Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group/Meeting 1/Thoughts from Pavel

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Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group
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Input from Pavel Richter, Wikimedia Germany[edit]

In preparation of our first phone conference as the new FDC Advisory Group, I would like to share some thoughts around how I see our role and what I think we should aim for:

My thoughts on the funds dissemination process[edit]

The Wikimedia movement is in a unique situation: raising funds is not a big challenge for us. We have improved our fundraising strategies over the last years, and we are getting better and better with every year. And with the * we have a tool at our hands that no other non-profit has available. There is no evidence to believe that we are not able to continue raising more donations in the future, if we have to.

So if money is currently not a limiting resource, the question of funds dissemination is not primarily one of goals, projects or countries competing against each other for a “piece of the pie”; our primary concern is to spend the money wisely, for the right goals. So we need a process where we measure ideas and programs against goals, not against each other. The question for us currently is not: If we have two great programs, which one do we support? Because if we have two great programs, we should fund both of them, and if we need more money to do so, than we should raise it.

Our questions should instead be: What do we want to achieve, what are our common, global goals, and how much money do we want to raise to reach them?

And because we have a unique challenge in front of us, we should not try to find a catch-all solution. Our goal should be to set up a funds dissemination process that takes advantage of our strength as a global movement and aims for a set of solutions that is rooted in our communities. So instead of thinking about a single entity, we should explore multiple bodies, taking into account existing entities such as the GAC, the new WCA, and the WMF and chapters, as well as establishing new ones.

Background on the budget process of Wikimedia Germany[edit]

I would like to give some background information on the budget process of Wikimedia Germany, because I think it may hold some valuable lessons for our coming discussions:

For the first two budgets that I was responsible for, my approach was project-driven: We decided which projects we wanted to run in the next year, and budgeted for each of these projects: 50.000 Euro for Wikimania, 16.000 Euro to run a Developer Conference, 10.000 Euro for our book scholarship, and so on (the 2011 plan can be found here:, but only in German). That is a good approach for a small organization, because you usually know what kind of projects you are running anyway, you can use the experience from previous years and from other organizations, and you usually follow an approach that is more short-term and that focuses on the question “what do we want to do next year”?

For 2012, I chose a different approach: Instead of asking myself (and my board, my members, the community and my staff) what kind of projects we wanted to run in 2012, I asked them: “What goals do we want to reach in 2012? What do we want to have achieved at the end of 2012, so that we can look back and say: That was a successful year for Wikimedia in Germany?” And what are we as an organization able to execute in 2012, without restricting ourselves too much, but also not over-reaching? And then we looked at the question of how much money we should allocate to each of the goals. I proposed a draft set of goals to the community and Wikimedia Germany’s members, got approval from my board and finally from the general assembly of Wikimedia Germany.

It is then my task as ED to set up and execute the right projects to reach these goals, within the budget that I have. So the board and the members (through the general assembly) did not approve of a long list of projects, but of a set of goals, and budgets attached to each of them (more on the approach and the results here: (even in English, this time!). This gives us as an organization not only more flexibility in trying out particular projects and approaches in reaching these goals; more importantly, it focuses all our minds on what is really important: reaching goals, achieving results; executing projects is just the way to get there.

One positive effect of the goal-driven approach is the impact it has on organizational development: If you think along single grants or projects, you tend to think short-term: 6 months or a year maybe. And a project or grant driven organization will always focus on the next grant application, and it will implement only the processes that it needs to execute a single project or a set of projects. Don´t get me wrong: I think grants are great, and Wikimedia Germany is using them for a long time to fund initiatives within the community. We have for example the “Community Projects Budget ( for projects larger than 5.000 Euro, and the Community Budget for everything below this amount. And the GAC is doing the same on the WMF site, and other programs like this might follow.

If you are goal-driven, you will have to build up processes and a structure that allows you to grow as an organization. Even so goals can be short term as well (and budgets always are for one year in advance), the goal approach allows you to plan for your organizational development as well, not only for executing projects. And it puts pressure on organizations to address vital questions for any form of organizational development: What is my vision of my organization, what do we want to achieve in 5 years, in 10 years? And what are the milestones that we need to reach on the way?

These are my preliminary thoughts; I hope they will be useful in the coming months and I am looking forward to work with you all.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Pavel Richter Vorstand