2011-12 Fundraising and Funds Dissemination process/Funds allocation brainstorming

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Some open questions:

  • Should this be a WMF Board committee, or some other process informing the Board?
    • If it's a body created by the WMF Board, how would its decision-making autonomy be protected?
    • If it's a body created by the WMF Board, under what circumstances might the WMF Board override its autonomy?
  • What would be the advantages/disadvantages of moving this responsibility to a separate legal body entirely?
  • What would be the advantages/disadvantages of deciding on core funds via this legal body?
  • What would be the criteria for membership? How would membership be selected?
  • How would members be supported to get the data needed to make good funding decisions (e.g. analytics, program reports, etc.)?
  • How would members be administratively supported?
  • How would planning cycles work?
  • How would this body respond to the need for adjustments in an organization's spending at some point in the course of a year?
  • If it's a community-elected body, how would we ensure representation of voices, interests and expertise of people underrepresented in the community?
  • How would we mitigate some of the weaknesses of any centralized planning process (e.g. planning is more accurate the closer it is to the problem that it tries to solve)?
  • How would we prevent an international body from overrepresenting the interests of people who are proficient in English?
  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of relying on some degree of voting or editor/reader ranking to inform or make decisions (cf. systems like IdeaTorrent and LiquidFeedback)?

Tango's ramblings[edit]

This is just me thinking aloud - I intend to sort my thoughts into some coherent form at some point, but for now this will do. I see the benefits of having a separate legal entity responsible for taking charge of the movement finances as falling into two broad categories: legal and cultural.

The legal advantages mostly revolve around fiduciary duties and liabilities. At the moment, the WMF has to take a certain amount of control because the WMF board are legally obliged to do so. By moving the important financial stuff out of the WMF, the WMF board would no longer have that obligation and could just concentrate on making sure the WMF is doing what it should be doing. I think the WMF's important roles in operating the sites, outreach, PR, etc., etc., are being harmed by the fact that the board is constantly being distracted from them by these kind of issues. Obviously, the fiduciary duties in question don't disappear - the board of the new entity would have the same duties. However, those duties would be *all* they have. That would be their purpose. The entity would be specifically designed to fulfil that purpose and the board members would be specifically chosen to perform that purpose.

I can also see an advantage in having the sites operated by an entity (the WMF) that is protected from a lot of the risks the movement faces. At the moment, the WMF could potentially be brought to its knees by a rogue chapter. If the WMF were deemed to have been reckless in giving financial support to that chapter (either through grants or banner-space), it could get in a lot of trouble and the websites could end up coming down. By having separate legal entities, the Trust (my name for this new entity) would be brought to its knees, but the WMF could keep going (being funded directly by chapters for a short time, perhaps) and a new Trust could be set up without the sites being harmed in the meantime.

The other advantages are cultural. At the moment, there is a lot of backlash whenever the WMF tries to take charge. That backlash seems not to relate much to the decisions the WMF is making, but just to the fact that it is taking charge. I think that would be much reduced if the body taking charge was specifically created for that purpose. Also, volunteers don't like being told what to do by staff, which wouldn't be an issue with a new entity because it wouldn't have much (if anything) by way of staff (it might need a few admin people, but that's about it - actual decisions could be in the hands of volunteers).

Another benefit is simply ridding ourselves of the baggage of all the past (and present!) controversy over the WMF's decisions. Even if the WMF did everything right from now on, it would take a long time for everyone to get over the current bad feeling. It would be nice to start fresh with a new entity.

As for what the new entity would look like, I see an entirely elected board (perhaps a split of seats elected by the community at large and seats elected by chapters [and other similar entities - there's no need to restrict it to just entities with a geographical focus], perhaps all elected by the community at large, or possibly with chapter seats that get ratified by the community - there are lots of options and I haven't formed any strong opinions on what would be best) that makes the final decisions on things like who can fundraise and what grants to pay out. They would be advised by committees of volunteers as well as professional advisers (experts are important, but for this entity I don't see a need for them to be on the board - they can just be paid for their advice, not cheap, but probably worth it).

I think that's enough rambling for now. Please feel free to comment on things in-line, but please do so in a different colour or something so it's easy to distinguish. Thanks! --Tango 00:42, 7 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

A few thoughts[edit]

First, let me say that I like this part of the proposal, and I am eager to see this bit come to pass. Some disjointed thoughts in dot point form below:

  • One of Tango's suggestions is the creation of a "trust" to hold the money collected for disbursement out to other entities, be they the WMF, Chapters, or other affiliated bodies. While I think there is some merit in this idea, we must be careful not to simply shift the problems onto this new entity. If all control over the movement goes from the WMF to the Wikimedia Trust (WMT?), then we're basically back where we started. The trust
  • I have often found it odd that the Foundation essentially seems to have two focuses - one being the "Wikipedia" side of things that involves running internet encyclopaediae and all that jazz, and the other supporting the development of the open-source Mediawiki software product. A quick look at the staff and contractors page on the WMF site would indicate that the technology team is by far the largest single department in the Foundation, and the majority of those people seem to be involved in developing the software platform (I'm aware there are also server staff and others in this area who make sure that the site stays up). Is the Foundation's primary aim making the sum of knowledge available to everyone, or is it developing a software platform? Would it make more sense to split the foundation into an "education" entity and a "software development" entity to let them concentrate on their core missions rather than having two dissimilar (although mutually necessary) missions under the one tent? We could call the software entity the MWF or "Mediawiki Foundation" just to confuse everyone ;-).
  • Rather than the name suggested by Sue, "FAC", might I suggest "Fundraising Disbursements Council" or "FDC" to emphasise that it's a body that can make real decisions rather than just providing an opinion that can be ignored when convenient?
  • To my mind, in order to be successful, the FDC would need to have the power to say "No, your request for funding is not approved" to the Foundation, without being immediately overridden ten seconds later. If the Foundation can override the decisions of the body at will, then the whole thing is just a charade and a waste of everybody's time. A charter should be written, one of the clauses of which would be that participants resolve to accept the decisions made by said body.
  • I would suggest that a good way to compose the membership of such a body, at least initially, would be one third appointed directly by the Foundation, one third by chapters/other affiliated bodies according to a mutually agreed democratic process, and one third by direct election from the community, in much the same way as the existing community trustees are selected. Processes would need to exist to fill casual vacancies to maintain this ratio. This has the advantage in that no one part of the movement completely dominates funding decisions, and support from other parts of the movement will be required to get anything done (leading to more moderate and thoroughly vetted funding requests, hopefully).
  • With that in mind, with fiduciary responsibility in mind, if there is demonstrated corruption or illegal activities going on, then there needs to be processes to either get rid of the offenders, or at least provide a vehicle to make sure that the fiduciary requirements of participating bodies are satisfied.
  • There should be three main functions of the body:
    1. Determining whether a given funding request or programme plan aligns to the movement's priorities and community's expectations (some core functions, like "paying for power to the server room" should be exempt from this, although I don't imagine anyone's dumb enough to suggest we don't pay for that)
    2. Where the programme plan passes step #1 above, to determine that the costings are sound, there is no undue extravagance or waste, and that it represents good value for money.
    3. Make sure that where grants have been made that the necessary reporting has been done, that an agreed level of transparency and accountability exists around the grant, and that the money has been spent properly. In the long term, this will be the tangliest ball of wool and the one that will need the most support from professional staff.
  • The above sort of assumes that the "participants" would be the WMF (or possibly the new MWF), chapters, and other affiliated bodies, rather than individuals. I envision that grantmaking to individuals can and still should continue through mechanisms such as the WMF/WMDE Participation Grants Programme, or WMAU's Small Grants Programme. However, in circumstances where individuals do require assistance beyond what these programmes can offer, participating organisations should be able to "sponsor" grant requests to the FDC on their behalf.
  • The independence of the WMF Board of Trustees, chapter boards/assemblies/committees, and such should be affirmed rather than compromised. The powers of this body should be limited merely to questions of funding disbursement and it should not be able to compel participants
  • Finally, participation should not be mandatory, although non-participation means no access to money raised through community fundraising. I believe that if this body works well and if everyone approaches decision making in good faith, people will be lining up to get in though. Craig Franklin 06:29, 7 January 2012 (UTC).[reply]

Coordinate this allocation-review with separate annual-plan review?[edit]

In order to help all movement groups share their plans and coordinate planning each year, some sort of annual planning cycle would be helpful, including an annual process for reviewing those plans.

Each group's annual plan might include one or more programs supported by grants. Direct payment processors might have their whole plans assessed for feasibility, as happened this past year. And it's just good practice for us to review one another's plans to take advantage of overlaps, shore up gaps, and improve communication among similar initiatives.

This process of reading and reviewing entire annual plans, which has to be carefully timed to match existing yearly financial cycles, differs in many ways from a continuous grant-review process. By default I would assume that group would differ from a fund-allocation group. But there are also clear overlaps, including evaluation of capacity, impact, and priority of competing (or conflicting!) programs. Something worth considering...

Craig, sketching out a year-long schedule for an allocation-group might help organize some of the thoughts above. SJ talk | translate   06:58, 7 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Hi SJ, yes, definitely. I'll have a think about it and put down what I think such a process might look like. Craig Franklin 07:20, 7 January 2012 (UTC).[reply]
I don't see how you can have the plans reviewed by different people than those that are going to decide whether the plans get funded - could you clarify what you mean by that? I'll have a go at setting out a schedule. I'm going to assume everyone follows WMUK's year (1 Feb to 31 Jan) since it makes a lot of sense to me to have your financial year start just after the fundraiser so you know you can cover budget before you start spending it. My schedule would go like this (the length of each item is rather arbitrary - the order is the important thing):
  1. February - WMF, chapters, etc., work on their own plans for the next year.
  2. March - Everyone submits their planned expenditure and forecasted revenue (each with detailed breakdowns) for the next year.
  3. April - Those plans are reviewed for consistency with our mission, feasibility and value for money.
  4. May - Amended plans are submitted in light of the review.
  5. June-August - These amended plans are reviewed and then the total we plan to spend is compared against the total we expect to raise. If everything balances, then we do nothing until January. If we expect to raise more than we need, we inform all the fundraisers that they can dial back their fundraising plans. If we don't expect to raise as much as we need, we start going through plans in more detail working out which bits are best to cut (ideally based on recommendations from those that submitted the plans - if they've designated certain things as core and certain things as "nice-to-haves" then you cut the nice-to-haves first) and whether we can do more to raise money. This is the difficult and controversial bit, of course, but as long as everyone is realistic we should be able to cover everyone's core spending without any difficulty.
  6. September - Final approval is given for the plans. 20% of planned expenditure is designated as conditional on the fundraiser going well (obviously, the whole lot needs it to go well, but falling more than 20% short seems unlikely). Decisions can be appealed in some way - I'm not sure what way...
  7. October - Appeals are over, everything is set in stone and we can concentrate on raising the funds.
  8. November-December - Fundraiser
  9. January - Fundraiser finishes. If we met our target, all the plans go ahead. If we fell short, then more cuts are made (out of the 20% mentioned above - if we fell short by more than 20% then a major rethink is required and all non-essential spending is put on hold). If we fell short by a very small amount, it may be possible to make good the shortfall out of reserves.
--Tango 16:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with the need for consolidating the review cycles. Easier said than done, as WMF's fiscal year, for example, is currently July 1 to June 30. But if we are going to have some kind of meta-review process, then we need to IMO look at aligning planning cycles in a way that makes sense.
I'd suggest that the initial submission period be understood to be a "Rough draft for feedback". Nothing is more frustrating than to build a complex budget only to be told that a large chunk of it is not wanted or not fundable. Having rough allocations worked out on the basis of rough drafts, to be followed by fleshed out plan development, would mitigate this risk.
The process, of ranking the operating budgets of multiple entities, giving feedback, suggesting elimination of some programs, etc., will become increasingly complex, especially as our reach begins to exceed our grasp in terms of revenue. That's why I believe the committee/group would need strong administrative support when it comes to assessing metrics and program successes, performing gap analysis, setting up calls or channeling questions, etc.
Finally, there's the question whether restricted grants would be ranked by the same group of individuals. My bias would be to leave all other grantmaking to movement entities as they see fit, to keep things simple. This process would simply approve the overall grantmaking allocations (e.g. "WMF requests $1M for grantmaking to individual volunteers").--Eloquence 04:26, 9 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
A certain amount of administrative support would be required, but I think such support should be limited to admin. Assessing things should be done by the volunteer committee members (that's the whole point, isn't it?). There would need to be a large number of volunteer committee members, probably broken into sub-committees (no one person will be able to look at every proposal), but I expect a large number of volunteers could be found (especially if the group has real power - you may struggle to find volunteers willing to do all this work only for it to end up getting vetoed). I think small grants to individual volunteers should definitely be done by the WMF, chapters and whatever other entities we end up having (I would like to see non-chapter entities getting involved in this whole process). Perhaps large individual grants should be handled by this body, though (large=over $10,000 maybe?), especially since such large grants are likely to be a precursor to founding a chapter in many cases so it would be good for this body to get to see how responsible the individual is with the grant. --Tango 12:39, 9 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]


Tango, I like your calendar, but it seems to me that it's a pretty extended cycle. Ideally you want the planning period to be compressed, and as close to the execution period as possible. Currently the Wikimedia Foundation's planning begins in February with execution beginning in July, which means that by the time the execution period has ended (the following June) the Wikimedia Foundation is 17 months past when planning for that period began. That can feel pretty stale -- needing to plan so far in advance really limits an organization's ability to be flexible and responsive. Having said that, planning and refinement takes time. You just want to compress it as much as possible.

So, let me propose some alternative, tighter calendars. This is based on how I do it with the Wikimedia Foundation Board.

Calendar A

  1. January -- Guidance released to participants (this could be purely process guidance, or it could also cover substance. It would likely include target-setting so the overall allocation amount would be known)
  2. February -- Participants begin developing their draft plans, with ongoing consultation as wanted
  3. March -- Participants publish draft plans: first review cycle begins
  4. April -- Plans revised & refined, with ongoing consultation as wanted
  5. May -- Participants publish finalized plans: FAC begins formal evaluations
  6. June -- decisions released
  7. July -- Six months of funding released; execution begins
  8. November-December -- fundraiser
  9. January -- remainder of plan funding given out. Assume for the sake of argument that funds are given out proportionate to how the fundraiser did, but capped at 100%. So, if the fundraiser raised 95% of target, plans would be funded at 50% in July and 45% in January.
  • This is a 17-month window.

Or, if most entities prefer a January to December calendar, we could do this:

Calendar B

  1. July -- Guidance released to participants (this could be purely process guidance, or it could also cover substance. It would likely include target-setting so the overall allocation amount would be known)
  2. August -- Participants begin developing their draft plans, with ongoing consultation as wanted
  3. September -- Participants publish draft plans: first review cycle begins
  4. October -- Plans revised & refined, with ongoing consultation as wanted
  5. November-December -- fundraiser
  6. November -- Participants publish finalized plans: FAC begins formal evaluations
  7. December -- decisions released
  8. January -- Execution begins and funds given out. Assume for the sake of argument that funds are given out proportionate to how the fundraiser did, but capped at 100%. So, if the fundraiser raised 95% of target, plans would be funded at 95% of target.
  • This is a 17-month window as well.

There are pros and cons to each. It strikes me that B might fit better with chapter calendars (I have the impression, but am not sure, that the chapters mostly operate on a January to December fiscal year). But B has the heavy planning period beginning late summer, which I think might be hard for Europeans particularly, and has planning & evaluation peaking in November/December, which is a key holiday season for many countries. Plus with B January would be hard: people would be needing money to get started on their work, but the results of the fundraiser wouldn't be fully known until late January at the earliest. That might cause some administrative hassle.

Anyway: either of these calendars could, I think, work. Thanks Sue Gardner 17:58, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you for your thoughts. My timings weren't really based on much, I was more interested in what needs to be done and in what order. I agree that trying to compress things is a good idea, but we probably can't compress it to as short a cycle as the WMF has at the moment because there are more stages. All the things the WMF does at the moment need doing, plus the reviews by the FAC or whatever body we end up going with. I would expect those reviews to take a least a month, probably more like 2 or 3 (once you include time for rejected plans to be amended). That gets you up to a 19 or 20 month window - I doubt we can realistically do better than that. As for what year to work with, I really like WMUK's Febuary to January year. It's a little unconventional, but it means you know the results of the fundraiser before you start implementing the plan. With the WMF's year, you have to guess how much money you'll have to spend in the second half of the year. As shown in your first plan, any shortfall in the fundraiser has to be spread over only 6 months, rather than 12. If it's only a 5% shortfall, that isn't too bad (you have a 10% cut in the second half of the year) but if we had, say, a 10% shortfall (unlikely, but the kind of contingency we should be prepared for) then you have a 20% cut in the second half of the year. 20% would really hurt. Using a calendar year is ok if having off-quarter years is a problem for some reason, but pushing it back just one month really helps (it also means you get to catch up on sleep between the end of the fundraiser and preparing your year-end accounts - I'm doing year-end accounts at work now and sleep is becoming an issue!). One additional point before I get back to work - I think we should try an avoid arbitrarily spreading a shortfall evenly across every entity. If you need to make cuts, you want to cut the least useful stuff first. That won't necessarily be spread evenly across everyone (for example, the WMF should probably take less of the shortfall since we should be protecting the core site operations - I'm sure the WMF would do that anyway, but why should the rest of the WMF's spending get a bigger percentage cut just because it happens to be being done by the entity that does the operations?). --Tango 18:27, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

High-quality decisions contra high-level decisions[edit]

The new body would never be in a position to decide hundreds or thousands of small grants. On the other hand, the new body could say, that for example, it will pay for GLAM-proposals or ambasador-proposals. I don´t know if this could be called high-level decisions, since my mother-tong is not English.

We could give the new body the right to say to each chapter to start a GLAM- and an Ambasador-project. The chapter make a proposal and chapter and body are finalizing the proposal together. The chapter brings in local know-how and the new body international know-how. The first step would be to create such a body, the second step to take over for example the GLAM-outreach project. If that is successful the third step would be to take over the second outreach project. If that is successful the body could start a new international project in which every chapter should take part (at least the bigger chapters). --Goldzahn 17:41, 9 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

That sounds like a very different body to the one we're discussing here. We're talking about a body to allocate funds, not one to coordinate international projects. I would also object very strongly to anyone telling chapters they have to do a particular project. You can't force a chapter to do something. --Tango 20:07, 9 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Sue Gardner started section 4 with the sentence "a mechanism for making high-quality decisions about what activities, within the scope of the Wikimedia mission and strategy, should be funded." and the next section is "Transition from here to there". In my view the first step is to know what activities the new body will have to supervise and then I or whoever wants to join could answer for each step of the transition process the questions which are on top of this page. At the moment, I don´t know if someone is interested in these answers. For example the question: Should this be a WMF Board committee, could be answered in this way: There could be a GLAM-committee and an Ambassador-committee under the supervision of the board. If the Board decides a new international project will be started, a new committee will be created.
Telling chapters they have to do a particular project: Yes, the language is not OK, since my English is not very good. In my view the chapter should at least think if such a project is possible. If it is not or only a small local e.g. GLAM-project is possible, the chapter could say so to the committee and that´s it. Maybe "encourage" is the better word.
--Goldzahn 22:09, 9 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
I think Sue's intention is that chapters, etc. would say what they want to spend money on and then we need a mechanism to decide whether or not that is a good use of money. You are the only person I've seen proposing that a central body should come up with ideas itself and then tell chapters that those are the things they should be spending money on. I don't think that is a good idea at all. --Tango 12:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
At least in de:WP a lot of wikipedianer don´t like that in the future they will not decide or they can´t influence which project will be funded. In our view this new body will be like a government on the backside of the moon. In my proposal, I take what the foundation is doing best (coordinating and counselling international projects) (I hope I did here good dictionary use) and go one step further, since in my view Sue is right, that chapters should work closer together with the foundation. And my experience with wikipedia tells me, that a body that could influence for example local chapters, could be an improvement. I my view, it is OK that the foundation would add an "engine" on the wikimedia-movement, as long as the local tasks could be managed by the locals (maybe under more foundation control). You are right too, that I´m just one person. I´m not a representative of a chapter or the like. But, the right time to make a proposal is now, not later. And I would appreciate if people join and improve the proposal. I do read the foundation blog and the foundation mailinglist, but I´m not an insider with wikimedia experience, just a longtime editor. --Goldzahn 13:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Tango, you cannot imagine how many users worldwide would like to participate and to say something to the different proposals at meta. But nobody here seems to be interested in enabling this. Some time ago I critisized this with some other users while discussing the image filter (see The WMF must pay professional translators ...), saying as well that the meta discussions are majorized by the english speaking users, but such ideas do not seem to have good chances here, some days later the discussion died. The WMF has money enough to pay translator, not necessarily to translate the whole discussion, but at least the main page with the first proposal of such a change, in some five or seven lanuages, announcing this i the chapters and projects. Or do you think that everybody reads the mailing list??? Now there are ten thousands of user worldwide who even do not know the proposal. For me - and I edit here since seven years ! - the meta is a ghetto, but a ghetto that will govern the "rest", i.e. those many users, who develop the wikipedia. Sorrowfull. -jkb- 17:53, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
jkb, I will ping Philippe and ask him to see if we can have the main page translated. It would only half-solve the problem, since ideally we would like people to not just be able to read, but also participate. And these are, by necessity, lengthy, detailed conversations. But we will try to at least translate some major pieces. Thank you for posting this. Sue Gardner 18:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Actually nothing is written about this topic on the mailinglist Foundation-l, at least I didn´t see anything. As far as I know only on an intern mailinglist for chapters there are some discussions about this topic. (I just read this, I didn´t know). I can understand that a discussion is not possible with thousands of users, but this is a fundamental change in the way Wikimedia is run. For me, the language aspect is a big point. In my proposal the editors or the people who do the projects have a local Wikimedia-person who they could speak to (the chapter), in Sue´s proposal it is the foundation (or the new body) who give the grant. That might be more efficient, but it is a wall to the non-english speaking community. --Goldzahn 18:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
@ Sue: "some major peaces" could be surely enough (+ announcements on village pumps etc.). And, reading about the success of the last fundraiser, I would say you will found some $'s in the WMF's petty cash :-) regards -jkb- 19:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Hi jkb. Several of the key pages are being translated now. Thanks Sue Gardner 19:47, 16 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Conclusions of the discussion held between the members of Amical Viquipèdia and other Wikipedians active on the Wikipedia in Catalan[edit]

Dear Sue and fellow Wikipedians/contributors,
Although the opinions expressed here are assumed to be personal, I promised to provide an opinion on behalf of the Amical Viquipèdia Association.

To do this, we translated the original text into Catalan and then announced this discussion at the Catalan Wikipedia's "Village Pump".

The resulting consensual text is divided into two parts, the first one corresponding to the distribution of funds, which I've posted at Funds allocation brainstorming, and the second corresponding to fundraising issues, which I've posted here - Recommendations. The two parts form a whole and are designed to be viewed as such.

The members of Amical wish you much luck and success with this initiative.

Distribution of Funds. Funds Allocation Committee/s (FACs)[edit]

Despite all the interesting thoughts and comments in this discussion, we find two very important players in the movement should be given a more prominent role: editors and donors.

Our ideology is based on allowing people to work at ease, by their own choice and without financial compensation, which works much better in structures organized from the bottom up. It's important that editors feel like they are the owners of the system and that donors feel sure the money they give is applied to what they expect.

The chapters, other organizations and the WMF feel that they represent the editors, and to a certain extent, they're right, as all of them are governed, in one way or another, with the participation of some editors. But participation in WMF Board elections is relatively small, and participation in the chapters is very uneven depending on each case, but always small compared to the number of active editors. Moreover, the languages and countries that have no chapter or any other organization of their own do not have this kind of representation.

We would like an organism in which the editors are more involved in government without so many middlemen, such that the editors can feel like the owners of the funds generated by donations to the projects that they build. Languages are directly related to projects, and we therefore think that each should have active participants on the FAC.

In addition, donors also deserve more transparency with regard to the activities we do, so they know what we do with their donations.

We now have the opportunity to design a system that takes these aspects into account, and at the same time provide the WMF, the chapters and other organizations with a clear framework in which to develop harmoniously, sharing financial resources with the same generosity as we share knowledge.

To distribute the funds as a whole we believe that we must balance five factors:

  1. The money required for the activities vital to the existence of the projects.
  2. The explicit will of donors to support specific activities.
  3. The implicit will of donors who give from each project/language.
  4. The special needs of languages spoken in societies with limited resources.
  5. Incentivizing entities that process payments (if there are any such entities).

We believe the FAC should have a global component determining the distribution of funds so as to meet the above criteria and assessing the financing of global activities and/or activities benefiting all projects. There should also be local FACs for each language assessing and defining priorities in local promotional activities designed to benefit that language's projects.

--Gomà 00:17, 15 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Personal Opinion Expanding on Amical Viquipèdia's Consensual Opinion[edit]

We didn't have enough time to reach a final consensus on a proposal for the details for the FAC, so this is my personal opinion.

I believe that the Global FAC should define the distribution of the target amount to be raised among: 1) core activities, 2) global activities/activities benefiting all projects, 3) an endowment fund to ensure the continuity of core activities, and 4) a budget for promotional activities for each language/project.

I think this distribution should take into account that donors from each project/language implicitly believe their donations will mainly be used to support and promote that project/language and this should be balanced providing a minimum amount to each project/language and lending more weight to projects in languages spoken in areas where there are less donations but that have high potential.

I believe that payment processing entities should be incentivized by the FAC's allocating a proportion of the funds raised by them to the activities proposed by them.

This distribution should be made public before the fundraising campaign so the donors can know how their money will be applied. And if specific donors so wish, once they've donated, there should be a system allowing them to see the list of proposed activities and decide to which of them their donation will be applied.

--Gomà 00:17, 15 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Hi there. I find there are too many unsourced assertions in your text which are given as facts, and I hardly find that is the case. Take for example:
The chapters, other organizations, and the WMF feel themselves as representatives of editors. Excuse us? Please show us for example where the WMF says it represents editors. They know better, and so do Chapters.
Participation in the chapters is very uneven depending on each case but always small compared to the number of active editors. I've seen this assumption raised before to defend the idea that Chapters are not a part of the community, and I find it absurd. I could just as easily say that 99.5% of members of all Chapters are editors. Check it.
I think that this distribution should take into account that donors giving from each project/language implicitly think that their donations mainly will be used to support and promote that project/language. I recently read a 2011 survey which stated that donors expect their money to support free knowledge, and rate all projects worthy of support. And the WMF 2010 Donor Survey supports this. So your assertion seems quite unfounded.
And if a donor want, we should provide a way for after finishing the donation he can see the list of proposed activities and decide to which of them their donation will be applied. This is actually done before fundraising. With the strategic plan, where donors can learn what their money will be used for. It was mandatory for chapters who took part in this years' fundraising. See too the info provided by WMF. You also seem unaware of the Donor policy.
These are not minor details, they impinge on the core functioning of both the WMF and Chapters and what has been going on until now. And there is a lack of acknowledgement of the tremendous work Chapters do (including dedicating a part of their budget and hiring staff) raising funds for, and general awareness of, the projects at a local level. Tax-deductibility is also something that Chapters can offer at a local level for donors. Funds dissemination is a good thing, improving transparency is a good thing, but it has to be based in reality and in the procedures and checks that are already in place. Cheers Raystorm 18:43, 15 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
In none of the surveys you point to are any questions asking to what project/language the donor want to invest their money neither trought wich organization, WMF, a local chapter, or other organization. The WMDE survey question about projects refers to activities such as schools or the elderly not to projects/languages.
Up to my knowledge this kind of questions only have been made directly in the third user's survey in the Catalan Wikipedia (And the fourth that has not yet been published). The survey asked all readers, not just donors. 674 people answered of which only 9.5% had ever been donated but 61.72% were willing to give (There is a great opportunity to offer ways for people who would be willing to give and they doesn't). When asked through which organization would be willing to give, 13.35% answered. These were their responses:
  • 41.11% Said to “Wikimedia Foundation based in San Francisco who maintains the servers and software development”.
  • 47.78% To “Amical Wikipedia that promote the projects in Catalan speaking regions”.
  • 11.11% To “Country based Associations: Wikimedia France, Wikimedia Italy and Wikimedia Spain to promote Wikimedia projects in their respective countries”.
However that is a matter of conveying the appropriate surveys to measure the weight of this implicit will in each language/project.
--Gomà 22:39, 15 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
ROTF, wow, what an unbiased way of putting a question! xD And only 9.5% of respondents were donors? I don't find that representative at all of what donors want, then. Nah, seriously now. Though I'm happy you concede the points I've made, since you chose to focus only on the surveys I'll add that you cannot in one breath state that donors want one thing, and in the next one state that no, the question has never been posed to them, so we cannot know what they want. You perceive the problem? And frankly, I disagree: the numbers are too consistent to be dismissed so out of hand: people donate to Wikipedia to help keep it free and to promote free knowledge. Raystorm 13:08, 16 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
HEllo Gomà. Interesting ideas. Don't you think allowing donators to choose among the activities to be funded would complicate the donation process though? Maybe some possible donors would stop short of donating? I mean, they may not even finish the process if it got too complicated... right? --Catgirl 15:51, 16 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]
You are right. There is a risk but there is also an opportunity. The process must be accurately designed. For example by giving this options after accomplishing the donation or by providing this option in the page where we explain how their money will be invested by saying: if you have other priorities you can donate to specific activities. This is the risk side but in my experience and also from conversations with people from other chapters the donations rise when you explain specific activities that donors like. I can imagine a web page like those of crowd-funding and donors perhaps can increase the amount of their donation. Provide them feedback about the results of the activities funded by them or even provide some rewards for example being recognized as sponsors of that activity o being invited to attend .... Experience teaches us that the best way in fundraising is by experimenting and continuously learning and improving.--Gomà 21:31, 16 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

What resources Wikimedians want[edit]

Please help to compile a list for a survey of resources (requiring funding) Wikimedians want and need, and at what priority. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) 22:14, 1 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

You may be asking the wrong people. Most people here are using the existing WMF resources. The new ideas are perhaps more likely to come from people outside, who don't see this page. Filceolaire 14:03, 2 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

From Galileo[edit]

I understand it is impossible for legal reasons for the Foundation to confer "decision making power" to an external committee on an official level. However, I'd like to highlight the fears about a "second GAC", which I share. It would be really important, IMHO, if the Board could state in the clearest possible terms that WMF staff won't be entitled to overrule conclussions/recommendations/whatever coming from the FDC except for demonstrable incidental technical or legal reasons. - Galileo, on-list, 15 Feb 2012

Draft detailed proposal trying give answer to the initial questions[edit]


Funtions performed by the committee. Between paréntesis suport from staff and other volunteers.

  • Organization and dynamics of the process. (Staff)
  • Allocate the funds according to two dimensions
    • Areas:
      • Strategic lines.
      • Projects (Wikipedia, Wikibooks, commons ...)
      • Languages.
    • Modes of participation:
      • Aids to individuals to attend events
      • Grants to perform a single Activity
      • Funding of annual programs for affiliated entities
      • Funding of Basic structure for Chapters and Partners (2 years revised each year?)
  • Defining the criteria for eligibility.
  • Defining the process for evaluating the proposals.
    • Criteria (Alignment with the strategy, work plan appropriate with objectives, ratio impact / resources, availability of volunteers, collaboration with other organizations) and weight of each criteria.
    • Sentences and examples to assign scores to each criteria.
    • Selection process. Guidelines for evaluation, deadlines ... For example. Each proposal is evaluated by 3 members of the committee and receive the average score if the amount is less than 5.000$. If the amount is grater than $ 5,000 also receives the average if the differences among evaluators are less than 15% otherwise they hold a meeting to agree the final score.
    • Publication of assessments Rating + comments (only keep confidential the name of evaluators). **Appeal process.
  • Public announcement of calls for proposals. (Support staff / volunteers) (Village Pump). Proposals may be submitted in any language from those where there are committee members. (Volunteers Support for translation to English)
  • Evaluation of proposals.
  • Monitoring of funded projects. (Support staff)
  • Publication of the results. (Village pump, Volunteers Support for translation if needed)
  • Evaluation of the results. (Support staff / consultation Village pumps)


Minimum required members.


  • $ 15,000,000 Total
  • Average grant of $ 25,000 each
  • 600 grants approved
  • 1000 grants presented
  • 4 hours / evaluation for each grant: 4000 hours
  • 2 calls / year for annual programs and basic structure + open call for single activites and attending to events. -> Up to 200 requests / month.
  • Each member 10 h / month
  • At least 20 members.

7 Global members + 1 member for each language with over 1000 active users. (35 members)

  • Call for candidates.
  • The Board examines the curriculum and decide which candidates are eligible based on background on finances, participation in activities and participation in editing.
  • 3 of 7 global members they renew even years (selected by Chapters and Partner Organizations)
  • 4 renewed odd years (elected by the editors). Vote with the same criteria and simultaneously as the board elections.
  • 1 member for each language (must be able to communicate in English) renewed odd years voted bt the editors that meet the criteria for voting in that language. Vote simultaneously with board elections.

This year the Board appoints the 7 initial global members. And each language organizes the selection of its candidate. Renewals start 2013.