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Resolution: Organizational best practices

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This vote unanimously approved the following best practices for Wikimedia organizations. It was passed on March 31, 2012.

Resolved, that the Board of Trustees approves the following organizational best practices, which describe practices that all Wikimedia organizations are encouraged to pursue. The Board thanks the Audit Committee for its help preparing these.

The Wikimedia projects have brought hundreds of thousands of people together to work toward a common vision. This decentralization is one of our movement's core principles, and we strive to apply this principle at the organizational level as well.

In order to build trust at the organizational level, both within our movement and with the more than one million donors who contribute to our cause, every organization in our movement must go beyond local regulatory requirements and adopt our movement's unique principles and best practices around governance, transparency, and accountability.

Overall principles

Use volunteer time, donor funds, trademarks, reputation, and other movement resources to achieve the highest possible impact in the pursuit of our vision. Publicly share details about what you do so that others understand and can learn from your activities.

Best practices for all organizations


  • Fulfill the basic legal and regulatory obligations of their jurisdiction (e.g. reporting, auditing, board structure, etc.).
  • Sign the necessary legal agreements (e.g. chapter, grant, trademark) to receive movement recognition or use movement resources like the trademarks.
  • Fulfill all commitments made to our movement (e.g., grants, chapters, fundraising, or trademark agreements).
  • Develop annual plans that include goals and planned program activities. Best practice includes developing a high-level budget, planned sources of revenue, and an assessment of risks.
  • For more developed organizations, develop and publish a multi-year strategic plan with goals for the organization's development, with focus on vision impact.
  • For more developed organizations, adopt core governance policies including a code of conduct for Board and staff that requires at least disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.


  • Fulfill the basic transparency and disclosure commitments of their jurisdiction and governing documents.
  • Publish activity reports frequently. Best practice is publishing reports at least once every 90 days (every 180 days minimum) and linking to reports from Reports.
  • Publish annual plans. Best practice is publishing within 30 days of the beginning of the year and linking to this plan from Financial reports.
  • Publish annual financial reports. Best practice is publishing within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year to and linking to reports from Financial reports.
  • Publish minutes of Board meetings and summaries of other organizational activities promptly. Best practice is reporting no later than 30 days after the session.
  • Publish information on any major donations at least annually.
  • Regularly publish information on significant grants given, significant grants received, and performance against those grants.
  • Publish information on any major partnership agreements at least annually.
  • Movement organizations keep each other updated whenever appropriate on partnership discussions.


  • Conduct regular reviews of impact. This may include self-assessment, peer review, and feedback from the relevant volunteer community (e.g. editors in the country of a geographic chapter). It may also include a review of annual plans for each organization and the performance against those annual plans. Best practice is completing the annual assessment cycle by May 30 each year, following calendar year reporting but prior to the October start of the annual fundraiser. While the primary goal of this assessment is to assist coaching and continuous improvement, best practices for such a process includes real consequences for continued failure to meet standards including the removal of recognition as part of the Wikimedia movement.
  • Support other movement organizations as they build capabilities to achieve program work and fulfill our movement's principles of accountability and transparency.
  • Any organization using our movement's name to fundraise should be scrupulous about ensuring that communications with potential donors accurately reflect the intended use of those funds.
  • Organizations that participate as payment processors in the annual fundraising campaign may be required to follow additional practices such as preparing detailed documentation of funds handling procedures and controls, following standards around donor privacy and security of donor data, documenting funds transfer expectations and legal assessment, submitting to the equivalent of a full grant review, and submitting to an annual on-site audit.

Phoebe Ayers, Ting Chen, Bishakha Datta, Matt Halprin, Samuel Klein, Arne Klempert, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Jimmy Wales, Kat Walsh, Stu West