Grants:APG/FDC recommendations/2015-2016 round 1/ta
The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met at the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) offices in San Francisco, California, USA, on 15–18 November 2015. It assessed the Annual Plan Grant (APG) proposals and related documents, submitted in Round 1 of the 2015-2016 APG program in order to provide recommendations on funds allocations for those proposals to the WMF Board of Trustees. The FDC recommendations for each application are given below. Additionally, the FDC has provided some comments on some general themes of discussions that emerged during the review.
General remarks and recommendations
We are now entering the fourth year of the Annual Plan Grant program, and most applicants have now been involved in this process for several rounds. The FDC is pleased to see the steady increase in application quality from all of these returning-applicants. We are also pleased to see a new applicant joining the Annual Plan Grant process for the first time and the high quality presented by them. In addition the FDC commends the creation of a new ‘simple APG’ process to help bridge the gap between the existing APG affiliates and those currently receiving restricted grants through PEG funding.
Each year, it is possible to see the zeitgeist of the Wikimedia affiliates’ interests through common themes arising among their applications. This round, the FDC is delighted to see three new forms of projects appear in particular (outlined below). The FDC hopes that all projects are successful but acknowledges that some approaches to achieving the same goal will be more successful than others. Therefore the FDC encourages movement entities to communicate more with each other and to try to replicate each other’s successful projects rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’.
The FDC sees that several applicants have new projects specifically focusing on conflict resolution within their local editing communities. By targeting skills development, training, and active monitoring of local community health, several applicants are proposing methods of addressing hostility in the language community. The FDC feels these could be particularly powerful projects that have great potential to be replicated internationally depending on local conditions.
The FDC also identified a theme of targeting activities with sister projects other than Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons. Several applications have programs devoted to both Wikisource and Wiktionary in their local languages and also Wikidata. The sister-projects have a long history of neglect in dedicated technical support, but also a strong potential for improvement especially in communities that have a strong sense of ‘linguistic pride’. The FDC hopes that these can become model projects to attract new users to the sister-projects that didn’t know of their existence before.
Thirdly, the FDC has noted that several applicants have expressed an interest in political advocacy. While affecting the legislation in their country is a laudable goals for an organisation focused on Free Culture, the FDC is unconvinced whether these projects can achieve practical results in the near term and for the amount of resources that is able to be dedicated to it.
Improvement of proposals and plans
The FDC appreciates the increase in quality of proposals and plans presented this year by applicants. In general, the proposals submitted in this round were the highest quality to date. Proposals and plans have become more clear and consistent. In general, this round’s proposals aligned more closely with movement priorities, have clearer logic models, have more consolidated program areas, and more detailed budgets - with some notable exceptions. The FDC also particularly appreciates when applicants specifically respond to its previous comments in describing the changes they have made.
The FDC would like to thank all the applicants for investing significant time and effort involved in building these proposals, which the FDC fully acknowledges is a difficult and time-consuming process. The FDC would also like to thank the WMF staff who support the APG process for their tireless professionalism in supporting both the applicants, and the volunteer committee.
Funding and budgeting
A number of organisations have included plans to obtain substantial external funding for their work, in the form of grants from other donors and institutions. The FDC is pleased to see this as it does help to diversify the funding sources of the organisation, something that the FDC has requested of many organisations in previous years. Nevertheless, the FDC looks at the whole organisation to assess its capacity and effectiveness, and it is important that this also includes the work that is done through external grant funding. Even though the FDC is not directly reviewing those grants, it asks applicants to include information about their externally funded projects in their APG proposals and reports so that the FDC can understand the organisation as a whole.
The FDC has noticed the great diversity in budgeting detail, clarity and format among the different applicants. Incongruously, some of the largest requests came with the lowest level of budget detail or clarity. Even when asked for further clarity, the information provided in private remained less detailed than that which was given publicly by far smaller applicants. This broad range of detail and format in the budgets has made it difficult to understand and compare applicants’ texts. Recognizing the challenges that applicants have had in understanding what the FDC needs, the FDC recommends that some form of standardised budget ‘template’ be developed by the WMF staff in consultation with the applicants, and utilised by all applicants.
Furthermore, the FDC specifically requests that the Wikimedia Foundation to improve its own level of planning transparency and budget detail - See the more detailed request below.
The individual recommendations are given below. Each funding recommendation is in the requested currency, with indicative amounts in USD for comparison purposes only. Calculations and references to these grants should always be done in the requested currency, and not in the illustrative USD amounts.
Applicant Amount requested Amount recommended Indicative recommendation
in USD (approx)
Change in allocation
from last year
Amical Wikimedia EUR 68,000 EUR 68,000 $76,000 100.0% −17.2% Wikimedia Argentina* USD 241,680 USD 232,500 $232,500 96.2% 9.7% Wikimedia CH CHF 315,000 CHF 294,000 $305,000 93.3% −16.0% Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. EUR 1,500,000 EUR 1,200,000 $1,346,000 80.0% 42.9% Wikimedia Israel* NIS 834,000 NIS 834,000 $212,000 100.0% 8.3% Wikimedia Nederland EUR 340,000 EUR 340,000 $381,000 100.0% 11.8% Wikimedia Serbia EUR 112,500 EUR 112,500 $126,000 100.0% 13.9% Wikimedia Sverige SEK 2,616,000 SEK 2,616,000 $309,000 100.0% 2.3% Wikimedia UK* GBP 310,000 GBP 277,300 $427,000 89.5% −11.7% Wikimedia Ukraine USD 75,000 USD 75,000 $75,000 100.0% 82.2% Wikimedia Österreich EUR 250,000 EUR 250,000 $280,000 100.0% 9.6% Total ~ USD 4,189,000 ~$3,770,000
- * One or two members of the FDC recused from deliberations regarding this applicant: see below.
The overall funds available for movement entities through the APG process in 2014-2015 year is USD 6,000,000. Approximately USD 3,770,000 was allocated in Round 1, leaving approximately USD 2,230,000 available for Round 2. The Letters of Interest for potential applications next year indicate a potential request of USD 1,353,585, implying that the FDC will not allocate the full amount available for movement entities this year. The FDC makes recommendations in different currencies, so these total amounts in US dollars are approximations based on the exchange rates used at the time of proposal submission in each respective round.
Amount requested: €68,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: €68,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Amical Wikimedia.
Amical Wikimedia has consistently shown a good record of achieving results from past activities, and it is delivering some of the strongest results in terms of global metrics among 2015 Round 1 organisations. Amical Wikimedia executes programs effectively and efficiently, with one staff member and many highly involved volunteers.
This thematic organisation is continuing some of its most successful programs, with a strong focus on community support and partnerships. Although the organisation have improved at measuring and reporting the impact of its activities, there is still room for improvement in setting clear and measurable program objectives.
After its first year of APG funding, Amical Wikimedia has proven its capacity to have high impact for the Wikimedia movement, demonstrating an efficient use of resources, successful implementation of its programs, and a high level of involvement from their community. Amical Wikimedia has strong expertise in partnerships and community health, which enable them to plan and execute effective programs. Most activities are directed towards the community of contributors to Catalan language Wikimedia projects, creating a strong bond between the organisation and the Catalan language communities, which has resulted in programs with great impact in the organisation’s sphere of influence.
The FDC would like to specifically highlight BiblioWiki (Amical’s partnership work with libraries) as a program that has demonstrated great success, both in terms of content and also in its ability to create self-sustaining partnerships with many cultural organisations.
Amical is planning to address an interesting challenge: community health. The FDC believes that Amical’s focus on the emotional welfare of the community has potential for great impact in the movement, especially given their strong engagement with volunteers. However, the FDC believes that it will be very challenging for Amical to measure and evaluate the results of its activities on community conflict resolution with the metrics Amical has presented.
Regarding the organisation’s management, Amical Wikimedia has taken the recommendation made by the FDC in the last round, adjusting its budget to real necessities. On the other hand, Amical still has not defined SMART objectives and clear targets for each program in this proposal, and continues to focus on outputs rather than outcomes. The FDC expects that Amical Wikimedia will improve the way they set objectives in the future, and believes that setting stronger objectives will help Amical continue to improve at measuring the impact of its work.
The FDC notes that Amical has consistently maintained its volunteer-led organisational structure since its creation, which has delivered excellent results so far. Amical has expressed that being a frugal volunteer-based organisation is an important value for them. However, given what the organisation is achieving with a single staff person, the FDC urges Amical to also consider the long-term sustainability and capacity needs of the organisation. Continued strong engagement at the board level, and a continued approach to creating sustainable partnerships, programs, and volunteer relationships, will both be needed in order to maintain their lean staffing structure without putting long term sustainability at risk.
Amount requested: USD $241,680 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: USD $232,500
The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Argentina.
Wikimedia Argentina’s plan is very complex, and has been presented in a very long and detailed way, which may hinder Wikimedia Argentina’s ability to implement and measure this plan. The FDC strongly urges WMAR to provide more concise proposals in the future, in order to improve their effectiveness and avoid spending resources that can be used in a better manner.
Wikimedia Argentina is an important regional player in South America, playing a leadership role in movement practices at a regional and international level through Iberocoop. The organisation has done this very well, especially in the context of the huge growth that has taken place in the Spanish Wikipedia.
Wikimedia Argentina has a strong education program. In particular, the online training program has the potential to scale well in the future and be used by other entities around the world. It has a strong focus on diversity as a Global South organisation that also focuses on gender. It is important to attempt to reach beyond Buenos Aires: federalization is culturally and nationally important challenge to pursue, as it may be in other large and distributed countries. Given their current staffing levels, the organisation should be able to expand the reach of the Wikimedia projects to new audiences.
Wikimedia Argentina has a very clear and detailed budget, which is one of the best submitted this round. However, the FDC is particularly concerned with Wikimedia Argentina’s large budget for competition prizes and merchandise, in particular when considering the exchange rates, and that this work is not leading to significant results.
The FDC is concerned that Wikimedia Argentina is unlikely to achieve more in 2016 than in 2015. The targets are too low with respect to the funding requested. Past results do not correspond to past funding, although results have improved recently. Some of the targets set will be difficult to measure (e.g., “promoting the participation of women in meetings”). Additionally, metrics focus on content while programs focus on activity (e.g., in Wikimedia Argentina’s GLAM work), which makes it difficult to match programs to metrics.
The FDC encourages Wikimedia Argentina to continue to build on the strong focus on programmatic work and high community involvement and regional cooperation with like-minded movement entities.
Amount requested: CHF 315,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: CHF 294,000
The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia CH.
The FDC appreciates the consolidation of Wikimedia CH’s program areas. This organisation has shown ability to learn and adapt its approaches (e.g., with a leaner community support model). The FDC recognizes that Wikimedia CH is currently going through a staff transition and creating a new staffing model, with its staff leadership (Chief Administrative & Chief Science Officers) leaving during the past year and an ED to be hired at the beginning of 2016. The FDC has faith in Wikimedia CH’s ability to ensure that the transition does not have negative effects on organisational performance.
The FDC appreciates that Wikimedia CH has taken into consideration the concerns raised by the FDC about its previous large requests and its large budget. This is evident in the fact that the amount requested is lower than last year's grant. However, compared with the impact expected, the budget is still high, even considering the high costs in Switzerland. Specifically, the FDC has some doubt about how the costs related to supporting Wikimania will result in impact: for instance the high costs of scholarships, travel, and staff time. In addition, funds budgeted towards Wikimania scholarships, Wiki-related conferences, and travel are especially high; however, it is good to see WMCH supporting visa applications to enable the attendance of wikimedians from the Global South.
The FDC believes that the continuous work on Kiwix and offline access to Wikipedia has potential for impact and scale. However, given the nature of the project, it is still an open question how to measure its impact: for instance, counting the number of downloads does not provide information on the subsequent usage. The FDC encourages Wikimedia CH to investigate this issue further.
The work on accessibility for blind and low-sighted individuals may have a significant impact as well. The FDC applauds the approach to lowering the barriers that exists inside the Wikimedia projects rather than developing a new tool, and the thought given to the choice of the Wikimedia project (Wikisource) that is best suited for this work.
The impact of other parts of the tools program is less clear. The alignment of Wikimini to movement priorities is unclear, and the plans for tools development seem unfocused. It is also not clear if the tools will be available through Wikimedia Labs or as open-source software, which is concerning especially when funding for software development accounts for a significant portion of the budget. The FDC encourages Wikimedia CH to ensure that its work on tools can be widely used by the larger community, in order to increase its impact, by sharing them and making them widely accessible.
Among the other activities, the FDC would like to highlight and compliment the legal opinions program, the atelier activities (in particular, the gender gap-focused events), and the work on that WMCH is doing with Wikimedia projects beyond Wikipedia and Commons (Wikisource, Wikivoyage, Wiktionary and Wikidata). These are project areas that appear to be effective and the FDC anticipates they will be impactful.
Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.
Amount requested: EUR €1,500,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: EUR €1,200,000
The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Deutschland.
Wikimedia Deutschland has submitted a request for a restricted grant, focused exclusively on software development, which includes (but is not solely) support for Wikidata. The nature of the request presented a different challenge to the FDC.
In the FDC’s 2014-15 recommendation regarding WMDE, the FDC strongly urged that Wikimedia Deutschland and the Wikimedia Foundation identify another method of funding the development of Wikidata, which is now no longer an experiment but a core Wikimedia project, that did not directly involve the FDC. Despite the unusual nature of this specific proposal, the FDC has given it full consideration, and makes the following recommendations with respect to this proposal.
Wikimedia Deutschland is reminded that funds received by all Wikimedia entities (including but not limited to WMDE) are Wikimedia movement funds, and that the same level of accountability for the use of these funds applies to all entities, whether or not they are received directly by the entities or are provided via grants through the Wikimedia Foundation.
The FDC notes its disappointment that WMDE and WMF were unable to come to agreement on the appropriate funding stream for Wikidata in the year since the FDC’s 2014-15 recommendations, and strongly urges that these discussions be concluded. Nonetheless, the FDC is exasperated by the inability of WMDE to disaggregate the costs of Wikidata from other projects. This level of fiscal specificity is standard and expected for projects requesting such a large funding envelope.
The FDC expects to receive a joint progress report from WMDE and WMF that confirms the plans for future funding of the Wikidata portion of the WMDE grant application, to be submitted in advance of the FDC deliberations for 2015-16 Round 2 scheduled in May 2016.
The FDC provides this recommendation on the basis of the following requirements and restrictions that should be placed on WMDE as part of providing this grant:
- WMDE will regularly report on its full annual plan (including metrics, goals, etc.) and detailed budget, not limited to the software development project for which it is receiving APG funding, through the usual reporting channels (the FDC progress reports), as a condition of this grant.
- By 1 May 2016, WMDE will provide full financial breakdowns of both the Wikidata project specifically, and the software development program as a whole. This should include disaggregation from general WMDE funding for senior administrative costs, as well as proportional costs of facilities and other internal support.
- WMDE will provide a detailed report for the first quarter on the metrics presented in the proposed plan for both the Wikidata and software development programs, due 1 May 2016.
The disbursement of the second installment will be subject to compliance with these restrictions.
The FDC recognizes the significant impact of the Wikidata project on the Wikimedia movement as a whole, and applauds WMDE’s boldness in supporting this project from its earliest days. The work on Wikidata has been effective and well-focused, and has demonstrated an important opportunity to supplement the ways that the movement shares and presents information. It is recognized that WMDE is one of the movement partners outside of the WMF with sufficient capacity to foster the growth of a large-scale software project like Wikidata.
The FDC has reviewed the entirety of the WMDE proposal, including those parts that WMDE has designated as being outside of this funding request. The FDC requests that WMDE provide the full plan and a more detailed budget on a regular basis in order to increase transparency. We note that WMDE appears to be producing good outcomes in several areas, including the community technology work, which can be a model even for the Wikimedia Foundation, and the change of focus on Wikimedia Commons work from quantity of submissions to improved quality of submissions. The FDC encourages continued focus to ensure that community-specific needs and concerns are supported and addressed.
The FDC is also concerned that some of the planned expenditures in the non-APG sections of the proposal offer low impact for their budgeted cost, or imply additional costs for programs that other entities routinely include in the cost of projects (e.g., learning patterns). The FDC is disappointed that the recommendation made past year to avoid increase their staff has not been taken in consideration by WMDE.
We have recommended a reduced amount for WMDE in this round with the expectation that WMDE will not cut Wikidata or their other tech development work, but will instead find cost savings elsewhere in its annual plan.
Besides the allocation of funding to movement's entities, the core function of the APG program is to enable a wide community review of the annual plans of the Wikimedia organisations, supporting the core value of transparency in our movement. For this reason, the FDC would like to see Wikimedia Deutschland continue to share its annual plan, describing all of its programs and budget in full, regardless of the direct funding process, so that WMDE can be reviewed publicly and transparently by the movement.
As a movement-wide elected committee, the role of the FDC is to help ensure good strategic and financial governance among the Wikimedia movement organisations and to ensure that our core value of transparency is upheld. The quality of FDC applications has been increasing every year. However, the FDC laments that the Wikimedia Foundation’s own planning process does not meet the minimum standards of transparency and planning detail that it requires of affiliates applying for its own Annual Plan Grant (APG) process.
The FDC is appalled by the closed way that the WMF has undertaken both strategic and annual planning, and the WMF’s approach to budget transparency (or lack thereof). This sets a poor example for the affiliate organisations in the movement, decreases the moral authority of the FDC and decreases the general level of trust within the movement. Most importantly, from the perspective of the FDC’s remit, it causes great financial and resource inefficiencies within the WMF itself. The financial cost of having an unclear strategy in an organisation of this size is significant and very real.
An absence of clear and transparent goals (and budgets, staffing allocations, and milestones to match those goals), and a track-record of under-performance against previous goals, is something that the FDC would remark upon with great concern in any application from an affiliate. Equally, the apparent rapid transition of senior-leadership positions in the organisation over the last financial period, while simultaneously growing the size (both in staff and in budget), is something that would not be acceptable in any affiliate application presented to the FDC.
Several times in past years, the FDC has requested that the WMF open its planning processes to a greater degree of transparency to the movement. As far back as the first round of the FDC process in 2012, the FDC expressed its belief that the WMF “should be a role model” with regards “measures of success and SMART milestones, as well as systems to measure and evaluate impact of all programs”. The WMF submitted its plan in 2014 Round 2, which the FDC responded to in detail, however the response from WMF stated that “we will not go through the FDC process again” - a response that would not be acceptable for any other large Wikimedia organisation that is spending “movement money”.
As a consequence of the concerns expressed above, the FDC recommends that the WMF submit its 2016-17 annual plan to the second round of the 2015-2016 Annual Plan Grant process. It should participate in both the community review and FDC review processes that all APG applicants go through, and seek detailed responses from the FDC on its annual plan. As part of this process, the FDC recommends that an external assessment is made of the various constituent parts of the WMF in order to gain external insights into improvements that could be made. In advance of this, it is essential to the FDC that the WMF share its full strategic plan with the community and seek wide community input into it.
By making this recommendation with a six-month target, the FDC is hoping to provide an opportunity for the WMF to demonstrate best-practices in annual and strategic planning in the movement, and also to show that the WMF is itself capable of following the guidelines that it sets for its affiliates.
Amount requested: NIS 834,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: NIS 834,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Israel.
The FDC values the changes made by Wikimedia Israel following past year’s recommendations. In this proposal, WMIL has narrowed the focus of its activities and reduced the number of programs proposed, prioritizing those with more potential and those where the chapter has expertise. WMIL clearly articulates the rationale behind ceasing some GLAM programs and Wiki Loves Monuments in order to focus those resources and capabilities in other projects that may lead to more impact.
The FDC found that WMIL’s programmatic portfolio has improved. The chapter has continued to pilot a number of novel activities, including expert advice for Featured Articles and training project admins in conflict resolution. The FDC appreciates programs related to sister projects, especially in collaboration with smaller, under-resourced languages and communities (such as Arabic), although these programs have not been fully realised. WMIL’s focus on gender, geographic and age diversity is a strong asset.
Wikimedia Israel has strengthened its education program by targeting specific student groups where the organisation can have more impact. The FDC also appreciates WMIL’s community activities, e.g., face-to-face gatherings aiming to tighten the bonds between community members and improve conflict resolution skills, and sees opportunity for these activities to achieve good results for the Hebrew Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Also, the FDC recognizes that the photographs produced in the Knesset project have been widely used.
Regarding the financial management of the chapter, the FDC considers tracking in-kind donations a useful practice that can be shared across the movement in future. However, the FDC is concerned about the possible depletion of the operational reserves for the hackathon, if the external funding is not secured. Such an approach is unusual and discouraged. The FDC is also concerned with the high number of staff members and the overall costs of the chapter relative to the size of its community and the results achieved in the past.
Some targets are low considering the funding WMIL is requesting. The FDC is interested in WMIL’s focus on quality as part of its content-focused work, and yet quality has not yet been clearly articulated as a focus in program achievement or adequately reflected in each program’s objectives. The FDC recognizes that this is a challenging area, and encourages WMIL to lead the way in better articulating its work on quality. The FDC has decided to recommend full funding for WMIL with the assumption that the chapter will be able to improve in their capacity to generate and articulate impact, setting high expectations for next year.
Amount requested: EUR €340,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: EUR €340,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Nederland.
Wikimedia Nederland has actively worked to share its knowledge and experience in order to improve movement practices. The current proposal includes long-range, thoughtful goals that extend beyond a single fiscal year. They have also recognized the need to prioritize programs, and to identify programs which will be developed depending on the availability of non-APG funding.
In response to FDC recommendations from 2014-15, Wikimedia Nederland has reduced the size of its reserves. The FDC is concerned about an increased reliance on Annual Plan Grant funding, although the FDC recognizes the efforts made to seek external funding, and encourages WMNL to continue these efforts.
The FDC is pleased to see Wikimedia Nederland introducing a new programmatic theme, focused on releasing content held in Netherlands that relates to other geographic locations where the Dutch have historically had close ties. In addition, it is good to see Wikimedia Nederland working to expand its relationships within the GLAM community in several ways, including working with smaller GLAMs to continue innovating based on its past successes, and making use of the “textile project” developed with GLAM partners and the Wikipedia community as a focal point.
The FDC appreciates that Wikimedia Nederland continues to seek out new, challenging opportunities where the organisation can have impact. Their pilot projects focusing on community health (including work on community dynamics and training for ArbCom) are thoughtfully conceived and have the potential for transfer to other segments of the global Wikimedia community. The FDC encourages WMNL to continue its practices of documentation and sharing of its learnings in this area.
The FDC particularly appreciated the decision to expand the Education program only if external funding can be identified and secured. The FDC remains uncertain that the increase in budget will lead to a commensurate increase in impact, with low targets compared with the requested funding (past results have also not been commensurate with past funding).
The FDC also wonders how challenging it will be to expand the Dutch editing/contributing community, as it is one of the more mature communities, with a higher-than-average fraction of the Dutch population engaged in contributing to the Wikimedia projects.
Amount requested: EUR €112,500 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: EUR €112,500
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Serbia.
The FDC is highlighting the value of Wikimedia Serbia's programs related to Education, local heritage and Wiktionary. Although the plan lacks focus, the FDC recognizes the capacity of the chapter to support Wikimedia Serbia's community and generate content for the Wikimedia projects.
The plan proposed seems over ambitious, but the FDC believes the strong relationship between the chapter and the Serbian community could be fundamental to make this plan successful. The FDC also notes that programs proposed by the community through microgrants has been continued and expanded by the chapter, demonstrating capacity to recognize projects with local impact and support ideas brought by the volunteers.
The FDC also has some concerns regarding the growth of the chapter’s budget and staff. However, it also expects that this can help Wikimedia Serbia to improve their capacity to track the results of their activities and improve the impact of them.
Wikimedia Serbia is an organisation with activities oriented towards content generation in the Wikimedia projects, especially related to Wikimedia Serbia's local heritage, which has strengthened the relationship with Wikimedia Serbia's community of volunteers. Programs like Wiki Loves Dragonflies, Zapisi - Sacred Trees and Kurgans have great potential to transcend the Wikimedia projects, becoming the online reference on these issues. Although Wikimedia Serbia has continued to innovate and propose new projects, it has not neglected other programs that have achieved some results in the past. Thus, it maintains its active participation in Wiktionary and its ongoing activities with educational and GLAM institutions.
The FDC recognizes that Wikimedia Serbia has been capable of identifying projects suggested by Wikimedia Serbia's community of volunteers, adopting them and supporting them with the goal of extending and consolidating them. Some of these projects have originated as microgrants which Wikimedia Serbia has supported in the past. This demonstrates the capacity of the organisation to evolve these projects into focused activities that are more sustainable over time. In addition, the FDC recognizes that Wikimedia Serbia has identified successful projects run by other affiliates, like WikiCamp, which they plan to adapt in their country. So that these projects can be realized to their fullest success, the FDC recommends that Wikimedia Serbia analyze the depth of the different experiences – some more successful than others – of the projects with the goal of replicating those projects and practices that have delivered good results and to adapt them correctly into their local context.
The FDC has certain concerns about the large number of proposed projects, demonstrating lack of focus and clear strategy, which can affect the successful implementation of these programs. The proposed targets seem overly ambitious, especially considering past results of the chapter. Nevertheless, the FDC is confident that Wikimedia Serbia can leverage the strong relationship between staff, Board and volunteers in order to achieve these objectives.
In line with these objectives, Wikimedia Serbia has proposed a substantial increase in its budget and staff, from 3 to 4 FTE. The FDC considers that the size of the staff may be too large for the present state of the chapter and the size of the local community. The absence of an Executive Director to effectively coordinate the staff and their daily work can lead to some problems. However, Wikimedia Serbia has tried in the past to use a more conventional organisational structure without success. The FDC expects that the active role played by the Board might help to avoid this problem.
Amount requested: SEK 2,616,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: SEK 2,616,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Sverige.
The FDC applauds Wikimedia Sverige’s high degree of transparency and detail in its budget, as well as the sensibly designed and very clearly expressed annual plan. The FDC commends the budget format in particular as a model for others to follow, while additional data matching particular items with their FTEs would be a big plus. We recognize the work done in consolidating the number of programmatic areas, as this has resulted in a more focused organisation, and therefore has lead to better clarity about its direction. Reformulating existing programs also shows the ability of the organisation to adjust to circumstances and prioritize.
The FDC is also impressed that the global metrics were gender-disaggregated, indicating a focus on addressing gender-diversity in the movement across all its programs. However, we caution against setting global-metrics targets that are overly-precise, and which can appear arbitrary.
Also regarding metrics, we were impressed with the incorporation of an externally-controlled measurement of trust as a goal for the organisation, as this helps to increase the chapter’s level of accountability and public confidence.
While the large increase in planned staff is a potential concern, especially at the same time as the organisation transitions to being led by a new executive director, the fact that this staffing is specifically tied to several separate externally-funded and time-limited projects will make that growth more manageable. However, we do caution against the burden of funding the increased size being shifted to the APG process at the conclusion of those projects. We also caution against applying for several large grants-funded projects simultaneously without thoroughly reviewing capacity, value to the movement, and sustainability. Furthermore, the FDC needs to be provided with greater detail on those externally funded projects in future, especially considering that one of them, if approved, is larger than the APG grant itself. We expect that details on these activities will be included in Wikimedia Sverige’s progress reports.
We note that while Wikimedia Sverige has a track record of successful projects, it does not have a matching record for sharing its lessons and best practices with other parts of the Wikimedia movement. As an affiliate with a long history of contributions to the movement and a large organisational budget, Wikimedia Sverige is perhaps not taking as much of a leadership role as it could.
Amount requested: GBP £310,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: GBP £277,300
The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia UK.
The FDC appreciates that most of its previous recommendations to WMUK were followed and even specifically referenced in this proposal. The FDC continues to appreciate WMUK’s detailed and lean strategic plan and goals.
The FDC is pleased with the smooth transition of Executive Directors, and the maturity of the chapter in handling this potentially challenging process. The Committee sees the ED transition as an opportunity to rethink and restructure the organisation. This transition could be a good opportunity to reimagine the chapter’s focus. At the same time, the FDC is still worried about the apparent lack of staff focus on specific strategic areas within WMUK.
WMUK has exceptional opportunities for GLAM partnerships and is increasing support through partnership packages at different levels. If successful, this has good potential to yield impressive results. WMUK is encouraged to continue to build positive, effective and long-term relationships with major organisations, with the available budget and resources.
Reducing the number of metrics being tracked may make evaluation of programmatic work and goals more feasible, so the FDC is glad to see WMUK improving its approach in this area. The FDC is also pleased by the increased involvement of community members and volunteers through the revamping of programmatic work into a project-based model. The FDC is encouraged to see such realignment coming out of volunteer strategy sessions. In practice this means stronger project management as well as a more volunteer engagement. This allows WMUK to respond to the interests of volunteers, and be proactive in matching their activities to the chapter’s plans. This approach ties in well with the already mature train-the-trainer project.
The FDC is concerned about very low targets for WMUK’s program work. The FDC considers the targets in this proposal very low in comparison to previous results and especially with respect to the proposed budget and grant request, which is the largest request in this round of proposals with the exception of WMDE. The FDC needs to see WMUK improve its programs in order to achieve impact that reflects this level of investment. Past results have been minimal and are therefore not a strong basis for scaling up. The budget lacks sufficient detail, which makes it difficult to understand how funds are leading to impact.
The FDC believes that WMUK's advocacy work and work on influencing policy towards Open Knowledge in the UK and EU has potential. The FDC recommends the WMUK continue to support the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group - EU (FKAGEU), and revisit the Open Coalition project. The FDC is also satisfied with WMUK’s revised approach to technology-related programs, especially for its own in-house systems. It is encouraging that effort is being put into building and simplifying the Wikimedia UK Dashboard as well as its launchpad.wikimedia.org.uk and the QRpedia service. The FDC is skeptical, however, about the development and creation of content for language minorities, as it is unclear which content gaps would be addressed through this work. In addition, there is a lack of clarity in available partners who would enable success of this work. The FDC advises WMUK to carefully plan this aspect before fully deploying and committing resources to this goal.
Amount requested: USD $75,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: USD $75,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Ukraine.
This is the first Annual Plan Grant proposal from Wikimedia Ukraine, after having received several project grants through the Project and Events Grants process since 2010. Wikimedia Ukraine’s programs are well aligned with movement strategic priorities. Wikimedia Ukraine have put forward a very good proposal with succinct presentation, clear plans and objectives. A large majority of the budget is focused on programmatic work, which is a great model to follow.
Wikimedia Ukraine is an emerging organisation with a lot of potential. One of their biggest strengths is that the organisation is highly connected to the community. Some of Wikimedia Ukraine’s particularly successful projects include their Wikizghushchivkas (condensed milk project), which is unique as well as culturally relevant. The affiliate’s work to digitise wax cylinders of historical music (the Kolessa recordings) has been one of the most innovative digitization projects in the Wikimedia movement.
Although Wikimedia Ukraine has seen good results from contests, which comprise the majority of their planned events, the FDC encourages WMUA to consider expanding its activities into areas other than competitions in the future. The FDC commends Wikimedia Ukraine for coordinating the Wiki Loves Earth competition, with responsibility for the organisation of the international contest, on a considerably small budget.
Wikimedia Ukraine’s GLAM program mostly comprises a DIY book scanner with the goal to digitize content. Although this is commendable, the FDC worries about the unintended risk that GLAM partners may start to expect volunteers to do work that should be carried out by the institution. The FDC also note that programs like GLAM may have political implications with respect to the country’s historical context and encourages Wikimedia Ukraine to approach such partnerships with caution.
The past results obtained by Wikimedia Ukraine are a good indicator that the organisation will have a high future impact and evaluation capacity. In order to do that, Wikimedia Ukraine will need to diversify their programs to include non-competition programs, for example by increasing effort in Education program areas.
The FDC encourages Wikimedia Ukraine to continue to be innovative in their programmatic work and to continue to share success and learning patterns with the wider movement.
Amount requested: EUR €250,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: EUR €250,000
The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Österreich.
Wikimedia Österreich has very stable leadership, with an involved board. The organisation is also very effective, and has good regional language collaborations with other German-speaking chapters as well as with the Central and Eastern European regional group, although they have a relatively small overall pool of volunteers to work with.
As in past years, Wikimedia Österreich’s proposal is exceptionally clear and focused. The FDC appreciates the clear milestones and timelines offered for each program. The FDC applauds Wikimedia Österreich for documenting and sharing best practices broadly with the Wikimedia community, even when programs or approaches are unsuccessful.
Wikimedia Österreich has shifted focus from programs without high potential for future impact in Austria, to other media projects with more potential for impact, and to work with projects other than Wikipedia. This shows that the organisation is able to adapt and change its strategies as a result of learning that a program has run its course, even to the extent of shifting focus away from popular programs.
The FDC is unconvinced that Wikimedia Österreich’s planned political advocacy work will result in the targeted outcomes, even though the project itself is a noble one. On the other hand, the skill transfer and Guide Camp projects hold great promise. The FDC hopes that the best-practices from similar projects being piloted in other Chapters can be incorporated here to increase effectiveness.
Wikimedia Österreich’s focus on gender diversity and their education program are especially successful. However, it is still unclear how some expenses or programs (such as travel and community) will deliver impact in the movement with respect to the size of their budget. The FDC has questions and concerns about the amounts budgeted for international travel grants (the travel budget is large compared with other Wikimedia organisations) and encourages Wikimedia Österreich to shift its budget to programs with more potential for impact.
Last year the FDC clearly recommended that Wikimedia Österreich set higher goals and targets, as they were too conservative and unambitious. Although the FDC saw improvements to this and reasonable performance increases year-to-year on many of their programs, the FDC still believe targets should be significantly increased given the size of the budget (including the 10% increase in the budget this year) and the number of staff that Wikimedia Österreich have. It is also noted that some of the targets are “soft”, which will make evaluation difficult. The targets regarding creating learning patterns, approaching relevant contacts, and catering engagement for the community are difficult to measure; the burden of delivering outcomes is indicative of higher scrutiny of their budget in relation to other organisations.
Wikimedia Österreich has been unsuccessful in raising external funding so far, and they have provided clear rationale to the FDC about why this has been the case. Wikimedia Österreich is leading the way by accounting for the value of in-kind donations, but the FDC is concerned by the fact they are increasing their reliance on APG funding in this round. At this funding level, the FDC encourages Wikimedia Österreich to be more innovative with their programs in order to contribute to the development of new programs and approaches that other organisations might adopt, and to specialise in some program areas where they demonstrate excellence.
Eleven proposals for this round were submitted on 1 October 2015. In preparation for their deliberations, the FDC reviewed the community commentary on each proposal as well as the responses from applicants on the discussion pages of the proposal forms and the staff proposal assessments. The FDC received a number of additional inputs, including staff assessments and analysis on impact and finances from FDC staff. This round, the FDC reviewed the past performance of each organisation based on the 2014-15 impact reports as well as the data grantees shared through their quarterly progress reports in 2015. Before the face-to-face meeting, the FDC held a call on the 28th October to discuss each member’s initial assessment of all proposals. After the call, but prior to the meeting, the FDC members shared an initial allocation in dollars for each proposal, as a point for beginning their discussions.
At the in-person deliberations, FDC staff presented an overview of their findings and summarized financial and programmatic themes. After these brief presentations, the FDC followed up with points of clarification and questions, before delving into discussions of each proposal in significant depth. Strengths, concerns, and general themes were recorded for all proposals, to assist later in writing the recommendation text. At the end of these initial discussions, FDC members prepared an individual and anonymous second allocation for each organisation. Prior to beginning the next round of discussions about each proposal, the spread of member allocations was shown, with some basic analysis of the spread to understand the range of agreement or disagreement among the allocated amounts. From there, and following more extensive discussion, the group attained consensus for each allocation using the Gradients of Agreement tool.
As always, members who had perceived or possible conflicts of interest with a proposal did not receive information about nor did they participate in relevant discussions and deliberations or receive specific inputs related to those applications.
The committee next prepared a brief written summary of its analysis of each proposal, including significant factors and observations made during the decision-making process.
The text regarding the Wikimedia Foundation was written solely by FDC members, without the involvement of WMF staff.
About the FDC
The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) for the Wikimedia movement is a committee of community members that makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) about how to allocate funds to movement organisations. The FDC was established in 2012. Now in its fourth iteration, the committee comprises nine volunteer members:
- Chair: Matanya Moses (Matanya) [recused from deliberations regarding Israel]
- Vice-Chair: Osmar Valdebenito (B1mbo) [recused from deliberations regarding Argentina]
- Secretary: Mike Peel [recused from deliberations regarding UK]
- Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
- Anne Clin (Risker)
- Itzik Edri (Itzike) [recused from deliberations regarding Israel]
- Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
- Dumisani Ndubane (Thuvack)
- Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
Four member(s) of the FDC recused themselves from the discussion and decision-making related to three allocation(s) due to a perceived or actual conflict of interest. These are listed above.
The WMF Board representatives to the FDC are Denny Vrandečić (Denny), Jan-Bart de Vreede (Jan-Bart) and Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit). Denny Vrandečić attended the deliberations, with Jan-Bart de Vreede remotely attending the WMDE discussions at the deliberations. The Ombudsperson to the APG process, Kirill Lokshin, did not participate in deliberations, as specified in the Ombudsman role description.
The FDC was supported by WMF staff throughout the deliberations. These staff included: Katy Love (KLove (WMF)), Winifred Olliff (Wolliff (WMF)), Siko Bouterse (Siko (WMF)), Sati Houston (Shouston (WMF)), Morgan Jue (MJue (WMF)), and Sarah Malik (Sarahmalik92). WMF staff present at the deliberations offered analysis, helped facilitate, took notes, and responded to any additional queries by the FDC, but did not participate in deliberations about specific proposals. Moreover, the WMF staff were not present, nor involved in any way, in the creation of recommendations directed specifically at the WMF itself.