2019 Affiliates Data Survey, What we learned

Originally published at: https://space.wmflabs.org/2019/12/19/2019-affiliates-data-survey-what-we-learned/

Affiliate representatives at the Wikimedia Summit 2019 – Berlin. Jason Krüger for Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. CC BY-SA 4.0

The Wikimedia Summit in Berlin each year is a testament to the beauty of diversity in the Wikimedia movement. The delegates came from far and wide, across cultures and backgrounds, united in a common goal of furthering access to the sum of human knowledge. Most are delegates of Wikimedia Affiliates around the world; working in countries and regions along diverse thematic foci. These organizations represent the best the movement has to offer, where working together is concerned. 

The data in this blog tell the story from our first instance of conducting a survey with all affiliates in 2018. Please use these results as you make decisions about the support that you provide to affiliates, or if you belong to an affiliate, to understand trends among your peers.

In this first survey, we wanted to know:

  • How are affiliates governed? Are affiliates working toward becoming more diverse, especially with regard to gender parity?
  • How do affiliates arrive at shared decisions? How do they manage or prevent conflicts?
  • How does program activity vary by region? What are the program capacity needs of affiliates? 

Here is what we found.

What we learned both surprised us and confirmed some widely held assumptions within the movement. We now know that there is progress to be made in developing more women to enter the affiliate leadership space, increasing the level of activities in other parts of the world to approach those seen in Europe, and standardizing governance practices for all affiliates. We also know that chapters have matured in how they approach conflict negotiation, and they likely have something to teach the movement about running programs and events.

Here are the findings in greater detail.

How are affiliates governed?

Only 54% of Wikimedia user groups have a formal model of governance in place

While chapters are required to adopt governance practices, there is no similar requirement for user groups. 

  • 100% of chapters and thematic organizations have either a board of trustees (96%) or follow a democratic process (4%) 
  • 54% of user groups have either a board of trustees (27%)[Note 1] or follow a democratic process (27%)[Note 1]
  • 46% of user groups have no governance structure in place

Are affiliates working toward becoming more diverse, especially with regard to gender parity?

While the majority of affiliate membership is estimated to be female, the majority of affiliate leaders are male

In particular: 

  • 75% of user group primary contacts are male 
  • 74% of chapter & thematic organization board members are male
  • 54% of affiliate staff are male
  • 36% of affiliate members are reported to be male
Infographic for governance models. DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0
Infographic for gender representation. DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0

How do affiliates arrive at shared decisions?

Only 78% of user groups have a board (27%) or alternative (51%) decision-making process

As shared decision-making can be a common challenge for developing groups, we investigated how Wikimedia user groups arrive at decisions. The majority (81%) of the groups shared that they use more than one method [Note 2] for arriving at shared decisions. Methods varied and included communication strategies such as:

  • email or in-person meetings (53%)
  • popular vote/resolutions (47%), and
  • executive decision-making (9%)

How do they manage or prevent conflicts?

Chapters and thematic organizations are nearly twice as likely than User Groups to have a policy or intervention process to resolve inter-group conflict

For Wikimedia Chapters:

  • 63% reported having some type of policy and intervention process to handle conflict amongst group members
  • 21% reported the use of a group decision process
  • 16% reported having no process or conflict 

For Wikimedia User Groups:

  • 33% use of some type of policy and intervention process
  • 32% use of a group decision to handle conflict amongst group members
  • 35% have no process or conflict 
Infographic for shared group decision making. DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0
Infographic for conflict resolution methods. DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0

How does program activity vary by region?

Wikimedia affiliates in more developed regions reported running programs more frequently compared to those in less developed regions

[note 2]

There is greater program frequency in more established European activity centers than other regions. Many affiliates host activities and events more than once a month around the world:

0% in the Middle East due to not answering this question. [Note 3] DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0

What are the program capacity needs of affiliates?

Overall, affiliates demonstrated a lot of ambivalence in terms of ranking their strengths and needs for further development. Many organizations ranked the same capacity as a top strength and a most needed development opportunity:

Programs & Events

Ranked in the top three strengths for 61% of affiliates (56% of Chapters, 63% of User Groups), this capacity was third most prevalent among capacities also prioritized as a development need (37% of affiliates – 26% of Chapters, 41% of User Groups).

Partnerships

Ranked in the top three strengths by 47% of affiliates (62% of Chapters, 40% of User Groups), this capacity was also the second most prevalent among capacities prioritized for development (46% of affiliates – 37% of Chapters, 49% of User Groups).

New contributor engagement and growth

Ranked in the top three strengths by 44% of affiliates (33% of Chapters, 49% of User Groups), this capacity was the most prevalent among capacities prioritized as a development need (58% of affiliates – 59% of Chapters and 57% of User Groups).

Infographics for the frequency of programs and the presence of capacities. DNdubane (WMF), CC BY-SA 4.0

What is next?

A total of 91 Affiliates (26 Chapters, 0 Thematic Organizations, and 65 User Groups) participated and provided feedback; with a 70% response rate, the findings from the survey are sufficiently representative of Wikimedia Affiliates overall. 

We loved hearing from you and have taken into account a lot of the feedback you provided about the questions we asked and what we can do to improve this quest to better understand our Wikimedia Affiliates. We are planning the second installment of the Affiliates data survey, which will go out on the 8th of January 2020 and run through to 15th February 2020. We humbly request your generous indulgence again in answering survey questions, and we look forward to what we will learn next!

Notes:

Note 1:  Figures may not sum to 100% due to rounding
Note 2:  Percentages may not sum to 100 due to multiple strategies in use.
Note 3:  Additional studies are required to determine the reasons behind the observed disparities.
Note 4:  We only heard back about programming frequency from our User Groups in the Middle East, not the chapter

Authors: Dumisani Ndubane, Jaime Anstee, Dana McCurdy
Contributors: Rebecca Maung, Lindsay Anderson, Winifred Olliff, Asaf Bartov, Delphine Ménard, Leila Zia, Winifred Olliff, Nick Wilson

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This is super interesting, thank you! Will this also be shared on Meta or in other places?

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Hi @Kritzolina, Yes I am working to migrate the report to meta, by the end of January as we have many more insights still!

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Excellent Dumi. Very interesting report

I have a question… how did you collect the gender of the affiliate members ?

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@Anthere, in the survey, we asked the primary contacts to give a good estimate of the number of their members as well as the percentage of gender splits they observed. In the next survey, we are aiming at a more representative sample so that community members can tell us what gender they prescribe to. We will get better as we go.

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