Contacting external organisations
This page is a guideline intended to provide assistance and best practices for Wikimedia Australia members and supporters who are engaging, or seeking to engage, with external organisations. In pursuing our mission to facilitate and promote the creation and maintenance of free cultural works, Wikimedia Australia, and its members and supporters, are likely to have contact with representatives from a broad range of organisations, so developing and sharing best practices is a key process for the chapter and its members. Most contact between members and outside organisations will not be as official representatives or spokespersons for the chapter, but rather, will be informal and in a personal capacity. Those initiating contact with external organisations should always be careful to ensure that their contacts understand they do not speak as official representatives of Wikimedia Australia. If a member or supporter has a potential project which they would like to develop as an official chapter project, they should contact the committee (contactwikimedia.org.au) at the earliest opportunity.
Initiating contact is usually as simple as sending an email to a publicly listed contact of an organisation, and, if possible, suggesting a brief meeting at a mutually suitable time and place to discuss any desired outcomes. It is usually possible to find an appropriate contact or department at the target organisation on their website or by simply calling the organisation and asking to be put in touch with an appropriate person.
It's important to identify early on any "mission fit" between Wikimedia's mission and that of the external organisation. Most organisations have a relatively narrow focus and mission and a limited and restrictive budget, so don't overestimate or assume an alignment or fit with Wikimedia's mission.
It can be useful to move contact from generality to the specific, i.e. from a general introduction to a more specific proposal of possible projects or partnerships. However, it's important to remember that contacts are professionals with time and focus constraints and we don't want to create an appearance of playing games, manipulating, wasting time, or coming into a meeting with a hidden agenda, so if you have something specific in mind that you want from the contact or a particular project you are wanting to pursue, you should be honest and upfront.
This process can be easier if you have the opportunity to meet face-to-face or are able to arrange for a mutual contact to introduce you at a public meeting, conference or social event. If you have business cards, they can be useful and will remind the contact of you later and ensure they have your contact details. It can be beneficial to follow up with the contact by telephone or email after you've met, but be careful to present professionally and not to appear as though you are harassing the contact or otherwise being a pest. We need to be mindful of the line between showing the contact we are genuinely interested and keen on pursuing a project or partnership with their organisation and simply being a pest. Being dismissed as a nuisance or otherwise being seen as unprofessional will damage our image within the cultural sector and may result in the loss of opportunities, so its important engage with contacts in a professional and thoughtful manner.
The committee urges Wikimedia Australia's members and supporters to be active participants in the community, to engage with cultural organisations, institutions and other outside bodies, and to pursue ideas and projects that have an appropriate mission fit with Wikimedia Australia, the Wikimedia Foundation or its projects. The committee can provide support and assistance to members pursuing such work, however, it is important that members ensure that they are clear with their contacts that they do not represent the chapter and cannot speak in an official capacity or make any promises on behalf of Wikimedia Australia. If the organisation requires an official statement or official involvement, the member should contact the committee. The committee may, if appropriate, resolve to appoint a member as a chapter spokesperson for the purposes of a given project.
If initial contact has been made with an external organisation and there is an interest in pursuing a project as a Wikimedia Australia activity, the committee should be contacted by emailing committeewikimedia.org.au.
- Notes regarding some of the organisations some members have had contact with can be found on the workspace sub-page.
- If a member has a project they would like to discuss but they do not wish to discuss it publicly yet, they can contact the committee (committeewikimedia.org.au) for a confidential discussion.
- If an external organisation has a possible joint project they would like to propose, they are welcome to email the committee (committeewikimedia.org.au).