Terms of Reference (TORs) for Core Group Members

From KM4Dev Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Final 28 October 2011 Prepared by KM4Dev Core Group


This wiki page sets out simple Terms of Reference (TOR) for KM4Dev community members who are volunteering or thinking of volunteering to be members of the Core Group. The aim of the ToR is to clarify the role of a core group member and to recruit more people into an active leadership role. It is a potentially a valuable professional development opportunity, a way to develop your knowledge management capabilities, and a chance to network and deepen friendships within KM4Dev.

If you are interested in joining the core group or volunteering for a specific activity, then add your name to the volunteer list or simply email contact[AT]km4dev.org to put your name forward.

Note that you don't have to be on the core group to be an active member of KM4Dev! You can still take initiatives, volunteer to take the lead, and jump into conversations whether you are on the core group or not.


The purpose of the KM4Dev Core Group is that members contribute their time and energy towards supporting the needs of KM4Dev members and building the community. These TORs add practical advice on how to do this.

The core group was created in May 2004 for these reasons: “KM4Dev is largely a volunteer effort. As we grew, it became clear that we needed some sort of governance group to support the community and help respond to its needs." (See history of the Core Group)

Currently the core group members communicate via a Dgroup (km4devcoregroup[AT]dgroups.org) and documents its meetings in this wiki. There are 19 community members acting in a voluntary capacity as a steering committee for KM4Dev.

Approach to Volunteering for the Core Group

To make being a Core Group Member as enjoyable and stress free as possible we encourage each other to:

  • Communicate with the whole Core Group about what we are doing through the different communication channels of KM4Dev (e.g. DGroups, Ning, Wiki, Twitter, Del.icio.us, Flickr, Blip TV, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, KM4D journal, SIWA and SA-GE)
  • Add notes to relevant pages of the KM4Dev Wiki (e.g. the Shared Facilitation Planning Page Discussion Tab)
  • Participate in the Core Group Dgroup - km4devcoregroup[AT]dgroups.org
  • Check our commitments in the Core Group Activities Doodle (being set up) and negotiate and record a swap of tasks in good time if we are under pressure of work / home
  • Acknowledge Core Group Emails even if just to say "Hi & Thanks" so we can all feel the hug of belonging
  • Unless we have a Core Group Buddy, ask for help on tasks through email to the Core Group Dgroup rather than to individual members as we are all learning and sharing helps us feel in it together
  • Check the list of issues planned for future Core Group discussion
  • If we have new ideas / passions that would meet our shared purpose, but can't find time to initiate them - suggest them through email to the Core Group Dgroup
  • Consider being a Core Group member for 1-2 years with the option to renew or defer further membership after that

Responsibilities of Each Member

Responsibilities of Core Group members include:

  • Actively participate in the Core Group email conversations or ask for help when falling behind (in other words, stay engaged somehow). This ensures that the Core Group has a common level of awareness of issues and opportunities in the community month to month
  • Input 5-6 days per year across some or all of the activities in the table below to ensure that the Core Group Purpose of supporting the needs of KM4Dev members and building the community is achieved
  • Attend at least three Core Group online discussions per year and, ideally, one face-to-face meeting. This ensures that decisions on governance, funding and strategy are taken collectively and acted upon
  • Feel responsible and share leadership for the group

Activities and Outcomes

Each Core Group Member volunteers their time each year across some of the following activities. Volunteering activities are agreed collectively within the Core Group to ensure that each activity is being supported by several members. To ensure flexibility Core Group activities can be varied or added to by collective agreement of the Core Group. The following table is a guideline and a basis for on-going adjustment according to the needs of the community and the capabilities of the core group.

Outcomes for the KM4Dev Community
1. Manage the KM4Dev Dgroup List / Ning / Wiki for a month, with one other person, two times per year (n.b. if you haven't done this before ask for a buddy). Check the roster of list managers [1]
A functional, integrated and friendly KM4Dev mailing list/ NING/ Wiki. Nb managing the SA-GE and SIWA groups also counts for this activity.
2. Run or facilitate at least one conversation, preferably over one period of 1-3 weeks and ensure there is a summary of that discussion on the wiki
Vibrant and beneficial mailing list discussions - leading to summaries / community notes
3. Manage the Core Group Activities Doodle
Volunteering for Core Group Activities is coordinated and acknowledged
4. Prepare and facilitate annual face-to-face community gatherings (n.b. essential to build trust, cohesion and resilience of the community)
Logistics and content in place for sociable and effective annual face to face KM4Dev Community Gatherings
5. Collaborate in grant-funded projects with other community members
Community members delivering grant funded projects benefit from mentoring and motivation from Core Group Members
6. Ensure there is a management structure to deliver agreements with external funding agents, and that any Grant Project Steering group is monitored in their role of taking ultimate responsibility for grant decisions (i.e. raising red flags if the GPS is not performing).
Community members and donor staff running the Grant Project Steering Group are supported in fulfilling their obligations.

Collective Responsibilities of the Core Group

  • Make six-monthly check-ins with those who appear to be struggling to meet commitments and ask what would help
  • Provide Buddies for new Core Group Members for first three months while they and the Core Group explore volunteering and formalise the commitment
  • Recognise different capabilities of Core Group members and encourage each other to build on these through our volunteering (e.g. openness to new ways of achieving our purpose)
  • Recognise the different volunteering capacity of members month to month within their annual commitment of time to the Core Group (e.g. actively promote discussions about how to balance responsibilities individually and as a group in reference to the Sign-up Grid)
  • Reflect on the experience of volunteering on the Core Group, on the wiki

Management and reporting

The Core Group is a self-managing and participatory collective of volunteers. This means that we all need to look out for each other, keep our responsibilities in view and learn as we go. This is harder than having a pyramid of authority but is in keeping with our values as a community.

The Core Group reports to the whole membership of the KM4Dev Community (which includes current, future and past Core Group members) to whom it is accountable. It does this by publicly documenting its activities and transparently communicating key discussions and decisions with the whole membership.

Time frame

The Core Group is a permanent feature of the KM4Dev Community and does not have a time-bound mandate or fixed pattern of work (unless the Community decides otherwise). For the sake of coordination, activities of the Core Group will be reflected upon and planned within annual cycles [with each cycle starting in April each year]. Volunteer contributions will be offered, logged and briefly reported about to the KM4Dev email list on a monthly basis.


The minimum input of 5-6 days by each Core Group Member over a year across a sub-set of objectives is voluntary and no monetary benefit is provided. But money can’t buy you love and we do offer that!