We are growing the free knowledge movement. We are looking for volunteer board Trustees to join us.
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides the essential infrastructure for free knowledge globally. We operate the world’s most collaborative project (including Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons & various other projects that are part of our multilingual, free-content Wikimedia family). We welcome anyone who shares our vision to join us in collecting and sharing knowledge that fully represents human diversity.
The Wikimedia Foundation has more than doubled in size in the last few years and has an operating budget of $100M+. Currently, a talented and passionate team of 500+ (60% building tech and products) is based in 40 countries across the globe.
280,000+ volunteer editors contribute monthly in over 300 languages. Many volunteers also participate through a vast affiliate network of (150+) chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups. There are over 75 million media files on Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. We are the world’s fifth most popular digital platform, providing free educational resources globally. 1.5 billion unique devices visit Wikimedia Foundation sites monthly.
The future of knowledge
The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia’s volunteer communities are actively evolving to face the challenges of our time, including by:
Investing in the overall health and diversity of volunteer communities to be more inclusive and globally representative
Curbing harassment by developing a universal code of conduct and building software to support community governance
Developing tools and programs to expand the quantity and diversity of Wikipedia content
Modernizing Wikipedia’s technology to meet the needs of the future
Advocating for policies that preserve user privacy, free expression, and the free exchange of knowledge online
Enhancing volunteers’ ability to combat disinformation with better resources and insights
Wikipedia, the world’s largest free online encyclopedia, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021. This birthday commemorates two decades of global efforts to support free knowledge, open collaboration, and trust on the internet. In a time when disinformation and polarization challenge our trust in information and institutions, Wikipedia is more relevant than ever.
Wikipedia operates under an expectation of significant transparency and public scrutiny, and within an increasingly complex and high risk environment around tech and policy regulation.
Externally, there are frequent efforts that threaten volunteers and are hostile toward Wikipedia’s mission. In parallel, changes in tech, data and multimedia continue to accelerate in response to how users consume information differently. Wikipedia is the only nonprofit top-50 global website, and while currently well-resourced, has just a fraction of the investment capacity of other tech platforms.
Internally, as the Wikimedia Foundation scales, and regularly onboards new colleagues and pushes others to evolve rapidly, it is also becoming more geographically dispersed. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the move to a virtual workforce, placing a premium on culture-building and connection.
For a leader willing to invest, being a steward of this vital organization could be the ride of a lifetime.
The structure of the board.
Right now, the Board is structured to hold a range of experiences and differing expertise:
three community-nominated volunteer seats,
two affiliate-nominated volunteer seats,
four appointed expert volunteer seats,
Jimmy Wales, the founder, retains a seat.
Community and affiliate-nominated members bring deep knowledge of our movement, but may not have previously participated in board governance with a global, enterprise-level platform and/or operating nonprofit. Members appointed by the Board bring subject-matter expertise and experience leading organizations at scale yet may know little about the culture and complexities of our movement.
Over the next year, the board of the Wikimedia Foundation will expand with the addition of three community-nominated volunteer seats and three appointed expert volunteer seats, as follows:
one community-nominated volunteer in 2021 with two to follow in 2022; and
one appointed expert volunteer in 2021 with two to follow in 2022.
The board’s role.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a multi-stakeholder ecosystem on the move. Trustees are vital stewards and partners. They play a role in shaping and approving our strategy, ensuring the appropriate use of resources in pursuit of our mission, and championing our vision, mission, and values within our communities and in public.
The Board’s role is to ensure fiduciary and strategic oversight of the Foundation, and advise, challenge, and support the Chief Executive Officer and leadership team without crossing into management.
Specific talent needs
To achieve Wikimedia 2030’s strategic objectives in an exponentially complex and rapidly evolving technological and social space, the Wikimedia Foundation is continuing to mature its operations, effectiveness and governance.
As an appointed expert volunteer Trustee, you will likely possess a strong combination of the following:
You are a mission- and values-driven leader with a deep commitment to sharing power and knowledge, as well as affecting global social change for a more just and open world. You embrace and promote diversity and equity in all dimensions. In addition, you:
Might belong or have belonged to a group that has faced historical discrimination and underrepresentation in structures of power
Might have lived for a significant period of time in emerging markets (specifically Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East) and communicated across teams, communities, networks and cultures to advance important goals
Will bring humility and openness about the Wikipedia ecosystem, and perhaps over time engage in volunteer editing
You bring experience:
In a leadership role, as an executive and/or Board member/Trustee, in which you’ve overseen complexity, growth and scale.
You bring subject-matter expertise in one of the following:
Enterprise-level platform technology and/or product development
Social data science, big data analysis, machine learning
Public policy and the law
Open Internet/free and open-source software
Human rights and social justice
Global movement building and community organization
Research and education
As a leader, you are a curious, critical thinker who is able to engage others across lines of difference. You bring a collaborative, diplomatic, patient and transparent style, with an ability to effectively adapt to a strong culture.
A Trustee’s commitment to serve
Trustees serve for three-year, renewable terms. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board convened four times per year in person at different locations around the world and three to six times online as necessary. In-person connection will hopefully resume, when safe and equitable. Whether in-person or online, meetings require coordination with members across the world and across time zones.
The overall time commitment for standard service is roughly 100-150 hours per year (not including travel). Trustees may additionally choose to dedicate time to one or more Board committees, supporting and providing counsel to the Chief Executive Officer and leadership team, or promoting the Wikimedia movement through speaking engagements and connecting with the Wikimedia communities.
Help us unlock the world’s knowledge.
As a nonprofit, Wikipedia and our related free knowledge projects are powered primarily through donations.