Meeting:2012 AGM/Candidates/Craig Franklin

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About Me

My name is Craig Franklin, and I edit the Wikimedia projects under the username “Lankiveil”. I have been the Treasurer of Wikimedia Australia since 9 September 2010.

As Treasurer

In preparing this statement, I have looked back at the candidacy statement that I initially made the first time I ran for the position. My priorities at the time included procuring an accounting software package for the chapter, moving to an accrual based system, and having independent audits of the chapter’s financial affairs conducted on an annual basis. These three goals have now been realised;

  • We finally said goodbye last year to my manual entry Excel worksheets, and are now using a financial software package called Xero for financial data, leading to easier and more accurate bookkeeping;
  • For the first time this year we will be presenting an audited set of accounts in the Treasurer’s report; and
  • We have moved away from cash accounting to accrual accounting. This has allowed us to do things like register for GST, which has resulted in considerable savings to the chapter through tax refunds, which would otherwise have been difficult or impossible.

I have also been privileged to be able to develop positive working relationships with my counterparts in other chapters and in the WMF, particularly in the GAC and FDC, which will be important bodies in the future when it comes to securing funding for the chapter’s activities. If re-elected, my positive relationship with these key people will prove a significant asset to the chapter.

In addition to the above, I’ve also been heavily involved in leading the process around developing and implementing Wikimedia Australia’s strategic plan. With that said, I believe that not everything has gone as well as I’d have liked, and that there is room for improvement. That is why, if elected, I will:

  • Look to implement significant reform in the way that we assess and award support to volunteers. Sometimes our existing system works well, but sometimes requests for assistance get lost or stuck somewhere in the process. I would like to simplify the process for applying, minimise the amount of contact points involved (for instance, it has been a perennial problem that receipts get lost between the volunteer and the committee), and set and report KPIs around committee responsiveness.
  • Continue to push for higher standards when it comes to making sure that our projects align to the standards set out in the chapter’s strategic plan, and have goals that can be measured and are consistently reported on. There has been some improvement on this in the previous term, but this improvement has been uneven and there is still a long way to go.
  • Look at establishing consistent procurement policies for things like travel and accommodation, so that volunteers requesting support are aware of the upper limits of support that the chapter is willing to offer. Again, there has been some movement towards this over the past twelve months by using the ATO per diem rates for some expenses and programmes, but I would like to see this applied across the board (except in exceptional cases).

On the FDC

The Wikimedia Foundation has recently made changes to the way that funds raised through Wikimedia projects are disbursed, and have established a Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) to analyse chapters plans and distribute money accordingly. I have been an advocate for and involved with the FDC since its inception, having a lengthy interview with Bridgespan Consulting (the firm that the Foundation hired to design the process), and providing feedback throughout the entire process. I’m optimistic that this process will reduce a lot of the tension in the movement over how money is allocated, and in my dealings with the various people involved with the FDC I've been encouraged by their desire to make sure that the movement flourishes throughout the world.

Quite clearly, the response to our Annual Plan has not been as positive as we’d hoped. In hindsight, there are things that we could have done better, a *lot* better, in how we put the plan together. I offer no excuses for this, but we have taken the feedback provided to us by the FDC to heart and made improvements to the plan to put offer more detail and better illustrate the plan’s fit to the Foundation’s strategic goals. This process is ongoing. Some of the feedback made publically relates to chapter leadership stability, and I believe that replacing the Treasurer would not inspire the FDC’s confidence in this context.

I’m not expecting that we’ll get all the money from the FDC that we asked for, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get enough to increase the chapter’s capacity to manage itself and do better next time around.

As a member of the committee

While the bulk of my time has been spent working on financial matters, I have also had time to occasionally work on content and outreach work. Some of the highlights include:

  • The mass donation of public domain images by the State Library of Queensland for upload to Commons
  • The chapter’s regional workshops programme, which this year took me to Gympie, Hervey Bay and Esk to present workshops to help enthusiastic newbies write their first articles. I have also been laying the groundwork for extending this program across New South Wales in 2013, as well as holding further events in Queensland
  • Attending events to help Australian Paralympic Committee officials and former Paralympic athletes to improve the coverage of sports for the disabled in Australia
  • Representing the chapter in the media, including newspapers and on radio, and talking to GLAM institutes across the country about what Wikimedia is and what we do (and that they should not be afraid of us!)

Going forward, I would like to see the good work that the chapter has done expanded upon further. In particular, I’d like to:

  • It is absolutely vital that this year the chapter professionalises by getting that first staff member in place. Quite aside from improving communication with members and stakeholders, having someone on the clock taking over the day-to-day management of the chapter will allow the committee volunteers to step back and move to an oversight role, and allow them to spend more time doing what they’re really good at, which is doing actual project work.
  • Rather than concentrate on a small number of expensive projects that involve a small number of lucky volunteers flying around the country to create content, I’d like to concentrate on having more low cost but high impact grassroots events. Events like the recent classical music workshop in Sydney are an excellent example of what can be achieved with a few dollars, some advertising, and a bit of spare time. If we could hold a hundred such events over a year, we’d get a phenomenal amount of work done in terms of both new editors and content created for a very minimal cost.
  • Look at training for members of the committee that might assist them in functioning more effectively in their roles. All of us are accomplished content creators, but often those skills don’t translate particularly well into running an organisation, and all the paperwork and drudgery that can involve. Hopefully this will also go some way to addressing the burnout issues that the committee has faced since the chapter was founded.
  • One of the proposed rule changes being offered at this year’s AGM is to increase the number of ordinary committee members from two to four. I strongly support this idea. I would like to investigate the possibility of appointing from those ordinary members an Assistant Treasurer and Assistant Secretary to take some of the load off the officers and provide extra points of contact for financial and administrative matters. Should this rule change be adopted and approved by CAV, I affirm that I would vote to first offer the extra seats to the third and fourth placegetters in the ordinary committee election.

Finally, I can appreciate that of late the atmosphere in the chapter has become somewhat tense. This is not a good thing, and I find it upsetting and disappointing that a lot of time is being wasted squabbling rather than working together to solve the problems we face. I would like to affirm that I believe I can work harmoniously and constructively with anyone that the members of the association see fit to elect to the committee. If you are planning to give your vote to the other candidate for the Treasurer role, I hope that you will consider giving me your vote for an ordinary committee member instead, to provide some continuity and stability to the organisation.