In late 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation began considering the creation of a Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) to help make decisions about how to allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy. This was part of a broader discussion about fundraising and funds dissemination led by Sue Gardner, which resulted in recommendations she made to the Wikimedia Board of Trustees in March 2012. During the Wikimedia Conference 2012 in Berlin, the Board of Trustees resolved to create the FDC as a body that would advise the Board on how to divide and disseminate movement funds between the different movement groups, including the Foundation itself, on a no entitlement basis.
The Board of Trustees has requested that Sue submit a recommendation for the design of the Funds Dissemination Committee by June 30, 2012. A draft of this recommendation is currently being developed on Meta and there has been a robust conversation from various members of the Wikimedia community. An FDC Advisory Group, which is comprised of individuals from across the community as well as several external experts was established to guide the development of a recommendation. Additionally, the Bridgespan Group, the nonprofit consulting firm that supported Wikimedia’s strategic planning process , is helping to facilitate and consult on the process.
Roles and Responsibilities
- The FDC will be a committee of the Board of Trustees tasked with reviewing and providing recommendations on requests for funding by eligible entities within the movement to achieve the movement’s mission, vision, and strategy.
- The FDC’s recommendations on funding requests will be reviewed and approved/denied by the Board of Trustees, which has ultimate fiduciary duty to the movement’s donors.
The Funding Process
- The FDC will receive an annual allocation of funds to disseminate from the Wikimedia Board of Trustees. With these funds, the FDC will address grant requests in the movement from formally acknowledged Wikimedia entities who are in full compliance and have a track record of success. This will include requests for funding from the Wikimedia Foundation that are “non-core” to operating Wikimedia’s websites and global organization.
- Entities that are not eligible will continue to pursue funds through the Wikimedia Foundation's Grants Program (with support from the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC)) and / or through grant programs at established chapters and thematic organizations.
- The FDC will accept applications for funds two times per year (likely fall and spring) through a transparent application and decision-making process. Requirements and the timeline for the grant application process will be clearly delineated, and the goal will be to make the process as user friendly and straightforward as possible.
- The FDC will strive to be a center of excellence in the movement by holding entities to high standards in the plans they develop and their effectiveness in implementation. To this end, the FDC will evaluate grant applications based on their likely impact in helping the Wikimedia movement achieve its global priorities as outlined in the 5-year strategic plan. They will also oversee a rigorous follow-up process, in which grants are evaluated with regard to success in achieving their intended outcomes. One of the functions of the FDC will be to highlight successes and share learning across entities in the movement, to increase overall effectiveness in achieving the movement’s goals.
- The FDC will be supported by a staff team at the Wikimedia Foundation who will be responsible for coordinating the grant application process and preparing briefing materials for the FDC that provide a thorough, objective assessment of grant proposals based on established criteria.
- The FDC will include nine voting members, five of whom will be community-elected, and four will be Board-appointed. In addition, two members of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees will participate as non-voting observers and liaisons to the Board. Every effort will be made to ensure that the FDC, as a whole, represents a diverse cross-section of the movement and has the skills and expertise necessary to effectively carry out their responsibilities. FDC members will serve four-year terms; elections to the FDC will be carried out every two years, at the same time as community elections for members of the Board of Trustees.
- The inaugural FDC will be appointed by the Board, with new members to be added in the next round of community elections for the Board of Trustees. A preliminary list of suggested members of the first FDC is being developed, as the goal will be to have this group formed by October 2012.
Significantly more detail about this process is outlined in the draft being developed on Meta, and we encourage you to participate in the discussion and to provide feedback and comments on the talk page there. A full draft of the recommendation will be developed by Monday, June 4th in preparation for a meeting of the Advisory Group on June 9th and 10th. The Advisory Group will continue to provide input to Sue as she prepares a full recommendation to be shared with the Board by June 30th.
- These recommendations are still a draft and are not intended as the final recommendations that Sue will submit to the Board of Trustees in June.