Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group/Meeting 3/Minutes
FDC and AG Joint Meeting
- Christophe Henner
- Pavel Richter
- Jan Bart de Vreede
- Richard Ames
- Peter Ekman
- Bishakha Datta
- Ting Chen
- Stu West
- Crystal Haling
- Osmar Valdebenito
- Patricio Lorente
Funds Dissemination Committee:
- Sydney Poore
- Ali Hader Khan
- Arjuna Rao Chavala
- Dariusz Jemielniak
- Patricio Lorente
- Mike Peel
- Anders Wennersten
- Delphine Ménard
- Cristian Consonni
- Jessie Wild
- Anasuya Sengupta
- Winifred Olliff
- Garfield Byrd
- Leslie Harms
- Kacie Harold (Contractor)
Expectations of meeting
Attendees introduced themselves and shared their expectations for the meeting
- Make the FDC process more challenging
- Extend the model of collecting thoughtful community feedback
- Impressed by the positive dynamics of FDC particularly in terms of combining difference of opinions, expectation to spread this learning to other groups
- FDC should reform movement, close divide between WMF and chapters
- Expand diversity of FDC funding beyond chapters
- Collect detailed feedback on FDC process
- Collect criticism and points of improvement for the FDC; ensure long term sustainability of the movement and sister projects
- Local funding v.s. movement funding should be reviewed, movement shouldn’t be funding local projects; sustainable funding sources for the movement
- Define some of the “unknowns” i.e. centralized funding sources
- Gather perspectives from people involved in process
- Exchange ideas to make FDC a “center of excellence”
- Get frank feedback to allow “fine tuning” of process
- Gain a “window into the movement”; give feedback (positive and negative) from external perspective
- Think of ways to share learning between organizations more effectively; develop evaluation tools to determine potential for impact of movement funds for use during review of proposals.
- Determine ways to ease transition to FDC process for newer entities
- Find a balance between transparency of administration and bureaucracy at the chapter and foundation level
- Gather information / ideas to inform strategy and vision for the grantmaking team
- Learn how to build the trust necessary to have honest conversations about what it will take to make this movement successful; learn more about how we as a movement define success.
Review of meeting agenda and goals
- Goal of meeting:
- Gather input from FDC
- Determine whether the FDC should continue
- Determine what needs to be refined
- Write a set of recommendation for the ED; should have board feedback by early August.
- This meeting does not require consensus, we are looking for a diversity of experiences.
Breakout discussions with FDC and AG
Questions for FDC members:
- Are the goals of the FDC being met?
- What have been the biggest success(es)?
- What have been the biggest challenge(s)?
- Should the FDC continue?
- What do we need to keep/stop/start/change?
Discussion prompts for small group discussion:
- What would the movement have lost if the FDC and this money did not exist?
- If we had to reimagine the best ways to grow content and community over the next five years, what would those be?
Notes from breakout discussions: Day 1 - One Breakout session (Winifred) Day 1 - One breakout sessions (Jessie) Day 1 - Breakout Sessions (Kacie)
Plenary discussion on breakouts
Is there anything that surprised you in the last breakout sessions?
- Pleased by how much the FDC wanted to share, and the volume / quality of input they had to share.
- Surprised that people voiced interest in having WMF involvement in organizational development in the movement. This is a change from the kind of feedback we were getting in the past.
- Interesting view from Pavel about how FDC impacted operations at WMDE
- Alignment around ideas necessary to improve FDC process
- The value of the FDC in helping the movement maintain its core values while growing. “Prevention of implosion” there is a lot of tension that goes with organizing process in communities, the FDC provided a positive energy to support this development.
- The FDC needs to have agility, some development in terms flexibility. The addition of "tracks" will increase ability to handle a variety of organizations, the FDC should “put value where value is, not where we perceive it to be.”
- Discussion around conservatism and innovation:
- The community / movement is very conservative, can the FDC do something to change that? e.g. innovative projects and programs; rejection of new softwares, systems of knowledge (videos).
- The center of gravity tends to go toward the mean, we move toward projects / ideas that tend to work or modifications on those existing ideas. Hesitance to fund risky / new ideas.
- There are some new projects that are compatible with mission did not come from us, e.g. Khan Academy, Openstreetmap. What would Khan Academy look like if it had been borne out of our movement? We are reinventing Openstreetmap for Wikimedia - but we aren't having discussions about whether it might be better to support Openstreetmap.
- Question: Has the FDC funded conservatively?
- Answer: What we have done so far is not conservative, however, we would like to see more creative ideas, use the FDC as a hub for great ideas.
- As long as we keep our core product/funders happy, we have the freedom/opportunity to take on other, riskier projects. Our work is not “under a magnifying glass” in the same way as some other grantmakers.
- Follow up question: Are there any innovative projects that the FDC has funded that you are looking forward to seeing outcomes?
- Answer: Wikipedia in prison; FDC funds less innovation that other grant programs.
- Question: Does the FDC process itself discourage innovation?
- Answer: The process does not encourage or discourage innovation inherently. This may not be a process issue at all, rather a state of mind issue. People in the movement may not be innovative. There is not enough knowledge sharing in the movement.
- Consensus takes many approaches into mind, innovative things are happening, we may not be able to see it.
- Don’t force the issue of innovation! Let organizations leverage stable funding through general support to move toward small innovations.
- The innovation we have seen so far in the movement is natural, not everything can be innovative. In other contexts, innovation occurs on an intermittent basis and not constantly, which is comparable to our current situation.
- Can the FDC maintain stability to allow innovative thinking in the long run. Will stability lead to more innovative thinking as volunteers / staff are freed up through stable funding for their organizational work?
- Is the FDC here just to manage money, or also to keep the rules the same over time to lead to greater stability (vs. having the rules change every few years)?
- We have made incremental changes in our process in response to demand, this should continue to happen gradually.
- Question from FDC staff: will increasing the direction we give organizations be taken well?
- Answer: The FDC process has been building trust within the movement; this trust will be necessary before increasing suggestions / recommendations. Avoid using the term ‘help’ (support, empower, partner) - it can be perceived as paternalistic. Focus on the partnership aspect between WMF and organizations.
- There seems to be a change in perception in the community, there is more openness to feedback / guidance / direction. Conversation around strategy is necessary - groups should be able to come together to determine desired strategy.
- Open communication is the most helpful part of the process
- There has been no major change in process, but through practice / experience we have gotten better at sharing our view in our feedback. It is much easier to share all of our feedback, rather than try to capture it in a few bullet points.
- The FDC process has improved knowledge of what is happening at organizations within the movement.
- The FDC process has changed in that we [WMF] are now able to ask questions to chapters / entities / organization.
FDC Advisory Group Meeting
Welcome from Jan Bart
When we started this we wanted to separate the money we spent, keep it in the hands of the community, this has been successful. There are many new issues: burden of administrative, overhead, learning/sharing, sharing failure, discussing innovation.
Presentation on Impact
- Sharing our understanding of the ‘for what’ that we have learned in the last two years.
- WMF grantmaking ethos: well targeted resources that go beyond funding - evaluation and collaboration are key elements we use to support, i.e. idealab, mentoring, tools to evaluate and execute programs.
- APG is one of four grant programs that support a range of individuals, projects, ideas and organizations. FDC projects make up the majority of annual grant spending
- All grant programs have committees that range from 3 to 28 members with a variety of participation requirements.
- Question: What percentage of WMF staff time is spent serving these committees?
- Answer: PEG, Travel and Participation and IEG grants do not require involvement outside of WMF grants staff. 1.5 PEG grants; 1.5 staff + Anasuya work on FDC. The FDC process requires significant staff time. Burden on overall staff time has gone down, Garfield and Anasuya spent 70% time on FDC grant making.
- Question: What is the cost of FDC administration?
- Answer: $170k for deliberations and site visits, $500k staff allocation, or 10% of (which) budget is spent on FDC grants.
- This is in the realm of typical, if on the low side of cost of grantmaking. Within the sector, we have a very low cost/overhead for the volume of grantmaking we do.
- WMF provides grant funding to 46% of 52 chapters, user groups and thorgs.
- Question: Is Amical thematic or geographic?
- Answer: Both, they work on Catalan projects, culture and language both within a region.
- We have a limited (but growing) idea of what chapters and thorgs who do not receive funding from WMF are doing. We are exploring what their key needs are; many times it is not money, but other resources. We are being proactive to reach out to user groups in the global south. It is important that we explore this further.
- Four primary purposes of FDC process:
- Progress toward movement strategic goals
- Share learning
- Equitability in funds allocation
- From WMF’s point of view, accountability has been the most successful outcome of FDC process, through reporting, site visits, reserves policies and public proposal forms.
- Discussion around site visits: site visits are a ‘best practice’ for accountability, we try to combine a review of both finances and programs.
- We anticipated that impact would be difficult to measure in the first few years; we are still setting baselines.
- Our successes and challenges are aligned with the difficulty of the problems we have tried to solve.
- Equitability will take time to achieve, we recognize that it would not be wise to fund organizations/groups who do not yet have the capacity.
- We have an incomplete picture of impact: difficulty listing measures, dollars not linked to reach, limited learning sharing, lack of understanding of online impact of offline events
- Discussion around impact: Point made that organizations do not get any feedback on their reports, we can't see how many people have viewed or used lessons learned in reports; there are some limitations on how we can track users and track outcomes / impacts of content viewed online. This is somewhat due to a desire for anonymity in our community - it can be very difficult to track the activity of people touched by programs. This may be why the metrics we do have are concentrated on content added. We have no way to track indirect impact - issues of contribution / attribution, the movement does not have a flexible / robust enough concept of what ‘contribution’ means.
- Question: Did we ever resolve privacy issues with engineering?
- Answer: We are able to work with aggregate data, but we did not have access to this data set for many months.
- Question: Does the grantmaking team have developers?
- Answer: We did, but they were moved to analytics. We do get to use these resources.
- Point made that some activities are innately geared toward content, others toward users. What may be most important in the FDC process is the planning, there should be clarity around what we expect out of organizations based on what they have planned.
- We have learned that 75% of spending has been invested in institutionalization in the first year - we hope to learn more about what the value add of this spending will be.
- We are investing a lot of time and resources in self-evaluation. This includes: training organizations and committees work with analytics team to develop tools for evaluation that can be used by organizations, spaces for dialogue and idea / learning sharing.
- We are conducting regular surveys to gather feedback, satisfaction and process improvements. We have learned that:
- Organizations who have applied for funding from other sources find the FDC process lightweight.
- Improved communication between organizations and the FDC is needed
- Increased WMF support to organizations is desired
- We have been acting on this feedback and changing some processes.
- Review of opportunities and limitations that we have identified within this process:
- Some discussion on the sense of status and linearity in the progression of grant programs. This is very important to work through.
- Growth right now is seen as growth in staff and budget, but not around progress toward mission.
- Confusion around conflict of interest has become an issue, both within the FDC itself and within the larger community.
- Not recognizing actual conflict of interest when it does exist
- Calling something conflict of interest when it is not in fact an issue
- One example of this is possible COI or perception of COI within the review of WMF proposals
- Discussion around conflict of interest: We need to be more explicit around what are and are not conflict of interest in order to remedy this.
- Review of learning and key challenges and resulting changes.
Vote: Should the FDC continue?
- Yes, The FDC should continue exactly as is: 0
- Yes, the FDC should continue, with modifications: 11
- No, the FDC should not continue: 0
Discussion on open questions and thoughts
- The key value add of chapters is content acquisition
- Disproportionality of funds: what is the value add for certain amounts of money? Is there a way we can be better about offering guidelines around content acquisition?
- Segmentation of movement: perception of status / linearity in grantmaking - that the FDC funding is pinnacle.
- We have learned that FDC funding is not best for all organizations, and have seen one org determine that PEG grants are better suited to their needs / desires.
- Discussion around WMHU leaving the FDC process
- Structure and leadership: The organization forms we have taken on are extremely conservative. The creativity of our movement is not in organizational form at this time.
- Uncertain leadership (about mandate, strategy, planning, relationships within the movement) is becoming a problem.
- Question: How do we make sure that our new board gets the training and support they need to to manage a $1M organization?
- Volunteers want to look out for small issues once they feel their organizations are working, they are more volunteers and not “board members” in their attitudes
- Difficulties with WMDE: struggling with getting external advice and expertise that may be needed to move to better governance, “crisis of conversation” around the definition of leadership in this movement within the appropriate contexts (online leadership is *not* the same as organization leadership, recognition and skills are different and skills do not always translate)
- Discussion around volunteer / staff relationships:
- Disconnect between an organization’s staff and the community’s perception of the value of their work may lead to a volatile situation and little understanding of the value that paid staff bring or their value in the context of both offline and online work ---> need for more effective staff-volunteer relationships
- When organizations grow and form it affects volunteers: volunteers feel their work is not valued if they do not have a title (“I’m just an editor”)
- Staff-driven vs. volunteer-driven programs: everyone should follow volunteer initiatives and staff should support initiatives
- Struggle to understand how offline work impacts our movement
- Volunteer-staff relationship is an issue that several organizations reported working on in their impact reports, there may be value in seeking out and sharing what they have learned.
- It may be strategic for the staff to work on areas that volunteers are not interested in doing, i.e. diversity
- Is they key purpose of the staff be to manage and grow volunteers? It should be.
- Point from FDC funded organization: there is a concern among staff and board members that volunteers may take their jobs, there is tension in organizations between what work should be done by staff v.s. volunteers. Question raised: is volunteer-staff tension an issue that can be addressed through the FDC process?
- Question: Should all Wikimedia organizations be focused on growing community? Are certain organizations are better placed to focus on other areas, i.e. GLAM and content acquisition.
- Point made: One modification the FDC could require that organizations clearly indicate whether they will make a contribution to editor support or content acquisition. Counterpoint - this is something we should absolutely not be doing, we should not be telling orgs what to do and how to do it. This should come out of a different process than the FDC. In the past we did talk about whether the FDC should be setting strategy.
Prioritization of key issues
- Five issues came up the most:
- Multi year funding
- Bands of funding - should there be recommended levels of growth for organization of different capacities
- Agility and Flexibility - around application and reporting requirements
- Metrics and evaluation
- WMF’s involvement in FDC process
- Suggested topics:
- Small changes - to be discussed following ED recommendation tomorrow.
- Tension between being directive and allowing independence is only going to accelerate. You cannot distribute resources without having a point of view - over time people will see a pattern what is being done - this may come out as a pattern that develops inadvertently into a point of view. It may be better to overtly develop a point of view. What you believe about organizations is a topic that is worth exploring and you should at least focus on this for a period of time. What is the purpose of an organization, what does it mean to the movement, and other areas.
- What can the FDC do to encourage innovation, or at the very least, movement beyond the safe / tested projects.
- What are the power issues tied up in WMF’s role as a is a key funder, resource provider, and actor in a movement?
- Geographic diversity
- Guidance v.s. independence input would be useful for staff, not to be included in ED letter.
FDC Advisory Group Meeting Day 2
Key Issues for review
- Clear sense in Metrics that it should not just be WMF’s metrics of success
- Issue: we are still not clear at the movement level what are the activities aligned with impact, and which activities are aligned less with impact
- Parallel process: as we are developing our baselines, we are also getting guidelines that single events don’t make sense
WMF involvement in FDC process
- FDC review with $ amount: 4
- Public review: 6
Geographic use of funds
- Avoid tokenism in the geographic diversity
- Diversity is important, but for the FDC process that shouldn’t be an explicit requirement (consensus)
- Support and capacity as a way for building diversity
Agility / Flexibility
- Idea for an grantmaking advisory board to review all grants programs on a periodic basis
- Consideration with the overall advisory board is WHO and HOW this could happen
- Looking for balance across the whole grantmaking system
- Accept alternative reporting formats
- look for consistency - not too much variation
- Comments that reporting should articulate what is the reality within their groups
- There isn’t an either/or: there could be some pieces for comparability
- Financials and metrics should be consistent
- More time between decision & grant date
- E.g., July 1, 2014 is when the decision comes, and the grant comes
- Better guidelines for progress and reporting
- Simplifying reporting requirements
- Not allowed to be an active board or staff member on an FDC-funded Wikimedia group when on the FDC
- Rationale: COI, awkward funding decisions, general skewing of ideas. As the funds become more directly competitive, they will be unable to recuse themselves.
- Example of Mike Peel resigning from the WMUK board, due to pressure and
- Counterpoint: “let the voters decide” - don’t mandate this, but let the people voting decide
- Comments that voting is disproportionately chapter-based - not a good idea to let chapters decide
- Agreement that there are challenges around this issue - people are conflicted, and we want to minimize this.
- Point that lots of recusal creates a different level of conflict - there is an interdependence of conflict! Note, though, that there isn’t overlap in recusal.
- Potential issue with Global South - most active participants are also on the board.
- Diversity altogether is an issue
- Point from Bishaka - the WMF Board observer of the FDC - that COI is often simply perceived. Notes that this has appeared to have gotten better.
- One idea that during the selection process by the board, anyone is allowed to nominate, but the during the election process, no staff/board
- Straw poll:
- Active board members and staff of current FDC applicants should not be on FDC: 5
- Continue with present process: 4
- One of the best things about the FDC is that is a volunteer driven process. Putting in staff to this mix complicates this; it is no longer a completely volunteer led process.
- Straw poll:
- Staff of any Wikimedia org and staff of orgs funded by FDC: 11
- active board members no: 6
- active board members yes: 5
- Change term length of FDC members:
- Avoid 50% turnover in board
- Note that both Mike and Anders brought this up on their staff pages as well.
- Note from Jan Bart that the board is working on a board election group
- Selection & election to happen simultaneously -
- Suggestion to have no voting whatsoever: only 1500 votes is perhaps not worth it
- No consensus around election/selection in the same year; recommendation to put in the letter that this is an issue that needs to be addressed
- Potentially add into the rec some broader recommendations around election / selection:
- Have diversity
- Elections process
- Length of terms:
- Open question: do the FDC members want to stay longer than 2 years?
- 2 years for the length of the WMF board because of how intense the board
- Idea to have the lengths 3 years, but minimum participation in 4 sessions (this idea phased out)
- 3 year terms staggered by ⅓ every year (with measures of/for inactivity)
- In favor: 4
- In favor of staying at 2 years: 3
- Conclusion: no consensus, goes back to the ED.
- Off-wiki processes
- Not a general discussion on the wiki, but another area to discuss
- Also built into the system that is possible to have an interaction by phone/skype/etc. during the process to clarify questions
- Counterpoint: there has been a lot of discussion around this, but to be fair to the global community as much as possible should be on-wiki. Moreover, some organizations prefer to write rather than speak.
- High overhead and fixed costs
- Just include this in the letter; don’t discuss
- Question for the FDC and WMF if they are building organizations or supporting efforts. Right now, we’re doing both. If we are building organizations, staff is not overhead.
- It becomes an impact question - staff shouldn’t be looked at separately
- Recommendation to take out that information from the KPMG report
- For text: “it is unknown if the cost of the implementation is having the right value add”
- Mentoring / Capacity building
- Not sure who should do it: AffCom, FDC, Staff?
- Mentoring is something that needs to happen
- Scope creep of the FDC
- Be aware of putting too much onto the FDC, for example - the mentoring/capacity building
- Appeals process
- By in large, the board would only go against the FDC if there was an extraordinary reason to do so. The current process allows for easy appeal, and organizations expect if they go through the process, the Board will grant the appeal. Some of the arguments, for example, should have been presented during the proposals.
- One notes that AG should not make the explicit recommendation
- A suggestion that Center for Effective Philanthropy could run the surveys for the organizations
- Response from participants that organizations are not afraid to give feedback!
- Recommendation to say that the ombuds process has worked reasonably well
- Recommendation that the board lay out criteria for which the board will overrule: 4 votes
- Recommendation to eliminate the appeals process: 6 votes
- The appeals process makes people think of it as a viable option, when it may not be a good choice.
- Concern that if there is no appeals process, it could go to publicly in an unhealthy way
- The need is to clarify the point of appeals and the criteria
- Idea to make formal complaint process to the ombudsperson, who can then decide whether to bring the complaint to the board.
- Point that “appeal” means “I want to have the decision reopened.” “Complaint” is “I think there is a procedural problem that the organization needs to address in the future.” An appeals process sends a signal to the FDC that you don’t entirely trust their process.
- This is the current state (ombuds = procedural complains; board = reopen decision)
- Perhaps could clarify that the appeals should be limited to suspicion of bias, rather than not liking a decision
- Original goal behind the appeals process was to allow for accountability
- Vote: the appeals process should be clarified: 8
Writing of the letter to the ED
- Link to etherpad: etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/2014FDCAGmeeting
- Next Steps:
- Richard & Peter write first draft, send out by 30 March
- Rest of Attending AG to send feedback by 6 June
WMF involvement in the FDC process
- Reason for coming back to discussion: range of views and no consensus. Would like to go into more detail to understand the different perspectives. Acknowledgement that we will not [likely] reach consensus, but worth getting down the viewpoints.
- Note that some people did not vote on this issue originally because there are conflicting internal views. The FDC vocalized they want one of two options: complete review of FDC (with $ amount) or no WMF in the process. If the FDC could handle the workload and had the capacity, it would be great to have their input, but they do not have these.
- Feedback from WMF CAO - he needs to be able to do his job to walk someone through the WMF budget, without claims of COI.
- The amount of time that the FDC is investing is really not worth it: they are investing heavily in something that is not really their job. Not manageable in the long run
- COI will always remain with the WMF proposal
- Suggestion to have an open, public evaluation of the WMF proposal, but conducted by a neutral organization; Question to Crystal: Are you aware of an organization that could do this?
- There are consultants who can do this, however, it can be an expensive (resources, time from WMF staff for orientation) process and the movement will have to be aware of this cost.
- Purpose of the review would be to force WMF to rationalize their ideas and have pressure tests on staff; have someone else review in depth.
- There is a difference between WMF being aware of these issues, and the community recognizing that we have this awareness.
- Clarification that there would be no separation of core / non-core for WMF’s budget
- The “core” piece of the budget makes WMF budget so non-comparable
- Point that if we truly believe that community review results in a better plan etc., and we are requesting for our partners to do it, why wouldn’t it be helpful for WMF?
- Observation that the WMF’s plan was too challenging for the FDC this year
- Concerns around the practical implication: COI to a deeper level, where the value-add of having Garfield walk through a budget pushes this to a far deeper level
- To do a consulting engagement well, WMF would need to engage consultants on the different areas (engineering, grantmaking, administrative)
- To do this, it would likely mean from the back-end -- after 1 year of grantmaking, what does KPMG think about how we have done this
- Notes from Patricio, the Board Observer of the FDC (after his observations this year):
- Wishes that the FDC would be willing to review the WMF proposal without a dollar amount: their feedback was really good
- Does not have the confidence that a full community review will not be as comprehensive - the FDC does a good job of synthesizing information
- Point made that the community likes having access to a relatively simplistic review of WMF non-core work. Community is aware that this is different than an official audit.
- Counterpoint made that the size and complexity of the proposal is such that the FDC misses important information. Excluding Garfield from this conversation out of COI means that the FDC is not given clarifications necessary to properly evaluate the plan.
- The value of an evaluation like FDC’s is very different than the value of the review of the operations of WMF. This does not need to be a community review: the community could be involved in the process but can be walked through by experts. Perhaps two times:
- once as a general review by professionals
- secondly as an implementation suggestion by the FDC
- Impact analysis in different ways around grantmaking and engineering
- Strategic evaluation: is the foundation achieving on its commitments, and do you think they are good ideas.
- Other organizations deal with this issue: establish alignment with goals. The FDC is starting to see more alignment with goals; over time, they are moving more to learning and a periodic assessment from a very frequent evaluation.
- Belief in community review - results in better plan
- Gives legitimacy to WMF with the community
- A lot of work on the proposal for the FDC members; takes majority of time
- Capacity / skillset of FDC not aligned with large organization review
- Practical implication of the COI with WMF and the need to have CAO walk the FDC through the budgets
Grantmaking advisory group
- Almost everyone thinks this is a good idea!
- Going to talk about this further going forward
Summary: Takeaways for WMF Grantmaking Team
- Consider having an overall grantmaking team advisory group. Lots of energy here from the Advisory Group.
- Build up non-monetary support structures for areas in which we want to build diversity.
- Overhead costs got brought up a few times; we can be tracking this explicitly. Double check in the KPMG report if the staff is included in the overhead.