Announcing the Organizer Lab beta! Join the first cohort of training for Topics for Impact campaigns

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Have you ever wondered how campaigns like #1lib1ref, Art+Feminism or Wiki Loves Folklore got started?

In the last few years, the Movement Strategy process has emphasized the critical importance of organizers to growing content on our platforms, and recruiting and retaining newcomers. The Wikimedia projects rely on a sustainable network of volunteers to drive continuous improvement of the knowledge we curate for the world. Organizers — be they local or international — have been leading this space and filling knowledge gaps by inviting, training, and retaining new people through a wide variety of campaigns and partnerships. 

To date, the path to organizing has been very organic, loosely supported by grant-making and the work of our affiliate network. But the Movement Strategy asks us to focus on Investing in Skills and Leadership Development and Identifying Topics for Impact. We need to get more deliberate about asking questions like:

  • How are we inviting the next generation of editors and volunteers to our movement to help us address a universe of knowledge gaps?
  • Are we creating clear pathways for organizers to gain all the skills or knowledge they need to champion the Wikimedia Movement well?

By mentoring and working with organizers over the last three years to understand campaigns around the world, the Campaigns Team at the Wikimedia Foundation has learned how to help organizers design campaigns that bring in the next generation of contributors. We are going to share those lessons and experiences in an Organizer Lab (beta) focused on campaigns and organizing around “Topics for Impact”. Though we hope to expand to support other topics and themes in the coming years, the first cohort will be themed around a topic of rising interest across the movement: Climate Change and Sustainability.

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Promotional material from #WikiForHumanRights 2021 in Nigeria.
James Moore200, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What is the Organizer Lab?

The Organizer Lab will be a 9-week online learning experience running from the end of October until mid December that prepares participants to design strategic calls to action around prioritized knowledge gaps, as well as more generalized Wikimedia organizing and campaign/event design skills. The Lab will also connect those skills with a particular topic area: climate and sustainability. We have learned that organizers work best together when they collaborate on one theme. 

More specifically, participating organizers will leave the course with:

  • A firm understanding of a how to develop a locally-relevant topic list for a knowledge gap-focused campaign
  • A process for identifying local audiences and organizations who would be good candidates for activation and recruitment
  • Understanding of the menu of tactics, tools, and newcomer engagement strategies available for effective event design
  • A scalable and fundable project proposal for events or projects connected to a global campaign around Earth Day (April, 2023) (building on #WikiForHumanRights) or to other regional and international campaigns.

Participants who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and gain access to a special pool of grant funds for the best designed projects from the course. Applications are open from September 22 – October 19, 2022

Promotional material from #WikiForHumanRights 2022 in Colombia, source Twitter.

Why an organizer lab?

Campaigns like Art+Feminism and Wiki Loves Monuments help Wikimedia communities meet new contributors and run their first events — community is often formed by running events as part of international campaigns. However, there is a central challenge for new international campaigns: often only the most experienced organizers are able to form them — it requires both deep knowledge of Wikimedia communities and skills important to campaigning more generally, often learned outside the Wikimedia movement. 

Working alongside the Community Resources team (which facilitates funding to our communities), we have observed a consistent need for support designing and running campaigns. Though we have been able to mentor campaigns like Wikipedia Pages Wanting Photos and WikiVibrance, one-on-one kind of support doesn’t scale: if we are to achieve Movement strategy goals, communities around the world need to be able to run campaigns that address Topics for Impact. By taking what we learned from mentoring to the WikiLearn platform, we will be able to share these insights with more of the community, and help grow a stronger peer learning network for campaign organizers.

Who can participate?

Since this is the first cohort of the course, we are seeking to create a diverse cohort that includes organizers from all parts of the Wikimedia movement, especially in the Global South.  

Good candidates for the course will have: 

  • Some Wikimedia organizing experience, running events or campaigns within their own communities. 
  • An interest in topics related to climate change and sustainability
  • A desire to organize strategic campaigns within the movement, that fill key knowledge gaps around climate 

By the end of this program, successful participants will understand how to design topics for impact campaigns and other programs targeted at climate and sustainability and also have connections with organizers around the world.

Apply now or learn more

To apply to join the cohort, please read the instructions on Meta, where you will find: an application form, important dates, and general guidance. Also check out the campaign newsletter for wider campaign organizing news and updates.

You’re also invited to join the information session on  September 30 at 14:00 UTC where we’ll share more details and answer questions. A recording will be made available after the information session. If you have any further queries ahead of this event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team via campaigns@wikimedia.org.

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