Non-board committees

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Historical
This page is kept as an archival reference.
If you want to raise a point about it, please start a discussion thread on the community forum.

Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do at WMUK, and our non-board committees provide an excellent opportunity for members with enthusiasm and drive to make a real impact.

To ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction and that committees remain closely focused on our Strategic goals, we need to have a few ground rules. This page sets out the charter under which our non-board committees operate.

Constitution[edit | edit source]

Non-board Committees ("Committees") are established by the Board of Wikimedia UK ("the Board"). As described at Committees, they are special-interest committees that include non-trustee (volunteer) members. They are advisory and operational groups and have no formal delegated powers from the Board under Article 21.

Purpose[edit | edit source]

The general aims of the Committees are:

  • To help ensure that volunteers remain at the heart of what we do, and to ensure that volunteers feel empowered to take a leading role in the charity's work
  • To engage and support our community, and to encourage and develop volunteer participation
  • To act as a bridge between volunteers, staff and trustees and to provide opportunities for individuals from these groups to work together towards our shared goals
  • To develop and grow our network of contacts and volunteers
  • To provide advice to the Chief Executive on the alignment of the charity's work and its agreed strategy
  • To make a significant contribution to the charity's evaluation of current and proposed programmes against our Strategic goals. In particular, Committees are encouraged to evaluate the potential of programmes to provide a high level of impact given the resources (including volunteer, staff and trustee time as well as direct costs) that may be required
  • To act as a focal point for working groups for specific programmes
  • To provide a semi-formal channel of communication between volunteers and the Chief Executive and Board, and to ensure that the Chief Executive and the Board are informed about work that is in progress.

Remit[edit | edit source]

Each Committee shall define its own specific remit, which must be consistent with this charter. Remits must be defined in writing and are subject to Board ratification.

Membership[edit | edit source]

  • Membership of Committees shall be restricted to volunteers who are members of Wikimedia UK, and to staff and trustees. Each Committee shall include at least one trustee and at least one member of staff (in this context, 'staff' includes paid contractors)
  • Committees shall determine their own membership, but shall ensure that they consist of at least 5 and no more than 13 members
  • Members of a Committee act as members in their own right, and not as delegates of any group
  • Committee officer roles, including the position of Chair, are for the Committee itself to determine. It is recommended that each Committee should appoint a permanent Chair to organise and conduct meetings, but that is not mandatory. Other options such as a rotating Chair are allowed provided that the Committee remains active and effective. The position of Chair should normally be taken by a volunteer, but may temporarily be held by a staff member or trustee should no volunteer be available.

What Committees are not[edit | edit source]

There are a few things Committees are not:

  • They are not part of the management structure of the charity, and accordingly are not empowered to instruct staff or contractors
  • They do not have power to spend the charity's funds, though they may (and are encouraged to) recommend expenditure to the Chief Executive where appropriate
  • They are not primarily decision-making bodies, and their role with regard to strategic alignment is to advise rather than to decide. However, in their operational role as focal points for working groups Committees are encouraged to do what is needed to facilitate work on the ground and simply to 'get things done', and of course that implies some level of operational decision-making
  • They are not exclusive structures, in the sense that they do not and cannot constrain the broader work that volunteers and staff do. Volunteers are never required to work within a Committee environment (and indeed volunteers who prefer not to be not members of Wikimedia UK are not easily able to do so). Committees may not attempt to control volunteers or ad hoc working groups that prefer to remain outside the formal Committee structure.

Meetings[edit | edit source]

  • Committees shall meet at least every 3 months either in-person or virtually, and shall meet in-person at least once a year
  • Any decision-making mechanism is for the Committee itself to determine, except that no non-member shall be permitted to vote or to take part in any decision
  • To comply with our commitment to transparency, Committee meetings shall normally be public, but the Committee may hold limited sessions in camera should that that be absolutely necessary. In camera sessions shall be open to all members of the Committee; private subgroups are not permitted
  • Meetings shall be minuted, and the minutes made public (apart from in camera sessions)
  • Attendance of non-Committee members at the Committee's meetings, and the ability of non-members to participate in discussion, shall be at the discretion of the Committee's Chair for the time being. The Chief Executive shall nevertheless have the right to attend and speak at any meeting.

Office support[edit | edit source]

The Wikimedia UK office shall provide secretarial support for a Committee if requested to do so.

Communication and documentation[edit | edit source]

Each Committee shall:

  • Establish and keep up to date a Committee page or set of pages on Wikimedia UK's public wiki, to include the following information:
    • The agreed remit of the Committee
    • A list of members (by real name or Wikimedia username if preferred)
    • Links to the minutes of previous meetings
  • Provide a quarterly written report to the Chief Executive, in an agreed format, at least three weeks before each Board meeting to enable the Chief Executive to report to the Board. The report shall preferably be prepared by a volunteer (for example by the Committee Chair), but if no volunteer is able or willing to do so, it may be prepared by a staff member
  • Establish and maintain one or more public mailing lists using a wikimedia.org.uk address. List membership and archives shall normally be open, with list membership not being restricted solely to Committee members, nor solely to members of the charity. Day to day control of the list shall vest with the Committee, but at least one of the list admins shall be a member of staff. The Chief Executive shall have the power to intervene (for example by excluding someone from list membership) if necessary.

Power of the Board[edit | edit source]

The Board shall have the power to authorise a variation to or derogation from any of the terms of this charter at the request of a Committee that can demonstrate a need.

Under normal circumstances, the Board prefers that all Committees should be volunteer-led, and will not interfere with day to day Committee activities. However, the Board does have a legal duty to protect the charity, to ensure that activities carried on under its auspices are within our charitable objects, and that charity resources are being effectively used to advance our mission. Accordingly, the Board retains the power in exceptional circumstances to direct a Committee to take any step that the Board deems necessary. Should a Committee fail over an extended period to perform a useful role, the Board may at its discretion close it down.

See also[edit | edit source]

A previous proposal[edit | edit source]