2019:Volunteer/Volunteer strategy

From Wikimania

The following was the volunteer strategy that Wikimedia Sverige used as guidance in its work with volunteers before and under Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm.

Aim[edit | edit source]

Volunteers bring added value to the conference. They make sure that everything runs smoothly before and during the conference days, they take part in the logistical preparations to make sure that everything is set on time, they welcome all participants to Stockholm and Sweden, and they take care of all those important details that the employees either cannot or do not have the time to do. They are needed in quantity, because the employees are too few to cover everything, and they are needed in quality, because they have or may have competences the employees lack.

Outcomes[edit | edit source]

  • Increased confidence in volunteers.
  • Greater diversity in the organisation.
  • New volunteers attracted to the community with Wikimania as incentive.
  • Use know-how and input from experienced volunteers.
  • Perform specified volunteer tasks.

Outputs[edit | edit source]

  • 50 volunteers involved
  • 50% of volunteers trained with CPR and first aid
  • 50% percent of volunteers stating a wish to continue voluntary work for Wikimedia in the future.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Roles for volunteers[edit | edit source]

One volunteer manager will be employed by Wikimedia Sverige, to:

– Plan for calls and outreach for volunteers to sign up.

– Recruit and confirm volunteers.

– Manage volunteer application process.

– Train volunteers.

– Assign volunteers to roles.

– Provide staffing needs plans.

– Manage volunteers on site, and work closely with program chair and WMF events manager.

A volunteer coordinator will be chosen, which is a volunteer role with the responsibility to:

– Coordinate volunteers, and take a leading role within the volunteering community.

– Coordinate the different tracks, communicate intensely with the leading volunteers of each track and make sure that there’s a working relationship between the volunteers of all levels.

– Reach out to the community in order to find volunteers and ambassadors and take a coordinating role when it comes to the spread of internal communication throughout the platforms.

– Exchange status and ideas with the volunteer manager.

– Make sure all volunteers feel welcome.

Four track coordinators will lead the volunteering work within each track, with the responsibility to:

– See the tasks specified in the volunteering plan performed.

– Communicate between the volunteers, the volunteer coordinator and the volunteer manager.

– Lead the work in each track.

– See to the needs of the volunteers of each track.

Four tracks:

Conference heroes

Conference heroes are volunteers that are present at the conference, and who perform all those small and big tasks that make the conference run smoothly. They are welcoming and happy, they take care of the participants and have a deep feeling of hospitality and they identify individually if there are problems to see to. They are social, logistical, problem-solving and can handle stress.


– Support speakers, documentation team and make sure that sessions are running smoothly in each room.

– Responsibility for accessibility and safety: knowledge of CPR, how to handle emergencies and answer safety related questions.

– Taking care of help / registration desk.

– Help to transport material, set up the venue, prepare the rooms.

– Make sure that partners, sponsors and participants feel welcome.

– Welcome people at the airport(s).

– Guide people to side events.

– Check attendees list if necessary, and make sure that people have left at the specified time.


A conference hero has at least one of the competences below:

– Good English skills.

– Good social skills and the wish to make sure that all participants, speakers, sponsors and partners feel welcome.

– Competence in logistical matters, both the possibility to work hard to set up the venue and to see logistical problems that have to be solved.

– Problem-solvers, able to identify, solve themselves or otherwise see to it that problems are solved.

– Capable to handle stressful situations.

– CPR certificate. Training will be provided on beforehand to make sure that a fair amount of the conference heroes are CPR-certified.

Communication experts

Communication experts are volunteers that communicate before, under and after Wikimania. They communicate internally, to find support for ideas, to explain what is happening and to spread information throughout the platforms. They take part in communication externally together with the Communications Team at the WMF and the PR Agency. They may update social medias, create graphics, write blog texts, identify Facebook groups and other social networks and in other ways increase outreach and impact of Wikimania.


– Spread important information throughout the platforms prior to and after the conference.

– Write blog posts and other written texts for identified platforms.

– Update social media platforms according to communications plan.

– Create graphics and other pieces of visual information to explain important information visually.

– Spread information about Wikimedia in relevant social networks with Wikimania as the example.


A communication expert has at least one of the competences below:

– Fluent knowledge in English, French or German and ideally more languages, along with good knowledge of the Wikimedia platforms internal structures.

– Good communication skills in text: the ability to quickly, with accuracy and fluency formulate texts for internal and external purpose.

– Graphical skills and the ability to explain complex ideas and outcomes in ways easy to understand.

– Good knowledge and experience of gaining momentum and attracting interest on Social Media platforms, including knowledge of how algorithms work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and experience of how to engage audiences without large ads budgets.


Ambassadors are key to informing Wikimedians about Wikimania, and spreading the outcomes. They do not need to be on site, but can work from wherever they are situated in the world. They help translate pages, spread ideas and discussions, and implement any ideas or changes in their respective local communities.


– Translating pages.

– Initiating discussions in local communities.


An ambassador has at least one of the competences below:

– Good knowledge in languages other than English.

– Engagement in and knowledge of different Wikimedia- and related communities.

Knowledge savers

Knowledge savers document Wikimania and make sure that all the great ideas survive and can be spread after the conference. They record, film and make sure that there are online written documentation available.


– Filming and recording speeches, seminars and workshops (where adequate).

– Taking photos and other kinds of memories from Wikimania.

– Preparing and managing online written documentation (Wikipages, pads, etc.)


A knowledge saver has at least one of the competences below:

– Good English skills.

– Good audio and video skills.

– Experience in conference documentation.

  • The amount of volunteers needed will be known from quantifying the needs over time.

Attracting volunteers[edit | edit source]

Where do we find volunteers?

Where there are already active volunteers

Many organizations have volunteers that are already trained and competent. We reach out to this kind of organizations, and ask if they have people who would be willing to help out. We can give certificates and other benefits (like an interesting community) in exchange. This kind of organizations include:

– Scout organizations

– Student unions

– Gymnasium classes we have worked with

– People involved in WikiGap and WikiDivCon

Advertisements where people are active

We communicate externally to find people who wouldn’t otherwise volunteer with us. The ads can be straightforward towards a specific task, or more general, showing the excitement of being a Wikimania volunteer.

– Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

– Our webpage

– Volontärbyrån.se and similar websites.

Physical posters in areas with many students.

Where there are specific competences

If we identify specific competences we lack, we can map organizations that are working with these kinds of competences. It might be the task to drive people who cannot walk far between side events, or to make graphical illustrations. Either way, there are places where people know these kinds of things, and we can put the questions directly there.

– Bilkåristerna

– Berghs

– The universities’ different faculty meeting rooms.

The wikiverse

We make calls within the Wikimedia Movement to find people who are already in the community and who would like to help out. This includes directly contacting people who have volunteered with us earlier, like at the WikiDivCon.

How do we attract them?

– By clear statement of need: clearly stating why the job is important and what will happen if no one does it.

– By explaining benefits to the community: what the work will accomplish and how it will benefit the conference.

– By making clear what volunteers will get in return: diplomas, efforts to show official gratitude for the volunteer work, experience, new friends.

– Statement of inclusivity of organisation and volunteering programme and why we believe this.

How do we select them?

All volunteers have to treat each other and the participants with respect, be sure to work hard to fulfill their goals and strive towards a better conference. In order to include volunteers we think are suitable, we will use an application form that the volunteers will fill out, after which a selection process will take place. The volunteers exempted from this process are the volunteers handpicked in order to perform certain tasks, such as the program- and scholarship committee chairs, the volunteer coordinator and the track coordinators.

The application form could be in the form of a Google form or similarly, and should address what areas of interest the potential volunteer has, how many hours the volunteer could commit, former experiences and a clearly stated wish to fulfill the friendly space policies, security policies, policies on how to treat data and other relevant policies. All volunteers have to be guaranteed to be suitable.

The application form should be spread according to the proposals in the “Where do we find volunteers?” section.

In the process of selecting volunteers, the following should be involved: the volunteer manager, the volunteer coordinator, the track coordinators (for their specific tracks) and the WMF Wikimania conference manager. The Wikimania Conference Managers should have the final say.

How do we make sure it is diverse?

– By identifying groups and individuals that are not represented and reach out to those people.

– By identifying skills and experiences that are missing and map where those can be found.

– By working to reach out to people who would normally fall outside of the volunteering group.

Supporting volunteers[edit | edit source]


In order for volunteers to feel welcomed, appreciated and that they are not alone in sometimes hectic roles, support within the volunteer community is essential. Support can happen on several levels: within each track, among all volunteers and between individuals volunteers.

– It is essential that all track coordinators feel a personal responsibility toward supporting volunteers within their track, and that they create an environment of peer support within their track, so that not only the track coordinator but all volunteers support each other.

– In the case a volunteer within a track is more experienced than another, the track coordinator can establish mentorship connections therebetween.

– The most important role for proper support is the track coordinator, even though the volunteer coordinator and volunteer manager at certain occasions should give overt support to all volunteers, or specific volunteers who have either performed important/unexpected/tough tasks.


– A supervision plan should be drafted, for all volunteers to feel that they have had proper personal feedback.

– Feedback should be given from the volunteer manager to the volunteer coordinator, from the volunteer coordinator to the track coordinators and from the track coordinators to the volunteers.

– Supervision can take place on a personal level, or from the track coordinators to the combined volunteers within that track.

– The supervision should be appreciating and encouraging, focus on general positive remarks and discussions concerning the work in relation to fulfilment of the stated goals.


– All volunteers should feel that their volunteer role have been developing, that they have gained experience and skills.

– Volunteers within each track should see the track also as a peer learning group, a group of volunteers to learn and to learn from. Track coordinators can provide action learning sets if feasible.

– Some volunteering roles will need training activities from external providers, which cost Wikimedia should pay. This includes the certification of conference heroes of CPR.

– Webinars or recorded talks should be made before volunteering begins to spread knowledge and explain things of importance to the volunteers.

– The tasks in them self should be developing. The roles should be designed in a way that the volunteers:

  1. Feel ownership over the roles.
  2. Have the authority to think; volunteers should be able to decide how they want to perform different tasks from the goals they are given.
  3. Feel a responsibility for results. Set objectives within each role giving the volunteers targets to aim for.
  4. Can self-evaluate. Involve volunteers in setting measurable targets, and let them reflect over their own work.


– All volunteers receive a regular, verbal thank you from the volunteer manager.

– The track coordinators make sure volunteers get meaningful, personal feedback, and the volunteer coordinator push the track coordinator to do so; in turn the track coordinators get meaningful, personal feedback from the volunteer coordinator, who in final turn gets the same from the volunteer manager.

– Volunteers of different roles should, when relevant, be included in staff events and team meetings. They should feel involved and included.

– To the extent it is possible, volunteers should be consulted on project design and development. When volunteers are included in the designs, they feel a higher degree of ownership over their roles.

The final degree of recognition, not the least for outstanding performances, should take place at strategic level within the organization, at the ED, president etc.


– A core part within the official celebration is an official thank you from the Executive Director or from the Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation at the end of the conference. This has to be performed, and it should be directed towards all volunteers, including those not in Stockholm, for their outstanding work.

– An official volunteer photo should be taken of the volunteers present in Stockholm, showing who was a volunteer and the volunteer community as an important group in itself. A video could be made with volunteers who would like to, explaining why they enjoyed being volunteers for Wikimania.

– A volunteer network could be created, resulting in a privileged group of volunteers.

– All volunteers present in Stockholm should be invited to a final volunteer reception.


– Retention should be viewed as a combination of above factors. Volunteers who have had appropriate support and supervision, who feel they have developed as part of their volunteering, who have been properly recognized and celebrated, are likely to feel like they can come back and volunteer another time, if they have the possibility.

Safety and wellbeing of volunteers[edit | edit source]

Several measures have to be taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the volunteers. These include:

– A policy regarding insurances of the volunteers. What tasks will the volunteers perform, and what insurances are needed to cover this? Make sure that you know whether all volunteers have insurances covering this, and decide otherwise whether 1) you change the roles of specific volunteers 2) pay for the extra insurance.

– Make a risk-assessment of the tasks that will be carried out, and take measures to mitigate against risk where possible.

– Incorporate friendly space policies etc. into the work with volunteers to make sure that all volunteers treat each other accordingly, and that all volunteers treat the attendees accordingly. Implement policies that make sure that all volunteers behave safely and are kept safe.

– Hence, see to it that there are structures to ensure that all attendees and volunteers, including vulnerable ones, are safeguarded.

– Make sure that all the volunteers know about their data protection rights, what data you have on them and why.

Further, make sure that all volunteers know how they should treat any data they come across during the course of their work.

– Look through all existing policies and see how they relate to the question of volunteer safety.

– By making sure the point about supporting volunteers is covered, at a higher level, make it an imperative that all volunteers feel well in their respective roles.

Evaluation plan[edit | edit source]

Wikimania 2019 is the first time Wikimedia Sverige is strategically and long term working with using, attracting and developing volunteers on a larger scale. The strategy, including the retention of the volunteers, will be carefully evaluated through a case study looking into how the work with volunteers during Wikimania worked according to the strategy, leaving recommendations for future voluntary work within the chapter and the movement as a whole.

The application form should furthermore mention that the email addresses registered will be used in order to send an evaluation form to the volunteers after the event. The evaluation form will be combined with the case study to further conclude the voluntary work.