime which necessitate a review. The Procurement Policy (along with a new set of procedures and a process flowchart) has been updated and reviewed by ARC with its adoption recommended at this board meeting.

Key meetings and events attended[edit | edit source]

  • Meeting with Joseph Seddon, Advancement Associate at the Wikimedia Foundation
  • WMUK Partnerships Advisory Board Meeting
  • Skype call with Dimi
  • Meeting at British Library regarding our relocation
  • OER16 Conference in Edinburgh
  • Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, including meeting with Katherine Maher
  • ODI Lecture
  • Wikimedia Education Meeting in Leicester
  • Trustees Fundraising Meeting
  • ARC Meeting
  • AGM site visit to Impact Hub in Birmingham
  • Meeting with Andy Mabbett
  • Meeting at the House of Commons
  • Wikimedia Foundation site visit
  • Regular Chapters TelCo calls