Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group/Meeting 2/Minutes

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Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group
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The following is a summary and the meeting notes of the FDC Advisory Group meetings in San Francisco on June 9 & 10, 2012. These notes will be followed shortly by a revision to the proposal to the Board of Trustees. Please help wikify this document, as we wanted to post quickly before the group departed.

Summary[edit]

June 9 & 10, 2012 in San Francisco The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) Advisory Group met in San Francisco to deliberate on the draft recommendations and prior discussions on Meta on the formation of the FDC. The notes below seek to capture the discussion in rough form without significant editing to provide as clear a window as possible into the discussions. In addition, a summary of the meeting's results and next steps are provided. The Advisory Group engaged deeply and constructively on the issues at hand in the spirit of providing advice to the movement and Sue in the generation of the recommendations. Issues were raised and discussed, but there was no forced consensus or resolution. The discussions were wide ranging as indicated into the notes below. Main areas of substantial discussion were:

  • Roles of different groups in the process including the community, staff, the WMF Board of Trustees, chapters and thematic groups
  • Composition of the FDC, requirements of members, incentives and approaches to dealing with challenges
  • Eligibility of entities for the FDC, the application process, multi-year commitments, and evaluation expectations
  • Evaluation of the FDC itself, metrics and process for formal review of the FDC at set milestones in 1-2 years
  • General advice on the important principles of the movement and how these can and should guide the FDC's work

The FDC and associated work will enhace the movement's grant process and chapters / eligible entities confidence in their funding continuity. There will be a presentation at Wikimania in Washington DC for those attending (day and time TBA). ..... Those wishing to serve on the {FDC} should consider self nominating at Funds Dissemination Committee/Nominations.

Review of main discussions[edit]

1. Role of the staff[edit]

The group had an in-depth discussion about the role of the staff in this process. While the group agreed that it would be ideal to have the community and volunteers lead in this process, there was strong agreement that, at least initially, until the community builds capacity and expertise in funds dissemination, the staff will have a key role in making this process function effectively. This is particularly important in the FDC's early years, because the process will need to function in a timely fashion, in order to ensure fund-seeking organizations can continue to function without being crippled by FDC delays. The purpose of assigning staff to support the work of the FDC was articulated as three things:

  • To support the FDC so it can focus its limited time on being evaluative rather than doing administrative work;
  • To support the Board of Trustees, which is also made up of volunteers, and is therefore also time-constrained, and;
  • To support the process so it evolves over time and functions smoothly and in a timely fashion for fund-seekers.

The practical ability of WMF staff to be impartial, as well as issues related to perception of staff bias, were also discussed at length. Other questions were raised about whether the FDC staff should be housed within the Foundation, or within a different department in the Foundation.

Other options for housing FDC staff were discussed, including haveing "nomadic or chapter based staff" , but the general sense was that there were many benefits of housing staff within the Foundation, to increase the opportunity to efficiently share learning (with staff who support the Wikimedia Grants Program and other functions), attract the highest caliber talent, and potential for professional development and learning as part of an organization with capacity to support growth. Further, given that there will be peaks and valleys in the workload, it may not require 2 full-time dedicated employees and thus the staff can serve other valuable functions in the organization. Two main checks on the WMF staff will be the Board's oversight and the transparency of the process. Staff are needed to do things that are not reasonable to expect of volunteers, but FDC members can do their own in-depth review of all back up materials, etc. Further, it was discussed that staff are in a position of checking eligibility, doing due diligence, and developing a comprehensive assessment of the proposal, but they are not the decision-makers in this process, the FDC is making the recommendation to the Board. The perception issues are real ones but they should not drive how this is structured. Some thought will need to be given to communication about the FDC and the role of the WMF staff in the process.

2. Role of the community[edit]

The biggest issue that was discussed was dealing with the issue of language and translation. It was recognized that the movement is multi-lingual, and that, increasingly, assuming that business will be conducted in English is not appropriate. A question was raised about who should be responsible for translation - whether it should be the EE or whether it should be the staff of the WMF. Given that EEs will be organizations with capacity to do or engage community support in doing translation, this may be best, so that they can be responsible for ensuring the translated application is a true representation of their proposal. The challenge is that much of the discussion on the application should be done in the native language of the EE. and it is not clear how that discussion would be translated so that the WMF staff and FDC could review that. It was discussed that this issue is not unique to the FDC and we can’t expect the FDC to resolve it by themselves. Some suggested low-cost solutions for translation that the EEs or the WMF could access, to augment the community translation capacity.

3. Clarity on the types of grants to go through the FDC[edit]

There were questions throughout the day about what types of funding requests should go through the FDC vs. other funding sources in the movement. A few questions included:

  • Is there a size limit for when an applicant MUST apply through the FDC?
  • Is there a minimum sized grant that should go through the FDC?
  • Can applicants apply to more than one funding source?
  • Can applicants apply more than once a year?
  • Can applicants apply for project grants?

It was discussed that an important goal of the FDC is to build the number and capacity of organizations within our movement working effectively towards the achievement of movement objectives. The FDC's role is to fund organizations, not individual programs, and therefore the funding that should go through the FDC program should be "unrestricted" funding for annual plans.

One of the risks discussed was that if applicants are allowed to apply through multiple grants processes (e.g., FDC, WMF grants program, chapter grants programs), they might try to "game" the system, applying to whichever grants program is more likely to give them money and/or when it is most convenient. Also, too much flexibility might just result in unhelpful confusion, with fund-seekers unsure about where to apply for funding. We therefore agreed that it is important to be clear about which funding requests go to the FDC, versus other programs. It was therefore suggested that once applicants are eligible for the FDC, decide to add ongoing staff and/or require/desire general operating support they must request all of their funds through the FDC.

The following criteria were suggested for when requests should go through the FDC vs. other grants programs:

  • Project support > must go to Foundation and other entity grants programs
  • General operating support & above $X > must go to FDC
  • General operating support & below $X > can choose FDC or GAC
  • AND, if you are applying for the FDC, you cannot also apply to the GAC

An open question that was not resolved was what the $ threshold would be where entities must apply to the FDC. And more clarity is needed about what the distnction between "project support" vs. "general operating support" really entails.

4. Use of surplus funds[edit]

Questions were raised about what should happen if there are surplus funds that the FDC does not allocate. Some people felt that adding surplus funds to the general reserve might not be the highest and best use of those funds; others felt that building a large reserve would be necessary in order for the WMF to evolve into an organization that has among its roles the ability to be a good grant-making institution (e..g, to offer multi-year grants). Similarly, questions were raised about what should happen if the FDC needs more funds than it was originally allocated.

A few suggestions were raised:

  • One suggestion was whether the FDC could have its own, second reserve. Several Board members said that this would be too complicated.
  • A question was also raised as to whether the FDC would be able to request funds be drawn from reserves where there are particularly promising opportunities for investment or if fundraising targets are not met. The Board has said that the FDC allocation will be set once a year by the Board in the annual planning cycle, and exists independent of fundraiser performance. The Board has the ability to change the allocation mid-year if it wants to, but that would only happen in extraordinary circumstances.

5. Applicant eligibility requirements[edit]

There was concern that the requirement that applicants have a "consecutive two-year track record" of receiving grants would exclude applicants who happen to have skipped a year for legitimate reasons. A proposal was made that the language should be changed from "two consecutive grants" to "two grants successfully completed."

6. Application timeline[edit]

There were questions about the number/timing of application deadlines for the FDC throughout the year -- should it be rolling, once a year, twice a year? There was a long discussion on this point. It was agreed that ultimately, the process needs to balance between two competing goals: offering as much flexibility as possible for funds-seekers, and enabling the FDC to evaluate proposals in the context of the full slate of applications. It is not possible for the FDC to do both, so a balance needs to be struck.

Many people suggested that two rounds of funding is reasonable given that applicants will be applying for a full year of funds, and most applicants have fiscal years that align with either calendar year (and therefore can submit on Sept 15) or July-June (and therefore can submit on Feb. 15)

A questions was raised about how the FDC will balance allocations between Round 1 and Round 2. It was suggested that entities be required to apply in the round closest to their fiscal year, but others thought that might make the process too rigid, undermining the goal of offering choice to fund-seekers.

7. Multi-year requests[edit]

Questions were raised about whether the FDC would provide multi-year grants, given that this could provide a greater level of stability to grantees (EEs have operating costs such as leases, paid staff, etc.) and would be more efficient for the FDC. One of the challenges discussed is that WMF is not primarily a grant-making entity, and it doesn’t have an endowment or significant reserve from which to make multi-year commitments. Multi-year commitments also reduce the potential for regular assessment and learning from in-progress work. The result is that EE’s will have some level of uncertainty; some EEs are diversifying their funding base to deal with this. In any case, the current proposal offers a pragmatic approach, a bias toward providing stable support for multi-year projects but not a guarantee of funds. We underscore that multi-year programs are valuable in some areas and actions that prematurely cut funding to in-progress work without a strong rationale would undermine the movement's ability to make serious investments for the long term health of the movement. Ultimately, it may be strategic for WMF to seek to build an endowment, or a very large operating reserve, in order to transition from being solely an operating non-profit, to an operating nonprofit + grant-making institution

8. Role of the FDC in evaluating proposals[edit]

There was concern that the FDC evaluation process might duplicate or override the lengthy and thoughtful development, vetting, and evaluation process that applying entities go through with their own boards and communities.

It was then discussed that local boards are responsible for reviewing plans and budgets with regard to their particular context. The FDC has a broader role of evaluating the plan with regard to global movement goals. These are two different kinds of scrutiny that will be applied to the EE’s plan and budget. The evaluation criteria should include an assessment of the process that the EE takes in their own budget process. It should reward things like planning that is linked to the movement strategy, engagement of their local community in the review process, and robust assessment of prior work with a healthy mix of decisions in the budget to reduce/eliminate activities that do not achieve desired impact. The FDC and its staff should in fact not only reward the EE's that conduct a strong and participative planning and evaluation process themselves, but they should create the environment and dissemninate best practices so that other EE's could learn and apply similar processes.

9. Role of the Ombudsperson[edit]

The discussion of the Ombudsman role was fairly brief. The Ombudsperson will not serve as a member of the FDC, or attend FDC meetings. The purpose is facilitation, documentation, visibility, and transparency around conflict and conflict resolution. The Ombudsperson can also play an important role in monitoring of the overall process and providing input into the evaluation of the FDC. It was observed that it will be important to get more clear about the ombudsperson’s role (i.e., what they will do and what they will NOT do) in the draft proposal.

10. Criteria for FDC members[edit]

It was discussed that the FDC election process will be organized by the community in the same way that Board elections are and held in parallel, it's not perfect, but there are a lot of benefits to doing it this way. There was also in-depth discussion of whether board or staff of EEs could serve on the FDC. The practical concern of excluding these individuals is that they are the people with the most expertise and relevant experience, and there is a finite number of individuals with these skills who will be interested in serving. Some believed it would be sufficient to have these members recuse themselves from decisions related to the entity they are affiliated with, others believed that FDC members should resign from their board or staff role in order to serve on the FDC. Ultimately the group agreed that recusal would be sufficient.

11. Term lengths for FDC members[edit]

There was concern that 4 years was too long and that few volunteers would feel comfortable making such a long term commitment or members would have a high potential of burning out before their term is complete. The group agreed to change term lengths to 2 years with no renewal limits.

12. Addressing inactivity of FDC members[edit]

There was concern, given experience with other roles in the movement, that there should be a plan in place when/if FDC members become inactive or unresponsive and to keep FDC members motivated and engaged as much as possible. There was a long discussion on this point, which drew on experiences and best practices from elsewhere in the movement, including the WMF Board of Trustees and the Arb Coms.

Agreement was reached on the following:

  • Expectations for what's required of FDC members (attendance, participation, duration, etc) need to be made very clear;
  • The quorum for decision making should be set at 5 or 7, to allow for short-term inactivity of a couple of members at any given time;
  • A clear process should be delineated for FDC members to go through if they need to be inactive for a period of time;
  • There need to be clear processes for reaching out to FDC members if they become inactive without warning (e.g., establishing a "whip" on the FDC in charge of reaching out to members)
  • There need to be clear consequences for FDC members if they are inactive for a set period of time (e.g., Board has majority vote in kicking people out)
  • There needs to be a clear outline of "what's in it" for FDC members so they understand the importance and benefit of their role
  • In addition to FDC members, alternate members should be elected at the same time to cope the disapearance of a FDC member

13. Metrics for evaluating the FDC[edit]

There was much discussion about how to very clearly articulate expectations for what success for the FDC should look like and develop metrics to measure performance against that success. Some metrics discussed were:

  • Amount of money spent (% of envelope, growth)
  • Number of complaints
  • Number and growth of applications submitted (as a percentage of EEs)
  • On-time performance
  • Satisfaction
  • Capacity built and fostered (improvements in each EE's planning and evaluation processes with participation of local communities)
  • New projects, new entities, new ideas funded
  • Lessons generated
  • Time spent for each stakeholder
  • Level of involvement/participation of FDC
  • Parallel development and impact of other internal grant initiatives

It was also suggested that expectations should be laid for different stakeholders (fund seekers, the FDC, the Board, the community, other grant-making programs) and assess each groups' eff ectiveness and satisfaction. Satisfaction could be measured through surveys to the different stakeholders. Several people noted that when these measures are constructed, they must be structured to ensure they are staged and realistic given the learning and evolution of the FDC in the early years. There was also a question about who would be responsible for tracking these metrics. Some suggestions for those who would have a role include an external evaluator, the ombudsperson, Advisory Group members, and the WMF staff.

14. Incentives to attract members to the FDC[edit]

The group discussed different investments that should be made to support and attract FDC members. Some suggestions included:

  • Site visits/learning journeys
  • Leadership training support
  • Travel support to Wikimania, chapters' Conference and other major Wikimedia events

There was also concern about spending too much money on the FDC, given its position under scrutiny by the movement. There was also concern of corruption if FDC members were offered travel or gifts from applicants, it was decided that restrictions against this would be written into the proposal. It was discussed that at this point, an honorarium would NOT be offered to FDC members. A related point was made that it might be useful to enable fund seekers to engage in learning journeys, themselves (visiting other groups in the movement, particularly those within the same region)

Attendees[edit]

Advisory Group members present:

  • Jan-Bart de Vreede
  • Kathy Reich
  • Osmar Valdebenito
  • Pavel Richter
  • Peter Ekman/Smallbones
  • Richard Ames
  • Sydney Poore
  • Thomas Buckup
  • Ting Chen
  • Stu West (Saturday only)

Advisory Group members on the phone/video.

  • Christophe Henner from France
  • Ali Haidar Khan from Bangladesh

Wikimedia Foundation staff present:

  • Asaf Bartov
  • Barry Newstead
  • Garfield Byrd
  • Geoff Brigham
  • Joslyn Lewis (Saturday only)
  • Philippe Beaudette (Saturday only)
  • Sue Gardner
  • Winifred Olliff
  • Stephen LaPorte (Saturday only)
  • Derrick Davis (legal intern) (Saturday only)

The Bridgespan Group team members present:

  • Daniel Stid (Saturday only)
  • Laura Lanzerotti
  • Libbie Landles-Dowling
  • Meera Chary (Saturday only)
  • Divya Narayanan (Sunday only)

Transcript of Meeting Notes[edit]

Welcome and introductions[edit]

  • Laura Lanzerotti kicked off the meeting and all members present introduced themselves.
  • Ting welcomed the group
  • Sue provided some context for the FDC and the funds dissemination process
  • Laura provided an overview of the weekend's agenda and asked members to comment on expectations and watch-outs for the group's time together. Some norms mentioned:
    • Give everyone a chance to speak
    • No expectation of confidentiality, unless specified
    • Engage constructively
    • Think empathetically about FDC grant-seekers, put ourselves in their shoes
    • Focus on the most important concepts, not the details
    • Be courageous and speak up
    • Remember that this is really hard, and that some of these issues will take time to resolve
    • Respect multiple forms of communication -- feel free to engage via chat or Etherpad vs talking

Detailed walk-through of the proposal[edit]

Roles and responsibilities and scope of fund dissemination responsibility Open issues (feel free to comment here): Minor: I would move ROLE OF BOARD below the role of FDC... Role of the Staff

  • How to prevent the 'staff' from becoming the gatekeeper to the FDC?
Maybe -- The entities apply to the FDC and the staff comments.... so the staff does not 'refuse' the submission.
Current proposal is that staff do an assessment of the application, but are not in a position of refusing any submission, except from entities that do not meet eligibility requirements
  • How to increase impartiality of staff?
  • Question raised around the reporting relationship of the FDC staff-- are they reporting to the Board, to the WMF staff?
    Response from Jan-Bart with written elaboration from Barry: Plan is for the staff to report to the Chief Global Development Officer within the WMF staff. The WMF Board provides oversight through their supervision of the organization. FDC to have input into the review of the staff's performance collectively. But how can the FDC staff be impartial when evaluating the non-core budget of the WMF Global Development area when they also report to the WMF Global Development officer?
  • This is relatively straight-forward as the potential for conflict of interest is very transparent and will be scrutinized closely by the FDC and the community people who will likely watch their work closely. I think there are at least equal odds that it would be harder on the Global Development department than easier given the attention to this issue. --Barry
  • Of course perception can not be the center of what we do, but let´s look at it from the outside: The Board approves the WMF budget, including the non-core part of the budget. This part than goes to WMF staff for evaluation and processing in preparation for the FDC. The FDC than makes a recommendation how much of this should be funded, and than the Board will make the final decission.

I believe having one "outside" party involved into this process would be very helpfull. Let´s not see this as control or adressing perception, but as another level and quality of input, that helps everybody in this process, inculding the non-core part of the WMF budget, which get´s an addition review. Role of the community Make sure the due-dilligence and evaluation processes are more collaborative and in several languages. Not only language, but also considering different cultural approaches.*

  • this is an interesting point: are the cultural barriers that hinder people to apply for funds?

Scope of funds Question raised around the size of the FDC envelope relative to the total fundraising amount

  • Response from Sue: for initial FDC the allocation is about 1/4 of the WMF budget. That is not yet approved by the Board, but it's what I've proposed to the Board in the 2012-13 plan.

Role of chapters in the funds dissemination process

  - for instance, they are vetting local requests (I do
Response to this: It is too complicated to operate two reserves
Response to this: The chances of having funding requests totalling much lower than the FDC envelope are low, so this might be a hypothetical question
Response / follow-up question: If the FDC can contribute funds to the general reserve, can they also take money out of it? For instance, if the fundraising target is not achieved

Eligible fund-seeking entities and application process Open issues (feel free to comment here): Eligibility requirements I think the third requirement ("consecutive two-year track record") can be complicated for some cases. Not all chapters afaik have asked for grants in the past (for example, it seems WMIT haven't done that) so maybe we are closing the doors for some trusted entities. --Osmar The first two EE critera should be in place to assure a high degree of adherence to the movement, but adding the third EE criterion (track record) can unduly prevent innovation and become a major bottle-neck to the growth of the movement. --Thomas // especially for chapters and groups from developing countries (GS).

Participation in fundraising campaigns (the third sub-bullet) as a payment processor covers trusted entities like WMIT. --Barry

It would be great to have a list of the eligible entities at this moment (considering chapters to make it easier ;) ) --Osmar That would be great, so we can see if the eligibility requirements work the way we want (for me are ok, but maybe we can have a surprise if an important chapter is out). Osmar, Barry and I hacked together a list of chapters who look like they would or might be eligible for FDC funding. There may be chapters missing from this, and there may be chapters that are on this list but don't actually qualify. But here's what we came up with: Germany; UK; France; Netherlands; Italy; Australia; Switzerland; Austria; Israel; Czech Republic; Argentina; Sweden; Hungary; Philippines; Indonesia; Serbia. (Obviously every year new chapters/orgs would become eligible, as they develop a track record of successfully getting grants.) Thanks :) Just a small proposal: instead of two grants received, I think they should be two grants successfully completed; we need a track of accomplishment, not only of grant-making (for example, WM-CL has two grants but we are still working on one, and I don't think we are ready for an FDC request yet). Application timeline The major question initially was to think about the timing of the application process -- should it be rolling, once a year, twice a year?

Response: Recommendation to add 2 more submissions to the timeline, perhaps for smaller funding requests; this would add flexibility for fund-seeking entities and create more even workload for the FDC
Sydney says she thinks once a year would be too hard for the FDC itself, because they are volunteers and won't necessarily be able to do such a heavy lift once a year

Question from Ting: We should think about the timing of the fundraiser and the board "committment" of fundraising dollars to the movement

Response: Based on the chapter survey, the majority of chapters (21 of 30) are on a calendar year fiscal year, so most would want to apply on that timeframe. Others are clustered around the july-june fiscal year, so this seemed reasonable

Question from Ali: Didn't find any specifc point when the Board will decide about the size of FDC allocation in the Fund Dissemination timeline. Hi Ali -- The Board will determine the FDC allocation as part of the WMF annual plan. It's released about 1 July. -- Sue Thanks, but I feel it should be incorporated in the time line No I hear you :-) I will ask Bridgespan via this comment to do that :-) Great :) We'll incorporate into the next draft, Ali and Sue! -- Meera Thanks Meera :-) Multi-year requests Question from Pavel: How do entities deal with year-over-year expenses? Do they have to be requested every year, which makes it difficult for entities to sign multi-year contracts, etc?

Response from Kathy -- multi-year funding can make funding more efficient for grant-seeking entities

Suggests allowing funding decisions more often than the FDC meets, i.e. allowing rolling approvals.

I think the solution in the proposal is a reasonable, pragmatic solution. Stability should result from a) the strength of our funding model as a movement; b) the quality of the work that organizations are doing; c) alignment of work with global strategy. If our funding is solid (i.e., growing at a consistent rate) then stability comes from good program design and management by the entities that drives good results (in terms of impact and learning with space for smart pilots and experimentation). Stability might be somewhat (not necessarily wholly) undermined (but in a healthy way globally) by priorities that focus elsewhere in a situation where funds are scarce. The solution makes space for EEs to make their multi-year plans clear and get appropriate consideration of those in future processes, if conditions at the movement level, organizational performance and/or performance of the actual projecs don't change significantly for the worse.-- Barry
  • I think there are two dimensions to this:

1. EE´s are not only running projects and programms, but at least the larger ones have to maintain an infrastructure around this: they rented offices, hired people, they rund administration, PR and fundraising activities, and so on. This is what could be called "core", and I do not see why this would be within the scope of the FDC. And it is unrealistic to get this part funded by other sources of funding, because no foundation or grant-making institution would be willing to finance this non-project related costs. 2. Really multi-year projects: Take for example Wikidata - if WMDE comes to the FDC next year and asks for funding for this project, and the project plan says it will run for 3 years - why would it be a problem to fund this project for 3 years? The FDC would just have to committ money from the next three years towards this project (and I do not take into consideration the very unlikely case that the FDC dos not have enough money to dissemniate in the following year. How the FDC will make recommendations and dispute resolution Role of the Ombudsperson Question: Will the Ombudsperson sit in with the FDC? Response from Libbie: No, the thought would be that they would not. Question that went into the definition of the role of the Ombudsperson: What are the "upper" limits of the role of the Ombudsperson? Question: Will the Ombudsperson have access to legal, etc. given that concerns could be about eligibility Response from Sue: We need to crisply define the role of the Ombudsperson, to make this a realistic role, but the point is to make the complaints made more transparent. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the Ombudsperson to themselves do tons of investigation, but I do think they can play an important role in making visible complaints, so they are not just swept aside. Response from Pavel: Let's not spend too much time on conflict resolution now Response from Jan-Bart: We should talk about conflict resolution while we still get along :) and for groups that might not feel as comfortable in raising concerns as they arise Sydney says the role of the Ombudsman should be around facilitating information about complaints between applicants, the FDC process and the community. Sue says its part about facilitation, but primarily documentation, visibility, and transparency. public recording of complaint and complaint resolution. Barry says it should also be a check on our principles - ombudsperson can play an important role from a perspective of integrity of overall process How the FDC will evaluate applications Question about role of the FDC in evaluating proposals that have already been scrutinized by local boards Response from Jan-Bart: could be that FDC would judge your plan on different criteria than your board did Response from smallbones: my concern is about multi-year spending. Should the FDC have authority to spend future money. Concern about "ownership expectations" - that entities should manage expectations around what they can get from the FDC Response from Barry: this is an important question, challenging. the main risk would be one of straegic mis-alignment; additional historical issue around entities being able to successful execute on projects that are grant-funded -- by asking for a track record of success, we can hope to mitigate these risks Question: Do the EEs have their own source of funds? If not, why not? Yes, they definitely do. Many chapters earn money through membership fees; they also apply for grants from governmental organizations and other institutions; some have "earned income" from a variety of sources.

Thanks, had seen it before and forgoten it....
Just to be realistic here, most EEs today are very reliant on WMF or Wikimedia fundraiser funds for their revenue. Generally more than 90% (with few exceptions). Membership fees are very small for most and only a few EEs have experience with fundraising from other sources. - Barry

There is some information from some chapters here: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_and_Funds_Dissemination/How_it_currently_works (You need to scroll down to see the chart: it's huge :-) Response from Sue to Pavel's question on multi-year grants: We'd like to be able to offer multi-year grants, but we do not have a pile of cash in our bank account for that purpose like grant-making institutions: we live "paycheck-to-paycheck" according to our fundraising. So we do have uncertainty in our funding. We need to balance the competing needs and contraints that we have, which is why we built in the guidelines for funding over the next few years particularly. Response from Sue to Pavel's question of the FDC duplicating entities' board of governance vetting efforts: This process should NOT undermine entity governance processes. But the FDC and the entity board do have different roles -- the entity board members have the entity perspective, and the FDC should have a global perspective, and should live into that perspective with its recommendations Request from Garfield to add language around reporting requirements: Should be in compliance (e.g., with local laws) Special funding guidelines during transition to the FDC Clarification requested on how to interpret the funding guidelines Membership Point raised by Jan-Bart: Very important that elections are managed and organizated by the community, as are don e for the community-elected board seats

Response from Sue -- Our goal would be to do this the same way
Comment by Philippe - I'm worried that turnout on these elections will be so low as to be easily influenceable. ie, our largest Board election had only about 3500 votes, as I recall. (We've had some larger elections - license migration, image filter - but for actual candidate elections, it's low).
Comment from Barry - we should run the FDC elections in the samel process as the board elections.
Doing that, I think you're likely to impact Board turnout negatively as well... because the ballot is already extremely complex (single transferable vote is a rough process), and I think people will abandon. - pb
Ah, would be good to work this problem. Generally, the best solution in elections is to run them together to take advantage of the attention gained. I think we can problem solve complexity and abandonment (e.g., by registering Board vote even if FDC vote isn't cast)
Another thought: wouldn't the FDC potentially be a feeder for possible future board members? If so, running them concurrently impacts that - because folks would have to pick one or the other, I expect. - pb
Don't see that as a problem we need to solve. Everyone who ever runs for the US Senate also wants to run for President too! People need to manage their own political career choices ;)

Question raised by Ali: Can chapters have designated seats on the FDC? Responses by Jan-Bart: Likely no, as this might mean a conflict of interest as chapters are direct beneficiaries of the process so to have some seats on the FDC might present a challenge JB says that chapter Board members, in order to serve on the FDC, should first resign from their boards. Sue said: I believe that the FDC *should* likely include people who have existing affiliations in the movement -- who are on chapter boards and so forth. Why? Because we want the FDC to be a centre of programmatic excellence, and I do not believe it makes sense to exclude people with significant programmatic experience from the pool of potential candidates. The people who serve on the FDC will likely have opinions and biases as a result of their experiences in the movement -- that is a double-edged sword. It makes them conflicted, but it also is what gives them expertise. I think it's still an open question whether someone can be actively involved on teh board or staff of a requesting entity (and just recuse themself) or whether they should resign if they are elected/appointed to the FDC 3 Questions from Ting:

  1. 4-year term seems too long -- there were discussions on Board seats as well, and even 3-year seats were deemed too long
  2. What is volunteers are inactive on the FDC? They may not want to leave the committee, but how do we ensure they stay active?
  3. Can we allow potential recipients to serve as FDC members (there was further conversation on this point, above)
Libbie responds that they may serve on the FDC but they have to recuse themselves from decisions regarding their own organization
Jan-Bart says that we shouldn't even let staff and board members of eligible entities seeking funds serve on the FDC, as they wouldn't be able to be impartial by just recusing themselves from those single decisions regarding their own organization
Sue responds again that, yes, there may be some conflict of interest, but to not allow these folks to serve would come at a cost to the quality of the FDC
Jan-Bart made the point that when chapter Board members join the Foundation Board of Trustees, they are asked to step down from their local chapter Boards
Osmar responds that it is important to give chapters a voice given their role in the movement. Chapters are also the most diverse institutionalized part of our movement; elections will keep the representation of the same communities over and over, so we need to give space for other diverse communities.

I think Osmar may have said here that he felt like the chapters need a voice inside the FDC. I wanted to just say that everybody who serves on the FDC will be asked to serve in the best interests of the movement, not to support the interests of a specific constitutency or stakeholder. :-) // totally agree, just saying chapters have some knowledge that would be a great input to share at the FDC but not defending chapters' interest or representing them someway. Yep okay -- exactly :-)

Stu: In our movement we have a finite resource-- it is people who care about global issues around our organization and movement AND have time to commit to work on them. On the audit committee, we decided to get more community involvement, but it has been really hard to identify people in our movement who both have the interest in being on the audit committee AND have the time to dedicate to our work. It's been REALLY hard to get people to even commit for one year. Are we creating something that looks great on paper but that we can't actually fill with qualified members. We'll have to be comfortable with messiness
Smallbones -- I agree with Stu. If we eliminate chapter board members from the pool, there won't be many people left! But, I don't think that the President, Treasurer, Secretary (?) should be able to serve -- that would be a real conflict of interest. I agree with this -- Sue
Sydney: we need to invite more people to be active in our community-- we need to nurture more people and leaders in our community. How can we build this process to it nurtures and invites people into the process? -- I agree with this too. I think that part of the purpose of the FDC (or at least, a potential ancillary benefit) would be to help develop leadership & programmatic expertise and alignment/shared understanding within the movement. -- Sue
Jan-Bart made the point that people who become involved in the FDC or other committees are not leaving the community, if they leave their local Board. They're just choosing where to spend their time.
Barry asks: What is the problem that we're solving? We don't want to overstate the conflict of interest, especially if they are transparent and "1 out of 9" -- we want to emphasize the importance of identifying people who can be present and committed to the process.
Asaf responds: Practically every member of the GAC is a chapter board member, and we haven't had any issues with this. GAC members have to recuse themselves from decisions related to their own entities, and there hasn't been conflict. So there is precedent for this to work.

Stu raises a "crazy unrelated point" -- should this be called the "program committee" instead of the "Funds Dissemination Committee"? This is a really interesting point. I can imagine an FDC that's made up of community members who have financial expertise, experience with controls, accountability, compliance and so forth. I can also imagine an FDC that is made up of programmatic experts --people like Liam (GLAM), people who have been involved in the Global Ed projects, people who have been involved in outreach and other programmatic work. The latter is very appealing, because those are the people who would have the expertise to evaluate programmatic plans well. And, the staff can likely cover off the compliance type stuff, diligence etc. (as Stu is saying right now). Having an FDC made up of programmatic experts though, would give rise to the conflict-of-interest problem, because those people by definition would be, or would have been, involved with programmatic activities, and would therefore bring bias and experience and opinion to the table. That would be both their strength & their weakness. -- Sue Although I really support the idea of a chapters association I would personally not want to reserve any seats for this interest group (unlike the situation we have with regards to the board at this time) I think you can only do four years if you decide to reimburse the members Proposed topics for this afternoon: What is the most appropriate role for staff?

   How to prevent the 'staff' from becoming the gatekeeper to the FDC?
   Application goes directly to FDC (on Meta), staff comment, FDC decides?
   facilitation of collaborative due-diligence and evaluation processes?
   How to increase impartiality of staff?
   Locate away from WMF HQ???
   Hired by an EE??? Maybe DE?
   An independent consulting firm/contractors?

How can we best involve the community throughout this process?

   How best to engage in multiple languages?  
   Needs to be some comittment to world languages--- maybe three majors?
   in local languages and summaries in English (or three major languages)?
   Is there a specific role for chapters? (e.g., facilitating community input)
   Yes in a motivational role.
   Peer review? (WCA)
   Voluntary peer-review process?
   Certainly.

How can we be more explicit about the KINDS of grants that go through this process?

   When should an organization apply to the FDC vs. other grants processes (e.g., Foundation or other chapter grants programs)?
   "Untied program money."
   "EE support funding."

Notes on role of the staff:

  • Asaf: Is there actual "gatekeeping" built in to this process?
  • Peter: It would be really hard for staff to be gatekeepers in a process like this. It is transparent and we are very well-connected. Agree with Peter from experience, Barry.
  • Laura: Point of clarification-- the staff would be a "gatekeeper" for assessing eligibility
  • Stu: The thing to remember is that our volunteer time is finite and there are some things that just have to get done. When there are things that are absolutely required, we don't want to rely too heavily on volunteers. Paid staff need to have a role in reviewing applications, following-up, doing diligence, etc. It is 100% guaranteed that there will be an active staff role in this process.
  • Pavel: A clarifying question: Could staff say "no" to an application? When?

I believe in the current proposal, the staff can exclude a proposal from FDC consideration, if the entity turns out to be ineligible (like, if it does not have a signed chapter agreement with the WMF, if it turns in its application too late or does not fully complete it, etc.) All that would be public, so people could challenge the exclusion if they thought it was unfair or unreasonable. -- Sue

  • Stu: Staff will have the time to really do the diligence to understand whether proposed activities are legitimate-- they can delegate some of this smaller decision-making to staff.
  • Geoff: Staff would say "no" if the application was illegal (e.g., requests for political campaigns)
    • Also there may be legalities around fund transfers in some countries that we would need to consider.
  • Richard -- but if the power to make those decisions goes to the staff, then the FDC is powerless. The FDC has to be the group to make this decision / recommendation. They can agree with a staff "assessment" that an applicant is good / bad, but they should be the ones making the final recommendation
  • Barry: I do think the distinctions are important between the staff assessment and recommendation role. The staff will absolutely be in charge of assessing (i.e., making the decision) eligibility, which is the first stage of the process-- it's a technical check-list that is objective and "yes" or "no". And they will have to provide evidence supporting their check-list inputs. On the second stage, the staff role is to support the FDC's decision, not to decide for the FDC. Much of this work is providing analysis that aids the FDC in their decision e.g., summary of the funds requested as a portfolio, scoring of applications against a fixed rubric. There's a question of practice about how much work all of this takes to put together a good picture of the quality and magnitude of requests so that the FDC can make sense of that without having to do three weeks of reading.
  • Thomas: We need to be very careful about making a distinction between staff and the FDC. There's a big difference between having the staff do the diligence and engaging with applicants, help them with their applications. How can the FDC make decisions if they don't engage with the community themselves? If the staff do all of the diligence, we will not build the capacity to do everything that needs to get done.
  • Laura: The role of staff won't supplant the role of the FDC. If the staff is doing a thorough evaluation that goes to the FDC, the FDC still has the opportunity to go through the detail if they want. We should be thinking about what value-added role the staff can play to reduce the unnecessary burden on the FDC
  • Pavel: What value can staff bring to grant applicants? How can they help applicants that have great ideas who need help developing applications, budgets, etc?
  • Stu: Things that are not optional: (1) Timelines and (2) Ensuring fiduciary duty to our donors through proper review and diligence. Both of these MUST be done and done well. Jimmy says "an organization is not a wiki"-- neither is a grant application. We need to have lots of community involvement, but it needs a really strong foundation-- we haven't figured out how to do that using volunteers.
  • Sydney: I know that we have not yet figured it out, although I do think we're getting better. But we have kept a spirit of volunteerism in this proposal and we're doing it in a way that no one else has ever done it. Maybe some day we won't need staff, but right now we do. We need to portray this to the community.
  • Sue: The most important thing about the FDC in the first few years is that funds flow -- that it doesn't stop entities in our organization from getting the money they need to have impact. And so we want to be sure that the FDC process is well-supported, on the understanding that volunteers have limited time, and the Wikimedia movement cannot and will not always be those people's top priority. I think about three perspectives of staff supporting the FDC:
   (1) Support the FDC in doing the work they do best--the FDC members are volunteers. We want the FDC to be able to be wise and reflective and thoughtful: we do not want them to be themselves filling out forms and pushing paper, etc.
   (2) Give leverage to the Board of Trustess-- they have time to oversee the process, but not to manage it
   (3) Support fundseekers-- they need timely, quality processes-- they may need support in applying and navigating the process

Over time we might be able to have these functions carried out by volunteers (i.e., through clerk roles, etc) but at the outset we want to start with enough staff. Geoff: Also there are checks and balances on the staff. In the end, we respond to the Board, which represents a cross-section of our community. The Board can instruct on big picture processes based on feedback received from different sources, especially the Ombudsman committee.

  • Kathy; I really liked your comment, Sydney. It's important to also remember that anything the staff can do, the FDC can do as well. Another thing to consider is how you select staff, and how you think about staff "term limits" if at all
  • Jan-Bart: We know that our staff has a strong community background- 1/3 of our staff comes from the community, and we should think about this staff in the same way
  • Barry: We should think about the partnership between the staff and the FDC. We need to give both the FDC and staff the ability to find its footing over time, while at the same time making tough decisions about the funds dissemination process. The staff may have the role to communicate to the movement about 'bad news' -- if a grant isn't given, e.g., especially while the FDC, as a volunteer committee, is still 'young'.
  • Garfield: I've never told committees what to do, or how to think -- we'll select people with those criteria, and the staff will be responsive to the committee. The FDC won't just be puppets to the staff.
  • Geoff: Exactly. My job is to implement the FDC successfully pursuant to the Board's instructions. And those instructions are to ensure FDC independence.
  • Christophe: It's important to see how things go for a few months and then respond accordingly if necessary, if there are challenges. Let's trust that we'll have people who want to move the process forward.
  • Thomas: Where should the staff be located? Does it need to be at the WMF, reporting to Barry / Barry's role?
  • Barry's response: The process is so transparent that if there is even a sense of bias, it would be a big issue to everyone, especially the WMF.
  • Thomas: But does it have to be housed at the WMF?
  • Jan-Bart: Agree-- the WMF will be the most scrutinized of all of the applications. Also, the staff member(s) are not making decisions necessarily, they are just advising the FDC and developing a report. With regards to location, it would just be so much easier to locate staff at the WMF -- knowledge sharing, etc. Also, the WMF has an office, which is helpful.
  • Osmar: Agree that it makes sense to have someone related to the Foundation, but it would be great to have the community involved. We need to think about how the community will perceive the process so they can be involved with providing input into the process, so they don't see the process biased towards the WMF so they don't participate or participate in a more aggresive position.
  • Pavel: I'm not arguing about whether to have staff. We do have more than one office than just the Foundation headquarters. A lot of applications will come out of Europe-- there may be some advantage to having someone there. Barry, if I were in your shoes, I would not feel comfortable having someone on your staff reviewing YOUR budget-- I would strongly suggest that ly suggest that someone else review the Foundation budget. someone ELSE review that budget -- I'm not sure who that would be, but someone else might be better for perception purposes.
  • Barry: I think just out of convenience it makes sense for WMF staff to be working on this, particularly for cyclicality. And there is flexibility around who the staff would be giving their reports to -- I think it would be the FDC directly (not me). For the record, I would be happy if the role would reside elsewhere in WMF. I view this as a difficult role with more pitfalls/risks to my work and team than benefits. I do however think there are benefits of having the FDC staff benefit from the experience of my team on grants and community partnership around the world. We are one of a few groups in the movement that work with a truly global cross-section of movement on a regular basis. I also see the potential of leveraging the FDC staff resources for other global priorities during downtime. On the pitfalls, this general area costs us social capital that could be useful in other areas and it adds scrutiny to all of our work. It can also take a lot of time. We are comfortable with this scrutiny, but it does add costs.
  • Jan-Bart: We already have a third party evaluator looking at budgets-- it's the Board of Trustees, including elected chapter representatives.
  • Christophe: If you put it that way, then the FDC is not really needed. This is a perception issue, which is a huge component in our movement. We must build trust and confidence in our process. If is all the staff is in SF and working for Barry, what will the community perceive of that?
  • Jan-Bart: Perception is important and we should take it into consideration, but we also need to understand that staff are community members with the community's best interests top of mind.
  • Geoff: Hopefully without sounding arrogant, I would guess it will be difficult to find the skill sets outside the WMF at our level without a large budget. Legal issues are sophisticated as are the finance issues. We can do it better, faster, and cheaper.
  • Christophe: I agree, effienciency wise, having the FDC staff in SF makes sense. But we have to think thoroughly this first. I don't have the solution, there might be none, but we have to think about it.
I agree the staff has to be in SF so he can engage directly with the WMF to work as efficiently as possible. But not necessarily as part of the WMF or reporting to it. (alternatives? no idea) --Osmar
  • Barry: What are the alternative models? Let's weigh pros and cons, as there isn't likely to be perfect solution and we might need to trade-off between efficiency, synergies with other activities, perception concerns, etc.
    • Inside the WMF? Report to Sue?
      • What about "Legal and Community Advocacy" or "Finance"? Not sure it fits within their missions though.(why is this better? (This department would not submit grant request, again it's all about perception. If in hte end there's no better option than you I'm fine with it :)) Got you, however the WMF will be submitting its non-core budget to the FDC, not individual departments. ****Christophe: Yes, but you're the "programmatic" face of the WMF, and the non-core would mainly be budget for your department wouldn't it be (I totally can be wrong on that)?
        • Barry: You're probably right. We most likely the group that will be most exposed in this process. In the spirit of just pushing on this line, the issue with Finance and LCA is one of orientation. They are compliance-focused groups for good reason. A lot of this work is about program work, so there may be culture gaps between applicants and the staff if they are rewarded for compliance-like work. Also, there is a lot of potential for shared learning between GD program teams and EEs, if we look beyond the approval issue to the bigger question of how do we create, implement, evaluate and scale up great programs. This is where there is a lot of alignment (rather than conflict) between GD and the EEs and grantees.
    • Direct staff assigned to the FDC?
    • Outside the WMF? Independent consultant? Part of another EE?
  • Sue: This is an important, fundamental subject, which we want to address. It's a part of a broader question of conflict of interest. We want to be aware of perception issues, but we also first and foremost want to do what's best for the Wikimedia movement. The staff is the arms and legs of the Board, who has the overall organization's best interest top of mind, and is the only entity designed and structured to be accountable to the global movement. In order to make this process fair, we wanted to make sure the WMF was in the process as well. We also did this as a gesture of good faith of the process. So yes, there might be some conflict of interest built into this, but it's actually a useful conflict of interest that creates feedback loops for improvement of the process.
  • Sydney: I agree with you, and I think it's more than that. We hire people, who come from the community, to work in this organization, but they really do think globally, and they will benefit from working in the WMF staff, who also have a global perspective. So I think we need to trust this process. Sydney noted that it will be important here to explain to the community why the FDC process is working the way it is (vis-a-vis the role of the staff). There's a communications issue here.

The communications issue is important. Christophe noted that the perception issue is real and could be damaging to the FDC process if its legitimacy were disputed. Sydney has said twice today that it'll be important for this group to communicate out to the community, and advocate on behalf of the FDC process. I think it's worth us talking at some point this weekend, about how to communicate with the community about the FDC process. -- Sue

  • Geoff: As staff members, we are responsible to the board -- we are closely watched by the board. there are feedback loops that provide checks and balances to ensure we are responsive to the board. There will be a demand that we work in support of the FDC.
  • Ting asks Geoff: What happens if an entity appraoches the FDC to say that there was a conflict of interest in the funds dissemination process? Is this a major litigation risk?
    • Geoff: No, it shouldn't be a major risk -- we ask FDC members to sign conflict of interest forms and senior staff members.

Other points discussed on this topic later in the meeting: We may consider how the FDC staff member reporting works within the WMF staff. They might need a special reporting relationship that insulates them somewhat from risks (even if they are remote) of undue influence when reviewing WMF non-core budgets. We might also consider having a couple of outside reviewers prepare a review of the WMF non-core budget along side the staff (or instead of the staff). This would address the perception issue which relates mostly to the review of WMF's own non-core budget. Comment: Chapter staff may as well have a role in this, for example in running wokshops for potential funds seekers, or other ways. (Pavel) This is such an important part of the process that I consider that it should be in the scope of work of the FDC staff. Comment:Success of FDC staff will depend on them becoming well integrated into the movement, and this will happen best with them located at WMF office. I think it is also more efficient; most of the paperwork probably will have to be done in SF. But if the goal is to have the staff well integrated into the movement, couldn't we have at least one of the two staff be nomad? Or a remote employee, employed by a chapter ? A remote staff employed by another fund requester will replace one risk with the same sort of risk. For me, I agree with Sydney that the staff should be well integrated into the movement and I wonder the best way to achieve that. My suggestion is closer to a sort of nomadic staff. I agree, this brings us back to my comment just below regarding the perception issue. Generally, "nomads" have a difficult time being connected anywhere, so not sure they will actually achieve whe we look for without a "home". Also, there are very few people in the world who have the skills we want and can live like a nomad for an extended period (and we do want people in these roles to stay long term) If staff were nomads, they would miss out on the lessons they'd otherwise get from the rest of the staff, which e.g. Sydney pointed out as an important benefit of the FDC staff being housed inside the WMF. But we should incorporate this discussion into the main text. We don't need to claim agreement was reached because it wasn't, but we can lay out the discussion that was had. Comment : I'd like this section to add a comment regarding the perception issue. It feels like there's agreement on where the staff should be and who they should report to, though there isn't one really (even though I think everyone acknowledge that efficiency wise WMF would be a good host for the FDC staff) (Christophe) Yeah that's legitimate Christophe -- can you add it to the text above? I agree it is relevant to talk about this and say that, even though the staff member(s) may report to the WMF, there will be some measures to avoid any perception by the community of capture or no-neutrality (please, English speakers help me with the right word :P ) of the staff towards the WMF. --Osmar Notes on: How can we best involve the community in the process?

   Have we appropriately captured ways that the community can/should participate in this process?  What is missing/not clear?
   How should the voluntary peer review process be structured? 
   How best to engage in multiple languages? What exactly needs to be included in the plan? 
   Needs to be some comittment to world languages--- maybe three majors?
   in local languages and summaries in English (or three major languages)?
   Is there a specific role for chapters? (e.g., facilitating community input)
   Yes in a motivational role.
   Peer review? (WCA)
  • Peter: There are so many ways that Wikipedians get involved in the community. Elections are one way -- but elections are clumsy. It's hard to have discussions with so many people. I think we could do some very good surveys of the community of editors during this process.
Sue: in terms of thinking of how we should engage the community -- surveying is really interesting, but depending on what we ask, it might have limited utility. I'd love to get thoughts on the best topics on which to engage the community
  • Jan-Bart: Another thing that the communtiy can do (and that ours does well) is to point out flaws / holes in applications, etc
  • Richard: The movement in general, and the Foundation in particular, has a multi-lingual approach. English is well used in the US and Europe, but there are several other places where English is not the most comfortable language. We need to make an effort to engage in these other **major** languages. (Chinese and Spanish in particular). I see this as supporting the ideals of our customers and contributors.
  • Sydney: I totally agree with this. We need to do a better job of this. However, I don't want to overpromise on this.
    • Asaf: agree that tasking the FDC with solving our language inclusion challenge would be unfair. I'd point out that our technology is independently improving
  • Sue: The translation issue is really important and really challenging. in the past at convenings, the attendees were all very fluent in English. In more recent years, there have been more tiers of English fluency -- we're starting to reach the limits of English as a global language. We now routinely translate our reports to ~6-8 languages, but a necessary precondition to that is the the text needs to be brief. So to the extent that our movement builds consensus through long conversations (which is what we do), we cannot do that globally in multiple languages. We will definitely be asking representatives in different entities for input, to make sure we're getting some global representation.
  • Osmar: The language issue is really important -- it will be really hard for many communities to engage on this topic -- which is long, technical, and boring!-- in English if it's not their native language. So the conversations with happen within langauge communities (e.g., Spanish conversations about Spanish applications). That might be a great starting point, and then the goal would be to translate that to English to get broader engagement or translation. So we shouldn't be afraid to encourage discussions in native languages.
  • Thomas: More importantly, we should encourage applications to be submitted in native languages so that thse communities can comment on that. The role of the staff should be to translate those conversations into English.
    • That isn't what the proposal says. The proposal requires applications to be submitted in English. -- Sue
That's right, Sue -- currently the proposal says that entities need to do the translations themselves so that they can ultimately submit applications in English -Meera
  • Libbie: One idea is to provide a small "translation budget" so that entities can pay to have their proposals professionally translated into English. That puts the responsibility of getting the translation done on the applicant, but doesn't unduly tax them from a fundraising perspective. I don't think that's necessary for the purposes of the FDC. For the FDC process we're talking about entities with budgets and staff: they should be well-placed to commission their own translations. Providing translation support (actual translations, or money for translations) probably makes sense for small entities without staff, but they won't be applying for FDC funding. I would assume that entities applying for FDC funds would just build any costs of translation into their own budgets. (Again, to Thomas's point: for the purposes of this discussion I'm talking about the application, not the discussion surrounding the application.) -- Sue
  • Barry: The only thing I take issue with is that we can't put everything on the staff -- we can't have a "UN-like" budget for translations. we've had the community do translations in the past, and that's been succesful -- we should leverage the community if possible.
  • Thomas: We can't have lanugage be a hinderance
  • Barry: I agree. Language shouldn't be a hindrance. Where should the burden of translation lie? It should be shared pragmatically. If it is pure staff, then we start building a bureaucratic ediface. Our best solution is community translation where we can rely on community translation and paying for translation should be a last resort.
  • Asaf: FDC applicants are likely to all have the capacity to do this in English. Let's not try to solve the language problem more broadly if we don't anticipate that it's going to be an issue in the nearterm for the FDC.
  • Sue: I mentioned on the tallk page that I think the EE should be responsible and in control of translation.
  • Thomas: My biggest concern is not the application, it's the discussion behind it. The EE will likely NOT want to translate things that are said badly about their request. We should plan that the staff might spend a lot of time getting translations of the comments about a specific request.
  • Geoff: There is the possiblity of a translation contract in principal languages outsourced to a low-cost center where applicants could submit for translation.
  • Christophe: At work we use a mid-cost translation company. They bill us araound 0,008€ the word for content from EN to FR. It could do the trick, and it would be scale to some extent.
  • Geoff: I would frankly look for companies in India or other low cost venues. We could negotiate price and number of work units. Costs could be paid by the requesting entity, but the price would reflect the advantages of a leveraged negotiation. ++this idea. One caveat: Translations are never accurate - but that is not unique to us: just a fact of life in an international community.
    • We have gotten around this in the past by having the community take a pass through after a paid translation - that's a MUCH easier ask than a translate from blank page. ~philippe

Notes on: How can we be more explicit about the KINDS of grants that go through this process?

  • When should an organization apply to the FDC vs. other grants processes (e.g., Foundation or other chapter grants programs)?
    • "Untied program money." (What does untied mean in this context?)
    • "EE support funding."
  • Thomas: We're discussing operating funds to chapters-- but sometimes the scope of our discussion goes beyond this. For example, funding to potential eligible entities, or funding "programs" for eligible entities. What would we do, for example, for an African community who wanted to create an educational program (that needs to be funded year over year) on WikiUniversity? Would these funds go through the FDC? Right now, this funding wouldn't.
  • Barry: The way you've mentioned this, there is a channel for this -- the Wikimedia Grants program, for example. We also have the participation and special support grant programs, and chapters have their own grant programs.
  • Jan- Bart: But this is all under the purview of the FDC because the WMF (which runs the Grants Program) and other chapter budgets are funded by the FDC.
  • Sydney: The reason we took out the dollar amount is that down the road, the FDC is a venue for many other entities. We want to make it such that other organizations can come into the process in future years. We want to give unlimited and unrestricted funds to groups. Here is a link to the Education Program process that Sydney mentioned: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Education_Working_Group
  • Pavel: What is the difference between planning for a grants process with the WMF Grants Program vs the FDC?
    • Jan-Bart: I think the biggest difference is that the Grants program has fewer controls / less scrutiny - but still scrutiny ;). It doesn't require a big plan with full, detailed templates / budgets. These go to different desks to manage the load of the grant reviewers -- we don't want to burden the FDC with small grants when we want them to provide deep oversight over the larger grants
  • Stu: the biggest difference is that the FDC funds operating plans, and the WMF grants program funds projects. In the latter, an entity doesn't have to justify its existance, track record, ability to execute on the plan, etc. But for FDC grants, the grants are more to the ENTITY and not specifically to the line-items within that entity's plan.
  • Pavel: So would WMDe use both the FDC (for operating budget) AND the GAC (for very specific projects)?
    • Sue: What would be easier for you?
    • Richard: It probably depends on the success ratio -- which has the best chance of getting approved?
    • Laura: And if you think about "risks" -- this is one of them. Will people just apply to whichever grants program is more "likely" or "convenient" (timing wise)
    • Ting: it's first a decision you (the entity) has to make -- do you want the project to be managed by WMDe (in which case the FDC is the best bet because it's an unrestricted grant), or by the WMF (in which case the WMF Grants Program is the right venue)
    • We need to be careful not to have folks looking for the "easier" venue. It would also be disastrous for the grants program, if more established orgs who should be in the FDC process eats up the limited budget that is really intended for projects and somewhat oriented toward a wider audience of projects within and continguous to the community
  • Libbie: To get clear; the FDC funds unrestricted annual plans for entities, not individual projects that do not have an annual plan associated with them
    • Jan-Bart: This makes sense. And it gets back to Stu's suggestion of the "program" nomenclature.
    • Ting: How does the FDC balance allocations in Round 1 and Round 2? If it's an annual planning process, shouldn't there just be one round?
    • Libbie: Is one way around that to ensure that entities apply in the round closest to their fiscal year?
    • Sue: That might create unnecessary restriction on the process. Track record and time will help with the process, but overall we need to keep the process simple.
    • Richard: I've seen this particular discussion in Rotary Clubs. The most successful Rotary Clubs are the ones that take a long term view, and build up a sizable reserve (~over 3 years). Taking a 'raise the money this year', 'spend the money this year' mentality may be too short-sighted and may make it hard for planning for fund-seekers and the board, who is allocating funds to the FDC.
    • Sue: We're not there yet as we don't have that reserve built up, but we may need to get there
    • Stu: However, the last thing we want is to have a lot of cash piled up -- we do get sued a lot so that's a liability
    • Richard: I'd suggest something like +10% or 15% / year to build the reserves. The legal team should be in charge of thinking of the legal issues.
      • I think this is an important point that Richard's making right now. One of the things that's been articulated today is that the needs & goals & practices of a grant-making institution (and also of grant-seekers) are somewhat different from the needs & goals & practices of an ordinary operating non-profit. Kathy had said earlier that grant-making institutions typically try to find a way to fund multi-year grants, both because it's better & more predictable for fund-seekers, and because it's more efficient for the grant-making organization. But we can't currently do that, because we are not sitting on a pile of cash. What Richard is proposing is (in effect) that we transition from being a solely operating non-profit ..... into also being a grant-making institution. To do that would require aggressively building our reserves. Peter/Smallbones suggests that this should be a topic for the next strategy process. -- Sue
    • Smallbones: This raises an important issue that may need to be a part of the next strategic plan-- do we need an endowment?
  • Barry: I don't think that those that take part in the FDC process should also take part in the other grants processes. At the Foundation, we want to reserve our grants program budget for smaller, newer entities in doing projects and building capacity. It also stops the issue of entities gaming the system.
  • Sydney: If anything, we should be worried about people who stay in the WMF Grants Program / GAC process for too long and don't "graduate" to the FDC. We need to be thinking about the outcomes we should expect, which we can continue to track with the FDC process.
    • Barry; Sydney's point is great I think it would be a great addition to the recommendation if there were a set of criteria for entities that MUST go through the FDC process. < GAC

General operating support & above $X > FDC General operating support & below $X > can choose FDC or GAC AND, if you are applying for the FDC, you cannot also apply to the GAC

Except I think that if you are requesting from the GAC, funds are restricted, right? Yes

^^^^^^Is this clear: does this make sense to people? -- Sue

Sounds right to me. --Asaf
Good by me -Richard.
Yes, it does to me. We can change "restricted" to "project" and "unrestricted" to "general operating funds" and we are done. +1
For me, it's ok, although I think the money barrier is unnecesary. --Osmar
  • Terms for FDC board members-- is 4 years too long? +1+1+1
    • Proposal to make the term 2 years, but to allow re-election for another term (a total of 4 consecutive years), after which members have to step down for at least two year DONE!
    • Sydney: From experience, even three years was really long
    • DECISION! 2 year terms, with possibility to serve a total of 4 consecutive years
  • Addressing inactivity of FDC members +1+1
    • Sydney: We need to prepare and plan for this. It WILL happen. We can't set the expectation that it will be 9 people doint the work and it ends up being 2-3.
    • Pavel: The size of 9 should mitigate against this to some extent, right? So do we need to do more mitigation against 1-2 not participating?
    • Asaf: But it might be more like 6-7 people not active, which is a big problem
    • Stu: Need to think about how to really maintain high participation -- it really decreases morale and affects the group dynamic to have people missing. We need to have clear expectations and consequences.
    • Sydney: Agree, we need to build in clear protocol -- like you have to respond to the other members within XX amount of time.
    • Ting: This has happened with ChapComm -- so what they did is asked the inactive members if they still wanted to be on the committee. And they said yes, but continued being inactive -- how do we prevent this?
    • Sydney: In ArbComm, we articulated a formal, forced "inactive" status, which we used to determine new definitions of "quorum" etc.
    • Sue: We need to outline clear expectations of what's required e.g., attendance requirements. For the board, we did all of these things. We also required that members communicate in advance if inactivity is required (e.g., upcoming vacation or busy work schedule). We also outlined consequences, in case members continued to be inactive. We also have a board "whip" who is the "tough guy" who enforced all of these issues. It's important that the whip be understood by everyone to be acting in the interests of the group and the process -- they are being *asked* to bring discipline to the group, so the group can function well. Also, it's important to know "what's in it for the FDC folks"?
    • Richard: In organizations I've worked with, there are "volunteer reserves," to account for the fact that volunteers are inherently unreliable. And +1 to Sue's attendance requirement and other expectations, including quorum.
    • Some comments heard about have a 5 or 7 quorum within the 9 person board? (effectively the same as Richard's proposal for "reserves") This is a good proposal. +1
      • This is also the model of the Russian Arbcom (they have provisional arbs) ~philippe
    • Wikipedia English ArbCom Audit Subcommitee has reserve members. Also, WMF Ombud Comm has reserve member.
  • Barry: Question that hasn't been answered is "how to remove members who are inactive for extended periods in a manner that doesn't create a painful diversion for the committee?" I think the whip and the chair are responsible for leading that. The WMF Board I think needs to have a majority vote to kick anyone out: the FDC could decide if that makes sense for it, or some variant of that.
    • On arbcom, it's done in a very "matter of fact" manner - they just post a notice on the noticeboard. But that only works if it's consistently enforced and doesn't feel like being put in the "naughty chair".. but they also allow for the immediate reinstatement when the Arb becomes active again.
  • Perks that *really* make people want to join the FDC :-) +1
  • Official role of chapters throughout this process?
  • "Core" activities for EE´s / chapters
  • How to build the inaugural FDC membership and how to recruit for it awesome people (we can talk about this tomorrow)
  • How to communicate with the community about the FDC process (a couple of people have noted this is important) (also a potential for tomorrow)

Sunday, June 10th Discussion[edit]

Agenda for Sunday, 9-12[edit]

  • Assessment and continuous improvement of the FDC
    • Building the inaugural FDC - how can we recruit really amazing people for this body and what perks do we want to include to make people want to join the FDC?
  • Review and refine summary of discussion
  • How to communicate with the community about the FDC process
    • Key messages to share with the community
  • Next steps for the Advisory Group
    • Check-out

Continuous Improvement at the FDC

  • Laura summarized the current Continous Improvement section of the Draft Proposal
  • Pavel: Let's add some clear measurements that we can apply in a two year period. E.g., amount of money spent (%), number of complaints.
    • Peter: One measure may be how many projects were considered (not necessarily how many were accepted).
    • Barry: On time performance.
    • Osmar: It will also be important to see how many of the potential EE have asked funds, to see if the FDC is trusted by the entities and there are no "fears" of it.
    • Christophe : We need both KPIs (as hard data) and a regular survey for the EE requesting funds (statisfaction) -- yes. I think it's important with regard to fundseekers that we measure both satisfaction (the kind of thing laid out here http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_and_Funds_Dissemination/Survey/Backdrop) and impact. Impact would be organizational development and increased capacity of EEs, and so forth.
    • Thomas: Hard, but important to measure capacity building
    • Peter: New projects that have been funded after two years
    • Sue: I’m thinking that it might make sense to explicitly lay out the different stakeholders --fund seekers, the FDC, the Board, the community-- and assess their effectiveness and satisfaction separately. To measure their own performance in the process and satisfaction with the process itself. A key measure is community satisfaction in the process because that’s the point of structuring it in this way. We also need to figure out to measure lessons for the entire movement -- is the FDC becoming a center of excellence, are the relevant players getting smarter about what creates impact?
    • Sydney: We need to consider whether this is realistic. Is this something we can do at all.
    • Thomas: On the same page, we need to consider our committees (e.g., GAC). Not only measuring the FDC but grant programs (for comparison).
    • Pavel: An important factor is the amount of time people spend reviewing materials, staff reviewing it etc... It may turn out we're spending a huge amount of time on this. One of the major success of the FDC in two years time will be whether entities that are currently not seeking funds start seeking funds. For me this is a unique thing and this is something that is very new that we would like to measure as well.
    • Laura: One of my observations is that these measures are very good. We need to realize that this is learning process. It's important for us to be pragmatic about how far we can get in the next two years. A lot of this will be complicated and messy.
    • Richard: We need to keep the FDC in the community though...... don't simplify it to the point that the WMF is running it internally.
    • Sue. That's true. The benefit of fleshing out the measures of success (even if unimaginably ambitious). The implications of success can be laid out soon when we know those measurements.
    • Osmar: It will be important to follow the activity of FDC members to see whether level of involvement (e.g., having five members that were not active?). It will be important for us to see in the first year.
  • Laura: The advisory group is playing a role in this process (in coming back after the first year to help do that audit). One consideration is the amount of effort in the assessment process. How can we assess this process so that it's not super onerous.
    • Thomas: What will the involvement of Bridgespan be?
    • Laura: We are involved through the design process. Potential inputs might be an external auditor - of course that builds in cost and other things into the process.
    • Thomas: I see an important role of an organization like Bridgespan but I also see the importance of the role of the advisory group. If we divide amongst ourselves, I think we can pay close attention to the process and work together.
    • Barry: We could decide (we don't have to decide today) that there is a role for an external evaluator who does the quantitative/qualitative evaluation from the outside.
    • Thomas: What about ongoing participation? We can lose a lot of content in the process. It's easy to forget a lot of data over time.
    • Barry: One way to do that is by having surveys of participants over time. Grantees could complete a simple survey that would allow us to build a data repository.
    • Peter: Rather than having an external group, maybe surveys or summarizes from FDC members could go to the Ombudsman that could be brought up later if a problem comes up.
  • Laura: How could this be designed to attract a great set of individuals to become members of the FDC?
    • Sydney: Roles need to be very well designed. Those interested should also have an opportunity to speak to us. It's going to be a big job and we can't let people not think that. It shouldn't be a popularity contest.
    • Peter: I'd like to say at this point that the FDC is going to draw a lot of fire. They are going to have to say sometimes that "this project isn't strong enough". If the Foundation spends too much on the FDC (e.g., trips to Wikimania), then the FDC needs to be quite aware of its public image. Having too much of funds spent on the FDC itself would be something we should manage.
    • Thomas: I see the FDC playing a very important role in the transition from project based, local funds to a global movement. Time and money should be spent in creating the environment so that people understand that. E.g., Learning journeys where FDC members and fund requesters can find out what's happening in several locations. If the FDC and fund requesters get to understand that, we get to a point where we can become a very global movement and make fund allocation decisions more wisely.
    • Sydney: I hate to be negative but what if we have someone run for the position with the platform of hurting the process. This has happened before and we can't rule out the possibility in happens here.
    • Sue: We have thought about this. What we have done to mitigate this is create a "Pledge of Personal Committment". Members must affirm that they are joining the FDC in good faith. You could join as a friendly critic but not as an active dissenter.
    • Pavel: With Wikimania coming up in Washington, I would assume 50% would be in Washington. Perhaps we should do something in Wikimania to attract them (e.g., running a session). This would allow us to set expectations and give individuals an opportunity to ask questions.
    • Pavel: Are there perks to being a member of the Board of Trustees?
      • Jan-Bart: I get to have dinner with Jimmy. I think it would be valuable to see what members think is a good idea. Training could be something that would help you in other ways.
      • Ting: We have budget for members of the Board (~$2000) to education and training
      • Jan-Bart: I don't think many people use that budget. That also takes time and energy.
    • Sue: People involved in Wikimedia are intrinsically motivated. Sometimes these individuals are then uncomfrotable with receiving an honorarius or other money. Kathy brought this up yesterday but I think the idea of "site visits" should be something we explore. This would look like FDC members making site visits and attending different events. The difficulty with this is that its a lot of time and a lot of energy. A few members of the Board get a half-day from their organizations to dedicate to Wikimedia. I think the opportunity to travel 2-4x a year to make site visits (in the context of time constraints) would be an appropriate reward that would bring learning into the movement.
    • Ting: I have also considered travelling but that also doesn't attract a lot. There is always a danger of corruption since the FDC is going to be distributing a lot of money.
    • Thomas: There are risks as you say Ting but I complete agree with Sue. We can avoid that because these site visits don't necessarily have to mean visiting those areas were there are fund requests. It could be other areas where there are things happening in the movement. Going to places it changes the approach and understanding of our movement.
    • Geoff: After the Board, the FDC will be one of the most important committees, if not the most important one. I wonder if a name change of the committee is appropriate to capture the work and mission of the committee as being more than simply disseminating funds. Stu made this suggestion yesterday, though I might try some other names. Members of the committee must feel they are more than accountants - they are in fact making incredibly important decisions on how we will be defining the movement over the next few years.

-- Yes, agreed Geoff. Stu and I spoke a little more about that last night, and we both felt that our vision of the FDC members is shifting away from them being focused on controls & accountabilities (the staff will handle that part), and towards them being focused on programmatic excellence. Like I said yesterday, more "people like Liam" and less "people like Garfield." Which yeah, would kind of argue for a name change. -- Sue

    • Sydney: One thing could be leadership training. It would be a value that people could carry with them beyond the movement.
    • Osmar: One remark about the travels: diversity is very important in the FDC. What will be important is for FDC members to feel like they are part of something in their local areas or cultural group. It will be important in a motivational way, but also more efficient in terms of time and money. E.g., for someone from the Phillipines to travel to Indonesia - it would be more efficient and motivating than Germany to Indonesia or the other way around.
    • Ali: I think we are giving too much attention to this topic of compensation. The quality of this movement lies within our volunteers. We have thousands of people who work with us without any discussion of benefit. When we start working for the movement we don't think about rewards. Working on an article itself is a very rewarding thing. We don't need to put too much attention into this. This fits with my perception..- Richard. // +1 --Osmar
    • Sue: I think that's right Ali. I had two semi-related thoughts. 1) I think that good hunting grounds will be in the community of people who are retired from work. If we allow FDC members to travel internationally, we should have members give public reports of their visits. This is again another responsibility - so I think that retired individuals would have more time. 2) Leadership training: There is not current center of excellence in the Wikimedia movement. To the extent that we want the FDC to be a center of excellence and leadership, we are going to have to do a lot of the work ourselves. The benefit will be that we start to develop standards, practices, and understanding in a more facilitated way. The FDC defining this will be important for the movement. We know a lot but we haven't articulated this.

Richard: Looking for retired/old participants is a good idea. They can contribute expertise and 'life experience' .... what happend to SCORE? it may be a model.

    • Asaf: Following up on what Ting said, I think it may be an issue to have the FDC to travel on someone else's dime. I wonder if it would make sense to have the FDC only travel on the FDC's own travel budget - not on 'solicited' visits.
    • Sue: This is a standard practice in grant-making bodies.
      • Geoff: Right. And Asaf's point is that we should include that specific point in the pledge. Makes sense to me.
    • Peter: Who oversees the FDC travel budget?
      • Sue: The Chair
    • Ali: I appraise loans for individuals in countries. Sometimes we have meetings with clients in their offices. I personally don't even take tea when I visit someone's office who has applied for a loan. It should be the same for the FDC.
    • Thomas: But if we are that concerned about the relationship of FDC members and fund requesters, what about the relationship with the WMF? My point here is that we should assume good faith, more than try to antecipate all sorts of conflic of interests.
    • Barry: I think we need to be realistic in this discussion of travel and moderate it a bit. It isn't realistic to expect that the FDC is going to have on-the-ground knowledge about the range of programs that will come to their attention. The volume will be too great and I'd be concerned that the FDC would get in a mode of wanting to substitute its own limited observations of local contexts for the judgment of local groups. I think travel or "learning trips" should be really focused on general learning with prescribed goals.We also need to recognize that travel isn't a scalable solution to global knowledge sharing in our movement, we have to find online solutions to sharing given our scale. +1 +1 +1
      • Osmar: I think travel is only one option that might be useful in the future, not something we should take as granted.
  • Laura: We have done some synthesis of our notes from yesterday. We wanted to get to some agreement about the changes to the FDC proposal. This exercise is the "minutes of our meeting". The next exercise will be your personal reflections on the process.

(((((((( TEXT TO BE POSTED ON META BEGINS BELOW )))))))

Summarized Meeting Notes - working text[edit]

1. Role of the staff The group had an in-depth discussion about the role of the staff in this process. While the group agreed that it would be ideal to have the community and volunteers lead in this process, there was strong agreement that, at least initially, until the community builds capacity and expertise in funds dissemination, the staff will have a key role in making this process function effectively. This is particularly important in the FDC's early years, because the process will need to function in a timely fashion, in order to ensure fund-seeking organizations can continue to function without being crippled by FDC delays. The purpose of assigning staff to support the work of the FDC was articulated as three things:

  • 1) To support the FDC so it can focus its limited time on being evaluative rather than doing administrative work;
  • 2) To support the Board of Trustees, which is also made up of volunteers, and is therefore also time-constrained, and;
  • 3) to support the process so it evolves over time and functions smoothly and in a timely fashion for fund-seekers.

The practical ability of WMF staff to be impartial, as well as issues related to perception of staff bias, were also discussed at length. Other questions were raised about whether the FDC staff should be housed within the Foundation, or within a different department in the Foundation.

Other options for housing FDC staff were discussed, including haveing "nomadic or chapter based staff" , but the general sense was that there were many benefits of housing staff within the Foundation, to increase the opportunity to efficiently share learning (with staff who support the Wikimedia Grants Program and other functions), attract the highest caliber talent, and potential for professional development and learning as part of an organization with capacity to support growth. Further, given that there will be peaks and valleys in the workload, it may not require 2 full-time dedicated employees and thus the staff can serve other valuable functions in the organization. Two main checks on the WMF staff will be the Board's oversight and the transparency of the process. Staff are needed to do things that are not reasonable to expect of volunteers, but FDC members can do their own in-depth review of all back up materials, etc. Further, it was discussed that staff are in a position of checking eligibility, doing due diligence, and developing a comprehensive assessment of the proposal, but they are not the decision-makers in this process, the FDC is making the recommendation to the Board. The perception issues are real ones but they should not drive how this is structured. Some thought will need to be given to communication about the FDC and the role of the WMF staff in the process. 2. Role of the community The biggest issue that was discussed was dealing with the issue of language and translation. It was recognized that the movement is multi-lingual, and that, increasingly, assuming that business will be conducted in English is not appropriate. A question was raised about who should be responsible for translation - whether it should be the EE or whether it should be the staff of the WMF. Given that EEs will be organizations with capacity to do or engage community support in doing translation, this may be best, so that they can be responsible for ensuring the translated application is a true representation of their proposal. The challenge is that much of the discussion on the application should be done in the native language of the EE. and it is not clear how that discussion would be translated so that the WMF staff and FDC could review that. It was discussed that this issue is not unique to the FDC and we can’t expect the FDC to resolve it by themselves. Some suggested low-cost solutions for translation that the EEs or the WMF could access, to augment the community translation capacity.

I can see each EE translate their own fund requests, but the FDC staff should be responsible for conducting the summarized translation of the discussion that took place in a native language. The summarized and translated community discussion may become one of the most important inputs the FDC will consider when evaluating the adherence of the community to the proposed request of funds. As we all know, the most valuable resource in our movement is NOT money, BUT the time and engagement of our local volunteers.
Comment: I dont know if we are raising expectations with that, but the language issue is one that needs to be discussed more, not only in regards to the FDC. If we want to significantly improve the participation of non-english speakers in the discussion, the FDC might be the perfect point to start. However, we should only adress this if we really see a possibility to tackle that problem (Pavel)
My concern would be to avoid creating a false pretense of tackling this problem, a false sense of inclusion, when in fact we still won't be able to accommodate meaningful interaction with/by non-English speakers. I think we must be very careful, as you say, to only commit to what we can, and are determined to, see implemented. --Asaf
Asaf, I think you are right. Yet, we need to have a discussion what we want to achieve in this regards. If the decision is made that we need to incorporate more non-english speakers in discussions, than someone needs to start thinking about how to do so. Yes, it is not an easy problem to solve, yet it is very important. But, again, this has to do only in part with the FDC.
We should say that translation will be considered when there are really important language barriers. For example, a discussion in Spanish won't be really complicated -probably we will have some Spanish-speaker at the FDC so we won't need translation- but maybe Macedonian or Mongolian in the future can be more complicated situations. --Osmar

Richard: Constrain your effort to what is doable.... the major languages. 3. Clarity on the types of grants to go through the FDC There were questions throughout the day about what types of funding requests should go through the FDC vs. other funding sources in the movement. A few questions included:

  • Is there a size limit for when an applicant MUST apply through the FDC?
  • Is there a minimum sized grant that should go through the FDC?
  • Can applicants apply to more than one funding source?
  • Can applicants apply more than once a year?
  • Can applicants apply for project grants?

It was discussed that an important goal of the FDC is to build the number and capacity of organizations within our movement working effectively towards the achievement of movement objectives. The FDC's role is to fund organizations, not individual programs, and therefore the funding that should go through the FDC program should be "unrestricted" funding for annual plans.

One of the risks discussed was that if applicants are allowed to apply through multiple grants processes (e.g., FDC, WMF grants program, chapter grants programs), they might try to "game" the system, applying to whichever grants program is more likely to give them money and/or when it is most convenient. Also, too much flexibility might just result in unhelpful confusion, with fund-seekers unsure about where to apply for funding. We therefore agreed that it is important to be clear about which funding requests go to the FDC, versus other programs. It was therefore suggested that once applicants are eligible for the FDC, decide to add ongoing staff and/or require/desire general operating support they must request all of their funds through the FDC.

The following criteria were suggested for when requests should go through the FDC vs. other grants programs:

  • Project support > must go to Foundation and other entity grants programs
  • General operating support & above $X > must go to FDC
  • General operating support & below $X > can choose FDC or GAC
  • AND, if you are applying for the FDC, you cannot also apply to the GAC

An open question that was not resolved was what the $ threshold would be where entities must apply to the FDC. And more clarity is needed about what the distnction between "project support" vs. "general operating support" really entails. 4. Use of surplus funds Questions were raised about what should happen if there are surplus funds that the FDC does not allocate. Some people felt that adding surplus funds to the general reserve might not be the highest and best use of those funds; others felt that building a large reserve would be necessary in order for the WMF to evolve into an organization that has among its roles the ability to be a good grant-making institution (e..g, to offer multi-year grants). Similarly, questions were raised about what should happen if the FDC needs more funds than it was originally allocated.

A few suggestions were raised:

  • One suggestion was whether the FDC could have its own, second reserve. Several Board members said that this would be too complicated.
  • A question was also raised as to whether the FDC would be able to request funds be drawn from reserves where there are particularly promising opportunities for investment or if fundraising targets are not met. The Board has said that the FDC allocation will be set once a year by the Board in the annual planning cycle, and exists independent of fundraiser performance. The Board has the ability to change the allocation mid-year if it wants to, but that would only happen in extraordinary circumstances.

5. Applicant eligibility requirements There was concern that the requirement that applicants have a "consecutive two-year track record" of receiving grants would exclude applicants who happen to have skipped a year for legitimate reasons. A proposal was made that the language should be changed from "two consecutive grants" to "two grants successfully completed." Comment: I can understand why we would prefer to limit the number of eligible entities in the first one or two years of the FDC (a learning process that will happen best with those entities that are already very active in the movement and closely associated with the WMF), but in the medium-term, I believe the third criterion should be excluded so that the FDC could better foster the movement growth by funding new eligible entities with track record outside of the movement. 6. Application timeline There were questions about the number/timing of application deadlines for the FDC throughout the year -- should it be rolling, once a year, twice a year? There was a long discussion on this point. It was agreed that ultimately, the process needs to balance between two competing goals: offering as much flexibility as possible for funds-seekers, and enabling the FDC to evaluate proposals in the context of the full slate of applications. It is not possible for the FDC to do both, so a balance needs to be struck.

Many people suggested that two rounds of funding is reasonable given that applicants will be applying for a full year of funds, and most applicants have fiscal years that align with either calendar year (and therefore can submit on Sept 15) or July-June (and therefore can submit on Feb. 15)

A questions was raised about how the FDC will balance allocations between Round 1 and Round 2. It was suggested that entities be required to apply in the round closest to their fiscal year, but others thought that might make the process too rigid, undermining the goal of offering choice to fund-seekers.

7. Multi-year requests Questions were raised about whether the FDC would provide multi-year grants, given that this could provide a greater level of stability to grantees (EEs have operating costs such as leases, paid staff, etc.) and would be more efficient for the FDC. One of the challenges discussed is that WMF is not primarily a grant-making entity, and it doesn’t have an endowment or significant reserve from which to make multi-year commitments. Multi-year commitments also reduce the potential for regular assessment and learning from in-progress work. The result is that EE’s will have some level of uncertainty; some EEs are diversifying their funding base to deal with this. In any case, the current proposal offers a pragmatic approach, a bias toward providing stable support for multi-year projects but not a guarantee of funds. We underscore that multi-year programs are valuable in some areas and actions that prematurely cut funding to in-progress work without a strong rationale would undermine the movement's ability to make serious investments for the long term health of the movement. Ultimately, it may be strategic for WMF to seek to build an endowment, or a very large operating reserve, in order to transition from being solely an operating non-profit, to an operating nonprofit + grant-making institution

Comment: Apart from the multi-year projects, I would again raise the question of core operations in chapters. Especially large chapters do some work locally  that is considered core within the WMF: legal, PR, HR, etc. (Pavel) +1 as said few weeks ago, I'd really like to see the operating budget of EE to be treated separately.  (I think this has been asked & answered by the Board. It could be noted here as a desire expressed by some, but I think it's a closed question.) I have read comments on this from Board memebsr, but was not aware that the Board already made a decission on this? Ask them -- they are right here :-)


8. Role of the FDC in evaluating proposals There was concern that the FDC evaluation process might duplicate or override the lengthy and thoughtful development, vetting, and evaluation process that applying entities go through with their own boards and communities.

It was then discussed that local boards are responsible for reviewing plans and budgets with regard to their particular context. The FDC has a broader role of evaluating the plan with regard to global movement goals. These are two different kinds of scrutiny that will be applied to the EE’s plan and budget. The evaluation criteria should include an assessment of the process that the EE takes in their own budget process. It should reward things like planning that is linked to the movement strategy, engagement of their local community in the review process, and robust assessment of prior work with a healthy mix of decisions in the budget to reduce/eliminate activities that do not achieve desired impact. The FDC and its staff should in fact not only reward the EE's that conduct a strong and participative planning and evaluation process themselves, but they should create the environment and dissemninate best practices so that other EE's could learn and apply similar processes.

9. Role of the Ombudsperson The discussion of the Ombudsman role was fairly brief. The Ombudsperson will not serve as a member of the FDC, or attend FDC meetings. The purpose is facilitation, documentation, visibility, and transparency around conflict and conflict resolution. The Ombudsperson can also play an important role in monitoring of the overall process and providing input into the evaluation of the FDC. It was observed that it will be important to get more clear about the ombudsperson’s role (i.e., what they will do and what they will NOT do) in the draft proposal. Comment: I think it is important to add some provision about how this ombudsperson can engage with all the communities and not only its own one. This can be related to the problem of how to engage with multilingual communities (point 2). --Osmar 10. Criteria for FDC members It was discussed that the FDC election process will be organized by the community in the same way that Board elections are and held in parallel, it's not perfect, but there are a lot of benefits to doing it this way. Comment : Hmmm this section should be amended, not sure it's such a good idea to have those two elections at the same time. They're two different roles, and I fear having them at the same time would lead to some misunderstanding to what the FDC is (sidenote, don't remember who said that, but it would surely end as a bigger popularity contest in the end). +1 Comment: I worry that if we create a whole new election process, we'll really struggle with low "turnout" from the community and open the FDC to undue influence by small groups. Popularity contests might be an even bigger problem if the electorate is very small and comes from a specific group in the movement. You're right. But we know that few personns actually are able to read all the content published by every signle candidate to the board, adding to that the FDC election would not help. I actually don't have the answer, but this will be, I think, an issue to tackle pretty quickly as its both important and complicated. +1 on that. My thinking is that we need to improve the process we have rather than create two weak processes. -1 :-) I actually think that if the election process is weak, we need to fix the election process so it's robust and turnout increases. We need a good functioning election process. +10 to both of your comments :) just I doubt we will be able to solve that for the next run but I totally agree on that. There was also in-depth discussion of whether board or staff of EEs could serve on the FDC. The practical concern of excluding these individuals is that they are the people with the most expertise and relevant experience, and there is a finite number of individuals with these skills who will be interested in serving. Some believed it would be sufficient to have these members recuse themselves from decisions related to the entity they are affiliated with, others believed that FDC members should resign from their board or staff role in order to serve on the FDC. Ultimately the group agreed that recusal would be sufficient. 11. Term lengths for FDC members There was concern that 4 years was too long and that few volunteers would feel comfortable making such a long term commitment or members would have a high potential of burning out before their term is complete. The group agreed to change term lengths to 2 years with no renewal limits. 12. Addressing inactivity of FDC members There was concern, given experience with other roles in the movement, that there should be a plan in place when/if FDC members become inactive or unresponsive and to keep FDC members motivated and engaged as much as possible. There was a long discussion on this point, which drew on experiences and best practices from elsewhere in the movement, including the WMF Board of Trustees and the Arb Coms.

Agreement was reached on the following:

  • Expectations for what's required of FDC members (attendance, participation, duration, etc) need to be made very clear;
  • The quorum for decision making should be set at 5 or 7, to allow for short-term inactivity of a couple of members at any given time;
  • A clear process should be delineated for FDC members to go through if they need to be inactive for a period of time;
  • There need to be clear processes for reaching out to FDC members if they become inactive without warning (e.g., establishing a "whip" on the FDC in charge of reaching out to members)
  • There need to be clear consequences for FDC members if they are inactive for a set period of time (e.g., Board has majority vote in kicking people out)
  • There needs to be a clear outline of "what's in it" for FDC members so they understand the importance and benefit of their role
  • In addition to FDC members, alternate members should be elected at the same time to cope the disapearance of a FDC member

13. Metrics for evaluating the FDC There was much discussion about how to very clearly articulate expectations for what success for the FDC should look like and develop metrics to measure performance against that success. Some metrics discussed were:

  • Amount of money spent (% of envelope, growth)
  • Number of complaints
  • Number and growth of applications submitted (as a percentage of EEs)
  • On-time performance
  • Satisfaction
  • Capacity built and fostered (improvements in each EE's planning and evaluation processes with participation of local communities)
  • New projects, new entities, new ideas funded
  • Lessons generated
  • Time spent for each stakeholder
  • Level of involvement/participation of FDC
  • Parallel development and impact of other internal grant initiatives

It was also suggested that expectations should be laid for different stakeholders (fund seekers, the FDC, the Board, the community, other grant-making programs) and assess each groups' eff ectiveness and satisfaction. Satisfaction could be measured through surveys to the different stakeholders. Several people noted that when these measures are constructed, they must be structured to ensure they are staged and realistic given the learning and evolution of the FDC in the early years. There was also a question about who would be responsible for tracking these metrics. Some suggestions for those who would have a role include an external evaluator, the ombudsperson, Advisory Group members, and the WMF staff.

14. Incentives to attract members to the FDC The group discussed different investments that should be made to support and attract FDC members. Some suggestions included:

  • Site visits/learning journeys
  • Leadership training support
  • Travel support to Wikimania, chapters' Conference and other major Wikimedia events

There was also concern about spending too much money on the FDC, given its position under scrutiny by the movement. There was also concern of corruption if FDC members were offered travel or gifts from applicants, it was decided that restrictions against this would be written into the proposal. It was discussed that at this point, an honorarium would NOT be offered to FDC members. A related point was made that it might be useful to enable fund seekers to engage in learning journeys, themselves (visiting other groups in the movement, particularly those within the same region) Comment : We didn't talk about it, and it's a detail, but we might want to provide a really transparent financial report regarding the operating costs of the FDC. Good point. Comment in general: Maybe I overlooked it in the draft document, but beside the role of community and staff, we talked about the role of the chapters (individually and / or through the Chapters Association) in this process. I see the potential for some of the vetting of proposals to be done within the boards or the chapters or within the WCA; also, facilitating the "local" discussion about the FDC in general and funding requests in general might be another role. Thirdly, finding the right candidates for the FDC could be supported by chapters as well.

Advisory Group Discussion of Summarized Notes[edit]

  • Laura: The main comment that hasn't been discussed yet is the role of Chapters in this process. Is there a way for us to define this a bit more?
    • Peter: The Chapters, as far as I know, are the only eligible entities we have now. They will serve as a model for other eligible entities but we must make sure they are not the ONLY EEs. We have to look at much more than just Chapters.
    • Pavel: I completely agree with you. We need to make a distinction that Chapters are potential fund seekers on one side but they are also part of the organization structure of the Wikimedia movement as a whole. They can play other roles - E.g., vetting potential applications, supporting capacity building, facilitating the discussion. That is what I mean by the role of the Chapters.
    • Jan-Bart: We are looking to change the world. We are looking to make it so that other organizations can apply. We can imagine that a group of people together could get together a work together in a different way. It should always leave the door open for other organizations.
    • Richard: It seems to me that a lot of this is going to be done in a fairly public way on Meta. It would seem to me that one applicant (notice: not an EE) could be assisted by another Chapter. Of course Chapters will be competing for the same pot of money but it doesn't mean that they cannot play a positive review.
    • Laura: One thing we have discussed is a peer review process. Chapters could be involved in this process in a constructive way.
    • Thomas: It's nice to see that mature Chapters understand this role of capacity-building. To address your point - I think Chapters got something very important by electing a Board of Trustees or members. I think Chapters are already playing such a strong role by electing Board of Trustee members.
    • Christophe : We also have to keep in mind the WCA might be, to some extent, able to provide such support.
    • Sydney: We shouldn't see this as competition but as true collaboration. Chapters would be the ones leading the process, inviting others to meetings etc... They could help the whole community understand the process. That is the structure that we actually have in countries right now. I think we would welcome anyone else who would want to do it but I think the Chapters would be a natural jumping off point to help other understand.
    • Jan-Bart: This is a personal comment. There have been a number of key changes this year (e.g., payment processing). We have had Chapters elect Board of Trustees but I'm not sure that this should continue. We may want other bodies involved in this process as it evolves.
    • Peter: Chapters should play more of a mentorship role. Chapters can act as a role model for newer entities.
    • Libbie: To what extent should this be a formal vs. an informal process?
      • Richard: I think let it happen informally. It makes it much simpler.
      • Thomas: I agree it should be informal because of timing. In the scope of FDC staff, there should be a line that says "foster this stuff". This is why I see the FDC staff role being full time. It is not an easy process ensuring Chapter feedback and review.
    • Sydney: One way for us to build it into the process is to reward it. Basically to say that we will review both the person who did the peer review and someone who asked for the peer review. Chapters who have a rigorous process for having community members involved would be something that we give a lot of extra points for (in order to encourage this). I think we can encourage this to happen without exactly stating how it should happen.
    • Pavel: I completely agree that this should be informal. I think in the coming months, we should have this type of documentation about the Chapters role beyond being a fund-seeker .
  • 3-5 Talking Points to the Community
    • Pavel: I would start big by saying that substantial change is going to happen. It's not just another committee that will deliberate and put out something. It's not about process. One of the key messages is that 'change is about to happen and substantial change is going to happen'. We don't know exactly what this is going to look like but we know that it will be different.
    • Osmar: I think it also important to state what is not changing. Especially for small chapters and new organizations that the GAC will still exist. Many small chapters will be afraid that something new will appear and that they will not have an opportunity to receive money for their projects. We're introducing this but we're still keeping the GAC for smaller projects.
    • Richard: I think I agree with that. I think we need to emphasize the continuity. We're still going to spend 60% of our budget towards keeping servers running. What we're talking about here is 25% of movement's money. I think people are sick of change. I think we want to say that this is an evolving way of leading 'the movement'.
    • Jan-Bard: I agree with the message that there is a window for the GAC, but I think it is important for us to also that there are new windows that are opening. We are also providing support. We should focus on stability and also new opportunity.
    • Peter: I'd like to emphasize that we're trying to get money to the best, most revolutionary parts of the movement and that no one should be afraid to apply. I think we really want to be "Mr. Yes" but yes to the most effective, best possible projects and on-going entities.
    • Thomas: We are talking about how to fuel movement growth. We have this temporary emphasis on supporting existing EEs but we are open and flexible to adapt to new scenarios as they emerge. I think Peter has said this right, we have to be very open.
    • Asaf: I'm a little surprised, Jan-Bart, that you said that smaller Chapters felt limited by their abilty to grow. No Chapters have ever been restrained in its growth by lack of ability to access funds.
      • Jan-Bart: I think there is a perception that smaller Chapters are never going to be able to hire Staff because their organization and readership is small. Because they do not raise enough money in their country.
      • Christophe : I don't know if some of you remember the ladder analogy I made in Haifa. But this is actually what I meant, we're figuring what are the steps for chapters to grow if they want to. We're creating the path for chapters to get to do great programs and professionalize themselves if they need/want to.
    • Sydney: I think we need to make a strong statement that this CAN be other types of organizations. Maybe people would feel relieved by that. If people just wanted to be a GLAM entity they could just be a GLAM entity.
    • Sue: What I am hearing is two fairly different messages for two different stakeholder groups. There's a message which is a message about why we are building the FDC and why we are enabling new forms of movement affilitations. It's been talked about in a variety of places. There is a complementary message but very different message for the Chapters. My experience, when I went to Europe in the Fall, was that there was a lot of confusion about practical stuff. People were interpreting Board proclamations in ways that the Board had not intended. I think a Chapter wants to get a really practical message about what happens to them. I was going to ask, is it true that nothing is going to change with the GAC? We may want 8-10 bullet points for how this will influence Chapters.
    • Jan-Bart: I assume that there will be some changes for the GAC.
      • Asaf: The GAC is going to change. It was a committee of ad-hoc volunteers in the community based on interest. We have been talking about how the GAC might choose new membership. After several months of slow discussion, we chose a new model for committees in our community. It was suggested by Solstag that we should set criteria for GAC membership, and whoever meets that list of criteria is on the GAC. Then the GAC becomes a layer of interested people that meet certain criteria. Thereby we avoid some challenges with losing/filling seats. I am excited about this and we have interest here. We will likely be annoucing the new members in July. It would be great to check-in back in a year or so.
      • Barry: We have also opened up grants to non-chapters and individuals. This is another part of the evolution of the grants program. The other thing is that even grants to Chapters have become of different nature. Some greater in size and some are very very small. The GAC issue is really more about increasing rigour by which GAC assessments happen. Their assessments, for the most part, have not been as critical in the past. They are a resource within the movement.
    • Thomas: It is so important for me to understand that we are transitioning from a local, project based funds to a global movement. The more we understand that, the closer we get to fulfilling the potential of this global movement.
    • Peter: We have to take care of people's donations. We have the responsibility to make sure spending happens carefully. If we didn't have that clearly stated by the committee then I would be disappointed.
    • Jan-Bart: This is a good point. We also discussed this in payment processing. The fact that we're doing this to be effective and responsive to donor issues.
      • Sue: That's not the reason for the change in the process. The purpose of FDC isn't to increase accountability or standards. It is a a check to make sure we're spending donor money effectively.
    • Richard: This is an important message for the community as a whole. 99% of the community is not interested in the details. The vast majority are interested in seeing the infrastructure continue working well.
      • Thomas: I agree with you. It's not just about using funds responsibly but in having them aligned with the movement priorities. They are also supporting the evolution of the whole thing tied to the vision and mission.
    • Sydney: To me, one of the reasons I got very excited about getting involved was because I was involved with the strategic planning process. If will be key to tie this to the strategic planning process.
    • Comment from Ali: "For me, the message for the community would be that we are about to experience a change that makes the movement a more volunteer-driven thing: previously we didn't have any structure that put the volunteers in the center of deciding how the funds of the movement are spent. Of course, funding is a key issue in any kind of movement, if not the central issue.
  • Laura: Let's talk about next steps for this process. We need to disuss:
    • When the group will meet next and why
    • When and how to engage the community

Here is the timeline:

    • July: Input/approval by Board, develop templates/training materials
    • August: Appoint FDC members, get community up to speed on process
    • Sept: Train FDC and staff, accept first applications
    • October: First deliberations of FDC
    • Thomas: I think it is important to have a meeting with the totality of the FDC members and the Advisory group, if possible face to face. Wishfully in Europe next time. I also think that Advisory Group members could think about taking accountability for developing and tracking evaluation metrics for this process and work with Bridgespan for recording
    • Laura: One thing that we have been thinking about is the request for a two year commitment. For the Advisory Group, a question is whether we need to re-up commmitment and understand the excitement for that.
    • Sue: What will the ongoing role of the Advisory be?
      • Laura/Libbie: The Advisory Group will play an ongoing role in providing support and input. We have said currently that this group would stop working after a year. They would not have an ongoing supervisory role in the first year in order to give the FDC flexbility.
    • Sue: I hadn't thought about the ongoing role of the Advisory group in onboarding of the FDC. It seems as though many members of the Advisory group will be at Wikimania. (Confirmed by show of hands.) The Advisory Group could help facilitate informal learning at Wikimania. There would also be an actual onboarding process that the FDC would be involved in. At that point, the FDC Advisory Group would become inactive. My understanding is that the FDC Advisory group will continue to play special attention to the process - playing an important role in the community. Advisory Group should pay close attention considering that they will be involved in review in 11 months.
    • Sydney: I think we should play an important role as Cheerleaders of this process.
    • Peter: Could we have a formal presentation as Wikimania? We can ask the Wikimania people. An hour presentation to the general public would be wonderful.
      • Libbie: One question on that is the tricky timing on Board consideration at that time. I don't know what that would look or feel like.
      • Sue: I think we should do it even if some things are open. My fervent hope is that the Board will be able to approve the recommendation/proposal before Wikimania. The timing is very tight. Even if things are not completely fixed, it would be useful to have a presentation. Does anyone want to put up their hand to lead that?
        • Sydney: I would be happy to participate but not be lead.
        • Thomas: It shouldn't be just a presentation but a conversation.
        • Peter agreed to organize the Wikimania discussion. All FDC Advisory Group members should be encouraged to attend if they can.

Advisory Group Member Reflections[edit]

  • Ting: I see a lot of work for the Board. My duty is to ensure that it happens
  • Sydney: I feel very energized by this. There is a lot of work and this is daunting but I feel inspired.
  • Richard: I feel challenged to summarize this in two paragraphs.
  • Peter: Yesterday, about this time, I said let's go to dinner. The big thing is that I see a lot of agreement. We can communicate this to the community. If we're energized the thing that will make this work is that we get this across to the general membership.
  • Thomas: Especially today, I feel we have reached a good balance of short-term pragmatic solutions with openness to long-term mission driven opportunities.
  • Libbie: I feel very thankful over these past couple days. I have appreciated the engagement throughout the past couple months in developing our recommendations. It's a huge testament to what we have been able to accomplish today given the work that went into this before hand. I feel like our path forward is clear and has helped us arrive at a great spot going forward.
  • Laura: I hope we continue to take this energy to Meta and continue the conversation.
  • Osmar: I think this was a great opportunity to work and that we all have the same goal. We have discussed very important things and are not solely working towards solutions that are trying to change the world without practical considerations.
  • Christophe: I feel like we are welcome and providing the movement with a way to move forward.

Closing Remarks from Sue and Ting[edit]

  • Ting: Thank you so much for taking time as volunteers out of your weekends to dedicate to this process.
  • Sue: I think we got more out of this meeting than expected. Your suggestions and insights will have great influence on the recommendations.