Annual Report 2021
As the pandemic continues we have in many ways been forward-looking and we continued our preparations for the future.
The four programmatic areas developed in 2016 – Access, Use, Community and Enabling – have continued to form the base of the project structure. A breakdown of the goals we have achieved within each of them can be found here. This year has in many ways been a time of stabilization, continuation and finalization of the long-term efforts we have worked on during many years. Some major trends so far this year are that:
- We thought and planned for the future
- As the chapter's current 4-year strategy came to its end in 2021 we formed a number of working groups to build consensus about the strategy for the next 4 years. The strategy was unanimously approved by the Annual General Assembly and the organization has a clear path forward until 2025.
- We refocused our hub plans based on the changing opportunities and are in the process of adjusting the ideas we worked on in 2020 to fit the new 4-year strategy. We will refocus our efforts with a more limited focus on software development as we, in the current environment, see fewer opportunities for us to contribute efficiently. Instead we will pivot and work to develop our capabilities around international partnerships, investigate the needs around content partnerships from Wikimedia affiliates and GLAM-Wiki volunteers, support affiliates with technical support, e.g. batch uploads, and capacity building etc. We will, however, provide limited development support for a selected few strategic tools that are of high value for content partnerships.
- The WikiGap campaign has been organized successfully since 2018. We have seen it expand and refocus due to the pandemic, and many great ideas have been developed by the communities across the world. We are constantly thinking about how we can further refine the WikiGap campaign and as we are approached by a myriad of organizations that are interested in contributing to these efforts we are planning to expand and experiment even more in 2022. We successfully applied for an external grant to experiment and scale up and to form interesting new partnerships. We are also aiming to combine the strength of WikiGap with the content donations we are working on as part of the thematic hub we hope to form.
- Preparatory work has been done to allow for an expansion of the volunteer engagement with the development of a long term plan and new training material. We are in the process of applying for a major grant to hopefully scale this work with a dedicated team in 2022–2024.
- We are finally launching some of our key initiatives
- Wikispeech has been under development since 2015 and in June 2021 we finalized the software so that we could launch Wikispeech on Swedish Wikipedia. That marked the start of a period of feedback and refinement which will allow us to continue scaling, and hopefully present a stronger case for the Wikimedia Foundation to integrate the tool as a MediaWiki extension.
- Our plans for a future thematic hub around content partnerships in Sweden have been developing since 2019. However, our intentions and plans with the hub have not been possible to communicate in the way we would have preferred because of a number of ambiguities and uncertainties. When we now – finally – have funding secured until mid-2023, and we know that any future funding will be through the soon-to-be-established Global Council we can actively start communicating in a more direct way and investigate what needs and interest Wikimedia affiliates across the world have.
- In 2020 we started experimenting more seriously with a national fundraising initiative. We have analyzed and processed the results from the early experiment. The plans we had to scale up the work in late 2021 had to be put on hold because of the pandemic taking a turn for the worse.
Major financial developments
One of the major changes this year from our expectations was the continued uncertainty and unclarity about long-term funding for the thematic hub work. The promises around significant multi-year funding that we were given in the beginning of the year were not fulfilled. Instead, a large single grant was provided in June 2021. This allowed us to continue to prepare for the hub in 2021 and we will hopefully keep this momentum up until a structure for the funding is established in late 2022 or 2023.
We continued to work on increasing national fundraising in Sweden. Even though the majority of our work was about preparing for larger initiatives post-COVID, we did increase the donations by nearly 50%. Furthermore, in 2021 we received our first legacy gift. This was a significant gift of around 400,000 USD in stocks and cash.
The overall spending this year was reduced compared to both the projected costs in the APG application as well as the finalized 2020 costs. The reduction was in large part caused by reduced staff costs as multiple staff members have had periods of parental leave or leave of absence etc. combined with the fact that we had a somewhat increased staff size in 2020 as we were preparing for launching the thematic hub.
The funding secured during this year, and the first months of 2022, will last until November 2024 at our current costs. However, that includes our reserves and we will still need to actively work to raise funds in 2022 to keep the organization stable long-term. Whilst the fundraising efforts can not slow down, it does allow us to be more strategic and long-term with our fundraising.
Overall, the financial security that was reached during the year has helped to reduce uncertainty and stress for the organization and allows us to think longer and more strategically.
Our Access program focuses on improving the free content on, or available to, the Wikimedia projects in both the short and long term. This continues to be our largest program, considering both the number of ongoing projects and initiatives, and the budget. During the year preparations to further scale this program in 2022 and onwards took place. However, it is worth noting that some larger projects in this program also contribute significantly to other programs in the organization. For example, a lot of work around the development of the organization happens as an integrated part of the program – e.g. in the Tools for partnerships project we worked to develop our fundraising capacities.
We are very aware that the needs in many parts of the world are very different from the Swedish context; e.g. in some countries, cutting-edge data processing technology might not be the top priority for GLAM institutions and other potential content partners. We knew that we needed to deepen our understanding of the different needs across the Wikimedia movement to be able to provide support the best way possible. Therefore we started a series of interviews and conversations to investigate what type of hands-on support would be most needed. The insights gathered from this work influenced our planing and experimentation around the Thematic hub for content partnerships we are working to establish.
We have over the years built strong practices around expert engagement, partnerships and technical support and we have successfully continued to build upon them this year. We are now hoping to find ways to support the global community with hands-on help around content partnerships. The importance of not just receiving financial support, but expertise, technical support and more was highlighted numerous times in the Wikimedia 2030 strategic process. To that end we started the work to organize a helpdesk, where support will be provided to affiliates and volunteers struggling with a content partnership. We also supported the technical development and maintenance of three key software tools that are of strategic importance for the Wikimedia community’s work with content partners.
We also hope to use our experience to form new content partnerships with intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and to coordinate the work in this area. We also see new exciting opportunities around structured data and will work on developing our skills around both Wikibase and Structured data on Commons.
Wikimedia Sverige is in this for the long run. We aim to change the way organizations and society think about knowledge dissemination and production. Creating that kind of change in attitudes will allow for the full impact of free knowledge. By convincing decision makers to adopt different forms of policies around openness we are laying the foundations for accessing new material in the future.
As part of Content partnerships support, we experimented with several uploads. In this case, the publication Fataburen, the yearbook of the Nordic Museum. This upload made Fataburen, which is of large cultural historical interest, much more accessible online. The photo shows a pair of traditional gloves from Värmland County in western Sweden.
In order to make the files on Wikimedia Commons more easily accessible, easier to find and more advanced and exact queries are possible, Wikimedia Sverige has worked with large scale improvements of Structured Data on Commons. This map shows the location of creation of photos uploaded by the chapter from the UNESCO Archives.
2021 images from four museums in Göteborg were uploaded to celebrate the city's 400 year anniversary, including many highlights from the art museum – here Landscape with Cows by Nils Kreuger. We provided the museum staff with thorough training about the Wikimedia projects so that they could select the images and prepare the metadata themselves.
In the project Wikidata for authority control, Nationalmuseum experimented with visualizing the data about their artists on Wikidata. One of the visualizations makes it clear how the artists moved around the world.
The focus of the program is to make the platforms and activities known, appreciated and trusted. It also includes our work to make the platforms easy to use and both our platforms and activities accessible to everyone.
Making the platforms and activities known and appreciated
Previously, with more limited resources invested, we mainly targeted different expert groups and similar in our communication, for example posting in Facebook groups for GLAM professionals. In 2021 we invested resources in developing our social media presence so that our activities and messaging can reach a significantly larger audience. This was part of our preparations for an increased focus on fundraising in 2022.
We believe that more communication will, amongst other things, improve our possibilities for increasing participation at our events, help us find more partners, increase funding opportunities and prevent misunderstandings about our work and the Wikimedia platforms.
We have also worked on ensuring that our activities are noticed and highlighted by the media by issuing press releases and providing expert support to journalists.
Our goal of reaching 5,000 members in 3 years is dependent on developing clearer communication that highlights the value of the work we do.
Making usage easy and accessible to everyone
Through our efforts we hope to make the platforms easier to use for our readers. We focus both on our in-house development, mainly through the ambitious Wikispeech project, and on informing other developer teams about issues that we encounter during workshops and other events that we organize.
The online workshop (in Swedish) was recorded, so no worries if you missed it!
Supporting existing community
We work to support the volunteer community in a number of ways, which is possible thanks to staff members with a wide variety of skills and because of the infrastructure we have built up in the last few years.
We see the Wikimedia movement needing two different sets of volunteers, that to some degree overlap: 1. the online contributors who, for example, edit Wikipedia, photograph for Wikimedia Commons or add data to Wikidata, and 2. the volunteers who are interested in supporting free knowledge offline in different ways, such as organizing events, giving lectures, soliciting new members or forming new partnerships. We have historically focused on the first group, but now we are aiming to create resources needed to grow the second group.
This year we have therefore focused on building a stronger foundation by developing communication tools, a strategy and training material.
We still continue to create meeting spaces and cover the costs associated with volunteer work. We have also provided technical support to create tools (requested solutions for long-standing technical problems) for the most active volunteers.
The work to support the volunteer community with requested technical solutions has shifted focus to maintenance of previously developed tools due to competing priorities from externally funded projects coupled with a smaller developer staff than expected during the year.
Due to COVID-19, these efforts have however been hampered as the volunteer community has not been able organize events – for example the yearly Wikimedia camps we have organized had to be canceled. Still, other parts have been possible to move online, at least partly, e.g. the regular edit-a-thons hosted by some of the volunteers.
Expanding the community
To grow the community on the Wikimedia platforms, we are organizing a number of activities aimed at creating interest among groups of people who have yet to engage on our platforms, or around free knowledge in general.
We work to raise awareness of the Wikimedia projects in order for new participants to engage. When new participants start to contribute, we make sure to lower barriers and create an inclusive environment and to provide direct support in different forms.
Our cooperation with different organizations has been a cornerstone in achieving success in community growth. By involving the communities of our partners in our projects, some of their community members have joined the Wikimedia community in some capacity.
Both the WikiGap initiative and the Wiki Loves Earth and Wiki Loves Monuments contests have continued to be strong vehicles for engagement from new volunteers and we will continue to develop these concepts further.
The project Community support focuses on empowering Wikimedians who do great things and providing them with practical and financial support. One of the projects is a weekly podcast about Wikipedia, Wikipediapodden (in Swedish). Over 170 episodes have been published so far.
The chapter aims to be a relevant actor for years to come and is actively working towards building the organizational capacity needed for long term activities and commitments. We need to be a good employer, a strong partner, and a well functioning democratic and transparent membership organization with close cooperation with a strong volunteer community. The chapter is also intending to not be an isolated player but be actively involved in the international movement.
These intentions demand projects that are more long term oriented and strategic. The projects in this program therefore contribute only marginally to content production in a given year, but over time will ensure the success and sustainability of all our activities.
To be able to develop skills in relevant fields, board and staff members must be given the opportunity to develop their skills. More than half of the staff members have participated in different types of trainings in 2021, a few in multiple ones. The work with developing educational material for new volunteers and members to easier use our tools and join our projects has continued.
As Wikimedia Sverige intends to grow in the coming years we see a great need to ensure that we ongoingly identify and take notice of suitable board members, potential new staff members, and volunteers who have the capacity to take leadership roles in different initiatives. We are in the process of developing a more comprehensive set of training materials for both volunteers and staff. We are also planning for more internal capacity building with staff members where they can share their expertise with their colleagues.
As part of a global movement filled with innovative organizations and volunteers we believe that we have a lot to learn from others and are keen on ensuring that our staff, board and volunteers receive the possibility to meet, listen and discuss with representatives from around the world. As an organization, it is our responsibility to develop the infrastructure needed for this to take place effectively and at scale.
Ensuring that our work is transparent is core to how we plan our projects and day-to-day work. Transparency is inherently valuable as more people can give feedback, point out problems, suggest solutions and contribute in other ways. It allows other organizations to learn from our work and replicate what we do, and it also allows anyone interested in our organization to better understand us which makes it easier to join the work.
However, working in such a transparent manner is something that takes a bit of getting used to for new team members, new volunteers, consultants and external partners. It also comes with an increased cost to ensure that all documentation is understandable, summarized and presented in the different places where our members might expect to find it. Simply making materials available without ensuring that it is understandable is arguably a false transparency.
While acknowledging the issues, our conclusion is that the value of transparency is much higher and we are working to increase our transparency even further. The aim for transparency affects many of the choices regarding what tools we use and it is also something that has to be done while respecting privacy.
Quarterly reviews by the ED and COO have been instigated since 2020. During these reviews we ensure that all content has been uploaded and shared as planned and that the financial information etc. is up-to-date.
Improve organizational quality
For the chapter to continue to improve its quality and efficiency we worked to keep our broad and sustainable funding, with the aim of no donor exceeding 50%, and to find new financial options, including a long term increase in paid memberships and donations. We also aim to increase volunteer involvement which can help ensure high quality projects for a limited cost.
Our work to secure funding from external grants has continued in 2021 and we developed applications for several large grants.
Significant investments were made into establishing a donor-based fundraising model through different fundraising methods, such as Face2Face campaigns and social media campaigns.
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