How NOT to run your organization into the ground: lessons from Wikimedia Philippines for open source

Accepted Session
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Scheduled: Thursday, June 23, 2016 from 1:30 – 2:15pm in B204


Running a tech non-profit, especially in open source, is a lot of work. So much work, in fact, that in my six years as part of Wikimedia Philippines, I will admit to one of my biggest secrets: I have run my organization into the ground. Luckily for us, however, we've been really fortunate to be able to rebuild the organization from the ground up. Here's some of the lessons we've learned over the course of that process, and how you can avoid making the mistakes we made as you either form or build your own organization.


When Wikimedia Philippines was established in 2010, we had very lofty goals for ourselves. We wanted to change the world, one edit at a time, and empower people in our country (and, of course, in other countries too) to contribute to one of the biggest open source movements there was.

But of course, over the last six years, we’ve realized that things don’t always work out the way you want them to. In our case, we ran our organization into the ground despite running some very successful projects. Luckily for us, we’re picking up the pieces and moving forward.

Running a non-profit organization, especially in open source, is no easy feat. It takes a lot of skill and dedication, and more importantly it’s a process of maturation. In this presentation, we’ll look at what we did wrongly at Wikimedia Philippines (examples include not keeping up with local legislation and not motivating volunteers enough), what we’re doing to help fix these problems (through our action plan), and how your organization can avoid facing the same problems we did and dealing with them. Because when it comes to building effective, sustainable tech non-profits, we have to make sure we know what we’re doing so we can continue serving our communities well.


Wikipedia, Wikimedia, running organizations, non-profits

Speaking experience

I have delivered presentations at Open Source Bridge three times now:

* "Sharing Beyond 'Sharing': Fostering an Open Sharing Culture in the Philippines" ( in 2013
* "The Promise of Collaborative Magic" ( in 2014
* "Why Relationships Matter in Community Building: Experiences from the Philippine Cultural Heritage Mapping Project" ( in 2015

I have also previously presented at Wikimania 2011, 2013 and 2015, and I was likewise part of a panel discussion during Wikimania 2010. I was also a competitive debater in my spare time, having participated in various debating competitions, public speaking contests and the like throughout high school and college.


  • Wikimedia conference 2013 portrait 092

    Josh Lim

    Wikimedia Philippines


    Josh Lim is currently a community manager at Happy Team Check, a Polish HR startup. He is also a longtime Wikipedia editor, having edited since April 2005, and is currently the President of Wikimedia Philippines, the Philippine local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.

    Since 2011, he has taken interest in analyzing social relations on the Wikimedia projects (and, since then, with online communities and Internet research in general), and hopes that he can contribute something meaningful to the discipline somehow.


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