Community Resources/2017-18 Annual Plan
The following represents the proposed 2017-18 annual plan that Community Resources submitted to WMF in March 2017.
Community organizers are an essential part of the Wikimedia movement. They lead a tremendous amount of both offline and online work: contests, editathons, education programs, GLAM partnerships, research, tool-building, etc. The impact of their work is multifaceted and includes created, curated and improved content (see outcomes section for CR’s impact data), significant and strategic partnerships, and leadership development within the movement.
Through the Wikimedia Foundation grant programs and IdeaLab ecosystem, the Community Resources team invests in developing these community organizers, their ideas, and their projects. We believe supporting organizers and their work is critical for achieving our collective vision. Movement leaders like Emily Temple-Wood, Dumisani Ndubane, and Liam Wyatt deepened their roles in the movement through grants. These leaders had projects funded by grants, served on grants committees, increased their expertise, and grew into leadership roles on topics like gender diversity, harassment, the global south, and GLAM. There are many more like them leading projects like Art+Feminism, WikiIndaba, AfroCrowd, and more.
We provide community organizers with access to funding, mentorship, good project management practices, and technical support before and throughout the lifecycle of each grant. It is through this larger ecosystem of funding and other services that we empower organizers with the skills and resources they need to grow, diversify, and build the Wikimedia movement.
In mid-2016, we restructured our grant programs to ease the path for individuals, user groups and emerging communities. In direct response to community needs, we have increased access to movement funds by creating:
- Simpler processes for grantees
- More inclusive eligibility requirements
- A more comprehensive ecosystem of grant programs, filling gaps in our previous offerings
Our grants restructure resulted in an immediate and dramatic increase in participation: in the first 6 months of this year, we awarded 258 grants, matching the total number of grants awarded in fiscal year 2014-15. ~70% of grantees in our new Rapid Grant program are Global South / emerging communities, supporting movement expansion into countries well beyond Western Europe and North America. Many grantees were new participants in our programs. We now support over 40 countries and five continents, with an eye toward increasing support in thematic areas such as gender diversity through cross-departmental programs and our existing grant programs (e.g. our recent grant to Art+Feminism as a new affiliate).
New staffing requests
The grants ecosystem has two critical areas that are currently understaffed, areas that are necessary to ensuring that our entire movement has equitable access to movement funds.
- Grants administration - We rely on one grants administrator, who ensures compliance with domestic and international regulations and proper disbursement of funds. The administrator services every grant program, handling and processing hundreds of grants awarded to 40+ countries worldwide, each with its own currency and regulations. The significant increase in grants has resulted in a severe and consistent capacity gap on our team, as grants administration has far surpassed the workload of a single FTE. This gap has been supplemented by temporary, contractor support, but has been persistent and increasing over the last two years. We have a contractor in place to support these needs and request a conversion to ensure stability for our movement partners, our grantees.
- Opportunity cost of not filling this resource request: Our current program activity is not sustainable without converting our contractor into a permanent, stable role in grants administration. Without additional resourcing, we will need to reduce the number of grants funded overall, as well as the complexity of grants. Such a change would negatively affect every grant program, but will specifically limit the support we can offer to emerging communities through new programs like Rapid Grants and Simple APG, as those countries and communities require more time and effort to support.
- Rapid Grants program - Rapid Grants is a lightweight, entry-level program designed to resource low-risk, low-cost projects. Designed to eliminate or address many of the barriers to participation identified by community members, in just two quarters, the program has been instrumental in increasing our reach to the Global South: communities in Peru, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Kosovo, and many more who had never received grants. This portfolio management has been shared across program officers. However, with the increase in grants overall, and especially through our larger grant programs - Conferences and APG - support to Rapid has become unsustainable. A dedicated program officer would also offer many benefits: fostering stable, robust relationships with grantees over time, developing centralized knowledge base about what is and is not working, and offering support to new grantees who face unique challenges. The hire we are requesting would also intensify support to New Readers’ work and oversee shared goals for the cross-departmental program.
- Opportunity cost of not filling this resource request: Without a dedicated program officer, we will need to reduce the total number of grants reviewed, to bring the grants ecosystem in line with the human resource available. This will result in Rapid Grants or another grant program being cut entirely. While we recognize that the discontinuation of any grant program will negatively affect Wikimedia communities - and that the discontinuation of Rapid Grants would disproportionately affect non-European countries and communities - we cannot continue to support the six grant programs we currently offer (detailed below) at our current staffing. Finally, without this dedicated support we would be unable to pursue the program on gender.
- Empower and enable community organizers: Ensure community organizers worldwide - particularly our diverse set of leaders - have access to the skills and resources they need to pursue ideas, address the problems they see, and ultimately to grow, diversify, and build the Wikimedia movement.
- Share decision making power about movement funds: Provide a transparent, participatory process for disseminating movement funds.
- Knowledge: Through grants, content on the Wikimedia projects is created, curated, or improved. This results in the deepening and expansion of knowledge available through our projects. Previous year baselines show significant content creation on our project through grants.
- Participation and Diversity: New and diverse people are able to join, participate and contribute to our global movement, particularly those voices in the minority, e.g. non-male contributors, emerging / Global South communities.
- Leadership: Community organizers (individuals, groups, organizations) take on leadership roles in the movement, at regional, global, or thematic levels.
- 50,000 participants engaged through WMF grants
- 10,000 new editors engaged through WMF grants
- Diversity: 70% of grants awarded to emerging / Global South communities (contingent on staffing)
- Knowledge: Over 500K Wikimedia pages will be created or improved (contingent on accessibility of grants programs)
- Leadership: Grantees take leadership roles in the movement. Through access to idea support and funds, we have seen many organizers in the movement build leadership through the grants program, after or as a result-of their grant funded work. We specifically work to ensure diversity of our grantees, with KPIs on gender and emerging communities/global south. We also seek to ensure grant applicant satisfaction and are interested in tracking the number of returning grantees, as well as other indicators like the number of non-male organizers, and number of grantees who become organizers for the movement in new ways beyond their initial project.
- Run six grant programs. WMF Grant program are run annually on different timelines, and support individuals and organizations of various sizes and needs:
- Full Annual Plan Grants/FDC - for larger organizations needing unrestricted annual funding over $100K
- Simple Annual Plan Grants - for smaller organizations needing annual funding below $100k
- Project Grants - online & offline projects requiring $2-100k.
- Rapid Grants - projects needing less than $2k, largely to emerging communities
- Conference Grants - for good quality movement, regional, and thematic conference organizers worldwide
- Wikimania Scholarships - for community members needing financial support to attend Wikimania, largely to emerging communities
- Connect grantees to expertise and resources within and beyond the Wikimedia movement. Grant program officers work with grantees to identify areas where the grantee will need support and/or development. For instance: budget management, project or event planning and management, evaluation, volunteer engagement and retention, community conflict, organizational effectiveness, etc. Program officers then work to find people/training within or beyond the movement who can work with the grantee in this area. For example: directly mentoring on event planning, connecting a grantee with a WMF Engineer who can advise on their technical project, recommending a grantee attend Learning Day or another workshop.
- Build out IdeaLab to support the development of ideas, by creating a space where community organizers can draft proposals, find interested collaborators, and access wider movement resources (e.g. help on how to approach policy change in a specific wiki).
- Through IdeaLab, run two Inspire Campaigns annually. Inspire Campaigns invite movement-wide idea-building on topics consistent with community needs and our strategic priorities. These month-long events are run twice each year, with one theme directly aligned with a strategic priority (e.g. anti-harassment, new readers), and one theme derived organically from community feedback and activity. Past campaigns have brought in between 200 - 700 participants who have developed between 60-280 ideas to review.
- Coordinate and support Wikimania, including supporting the local organizing team, securing fiscal sponsorships, and running the Wikimania Scholarship program (which brings ~120 community members to the event, majority from global south).