The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met in Milan over the period April 22–24, 2013 in order to assess the proposals for 2012–2013 Round 2 and provide recommendations on them to the WMF Board. The FDC recommendations are given below. Below the recommendations, we have also included guidance on some critical issues, including eligibility requirements, diversification of funding sources, good governance and effective leadership, volunteer–staff balance, and metrics and outcomes.
The timing of the FDC deliberations was planned to coincide with Wikimedia Conference 2013. Several informational sessions and dialogues took place during the conference to solicit valuable feedback and share learning from Round 1. Minutes from these meetings can be found on Meta.
The FDC is concerned that in comparison with Round 1, some of the applicants in Round 2 did not adequately understand the FDC framework, and applied for annual plan funding when project grants may have been more appropriate.
|Comments and observations|
|R1 + R2 TOTAL||11,633,268.76*||9,173,410**||
* WMFR made a request in both rounds, after receiving bridge funding of 94,000 USD in Round 1.
**Total without the WMF allocation in Round 1: 4,714,410 USD.
Overview of the FDC allocations
The overall funds available for movement entities in 2012–2013 was 11.2 million USD, of which 60,000 USD was assigned by the WMF Board to the Affiliations Committee (AffCom) outside of the FDC process. The FDC is therefore responsible for recommending allocations for the remaining 11.14 million USD. The FDC has a separate operating budget of 276,000 USD, which includes FDC meeting expenses and salaries of FDC staff.
In Round 1, the FDC recommended a total allocation of 8.51 million USD (approved by the WMF Board), with the FDC receiving proposals from 12 movement entities for a total requested amount of 10.4 million USD, from 11 Wikimedia chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation. In Round 2, a total of 1.2 million USD was requested by four entities. The FDC is recommending allocating a total of 665,000 USD in Round 2. The FDC recommends that the remaining approximately 1.97 million USD of the FDC allocation be returned to the reserves.
The FDC deliberations process
The FDC staff prepared materials for the FDC review, including analysis on finances, grant compliance, and programs and presented an overview of these findings to the FDC. The FDC members had also read the material beforehand, where available. The FDC asked questions of the entities on-wiki over the four-week review period, and closely followed the community questions and commentary on the proposals. Although the FDC found the community review process very helpful, we would like to see more of the community being involved and asking the entities more questions.
The FDC used the following model to deliberate on each entity's proposal:
- FDC members created initial funding allocation recommendations before the face-to-face meeting.
- The FDC staff presented their staff assessment (which was posted on-wiki prior to the face-to-face meeting).
- The WMF Chief Financial Officer presented his financial perspective.
- The WMF Grants Administrator presented the compliance review.
- The FDC discussed the strengths and concerns of each entity's plan, as well as its proposed programs and office and staffing requests. They reviewed the history and context of the entity.
- The FDC then discussed the potential allocation for each entity, starting with members’ individual recommended allocations. There was significant conversation and debate about the four proposals. FDC members then re-evaluated their recommended allocations.
- A second review of all proposals was held the following day. Although there was a diversity of opinions on funding recommendations, consensus was reached on the recommended funding allocation for all proposals.
The first session of the FDC meeting included presentations on movement governance and compliance, with Sue Gardner, Stephen LaPorte and Asaf Bartov. After this session, the FDC deliberated on each proposal, using the process explained above. Following the deliberations process, we also spent time talking about the WMF’s application to the FDC next year, reviewed progress from Round 1, planned for Round 1 of the next financial year, improved our internal ways of working, developed sessions for Wikimania, and created a list of requested inputs from the FDC staff to improve our deliberations in future rounds.
Comments from the deliberation
Eligibility status and compliance with WMF grant requirements
The FDC was concerned that some applicants in Round 2 were not in compliance with the eligibility requirements at the time of FDC deliberations. In order to receive funding from the FDC, an entity must be in compliance with its agreements with WMF and with the requirements of any WMF grants program. Compliance includes executing activities as planned, submitting complete and timely reports to the WMF and returning any grant funds not used for the activities described in the approved grant submission to the WMF in a timely manner. Compliance with grants is considered of high importance because entities receiving general unrestricted funds should demonstrate a strong track record in responsibly managing movement resources. Even entities considered eligible at the time the eligibility status is published by WMF are required to remain in compliance for the duration of their engagement in the FDC proposal process.
Appropriate and diverse funding sources (Project grants versus FDC annual plan funding)
We encourage entities to learn about appropriate funding opportunities that closely match their organizational needs and capabilities. The FDC is one funding channel offered by the Wikimedia Movement, but entities (as well as thematic organizations and user groups) may also seek support for mission-aligned projects through the WMF Grants Program, even if they are eligible to apply for funding from the FDC. A project grant may be the best option for entities that do not need full-time staff or a permanent office space to carry out their activities. The WMF Grants Program does not fund permanent, full-time staff or a permanent office, although part-time staff, temporary staff, or a temporary or shared workspace may be funded through the WMF Grants Program if clearly linked to a project goal. The WMF Grants Program is a more agile process than the FDC proposal process: entities can apply for multiple grants at any time, with terms ranging from one day to one year. The submission process, reporting requirements, and eligibility criteria are simpler than those of the FDC. Participation in the WMF Grants Program may also offer entities opportunities to successfully execute project grants and demonstrate impact.
Additionally, entities should aim to diversify their funding options and seek resources outside of the movement where possible. This will also contribute to the sustainability of each entity’s resources and the movement as a whole. This includes in-kind contributions: for instance, some entities are successful at securing low-cost or free office space in collaboration with donors such as universities or other organizations. It is essential that all of our operations are conducted with appropriate frugality and at moderate, reasonable levels.
Good governance and effective leadership
The key driver for organizational and programmatic effectiveness currently seems to be strategic leadership and good governance practices, whether for staffed organizations or primarily volunteer-run entities. The movement needs to learn from the different models of leadership and governance, and share both successes and challenges. The FDC does not see good governance as simply being about accountability and compliance, but as a significant condition for successful outcomes and impact. In particular, the rules of avoiding conflicts of interest, professional staff recruitment, and community ethics standards are important.
A number of organizations are currently in transition - whether they are recovering from crises, or where they are transitioning from purely volunteer-run organizations to staff-supported organizations. The FDC is glad to see entities working through these issues, and notes that it is important for all organizations to monitor their governance standards, and to improve them wherever possible. We encourage entities to make use of external advice when dealing with transition and crisis, where appropriate, and also to make use of existing experiences, learning, and good practices within the movement.
We appreciate that some entities are developing strategic plans, and that there has been an increase in sharing these in the Wikimedia Conference 2013. We encourage entities to develop strategic plans with community involvement and inputs, and consider the movement’s strategic priorities. We expect entities to align their annual plans and FDC proposals with their strategic plans unless there is a rationale for a change in direction.
We also note that there are different paths to growth and alternatives to institutionalization and professionalization, and organizations should continue to be creative and nimble.
Volunteers and staff
We are concerned about the general increase in staff hiring that has been taking place over the last year, in particular where staff are performing functions that volunteers have been leading. We encourage entities to focus on balancing the work done by staff and volunteers in line with the Wikimedia movement’s ethos of volunteers leading work, and to focus on having staff coordinate volunteer activities. We are also concerned about the growth rates of both staff and budgets. We would ask entities to consider whether their growth rates are sustainable in the long term, and whether they are leading to the most impact possible.
We want to emphasise the importance of chapters supporting the development and growth of the whole community, rather than just a limited subset of it, and would also like to encourage cross-chapter collaboration.
Metrics and outcomes
The FDC would like to re-emphasise our comment from the last round: it is essential that all projects rely on well-defined, SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive) goals. Preparing good, precise, quantitative measures of success (specifying what goal is planned) helps in preparing better projects and refining strategies. In cases where setting quantitative goals may not be possible or appropriate, qualitative goals should substitute and supplement the quantitative ones. It is particularly difficult to assess proposals that lack SMART goals; this lack of SMART goals may have an impact on the amount that we recommend to the WMF Board.
It is important for established chapters and the WMF to act as role models, and to set good examples for other entities in the movement. We view this as an obligation for organizations that are receiving a significant amount of Wikimedia movement funding. This includes best practices with SMART goals and metrics, as well as good governance and innovative strategic, structural and management solutions.
Continuous improvement of the FDC process
The FDC is committed to learning and continuous improvement, and believes that the process has been and will continue to be strengthened by feedback from applicants. The FDC intends to work with the FDC staff to create a plan of ongoing feedback to applicants, and believes that the pre-proposal process for 2013–2014 Round 1 will be strengthened by the Letter of Intent process.
The FDC’s mandate
The FDC's mandate is to recommend to the WMF Board allocations of Wikimedia movement funds to eligible entities, based on an assessment of the ability of eligible entities to realise movement goals. The FDC allocations are in the form of general funds to support the annual plans of entities, which cover staff and other operational costs as well as program expenses. While this implies trust in each entity that receives FDC support, it also implies great responsibility and accountability from the entities to ensure that the expenditure of movement resources has the highest possible impact. As a result, the FDC primarily assesses the ability of entities to execute their plans responsibly and efficiently (organizational effectiveness), alongside the likely impact of the initiatives and activities of the entities (programmatic effectiveness). The FDC process intends to support entities who, in turn, work on building editorship and readership in their communities, and supporting access and content on the different Wikimedia projects. We hope that over time the FDC will be ensuring that learnings from across different entities and the regions, languages and communities they support will be effectively shared with the global Wikimedia movement.
We thank the Grantmaking team at WMF, including Anasuya Sengupta (Senior Director of Grantmaking), Katy Love (Senior Program Officer, FDC), Winifred Olliff (Grants Administrator), Jessie Wild (Senior Manager, Learning & Evaluation), Adele Vrana (Senior Project Assistant) and Garfield Byrd (WMF Chief of Finance and Administration) for the excellent work they did in preparing and supporting the FDC. In addition, Sue Gardner, Stephen LaPorte, Asaf Bartov and several others dedicated time to this process, and we appreciate them for their support. We thank Patricio Lorente, one of the WMF board representatives to the FDC, for observing FDC deliberations, and for providing clarifications and aiding the FDC in its deliberations when called upon to do so.
About the FDC
The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) for the Wikimedia movement is a committee of community members that makes recommendations to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) about how to allocate funds to eligible entities within the movement. The FDC was established through a resolution of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation, and currently comprises seven members, who were selected by the WMF Board on 15 September 2012:
- Chair: Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
- Vice-Chair: Ali Haidar Khan
- Secretary: Anders Wennersten
- Mike Peel
- Yuri Perohanych (Perohanych)
- Sydney Poore (FloNight)
- Arjuna Rao Chavala (Arjunaraoc)
The two WMF Board representatives on the FDC are Jan-Bart de Vreede and Patricio Lorente, while the Ombudsperson for the current FDC process is Susana Morais. The FDC will expand to nine members from June 2013, with two more members added through community elections.
For 2012-2013, the FDC was tasked with the responsibility for recommending allocations of movement funds for entities with proposals in two rounds: Round 1 (with a proposal deadline of 1 October 2012, FDC recommendations deadline of 15 November 2012 and Board decision deadline on 15 December 2012); and Round 2 (with a proposal deadline of 1 March 2013, FDC recommendations deadline of 1 May 2013 and Board decision deadline on 1 June 2013). The proposals for Round 2, community responses and staff proposal assessments, as well as other information on the FDC, are available on the FDC portal. Please also see the Frequently Asked Questions page for more details on the history and process of the FDC. More information on future rounds, including deadlines for the Letters of Intent and proposals, can be found on the FDC process timeline on the FDC portal.
- WMCZ was eligible at the time that the eligibility status was announced by WMF, but an interim grant report for its Presentation & Outreach grant subsequently became due (this grant has a six-month reporting schedule), and therefore WMCZ had not met that eligibility gap at the time of FDC deliberations.
- WMHK’s grant reports were completed and accepted prior to the eligibility deadline; but WMHK has not returned remaining funds from its Education Toolkits For Liberal Studies grant to WMF or submitted a request to reallocate these remaining funds to other mission-aligned activities.