Funds Dissemination Committee/Draft FDC Proposal for the Board/FAQs
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Frequently Asked Questions
FDC Framework Development Process
Roles and Responsibilities
- Why does the FDC’s recommendation have to be approved by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees?
- Why have full-time staff support the funds dissemination process? What is the role of these staff members?
- Why was the decision made to house FDC staff at the Foundation? How can these staff members remain impartial in reviewing proposals?
Eligibility for the FDC
- How will entities know if they are eligible to receive funds from the FDC?
- Why are there eligibility requirements for those applying for funds via the FDC? Aren't the eligibility requirements biased against start up entities and smaller chapters?
- Why is effective reporting an important eligibility criterion?
- What is the relationship between the FDC and the Wikimedia Foundation Grants Program? Can entities apply for funds from both?
The Application Process
- The Board sets aside an allocation for “core operations” at the Foundation. What is the definition of “core operations”?
- Why does the FDC provide annual funds rather than multi-year grants?
- Why must entities submit a letter of intent prior to their funds request?
- What was the rationale behind the timing of FDC review cycles?
- Given that Wikimedia is a global movement, why must applications be submitted in English? Why does the onus for translation rest with the funds-seeking entity?
Application Evaluation and Approval
- How will the FDC develop its recommendation to the WMF Board? Will the FDC develop a recommendation on individual applications or forward one slate recommendation to the WMF Board?
Community Involvement in the FDC
- What was the rationale for a two year term for FDC members?
- Given the effort and time commitment required from FDC members, why are they not compensated for their efforts?
- Why will the FDC be made up of a mix of elected and Board appointed members?
- Why does the inaugural FDC have only seven members, and why will all of them be board-appointed?
FDC Framework Development Process
What was the process for developing the FDC Framework? Who was involved?
- In late 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation began considering the creation of a Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) to help make decisions about how to allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy. This was part of a broader discussion about fundraising and funds dissemination led by Sue Gardner, which resulted in recommendations she made to the Wikimedia Board of Trustees in March 2012.
- During the Wikimedia Conference 2012 in Berlin, the Board of Trustees resolved to create the FDC as a body that would advise the Board on how to divide and disseminate movement funds between the different movement groups, including the Foundation itself, on a no entitlement basis. The Board of Trustees requested that Sue submit a recommendation for the design of the Funds Dissemination Committee by June 30, 2012.
- A draft of this recommendation was publicly developed on Meta and there was robust conversation from various members of the Wikimedia community. An FDC Advisory Group, comprised of individuals from across the community as well as several external experts was established to guide the development of a recommendation.
- Additionally, the Bridgespan Group, the nonprofit consulting firm that supported Wikimedia’s strategic planning process helped to facilitate and consult on the process.
Roles and Responsibilities
Why does the FDC’s recommendation have to be approved by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees?
- By law, the WMF Board has the ultimate fiduciary responsibility for funds raised via the Wikimedia projects and by the Wikimedia Foundation, and, therefore, must have ultimate authority over the funds allocation process.
- The FDC is an advisory committee of the WMF Board that serves at its discretion.
- Please see the role of the WMF Board of Trustees for more information.
Why have full-time staff support the funds dissemination process? What is the role of these staff members?
- Members of the FDC will be volunteers with limited time and capacity to dedicate to the role, therefore, FDC staff will support the process to enable the FDC members to focus on their decision making function rather than analysis and administration.
- We anticipate the need for 1.5-2 FDC resources, in addition, other WMF staff (e.g., Finance and Administration and Legal and Community Advocacy) will support the FDC in specific functions.
- Staff will be responsible for coordinating the application process, reviewing proposals to provide analysis for the FDC on the likely impact of the fund seeker's plan and ability of the fund seeker to execute its plan, conducting due diligence (e.g., ensuring funds compliance with laws and regulations), and completing other work to support the FDC in developing and presenting a recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
- If interested in learning more, visit the role of FDC staff section of the framework for the creation of the FDC.
Why was the decision made to house FDC staff at the Foundation? How can these staff members remain impartial while reviewing proposals?
- It is valuable for FDC staff to be connected with the Foundation (vs. serve as consultants without the resources and expertise of a larger organization) for efficiency and practicality as well to facilitate learning between WMF staff supporting the FDC and those supporting other grant-making processes.
- Special care and safeguards will be put in place (e.g., an annual review of the effectiveness of FDC overall by the WMF Board, with input from FDC fund-seekers and the broader Wikimedia community) to ensure staff are effective and impartial.
- Extra special care will go into the handling of the WMF non-core budget request to the FDC
- The FDC will generally operate in a transparent manner that will place an additional check on the staff process.
Eligibility for the FDC
How will entities know if they are eligible to receive funds from the FDC?
- In general, once a fund-seeking entity has published an on-wiki a Letter of Intent to apply for funds, WMF staff will conduct a review to determine whether entities are eligible based on the established criteria. WMF staff will inform entities of their eligibility status and will work with entities who are out of compliance to develop a plan to come into compliance. In some cases, WMF staff may indicate that ineligible entities are so far out of compliance that they will not be allowed to apply for funds, while others may be allowed to apply as long as they are showing progress on their compliance plan.
- Prior to submitting their Letter of Intent, entities should familiarize themselves with the requirements for eligibility.
- Entities that will request funds in the very first round (funds to be disbursed January 15, 2013) will not be expected to submit a Letter of Intent. WMF staff are reviewing all potentially eligible entities, regardless of whether they have affirmatively stated that they want to seek funds. A list of eligible entities and those entities that are out of compliance will be posted by July 19, 2012 and entities that are out of compliance will receive information from WMF staff to develop a plan to come into compliance, should they choose to apply for funds through the FDC process.
Why are there eligibility requirements for those applying for funds via the FDC? Aren't the eligibility requirements biased against start up entities and smaller chapters?
- The eligible entities criteria are meant to ensure that the FDC, which will be time constrained, will address only a limited and pre-vetted applications from organizations that have an existing track record of using funds effectively and meeting obligations.
- Entities that do not meet these requirements or would prefer to request funds for projects rather than for general operating support, will still have the opportunity to apply for funds through other Wikimedia grant-making programs, including the Wikimedia Grants Program and other entity grant programs.
- Over time, we anticipate that the number of entities that are eligible for funds via the FDC process will grow.
Why is effective reporting an important eligibility criterion?
- Effective reporting is a fundamental part of every entity's responsibility for openness and transparency in the movement for both editors and donors. Reporting also enables learning from each other and evaluation of our work.
- Organizations that are unable to meet the relatively light reporting standards under their agreements are not fulfilling this responsibility to the movement and are not contributing to the knowledge base of the global movement about what works well and what doesn't.
What is the relationship between the FDC and the Wikimedia Foundation Grants Program? Can entities apply for funds from both?
- WMF will continue to provide grants through the Wikimedia Grants Program for entities that don't meet eligibility criteria or for groups seeking project funding
- Entities that receive funds through the FDC cannot receive funds from the Wikimedia Grants Program in the same fiscal year (July-June) unless they are applying for project funds to support political activities.
- Please visit the Framework for the FDC for more clarity into the difference between general and project funding.
The Application Process
- A holistic description of this process can be found in the FDC application process and timeline section.
The Board sets aside an allocation for “core operations” at the Foundation. What is the definition of “core operations”?
- According to their March 2012 resolution, the Board defined “core operations” as the “technical demands of running, maintaining and supporting the project sites, as well as maintaining the basic operations of the organization, such as legal, fundraising, accounting, HR, governance, and communications.”
Why does the FDC provide annual rather than multi-year grants?
- The FDC can not process multi-year grant requests as the Wikimedia Foundation does not have either the reserves or an endowment to allow multi-year commitments. The Foundation relies on the results of the annual fundraising campaign to fund movement activities each year.
- The FDC will make funding decisions on an annual basis but will have an explicit bias toward fully funding multi-year projects that are on track to meet planned objectives. This allows a level of flexibility for the FDC to make annual allocation recommendations while providing some security to fund seekers that are investing in infrastructure or projects that will not be completed within one annual funding cycle.
Why must entities submit a letter of intent to apply for funds prior to their funds request?
- The Letter of Intent is intended to ensure that entities do not invest time developing proposals to the FDC if they are not eligible to receive funds.
What was the rationale behind the timing of FDC review cycles?
- Because entities in the movement are on different fiscal years, we’ve constructed two application cycles per year. These two time periods align well with chapter fiscal year end dates as identified in the Chapter Finances Survey (21 of 30 survey respondents had a December 31 fiscal year end).
- This is a compromise between a rolling process where applications can be submitted at any time and a strict one-time-a-year policy where all applications have to be submitted simultaneously.
- A rolling process would make it impossible for the FDC to consider funds allocation as a portfolio across different entities and activities in the movement, thus limiting their ability to make strategic decisions.
- A strict one-time-a-year policy would likely present an undue hardship on fund-seeking entities since not all entities have a fiscal year ending at the end of the calendar year.
Given that Wikimedia is a global movement, why must applications be submitted in English? Why does the onus for translation rest with the funds-seeking entity?
- This issue was discussed at length in the development of the FDC proposal, as was the possibility that the WMF should provide translation services for those entities that lack staff with native English-fluency. Ultimately, it was decided that at this stage each eligible entity will be responsible for translation of its application into English for the following reasons:
- It is important that the materials are accurately represented - thus it is best that the entity oversees professional translations and ensures the correct meaning
- Having WMF act as a go-between for FDC and eligible entities would add time and bureaucracy to the process that could be avoided
- Eligible entities may build costs for translation into funds requests
Application evaluation and approval processes
How will the FDC develop its recommendation to the WMF Board? Will the FDC develop a recommendation on individual applications or forward one slate recommendation to the WMF Board?
- FDC members will deliberate on the applications and develop one slate recommendation that is within the envelope of funds that has been allocated to be disseminated via the FDC. This recommendation must be approved by a majority of attending members.
- Five voting FDC members shall constitute a quorum. Quorum is necessary to make a final decision on the recommendations for the Board of Trustees.
- The FDC may recommend partial funding of entities, if they believe it is warranted, but they must be clear about their rationale for doing so when they forward their recommendation to the WMF Board.
- If interested, you may learn more about the process for making recommendations in the Framework for the creation of the FDC.
Community Involvement in the FDC
How does the FDC encourage involvement of the community in the funds dissemination process?
- The FDC process has been designed to encourage community involvement and input, with the goal of creating a process that is transparent and public. For example, applications, staff assessments, FDC funding recommendations, and grantee reports will be posted publicly on Meta.
- A community-elected Ombudsperson will serve in a key role to collect and report on all community input and feedback about the process.
- The FDC application process includes a voluntary peer review process, to encourage entities to get preliminary feedback and support from colleagues.
- During the open comment period on submitted applications, the FDC may choose to specifically request input from community members who are subject matter experts.
- Community members can run for election and vote in elections to select community-elected members of the FDC.
- Please see the membership section of the Framework for the FDC for more insight into the membership selection process, and criteria and expectations for members.
What was the rationale for a two year term for FDC members?
- The rationale behind the 2 year term is that it is long enough to allow the committee members to develop expertise and to allow for some level of stability for the committee.
- At the same time, it isn’t so long that (a) it is an unreasonably long commitment to ask community members to undertake and (b) it ensures new members bring fresh perspectives to the FDC on a regular basis.
Given the effort and time commitment required from FDC members, why are they not compensated for their efforts?
- Given the goals and inherent beliefs of the movement, the FDC will be expected to be volunteer driven and members will not be compensated for their time.
- However, FDC members will be able to claim expenses that they incur in the reasonable execution of their duties
Why will the FDC be made up of a mix of community-elected and Board-appointed members?
- It was discussed that having an entirely community-elected membership would make the FDC too “political“ and may not lead to the right type of expertise or desired level of diversity on the committee. Similarly, having an entirely board-appointed FDC committee would cause distrust within the community.
- For this reason, the FDC will include a mix of community-elected and board-appointed members.
Why does the inaugural FDC have only seven members, and why will all of them be board-appointed?
- The FDC will need to be formed quickly so that the body is in place in time to review the first set of applications (which will be due on October 1, 2012) and make its first recommendations on funds allocation to the WMF Board by November 15, 2012. It is not practical to hold a community election in this timeframe, so the first community-elected members of the FDC will be chosen in 2013, in conjunction with the community-wide election for seats on the WMF Board of Trustees.
- Establishing the inaugural FDC with seven members leaves two seats open that will be filled by community-elected members.