Grants:APG/Funds Dissemination Committee/Framework for the Creation and Initial Operation of the FDC

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The following framework has been prepared for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees by Sue Gardner with input from interviews (including with chapter leaders at the Berlin conference, the WMF Board of Trustees, and external experts), WMF staff, the FDC Advisory Group, and others in the Wikimedia community who have engaged in the extensive discussion. It is not intended to represent a full consensus of all perspectives, but as a reasoned recommendation in meeting the requirements set out by the Board of Trustees. Please provide comments and feedback on the talk page.


On March 30, 2012, the WMF Board of Trustees resolved that the Foundation would create a Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC). The sole purpose of the FDC would be to make recommendations to the WMF Board of Trustees for funding activities and initiatives in support of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. The Board asked the Executive Director, Sue Gardner, to prepare a preliminary framework by June 30, 2012, containing the following:

  • A description of how the FDC will function;
  • A transition plan for rolling it out, with a partial rollout in 2012–13 and a full rollout for 2013–14;
  • And a process for evaluating, reviewing and making refinements at several key stages.

This document is that framework. It has been created under the direction of the Executive Director, with significant input from the FDC Advisory Group, community members who have participated on the talk pages here, and the staff of the Foundation.

This proposal is not fixed in stone. Everyone involved in the development of the FDC realizes that the FDC process will need to evolve, perhaps significantly, as we collectively get smarter about how to make the process effective. Therefore, it is assumed that in the months and years ahead, the operations of the FDC will begin to diverge from how they are laid out in this proposal. Changes that warrant Board review will be brought to the Board for its consideration, before implementation.

Purpose of the FDC process[edit]

The purpose of the FDC process is to make allocations to FDC-eligible Wikimedia entities, based on an assessment of the extent to which requested funding will enable those entities to have an impact on realizing the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. This assessment will be a function of both how much impact their proposed activities are likely to have and how well the entities are situated to execute their plans responsibly and well.

There are four main activities in the FDC process:

  1. Assessing the likely impact of plans against the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  2. Assessing the ability of the eligible entities to execute those plans responsibly and well;
  3. Allocating funding to requesting entities on the basis of those assessments;
  4. And collecting and sharing learnings from funding activities to increase the movement's ability to achieve impact more broadly.

Roles and responsibilities[edit]

Several parties have roles and responsibilities in the funds dissemination recommendations and decision-making process:


  • To serve, with the support of the staff, as an advisory committee of the WMF Board of Trustees;
  • To be familiar with and support the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement, including its vision, values, and five-year strategic plan;
  • To review and assess materials provided as part of the FDC process, including requests from eligible fund-seeking entities, assessment materials prepared by staff, and input provided by community members and others;
  • To present the Board with written recommendations regarding funds dissemination, based upon its review of the applications, submissions, deliberations, and discussions. The FDC will use its members’ best judgment in making its recommendations and will design its recommendations to enable the maximum possible impact towards realizing the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  • To evaluate funding outcomes and reports made to the FDC to ensure that past recommendations to the Board had the intended results, and to use these results when considering future funds dissemination recommendations;
  • To be responsive to community members' questions and input about the FDC process and decisions;
  • To share knowledge about effective approaches to achieving the mission goals of the Wikimedia community;
  • To participate in an annual assessment of the FDC process, including, e.g., a self-assessment and an assessment of staff supporting the FDC;
  • To orient new FDC members to the expectations and practices of the FDC;
  • To cooperate with investigations conducted by the FDC Ombudsperson at the request of the Board representatives on the FDC;
  • To work constructively and honestly with all parties involved in the FDC process, in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement and to support and advance the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

FDC members must complete and comply with the FDC Pledge of Personal Commitment and Conflict of Interest Questionnaire.

FDC Chair[edit]

  • To give guidance to FDC staff to enable them to schedule and prepare the agenda for FDC meetings;
  • To preside over FDC meetings;
  • To liaise between the FDC, FDC staff, and the WMF Board, as necessary;
  • To ensure the overall effectiveness of the FDC, including resolving issues related to member inactivity or dysfunction;
  • To coordinate FDC feedback on the performance of FDC staff, and FDC participation in self-assessments;
  • To perform all duties as from time to time may be assigned by the WMF Board of Trustees.

FDC Ombudsperson[edit]

  • To receive and publicly document complaints about the FDC process;
  • To support complaints investigations (only when formally requested to do so by the Board representatives on the FDC);
  • To publish an annual report to the Board that documents and summarizes complaints, and identifies any systemic problems in the FDC process that warrant Board review of FDC policies, procedures or structures, and to be responsive to Board member questions about the content of the report.

WMF Board of Trustees[edit]

  • To designate, on an annual basis, the total amount of funding that the FDC may recommend to allocate;
  • To approve, modify, or veto the FDC’s recommendations on funds dissemination;
  • To address formal complaints raised by entities about the FDC's recommendations pursuant to a process that does not needlessly divert Board attention and resources;
  • To appoint two Trustees to serve as non-voting members of the FDC (referred to as "Board representatives on the FDC");
  • To work constructively and honestly with all parties involved in the FDC process, in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement, and to support and advance the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

FDC staff and other WMF staff[edit]

  • To coordinate the funding request application process, e.g., handling communications to help ensure all necessary materials are received from the fund-seeker, helping to refine fund-seeker materials to make them more FDC-friendly, as necessary, coordinating FDC meetings;
  • To determine the FDC eligibility of fund-seeking entities and work with them to develop plans to achieve and maintain compliance;
  • To prepare for the FDC an assessment of the likely impact of fund-seeking entities' plans against the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement, and an assessment of the ability of eligible entities to execute those plans responsibly and well;
  • To conduct due diligence, as required by the Board, to ensure that funds are allocated in a responsible fashion, consistent with relevant laws and regulations;
  • To support the FDC in drafting a brief summary report of the final recommendations to the Board;
  • To support the FDC and the Board by continually improving the FDC process consistent with feedback from all stakeholders, with the goal of increasing its overall effectiveness;
  • To support the FDC members in orienting new FDC members to the expectations and practices of the FDC;
  • To evaluate funding outcomes and to report to the FDC (potentially with the help of peer reviewers);
  • To facilitate and encourage community input and participation throughout the process;
  • To gather information on learnings and best practices and help share them across entities within the movement;
  • To cooperate with investigations conducted by the FDC Ombudsperson at the request of the Board representatives on the FDC;
  • To coordinate communications about the funds dissemination process to Wikimedia stakeholders;
  • To work constructively and honestly with all parties involved in the FDC process, in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement and to support and advance the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

Funding-seeking organizations[edit]

  • To participate in the FDC process responsively and positively, including preparing and providing all required information within a format and a timeframe that meets FDC requirements;
  • To plan and manage the funds application process to ensure sufficient time for proper internal review, quality control, and translation (if necessary) before submission of a funds request to the FDC and staff;
  • To respond promptly to requests for information from the FDC and staff;
  • To inform the FDC chair promptly if an entity's circumstances change in a way that might affect its eligibility for funding or the substance of its funding request;
  • To anticipate and plan for internal processes and controls to help guarantee that the requested funding, if approved, will be used efficiently, legally, and consistently with the organization's request, the terms of any awarded funds, and the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  • To build the capacity to report back to the FDC, WMF, and community on the use of the funds (as discussed below), including a financial summary and a review on the success of the funding in achieving the stated goals of the funding request and the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  • To anticipate and plan for reviews or audits by the FDC and WMF, including its staff, in the use and success of the funding, if approved;
  • To cooperate with investigations conducted by the FDC Ombudsperson at the request of the Board representatives on the FDC;
  • To work constructively and honestly with all parties involved in the FDC process, in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement, and to support and advance the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

Wikimedia community members who choose to participate in the FDC process[edit]

  • To provide input during the selection of FDC members;
  • To participate in elections to select the five community-elected members;
  • To provide input on movement spending priorities through periodic editor surveys;
  • To provide input during the FDC decision-making process (e.g., peer review and public comments);
  • To elect an FDC Ombudsperson to coordinate community feedback on the FDC funds dissemination process and recommendations;
  • To work constructively and honestly with all parties involved in the FDC process, in the best interests of the Wikimedia movement, and to support and advance the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

Eligible fund-seeking entities[edit]

Requirements for eligibility[edit]

The FDC will assess funding requests only from eligible entities (with the exception of entities that are actively pursuing a compliance plan to the satisfaction of the WMF). An entity is eligible if it meets the following six requirements:

  1. It has been formally acknowledged by the WMF Board of Trustees as a Wikimedia-affiliated entity;
  2. It has a non-expired signed agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation (e.g., chapter agreement);
  3. It has a record of either:
    • Successfully completing two grants from the Wikimedia Foundation; OR
    • Successfully completing one grant and participating in one fundraising campaign as a payment-processor; OR
    • Participating in two fundraising campaigns as a payment processor;
  4. It has submitted a letter of intent to seek an allocation from the FDC;
  5. It complies with contractual obligations agreed with the Wikimedia Foundation, such as those in chapter agreements, fundraiser agreements, grant agreements, or other formal agreements; and
  6. It complies with all relevant US and local laws.

The Wikimedia Foundation will be considered an eligible entity if it meets requirements 4–6 above.

Non-compliance and achieving eligibility[edit]

Entities that have submitted a letter of intent and are deemed to be non-compliant with contractual obligations or otherwise ineligible to receive funding through the FDC will be informed of this by the WMF staff upon determination. The notice will specify the reason(s) for the determination, and in the case of non-compliance with contractual obligations, the steps required to achieve compliance. To be eligible to receive funds, the entity must enter into an agreement with WMF staff that defines the compliance plan for how they will achieve compliance. The compliance plan will outline the steps the fund-seeker will take and the timeline for doing so. Major compliance issues that cannot be remedied quickly will make an entity ineligible until the issues are resolved.

General versus project funding[edit]

Entities that meet the eligibility requirements and are requesting general funding of any amount must apply for funds through the FDC. Entities that do not meet the eligibility requirements (unless actively pursuing a WMF-agreed compliance plan) and any entities that wish to apply for project funding should apply through the Wikimedia Project and Event Grants Program (formerly known as the Wikimedia Grants Program) – administered through the GAC – or other entity grants programs.

General funding supports an organization’s overall annual plan to achieve mission objectives. This includes both ongoing expenses (e.g. salaries, office expenses) and any programmatic costs that organizations incur in pursuit of their goals.

Project funding supports specific projects or programs in which funds are tied to specific line-item activities. An entity may apply for a project grant from the Wikimedia Project and Event Grants Program or other granting entity if the project involves no ongoing expenses such as staff and/or if the entity is ineligible to apply for general funding from the FDC.

Entities that receive funds through the FDC cannot receive funds from the Wikimedia Project and Event Grants Program in the same fiscal year (July–June). There is one exception: requests for grants supporting political and legislative activities require close WMF review for regulatory reasons; therefore, such grants are only issued by the Wikimedia Project and Event Grants Program, not the FDC. The term “political and legislative activities” includes any activities relating to political campaigns or candidates (including the contribution of funds and the publication of position statements relating to political campaigns or candidates); voter registration activities; meetings with or submissions and petitions to government executives, ministers, officers or agencies on political or policy issues; and any other activities seeking government intervention or policy implementation (like “lobbying”), whether directed toward the government or the community or public at large.

As noted, grants may be possible for some of these political and legislative activities from the GAC, but only when permitted under U.S. law and IRS regulations. A summary of some permissible and impermissible political and legislative activities is here.

While entities are encouraged to plan in advance, a second exception may be available for grant requests to the Wikimedia Project and Event Grants Program to fund opportune movement-wide events, such as the Wikimedia Conference.

Eligible entities that submit an application for general funding should submit one application to the FDC for their total request (i.e., their request for general support as well as for programs, initiatives, and special projects). This is for simplicity, so that these entities do not have to apply for and report on multiple grants from the Wikimedia Foundation.

Application process and timeline[edit]

Each year, the WMF Board creates an annual plan that divides funds raised by Wikimedia project sites into three types:

  • Funds for the Foundation's core operations;
  • Funds for the Foundation's operating reserves;
  • And funds for dissemination to movement entities, including individuals, chapters, other entities, and the Foundation itself, for activities that support the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement.

The FDC makes recommendations to the WMF Board for how to disseminate this third category of funds. More detail on the funds allocation process is at Funds Dissemination Committee/Overview of Board of Trustees funds allocation process.

The FDC accepts applications for funds twice a year, with deadlines 23:59 UTC October 1 and 23:59 UTC March 1.

Fund-seeking entities are required to post their fully completed applications on a dedicated Wikimedia site before the deadline. Community members are then invited to discuss the applications, and fund-seeking entities are encouraged to respond to questions and comments from community members.

If a party involved in the process determines a need for confidentiality in communicating on a specific topic, it may use private correspondence; but this should be minimized in keeping with the Wikimedia movement's commitment to openness and transparency.

Applications to the FDC must be in English. Applicants may request help from FDC staff in enlisting the community's assistance in the task of translation, but applicants are ultimately responsible for ensuring their application and supporting text are correctly and fully translated. Applicants should ensure that currency conversions are accurate at the time of writing.

Process overview[edit]

Step 1: Applicant submits letter of intent

  • All fund-seeking entities publish on-wiki a letter of intent to state whether the entity plans to apply in the first or second application cycle, and provide documentation to show that the entity meets FDC eligibility requirements. Once published on-wiki, the Letter of Intent may not be modified.
  • The deadlines for entities to submit Letters of Intent are 23:59 UTC 8 June (Round 1) and 23:59 UTC 8 November (Round 2).

Step 2: WMF staff determine whether entities are eligible

  • Letters of Intent and supporting documentation are reviewed by WMF staff. Entities who are deemed non-compliant work with WMF staff to develop a compliance plan.
  • WMF staff inform entities of their eligibility by 15 July (Round 1) and 15 December (Round 2).

Step 3: Eligible entities submit an application to the FDC

  • All eligible fund-seeking entities publish their applications on-wiki. Their application must include all of the following:
  1. A completed funds request form;
  2. The entity's annual report from the previous year, including financial statements and an assessment of the impact of the previous year’s activities;
  3. A financial statement for the current year, reflecting the entity's year-to-date finances for the month ending not more than 90 days before the submission date; and
  4. The entity's full annual plan for the year, including a reasonable level of detail about planned activities and finances;
  • All applications must be complete before the deadline, and once completed, may not be further modified. Before the deadline, organizations can request that the WMF confirm their application is complete.
  • Deadlines for application submissions: 23:59 UTC 1 October (Round 1) and 23:59 UTC 1 March (Round 2).

Voluntary peer review. Before submitting an application, fund-seeking entities may request that their applications undergo a peer-review process in which other entities (either FDC-eligible or FDC non-eligible) offer to review their budgets and funds requests, ask for clarifications, make suggestions, and provide guidance. In addition, entities may seek guidance from FDC staff.

Step 4: FDC staff evaluate applications

  • FDC staff exclude incomplete and late applications. Those entities will be able to submit their applications for the next round of FDC consideration.
  • Immediately after the application deadline, there will be a two-week open comment period where community members and subject-matter experts will be encouraged to provide input and questions on specific applications. During this period, fund-seeking entities are encouraged to respond to this input and to provide any additional clarification about their application on the corresponding talk page (although they are not able to change the application itself). This community input and the applicant's responses are submitted as part of the total application submitted to the FDC. Community members may provide input and commentary after the two-week comment window, but it is not guaranteed to be included in the final submission to the FDC.
  • WMF staff will review proposed plans to review compliance considerations under U.S. law (including, for example, restrictions on political activities as well as money-laundering and terrorism regulations). Where there are concerns, the WMF works with entities to see if they can be addressed. If they are not addressed, the application fails.
  • FDC staff develop an objective report assessing entities' ability to execute their plans well, and the plans' likely impact against the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. (More detail on how the FDC evaluates applications is hereafter.) This objective report may involve requesting input from subject-matter experts. In extremely unusual circumstances, input may be private, but as a matter of normal practice it is requested publicly and is posted by the subject-matter experts (or WMF staff acting on their behalf) alongside the plans on-wiki.

Step 5: FDC makes recommendations to the WMF Board

  • The FDC holds a joint meeting to deliberate and prepare for the WMF Board a single slate of allocations in each round. FDC staff will join this conversation to provide input and clarification as necessary.
  • In the first round of funding, the FDC's slate of recommendations will take into account that funds should be reserved for the second round of funding. The sum of the two slates (Round 1 and Round 2) may not exceed the total budget allocated to the FDC. If the sum of the two slates (Round 1 and Round 2) is less than the total budget allocated to the FDC, any remaining funds will be automatically transferred to the WMF reserve.
  • For each fund-seeker, the FDC provides the WMF Board with a recommended allocation, ranging from zero to the total amount requested. The FDC prepares basic feedback for each fund-seeker, assessing their performance and ways to strengthen future funding applications.
  • The FDC publishes its recommendations and feedback on-wiki.
  • The deadlines for the FDC to recommend its slate of allocations are November 15 (Round 1) and April 15 (Round 2).

Step 6: WMF Board makes the final decision on funds dissemination.

  • The Board may choose to approve all, part, or none of the FDC's slate of recommendations, and may modify individual recommendations by increasing or decreasing the amount to be allocated.
  • The deadlines for the Board to approve final allocations are December 15 (Round 1) and May 15 (Round 2).

Step 7: Recipients sign grant agreement.

  • The distribution of funds to a non-fundraising chapter is contingent on a signed, current grant agreement with the WMF.

Step 8: WMF releases funds.

  • Once the Board has approved final allocations, the WMF will release funds consistent with the Board's decisions.
    • In the case of payment-processing chapters, the Board's decision will determine the amount recommended to be retained by the payment-processing chapter, and revenues in excess of the determined amount will be the subject of a request for a fund transfer to the WMF in accordance with local laws and the current fundraising agreement. Funds to be transferred to the WMF by payment-processing chapters shall be transferred by the dates set out in the respective fundraising agreements with those chapters;
    • In the case of non-payment-processing entities, funds will be transferred from the WMF to the entity.
  • The deadlines for funds to be transferred are 30 days after the publication of the Board's decisions (January 15 for Round 1, and June 15 for Round 2) or 30 days after the grant agreement is signed, whichever is latest. Funds not transferred within 120 days of the publication of the Board's decision may be returned to the WMF reserves.

FDC Funds Dissemination Timeline

How the FDC will evaluate applications[edit]

The FDC evaluates applications from eligible entities based on their likely impact in supporting the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. Applications are considered in relation to:

  1. The Wikimedia mission, including its vision and values;
  2. The total amount of funding provided by the WMF Board, as well as any special instructions given to it by the Board when the allocation was made;
  3. The five-year strategic plan, particularly the global priorities and targets;
  4. The plans submitted by eligible entities, and the community discussions of them;
  5. The ability of fund-seeking organizations to execute those plans responsibly;
  6. The likely impact of fund-seeking entities' plans against the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  7. The FDC's individual and collective best judgment and understanding of the Wikimedia movement.

Evaluation of an entity's likely ability to execute its plans responsibly will be considered as a function of:

  • The entity's adherence to the application process, including timeliness of submissions and responsiveness to questions;
  • The entity's compliance with legal, regulatory, and policy requirements;
  • The record of the entity's successful execution of prior grants and activities funded through other means;
  • The clarity and thoroughness of the plan;
  • The quality and rigor of planning and assessment that applicants have undergone with their own boards and communities in developing their plans;
  • The extent to which applicants have engaged in a peer-review process, either as a reviewee or a reviewer;
  • Adherence to the WMF Board-approved best practices around accountability.

Evaluation of the likely impact of the plans against the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement will be considered in relation to:

  • The global movement's priorities and targets, as stated in the plans themselves;
  • Past experience/learning within the Wikimedia movement and, possibly, input from subject-matter experts (where applicable);
  • The entities' record of achieving impact against the movement's priorities;
  • Community feedback on the likely impact of the plan;
  • The availability and readiness of volunteers and other non-financial resources required to execute the plan;
  • The efficiency of the proposed use of funds;
  • The quality of the proposed measures of success;
  • The degree to which the plan builds on successful work in the Wikimedia movement and takes account of lessons learned;
  • The degree to which the funding will add new knowledge to or spur innovation in the Wikimedia movement with the purpose of achieving impact against global priorities and targets.

The FDC is responsible for making funding decisions on an annual basis; however, annual plans may include multi-year projects and initiatives. The FDC will evaluate requests for subsequent years with a bias toward providing sufficient funds to complete multi-year projects as originally proposed, assuming the fund-seeking entity is making sufficient progress on its multi-year projects as previously proposed (e.g., projects are on track to achieve their anticipated goals).

How the FDC will make its recommendations[edit]

Five voting FDC members shall constitute a quorum. Quorum is necessary to make a final decision on the recommendations for the Board of Trustees. FDC members will deliberate on the applications and develop joint recommendations. These joint recommendations must be approved by a majority of attending members before the FDC may transmit the joint recommendations to the Board of Trustees.

Once the FDC has developed their recommendations, FDC staff will help the FDC draft a letter to the Board of Trustees summarizing the FDC recommendations and the major considerations underlying them.

Complaint submission process[edit]

An applicant should submit any formal complaint about an FDC allocation recommendation in a summary of up to 500 words to the two non-voting WMF Board representatives on the FDC, who will in turn 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 (Year 1: November 22 for Round 1; May 8 for Round 2).
  • 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.

Special funding guidelines during transition to the FDC (2012–14)[edit]

Almost all organizations face some degree of financial uncertainty. Even so, in creating the FDC, the Wikimedia Foundation wants to ensure that it doesn't significantly destabilize organizations or render them unable to plan appropriately. Therefore, supporting organizational stability will be an ongoing consideration in the FDC process as it evolves, and it will be particularly important during the FDC's first few years of operation. Therefore, during the first three years, the FDC will follow a set of articulated guidelines to support the transition into the new funds dissemination process. After three years, based on the FDC's experience, the guidelines may be revised, or simply allowed to lapse.

  • In Year 1, the FDC will target dissemination amounts to eligible entities between 100% and 120% of what the entity received through grants or retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle.
  • In Year 2, the FDC will target dissemination amounts to eligible entities between 80% and 120% of what the entity received through grants or retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle.
  • In Year 3, the FDC will target dissemination amounts to eligible entities between 80% and 120% of what the entity received through grants or retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle.

These amounts are not targets; rather, they are guidelines to help eligible entities plan over the next few years and adjust to the new funding environment. Eligible entities may request more or less than these target amounts. The FDC will give a higher level of scrutiny to requests in excess of these guidelines and to requests from eligible entities whose year-to-date actual spending is significantly less than their year-to-date budgeted spending.

If the FDC recommends a funding allocation below these guidelines, the Board will require a higher level of justification on the part of the FDC. This would likely only result from major deficiencies in a fund-seeker's application or in the track record of the applicant (e.g., demonstrated inability to effectively use resources as planned). Allocations above these guidelines would also require more justification on the part of the FDC. This might occur if an applicant has proposed a particularly promising plan and projects with high likelihood for success.

Changes to the Wikimedia funding environment – such as significant shortfalls in the annual fundraiser or other financial challenges – that constitute extenuating circumstances may result in short notice changes to the target ranges for FDC allocations.

FDC fund recipients’ use of funds and reporting requirements[edit]

While the FDC will not scrutinize activity-level spending of entities, the FDC will hold entities accountable for outcomes as outlined in their annual plans. These outcomes will be considered in future funding cycles, but it will remain up to entities’ discretion to spend money in the best way they see fit (within legal and regulatory constraints).

Funding recipients will be expected to submit reports on progress toward goals, in accordance with funding requirements.

  • FDC staff will support this process, as resources permit.
  • Over time, FDC staff will synthesize lessons from reports across funding recipients to share with the FDC and the community as a whole, on which activities/strategies are most/least effective and general lessons that would benefit the movement.
  • WMF staff and contractors may engage in reviews or audits of grant spending as required by law, agreement, and good governance.

Sharing learnings and best practices[edit]

Because of their role as promoters and enablers of high impact activities, the FDC will become a center for thought leadership about what works to support the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. To share this wisdom, the FDC will publish an annual "report" providing reflections and learnings from the grantmaking work they do. This may include:

  • Promising practices and lessons learned in movement entities' programs and activities
  • Trends in the progress, activities, and challenges of movement entities themselves
  • Observations about where the movement is over- or under-investing to achieve the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement
  • Recommendations for movement strategic priorities and goals

Not only will this annual report help movement entities enhance and refine their own plans to support the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement, but it will also be a critical input into the movement's broader strategic planning process.

In addition to the annual report, FDC members will be encouraged to participate in the broader discussion about how to best achieve the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement in other ways as well, seeking to disseminate lessons widely through any means available (e.g., presenting at Wikimania, chapter meetings, and other movement conferences and events, maintaining a blog or other medium for sharing reflections electronically).


The FDC will be a diverse body of people reflecting different aspects of the movement, including its geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. In addition to nine voting members, two additional non-voting seats will be reserved for WMF Board of Trustee members, who will serve as liaisons to the Board regarding FDC decisions and the overall evaluation and continual improvement of FDC processes.

The Committee shall elect one member to serve as Chair. The Chair shall serve for a term of two years or until his / her term ends, whichever is sooner.

Over time, the FDC will be a blend of elected and appointed members from across the Wikimedia movement:

  • Four representatives will be appointed by the Board of Trustees (with input/support from the FDC)
  • Five representatives will be elected through a community election process similar to that of the community-elected seats on the Board of Trustees.

In its inception, the FDC Advisory Group will work with the Board of Trustees to appoint the seven founding members of the FDC:

  • Of these four will remain as “Board appointed seats” on an ongoing basis. These four members will have an initial two-year term.
  • Three will initially also be appointed but will be eventually replaced by community-elected members of the FDC. These three members will have an initial three-year term.

In 2013, in conjunction with the election for community-elected Board of Trustee seats, two FDC seats (the two seats not filled initially) will be filled via community election, bringing the total number of voting members of the FDC to nine. If there is attrition among the founding FDC prior to the 2013 elections, up to three of these seats would be filled by community-elected members of the FDC, to bring the total number of community-elected seats to five.

To maintain a balance of five community-elected and four Board-appointed members going forward, FDC membership will evolve as follows:

  • In 2014: Four FDC members are appointed
  • In 2015: Five FDC members are elected
  • In 2016: Four FDC members are appointed
  • In 2017: Five FDC members are elected
  • In 2018: Four FDC members are appointed
  • In 2019: Five FDC members are elected
  • In 2020: Four FDC members are appointed

The term of membership will be two years, with a round of either elections or appointments every year (election years will coincide with elections for the community-elected seats on the Board of Trustees, to streamline processes and communications). There will be no term limits, so FDC members may serve multiple consecutive terms so long as they are re-elected or re-appointed. As shown above, up to four or five seats (including community-elected and Board-appointed) may turn over each year.

Interested candidates will self-nominate for either a community-elected or Board-appointed seat. The Board, the FDC and other members of the community can encourage individuals to self-nominate if they identify someone who would be a particular asset. In either case, the Board will vet all nominations and present a slate of eligible candidates.

  • For community-elected candidates, this slate will then go to the community for election.
  • For Board-appointed candidates, the Board will work with the FDC to identify the most qualified members who would best complement the make-up of the existing FDC members.

Off-cycle attrition would be addressed through Board-appointed replacements. The Board of Trustees has the right to remove any FDC member if it determines that member has not fulfilled their responsibilities as FDC members.

Membership criteria

To be eligible for the FDC, members must:

  • Be over 21 years old and over the age of majority in their home country;
  • Be able to work effectively in English (although full fluency is not required);
  • Present to WMF appropriate personal identification, a copy of which will be maintained by WMF for record-keeping;
  • Have sufficient time and dedication to commit to this process and availability to attend in-person meetings, as needed;
  • Have a track record of constructive engagement in community discussions and an orientation toward collaborative problem solving;
  • And be able to set aside any conflicts of interest and work towards the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement without considering individual or organizational interests.

Staff / board members of entities requesting funds from the FDC may serve on the FDC; however, they must recuse themselves from deliberations pertaining to their entity's application.

Through careful selection of candidates through both the Board-appointment and community election processes, the FDC membership (as a whole) should have the following skills and attributes:

  • Experience directing or evaluating programs;
  • Grant-making expertise (either as a grantee or grantor of funds);
  • Exposure to, understanding of, and personal credibility in the Wikimedia movement (that is, experience in programs, chapters, or administrative roles within the Wikimedia movement);
  • And gender, geographic and linguistic diversity.

Membership expectations

Serving on the FDC will require considerable time, focus, and effort. At a minimum, members should expect to undertake the following:

  • In-person attendance at FDC meetings (two to three meetings expected per year);
  • Reading and evaluating applications during the two application rounds per year (March and October);
  • Ongoing monitoring and participation in FDC discussions and activities within the community;
  • And sporadically intense email and IRC communication with FDC staff and other FDC members.

To fulfill these duties, it will be critical for FDC members to remain active and responsive throughout their tenure. In extraordinary circumstances, if members anticipate they will need to be inactive from the FDC for a period of time, they should notify the FDC Chair in advance. If FDC members become inactive without warning, the FDC Chair will reach out to the member to better understand the situation and work with the member to rectify it. If the member is unresponsive or their inactivity becomes chronic, the FDC Chair has the authority to request that the Board of Trustees vote to replace the member with a Board-appointed replacement to finish the term of the original member. If the FDC Chair becomes inactive and unresponsive, other FDC members should call this to the attention of the Board of Trustees.

New FDC members will be carefully trained and on-boarded to ensure continuity of process and ongoing operations of the group. Existing FDC members and the FDC staff will be responsible for training and on-boarding new members. In the inaugural year, the FDC Advisory Group will help to onboard the first FDC members.

Expenses associated with fulfilling FDC membership (e.g., travel costs) will be reimbursed. Over time, certain benefits that support the role of the FDC member, such as a travel and admission expenses for Wikimania, admission to a professional conference or training sessions, or participation in site visits, may be offered to attract, engage, and assist members. To avoid a potential conflict of interest, FDC members may not accept compensation or payment in any form (including travel and lodging expenses) from persons or entities that have or will likely have activities before the FDC, including requests for grants. Exceptions to this policy include reimbursements and benefits provided by the Wikimedia Foundation to FDC members as outlined in this proposal and any other exceptions permitted by the FDC charter or a Board resolution.

Assessment and continuous improvement of the funds dissemination process[edit]

The hypothesis underpinning the FDC is that a global body of committed, experienced Wikimedians, supported by a well-designed process and dedicated staff, can make decisions about where the Wikimedia movement should spend its money that will:

  • Create better alignment between the Wikimedia movement's strategy and its spending;
  • Support greater impact and greater progress towards achieving shared goals than would otherwise be the case;
  • And enable the movement to get smarter faster about how to achieve shared goals than otherwise would have happened.

A secondary hypothesis is that the FDC process will be seen by the global Wikimedia community (including but not limited to fund-seeking entities) as more fair, transparent and accountable than the funds dissemination practices that predated it. Creating the FDC process will be expensive: it will cost a significant amount of money, staff time and volunteer time, and it will require Board of Trustees involvement and oversight.

Given these objectives and considerations, the purpose of the FDC assessment process will be to determine the extent to which the FDC process is creating the expected value for the Wikimedia movement (as defined in the first paragraph of this section), and to assess its costs to the movement, so that the Board of Trustees can decide whether its value warrants its costs.

How the assessment process will work

To ensure the FDC process as efficient and effective as possible (as defined by the objectives above), the FDC staff will be responsible for facilitating a regular process of collecting feedback and assessing the FDC process, to be published on-wiki. Each involved party will be responsible for improving its own practices in response to this feedback.

FDC assessment dimensions
To understand whether the FDC process is achieving its established objectives, it will be evaluated on the following dimensions:

  1. Ability to fulfill its basic purpose, as set out in the Board's March 2012 resolution, to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees for funding activities and initiatives in support of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement;
  2. Adherence to the Board's principles for funds distribution (as laid out in the Board's January 2012 resolution): to protect core operations, assess impact, promote transparency and stability, support decentralized programs, promote responsibility and accountability, and make decisions openly and collaboratively;
  3. Effectiveness in enabling increased alignment between the Wikimedia strategy and its spending;
  4. Effectiveness in enabling greater impact and progress towards achieving the movement's shared goals than might otherwise have been the case;
  5. Effectiveness in enabling the Wikimedia movement to get smarter faster about how to achieve the movement's shared goals than might otherwise have been the case;
  6. Whether the global Wikimedia community perceives the process to be more fair, transparent and accountable than the funds dissemination practices that predated it;
  7. Whether the costs of the process, as measured in financial costs, volunteer time, staff time and Board of Trustees time, are merited by the effectiveness measures outlined hereinbefore.

Inputs to the assessment process

To evaluate these dimensions, the following inputs will be collected as part of the regular assessment process for the FDC:

  • The FDC staff will administer a survey of involved parties after each funding cycle to gather:
  1. Perceptions of the FDC process's effectiveness based on the evaluation dimensions outlined above;
  2. The costs (money and time) of the FDC process;
  3. And input on potential process improvements (e.g., what should continue, what should be stopped, what should be started).
  • The annual editor survey will include questions to assess editor perception of the FDC process, including how well it has created increased alignment between spending and strategy, whether it has enabled more impact and better progress towards Wikimedia global goals, and whether it is perceived by respondents to be fair, transparent and accountable.
  • The Ombudsperson will develop a report after each funding cycle cataloging all feedback submitted by the community about the FDC process (including official complaints from fund-seeking entities disputing the FDC recommendations).
  • The WMF finance staff will issue an on-wiki statement of FDC financial costs.
  • Based on the grant reports submitted by funds recipients, the FDC staff will develop an annual objective summary of past grants given and the outcomes of those grants.
  • Based on all of these inputs, the FDC Chair will coordinate the FDC members in developing an annual on-wiki statement assessing the FDC's performance in fulfilling its overall purpose, adhering to the Board principles, increasing alignment between spending and strategy, and enabling more impact and better progress towards the global Wikimedia goals.

FDC stakeholders and their roles in the assessment process

  • Funds-seeking entities: This group includes eligible entities (including the Wikimedia Foundation in its funds-seeking role) as well as entities who aspire to become eligible. This is an important stakeholder group. While they will have limited ability to assess value/outcomes, they will be a critical contributor to the assessment of fairness, transparency and accountability, and will be key in helping to capture costs. A highly involved party, this group will be motivated to give feedback.
  • The FDC itself: A critical role for the FDC will be to help assess the value/outcomes of the FDC process and to help assess the financial and time-related costs of the process. A highly involved party, they will be motivated to give feedback.
  • The WMF Board of Trustees: As the sponsor of the FDC process, the Board holds ultimate authority for assessing its cost and value. They should also be surveyed as part of the assessment process to understand how much time the FDC process takes for Board members. In general, the WMF Board will not be considered a directly involved party, with the exception of the two Board members serving on the FDC.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation staff: This will include the FDC staff as well as other WMF staff who are deeply engaged with the FDC process (i.e. Head of Global Development, the General Counsel, Chief Financial and Administration Officer, Executive Director, etc.) A critical role for this group will be to help assess the value/outcomes of the FDC process and to capture the costs of the process. A highly involved party, this group will be motivated to give feedback.
  • The global Wikimedia community: The community is a key stakeholder for the process, in part a proxy for readers. These people create the strategy that the FDC aims to align funding with. While they will likely have limited ability to assess value/outcomes of the FDC process, they will be a key constituency to be surveyed for views on the fairness, transparency and accountability of the process. This group will be difficult to survey because many will not be very knowledgeable or interested. Therefore, the purpose of the creation of the Ombudsperson role is, in part, to amplify the voice of community members in the assessment process. During the assessment process the Ombudsperson will be responsible for representing complaints about the FDC process from community members. This group is largely an uninvolved party, apart from the FDC election process and those people who choose to get involved with the process.
  • The FDC Advisory Group: See the role described below in the "Two-year trial period" section.

The role of the Ombudsperson

For transparency purposes, an elected Ombudsperson will be responsible for collecting and cataloguing feedback about the FDC process, and publishing it on-wiki.

  • The Ombudsperson will be elected at the time of FDC member elections.
  • The term of the Ombudsperson will be two years.
  • The first Ombudsperson will be appointed by the Board when initial FDC members are appointed.

All interested parties will be invited to send feedback about the FDC to the Ombudsperson. This process may be conducted in a combination of public and private forums. The Ombudsperson will track and categorize the input he or she receives and will publish the results at the close of each funding cycle in a report to the Board. This report will have three purposes:

  • It will serve as formal input for the FDC assessment processes, as described hereinbefore;
  • It will provide all involved parties with feedback they can use as they see fit to continually refine and improve their processes;
  • It will enable everyone in the Wikimedia community to gain a sense of whether the FDC process is perceived by observers and participants as fair and reasonable.

Two-year trial period

For the first two years, the FDC will be in a trial period with special oversight and evaluation in addition to the regular process outlined above.

The FDC Advisory Group will play a special role in the development and assessment of the FDC during this period:

  • Until September 2012, the Advisory Group will continue to advise the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation in the formation and on-boarding of the first FDC;
  • Once the inaugural FDC is up and running, the Advisory Group’s formal role will be suspended. However, its members will continue to closely observe the process, and to participate in it as community members as they see fit.
  • The Advisory Group will return in a formal capacity at two points before disbanding in September of 2014:
1. After the first round of funds dissemination is completed and has been assessed (roughly, in mid-March 2013), the Advisory Group will use the assessment and their own observations to advise the WMF Executive Director on how to improve the process. Process improvements may include adjustments to:
  • Timelines;
  • Eligibility requirements for grantees;
  • Membership, eligibility requirements, and workload for the FDC;
  • Application process, including the role of FDC staff;
  • And decision-making processes.
2. After 1.5 years (three rounds) of funds dissemination has been completed and assessed (roughly, in mid-March 2014), the Advisory Group will meet again to advise the WMF Executive Director on improvements to the process based on updated assessment and learnings.

The WMF Board of Trustees will also play a special evaluation role during this period:

  • At the end of the FDC's first year of operation, in roughly mid-August 2013, the Executive Director will create a report for the Board of Trustees documenting the state of the FDC process and informing the Board about changes that will be made to it as a result of the assessments to date, and the counsel of the FDC Advisory Group.
  • At the end of the two-year trial period, in roughly mid-August 2014, the Executive Director will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, rooted in the assessments done to date as well as the counsel from the FDC Advisory Group, recommending one of the following outcomes:
  • To continue the FDC process as is;
  • To continue the FDC process with modifications;
  • To eliminate the FDC process and replace it with a different process designed to achieve some of the same goals (alignment of spending with strategy, greater impact, better learnings, perceived as high quality) but in a more effective fashion; or
  • To eliminate the FDC process and request the Executive Director to assume responsibility for funds dissemination for the Wikimedia movement.

Associated templates and supporting documentation[edit]

Hereafter are several draft templates and supporting documents to be used in the funds dissemination process: Supporting Documents to Accompany the Framework

Other Supporting Information