Funds Dissemination Committee/Draft FDC Proposal for the Board/note to the FDC Advisory Group

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(This is a mail I sent to the FDC Advisory Group yesterday. The archives of that mailing list will be made public, but I think they aren't yet public, so I'm posting this here just for transparency reasons.)

Hey folks,

This is just a quick note aimed at drawing your attention to the draft proposal to the Board on the construction of the FDC. Bridgespan has been doing some very good work at the URL above: it's worth you reading the draft-in-progress if you haven't been.

The discussion is happening mostly on that talk page, although there are a few bits and pieces of discussion happening elsewhere -- for example, on the talk page of the notes related to my interview with Bridgespan.

I think the discusssion is good. A hald-dozen advisory group members have been active there, as well as some community members who aren't on the advisory group. What I've read has been very constructive and thoughtful, and really useful in helping shape my own thinking.

To recap: I'm expected to send the Board the final proposal on or before 30 June. The proposal will be a version of what's currently on the meta page, accompanied by draft documents that will be used to support the FDC process --- documents such as the "letter of intent" form fund-seekers will be asked to fill out, the criteria Wikimedia Foundation staff will use to determine whether an entity is eligible for FDC funding, a draft funds request template, the criteria Wikimedia Foundation staff will use to determine whether a funding request is eligible for consideration by the FDC, the evaluation grid the FDC will use to assess funding requests, a commitment pledge FDC members will be asked to make before agreeing to serve on the FDC, an "annual calendar" of deadlines and milestones for the FDC process, a plan for assessing and course-correcting as the first 18 months of FDC work plays out, and so forth.

All the materials will be posted and refined on meta throughout the next six weeks as they are developed, and will be presented to you for your discussion and feedback at our meeting in San Francisco in June. That F2F meeting, and your discussions on-wiki between now and 30 June, will be your major initial contribution as advisory group members: my expectation is that after that point, your role will shift more towards observing the process as it plays out, and giving feedback throughout the 18-month evaluation cycle.

Here's what you can do to help the process:

  • Please read the talk pages and contribute to the discussions there are you see fit. There are currently some particularly interesting conversations happening around how FDC membership should be determined, what the annual cycle should look like (particularly, how two funding periods can be supported), and how community member feedback could be incorporated into the funding request evaluation process. There are probably other interesting discussions happening, but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. There are probably also areas that aren't currently being discussed, that should be.
  • I've put out an informal request on the meta page for people to nominate candidates for the inaugural FDC, which I am expecting will likely be appointed by the Board, perhaps with special support from this Advisory Group. My guess is that the Board will vote on the proposal sometime around mid-July, and we will want to have the FDC fully up-and-running by 1 October. That leaves only about 10 weeks for the Board to determine FDC membership: that may sound like a lot, but it isn't really. I am assuming that many people will be approached and need to decline, either because they're not interested or are too busy. I am also guessing that some desired characteristics will be easy to recruit for, and others more difficult. Plus, potential members may have other entanglements, including potential conflict-of-issue or perception-of-conflict, that will take time to sort out. That's why I'm asking for nominations now: so that we don't start from zero in mid-July. So, if you can help brainstorm potential names on that wiki page, I think that would be useful for the Board.
  • You have probably seen that a week ago, Bridgespan started a survey of chapters that will potentially be requesting funds, here. It's been publicized on meta, mailing lists, and I believe also by individual e-mails to chapter heads. Bridgespan is hoping that chapters will be able to fill out the survey by 25 May. To date, I think nobody has filled it out yet. That's fine: obviously it'll take time for chapters to gather the relevant information. But, if you are involved with a chapter, or in close communication with a chapter regardless of personal involvement, it might help if you could encourage people to get the survey filled out. That'll give us information that'll help us design a process in a way that meets the needs of fund-seekers.

I don't know if the archives of this list are yet public. On the assumption they may not be, and in a spirit of transparency, I will likely post this note to meta sometime this weekend -- or anybody else should feel free to do it, if they're on meta before I am. And a heads-up for you all: I'll be travelling (WikiGenero, in Buenos Aires) for six days, starting Tuesday this week. That normally makes it harder for me to edit the wikis, since I tend to be more e-mail active and less wiki-active when I'm travelling. So, I'll aim to do some editing before I leave San Francisco Tuesday afternoon, but my editing will likely be pretty light for the week following

Last thing: thanks for all your help in this process thus far, and thanks in advance for the meetings we'll be having in June. The construction of the FDC is a heavy lift, and we are definitely not going to get it right at launch: it will need lots of fine-tuning as we go. But I'm excited by its potential, and I'm happy with the shape it's taking so far.

CCing Asaf so he's in the loop: I'm not actually sure if he's on this list, or not.

Thanks, Sue