Grants:APG/Complaints regarding FDC recommendations to the board/2012-2013 round2

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This page is for complaints to the board representatives regarding FDC recommendations to the board. Please add your topic to this page. (The representatives are Jan-Bart de Vreede and Patricio Lorente)

The process of making formal complaints to the Board representatives for, 2012-2013 round 2 is outlined as follows
  • The complaint should be in the form of a 500-or-fewer word summary directed to the two non-voting WMF Board representatives on the FDC (Jan-Bart and Patricio)
  • The complaint should be submitted on-wiki, through the FDC portal page designated for this purpose
  • These board representatives will present the complaint to the WMF Board at the same time it considers the FDC recommendation.
  • Formal complaints can be submitted only by the Board Chair of a funding-seeking entity.
  • Formal complaints must be filed within seven days of the submission of the FDC slate of recommendations to the WMF Board (by end of day UTC May 8 2013)
  • Any planned or approved disbursements to the organization filing a complaint will be put on hold until the complaint is resolved.
  • If the WMF Board's consideration of the complaint results in an amendment of the FDC's recommendations (which is expected only in extraordinary circumstances), the WMF Board may choose to release extra funds from the WMF reserves to provide additional funds not allocated by the FDC's initial recommendation.
  • Other members of the WMF Board may participate in the investigation if approved by the Chair of the WMF Board.

Retrospective disqualification of WMCZ and WMHK[edit]

The FDC recommendations awarded zero proposed funding to WMCZ and WMHK, in both cases citing "ineligibility" of the entities as stated in FDC portal/FDC recommendations/2012-2013 round2#Footnotes.

According to FDC portal/Eligibility status/2012-2013 round2, both WMCZ and WMHK remained eligible throughout the review period. The footnotes also made it clear that the circumstances which led to the two entities' disqualification have arisen after their full eligibility was announced, and to my best knowledge neither entity has received any indication whatsoever that these changes in circumstances might lead to retrospective disqualification.

I'm therefore writing to the FDC ombudsman and board representatives to point out that it is in contravention of FDC guidelines that the FDC declared WMCZ and WMHK ineligible at the time of FDC recommendations. I urge the FDC ombudsman and board representatives to revoke the recommendations regarding these two entities' eligibility, and review the remaining findings to award partial funding as appropriate. Deryck C. 09:28, 30 April 2013 (UTC) (no longer writing on behalf of WMHK. I'm posting this here per discussion on mail:wikimedia-l and off-wiki exchange with Patricio)[reply]

Just to be clear: are you filing this complaint in representation of both WMCZ and WMHK? Or is it a personal complaint? As you can imagine those are quite different situations. Although in both cases the issue deserves an answer, and I'm personally commited to work on it, the Board will not consider the complaint if it doesn't come from the Chapters themselves. Patricio.lorente (talk) 17:39, 30 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
As I mentioned to Lusitana, this is largely an issue for the ombudsman: it is about confusion in the process, and is not coming from the chapter officially. If the chapter also has formal complaints about the recommendations, they should make that request here. I'm copying Deryck's comment above to the ombudsman page. For clarity, the two places "complaints" should probably be sections of a single page -- so all can be viewed together, and to reduce confusion about where to post which feedback. SJ talk  19:22, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I wanted to chime in and confirm with SJ that Deryck's note above is an "appeal" to be responded to by the ombudsperson (who is currently investigating the appeal). This page is for official complaints by members of the board of current round FDC applicants. I agree that overall, the complaints/appeal process is not as clear as it could and should be--and we will work on simplifying and clarifying the process for the next round. Thanks to all who are engaging. KLove (WMF) (talk) 15:12, 9 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

WMHK's official statement regarding the recent decision of FDC[edit]

Wikimedia Hong Kong (WMHK) opposes the recent decision of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) of Wikimedia Foundation. The FDC has rejected the proposal submitted by WMHK.

Wikimedia Hong Kong, the Hong Kong local chapter of Wikimedia Foundation, has the mission to promote Wikimedia projects and free cultures among local community in Hong Kong. WMHK achieves the mission through several outreach projects, which are funded by the grants from Wikimedia Foundation. The rejection of funding from the FDC makes WMHK having difficulties to continue achieving its mission.

We note that the FDC is concerned about WMHK’s internal governance, financial management capacity, and capacity of its volunteers to manage future projects. The FDC also mentioned that past activities do not sufficiently demonstrate a record of high impact. The problem is that WMHK is run by volunteers who have limited time. WMHK itself also has limited resources. To increase such capacities and impact mentioned by the FDC, WMHK has the necessity to recruit full-time staff in order to handle daily operation of WMHK as well as manage the projects. However, the recruitment cannot be done as WMHK lacks funding.

Another reason why FDC rejected WMHK’s proposal is that WMHK is out of compliance with its previous WMF grants. It is incorrect to say that as all the previous WMF grant projects were already submitted before the submission of the proposal to FDC. It is also incorrect to mention that WMHK mismanaging the previous funds, as there is no clear guideline on what to do if there is money left.

We believe the decision of the FDC is inappropriate. The decision is totally harmful for the development of WMHK, as well as the development of free culture in Hong Kong. The Wikimedia Foundation has the obligation to promote Wikimedia projects and free culture around the world. The rejection of funding makes the promotion of those projects in Hong Kong more difficult. The rejection of funding also makes the volunteers in WMHK think that their work is totally denied by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Rover Wong@WMHK (talk) 07:12, 4 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Response from Board representatives[edit]

We write in response to Wikimedia Hong Kong’s complaint to the Board representatives on the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), re: the FDC recommendation on Hong Kong’s proposal in Round 2, 2012-13. We have also closely followed Wikimedia Hong Kong’s appeal to the Ombudsperson, noted the Ombudsperson’s report on this issue, and thank her for her excellent work.

We appreciate the efforts made by volunteer members of Wikimedia Hong Kong (WMHK) in submitting a proposal to the FDC, and understand that it is difficult to accept the FDC’s recommendation not to fund this proposal. However, we support the FDC’s recommendation on WMHK. We believe it was made after thoughtful deliberation and consideration of WMHK’s needs and capacities, bearing in mind the goals of the FDC: to effectively allocate movement funds to achieve Wikimedia’s mission, vision, and strategy. We encourage WMHK, rather than interpreting this recommendation as a rebuke or an insult, to accept it in the spirit in which it was intended: as a constructive assessment, designed to offer a helpful evaluation of its proposal and alternative ideas for a suitable and sustainable path for the chapter’s growth and development.

WMHK submitted a proposal to the FDC in March 2013, requesting an allocation of 1,650,950 HKD or US$ 211,660.26 for its next annual plan. In making its recommendations, the FDC analysed the financial and programmatic aspects of the proposal itself, as well as considered the discussions on the talk page, the staff assessment, a financial review by WMF’s Chief Financial Officer, and WMHK’s grant history and compliance record.

The Board representatives can attest - as observers of the FDC process - to the fact that FDC members do not take their responsibilities lightly: every proposal is deliberated on in great detail, with significant discussion and debate, and a consensus is reached after an iterative process of individual allocation recommendations and collective discussion. The FDC assesses the readiness and effectiveness of an organization to create significant impact and grow its communities and related content, with an appropriate use of movement resources. In WMHK’s case, after considerable time spent on the proposal, all members agreed on the final recommendation.

The FDC’s primary concerns regarding the proposal were: the effectiveness of the programs proposed in terms of both potential impact and budgetary implications, and the internal governance and organizational capacity of the WMHK chapter to administer such a large grant. Both independently and in comparison to other movement entities applying for FDC resources, WMHK’s track record is limited: its current (2012-13) fiscal year budget is US$ 533, and its previous grant history is of three WMF grants in 2010-11, totalling US$ 18,000. These grants did not demonstrate significant initiative or impact, and were not reported on in a timely or adequate manner. In addition, the FDC was concerned that the proposed programs and their potential impact did not justify the allocation of over US$ 210,000 and the hiring of three full time staff members. A significant proportion of the proposed budget was to cover these staff salaries and the travel of chapter members to international Wikimedia events.

WMHK’s lack of compliance on a previous grant was of secondary consideration for the FDC, though important in its nature. WMHK was eligible in February 2013 since it had submitted the necessary grant reports to meet the eligibility gap. WMF staff believed it was a simple and routine matter for WMHK to confirm the amount of remaining funds and request a re-allocation or return the remaining funds. However, despite repeated communication from the staff - including clearly stating “We'd like to help you work with WMF to resolve this before staff proposal assessments of Wikimedia Hong Kong's Proposal to the FDC are published” - WMHK remained unresponsive to this request. The FDC was surprised that such a basic requirement of good grants governance and financial management had been overlooked by the chapter, particularly at a time when the FDC review of its proposal was underway.

The FDC made its recommendation taking all these factors into consideration.

As community volunteers themselves, every FDC member understands the importance of supporting volunteers to do their work more effectively and enjoyably (as do we on the Board). At the same time, the FDC believes that organizational growth should happen thoughtfully and at a measured pace, in order not to over-extend the ability of volunteers to hire and manage staff, govern effectively, and use movement resources wisely. We concur with the FDC, and its recommendation that WMHK considers part-time staff or other forms of support for its programmatic work, and applies to the Wikimedia Grants Program for a more modest project grant that will help develop its capacity and impact, consistent with our movement’s mission and goals. We think this is particularly important given the context of WMHK’s hosting of Wikimania: other chapters have greatly benefitted, in the past, from relatively small but significant grants that have helped them build upon the excitement generated by Wikimania, and grow in sustainable and effective ways.

Once again, we understand the anger and frustration of WMHK with the FDC’s recommendation. We are disappointed, however, that this resulted in some highly inappropriate and intemperate language against the FDC and the staff. We expect professional and constructive behaviour from movement leaders who are responsible for good governance of their own entities and are in entrusted positions movement-wide. The FDC process so far has already demonstrated more thoughtful ways of dealing with the challenge of unexpected FDC recommendations: other fund-seeking entities, for instance, responded with maturity and grace to recommendations that were significantly different from what they may have expected, understanding the rationale of the FDC’s recommendations and appreciating the considerable efforts of FDC members in fulfilling a demanding set of responsibilities.

However, the FDC process is a learning opportunity for all of us. It is rigorous, for good reason: we are privileged to have the resources we do, and collectively responsible for ensuring they are used for maximum possible effectiveness. This is particularly true for significantly large general support grants for annual plans of movement entities. We ask staff to improve their oversight of entity compliance, and work closely with applying entities to ensure they understand the process and are supported in making informed decisions about what kind of grants are best suited to their needs and capacities. At the same time, it is equally critical that interested entities ensure that they are meeting compliance and reporting requirements, and work collaboratively with the FDC and staff, engaging in constructive, professional and courteous communication that leads to better outcomes for the movement.

We know that WMHK is preparing for Wikimania in August, and that this is an extraordinary burden of responsibility. We greatly appreciate the Hong Kong chapter and the community for their efforts, and re-affirm the support of the Wikimedia Foundation in working with WMHK to ensure that Wikimania is a testimony to the passion and commitment of Hong Kong’s volunteers. We look forward to Wikimania, and to the growth and development of Hong Kong’s community and chapter.

Jan-Bart de Vreede and Patricio Lorente - WMF Board representatives to the FDC. Patricio.lorente (talk) 16:55, 15 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]


Sorry to say, your reply actually really disappointing and even make us feel helpless, ABSOLUTELY HELPLESS although this is expected

We understand the point and problem FDC accuses us, even myself as a supervision council member also point at the local chapter board, pressing the same problem

but from years of experience, base on volunteers, we cannot go anywhere

that's why we need to go through FDC, and have a long term vision to attract the right people to help us to solve the problem

the FDC decision, and you responses just delay our problem for half an year or even longer, as we don't have the resource to solve problem

that's why I am so angry about the FDC process, as it delays problem, not solving problems at least not in a development approach. In cantonese way, that is only "avoid the problem of worms in sand getting into toes nails, by cutting off the nails"

Also more disastrous, that all the opportunities especially the publicity we gain in the outreach in Wikimania, will just fade away as we JUST HAVE NO RESOURCES to deal with them.

Who is responsible for that? who should we blame?

Sorry, I HAVE NO MORE CONFIDENCE ON THIS FUND SYSTEM FRANKLY, and you always waste our valuable volunteer time on admin stuff and funding

sorry I have no more time to deal with this, and we need to seek fund locally and it is more difficult I think Thanks for the challenge you bring to us and I can't regard it as a support to us, frankly.

Totally helpless,  ※ JéRRy ~ 雨雨  ※  Was?  ※  18:04, 15 May 2013 (UTC) (personal opinion)[reply]

I regret that this made you feel helpless, Jerry. That was not the intent; all of the feedback to WMHK has suggested you should try again, in some forum, with a less ambitious first-large-grant request.
I made a few suggestions on your talk page, and by mail, at the time; as I said there, I think you have at least two ways to get funds right away; both to follow-up on Wikimania and to gain resources to solve underlying problems in your infrastructure. I hope you are making some progress with those options. Regards, SJ talk  15:35, 1 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

See also[edit]

FDC portal/Appeals regarding FDC process/2012-2013 round2