What is a project?
This outline was proposed as a part of volunteer strategy consultation around the 2015 Wikimedia UK AGM.
Every activity supported or run by Wikimedia UK should be a stand-alone project or part of a larger project. A 'project' for our purposes is a more or less self-contained package of work that is appropriately resourced and has sufficiently well-defined outputs and outcomes that are aligned with our strategic goals. Projects may be large and long-term (eg Wikimedian in Residence programmes) or small and one-off (eg a grant to a member or a one-off editathon), but to be eligible for support every project must be properly resourced and be capable of evaluation.
It is unusual of course for larger projects to be presented to the charity as a complete and ready-to-go package, and we will provide a project incubation area where initial ideas and project suggestions can be jointly worked on by volunteers and staff to bring them up to a position where they are ready for approval and action. Some simpler projects such as member grant applications may not need much incubation, and can be approved quickly and easily.
This page sets out the requirements of a proposed project that has completed incubation and is ready for initial evaluation and approval.
As a charity, Wikimedia UK needs to make sure that its resources are used efficiently and to best effect in support of our open knowledge aims, and volunteers have a central role in doing that. We need the ability for volunteers, staff and board to be able to track and evaluate projects openly, while keeping an eye on any potential reputational risks to the charity and to our wider movement. That means setting down some clear procedures and expectations, and we want to do that transparently here.
To be eligible for support, every project needs to be assessed against our strategic goals and to be approved by our evaluation panel. To be ready for approval, each of the following should be sufficiently well-defined that the project is effectively 'ready to go':
Who are the project leaders who will be driving the project forward? Preferably the project leaders should be volunteers, but a staff member could lead if there is sufficient volunteer support for the project and the need for a staff leader is approved by the evaluation panel. If funding is involved, at least one of the project leaders must be a member of the charity.
What activities will be carried out?
What resources do the project leaders have available to them to ensure the that project has a good chance of success? The resources need to be well-defined so far as possible and already committed or at least reasonably obtainable. So, for example, a reasonable number of volunteers should be committed and ready to go. There should be no expectation that staff will step in to undertake volunteers' tasks if volunteers drop out. Any partner organisations should be reasonably committed. If external funding is needed a project plan should be ready to present to one or more named funding bodies (WMF, external grant-making trusts etc).
Resource questions that need answers might include:
- How many volunteers have committed to join this project? Can you demonstrate volunteer/community buy-in and enthusiasm?
- What staff support is being requested for admin tasks? (If staff would be needed for typical volunteer tasks, that demonstrates a lack of community buy-in)
- What meeting or other space is needed, and will that space be provided by WMUK?
- Are other resources needed such as computers, books, camera equipment, food? Where will they be sourced?
- Are funds being sought from WMUK? If so, what will the funds be used for?
- Are external funds needed? If so where will they be sought and is a project plan ready to present to the funding body?
- Will paid contractor support be needed? If so, how will the costs be covered?
- Are any partner organisations identified and reasonably committed?
- Who will be undertaking the important tasks of recording/measuring the project metrics, and writing up a project analysis and report?
The project should be designed to support our strategic goals.
- What strategic goals will this project support? Should be specified explicitly based on the list here
Outputs and outcomes
The project should have definite expectations of effective charitable impact. Large and expensive projects need high exceptions of success and probable high impact, but smaller trials and experiments may be supportable even if the expected outcomes are more speculative.
- What output and outcome metrics will you be measuring?
- What targets have you set that would enable us to say that this project is a success? Targets should be based on definite and numerical metrics unless that is not possible or there are cogent reasons to the contrary. If numerical metrics are not to be used, sound reasons for that choice should be given.
- Will the project make any contribution to our KPIs? (Desirable but not essential). If so, what are the targets you expect to achieve?
What is the expected start date?
Review and end dates
What is the expected end date? If a long project, or one without a defined end date, when will the project be reviewed?
For smaller scale activities, we want to continue to support them through volunteer grants. Depending on the nature of the idea that is being proposed, it could be build up into a larger project.