Grants:APG/FDC recommendations/2015-2016 round 2

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Funds Dissemination Committee recommendation to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees for 2015–16 Round 2 applications.

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The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met in Warsaw, Poland, 13–15 May 2016. It assessed the Annual Plan Grant (APG) proposals and related documents, submitted in Round 2 of the 2015–16 APG program to provide recommendations on funds allocations for those proposals to the WMF Board of Trustees. The FDC recommendations for each application are given below.

Funding recommendations[edit]

The individual recommendations are given below. Each funding recommendation is in the requested currency, with indicative amounts in US dollars for comparison purposes only. Calculations and references to these grants should always be done in the requested currency, and not in the illustrative US dollar amounts.

Applicant Amount requested Amount recommended Indicative recommendation
in USD (approx)
Percentage
recommended
Change in allocation
from last year
Centre for Internet and Society INR 10,500,000 INR 10,500,000 $153,148 100% −12.5%
Wikimedia Armenia AMD 94,984,564 AMD 88,000,000 $180,000 93% +50%
Wikimédia France EUR 636,000 EUR 570,000 $620,000 89% +5%
Wikimedia Norge NOK 1,850,000 NOK 1,610,000 $185,000 87% +31%
Wikimedia Foundation
Total ~ US$1,253,222 ~ US$1,138,000

The overall funds available for movement entities through the APG process in 2015–16 is US$6,000,000. Some US$3,770,000 was allocated in Round 1, leaving ~US$2,230,000 available for Round 2. Of this, US$1,253,222 was requested in this round, and US$1,138,000 has been recommended, leaving US$1,092,000 to be returned to the WMF's reserves. 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.

Organization-specific remarks[edit]

Centre for Internet and Society[edit]

Amount requested: INR 10,500,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: INR 10,500,000

The FDC recommends full funding for the proposal submitted by The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), a decrease on last year’s allocation.

CIS has presented a well-targeted proposal that illustrates its progressive maturity as a movement-partner organization. Both the funding request and the narrowed focus of their proposed plan demonstrate good adherence to previous FDC recommendations. The FDC appreciates that CIS has also demonstrated willingness to incorporate community feedback into their plans. CIS has been providing increasing support to the community (e.g., capacity building, assistance to community members in their own grants applications). The organization has demonstrated both the expertise and the capacity to support a range of language groups within India, where there are a lot of opportunities for significant impact.

The Access to Knowledge team’s performance in the current year has been strong, indicating significant potential for future success. The plan for 2016–17 is focused on languages that the organization has the skills and ability to develop, and is no longer focused on a number of incubator projects. There is also a solid focus on community skill-building, with training programs. CIS has developed a more systematic approach to editathons, conducting multiple events that are intended to increase editor retention.

CIS has a large number of institutional partners that enable it to deliver its plan, particularly in terms of the Education program, and continues to reach out to new potential partners. The FDC suggests that future proposals might be more easily understood if the list of education partners is organized by the current stage of the partnership (e.g., ongoing partnership, in discussion, under consideration, etc.). The FDC notes the significant amount of content donation from educational partners, something that is more commonly seen in the GLAM programs of other regions. At the same time, some activities included in the CIS GLAM program (e.g., photo walks) might fall under different programs in other regions.

The FDC noted some inconsistent use of terminology (e.g., projects, events) in the proposal, and it is also difficult to understand the way that the work has been set out across program and focus language areas, as well as to split out relevant numbers from the overall work of CIS (which is also important to include). The inconsistency in many of the data points in the original submission required clarification and increased the complexity of the review of the proposal.

The FDC also notes that CIS conducted a study on gender disparity within its editing communities, but does not seem to have incorporated these lessons into this current proposal. While most of the included targets appear achievable, the targets for images may not be achievable, although it is understood that CIS has developed a plan that will focus on inserting existing images onto existing articles, which may increase the likelihood of success for this metric. As the skills development programs progress, CIS should consider more nuanced target and evaluation plans.

Wikimedia Armenia[edit]

Amount requested: AMD 94,984,564 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: AMD 88,000,000

The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Armenia (WMAM), an increase on last year’s allocation.

Wikimedia Armenia continues to support a strong community of volunteers and create innovative projects with impressive results. The FDC recognizes that the work of Wikimedia Armenia and their volunteers has delivered good impact in terms of content generated with their activities in the Armenian language projects, and the outcome of its work with school groups is clearly visible with the lower average age of users in the language project. Most projects are focused on programmatic activities, where WMAM has proven experience. However, the FDC is concerned about the large and fast increase in the proposed total budget - more than 100% compared with the previous year - especially for a relatively small community (compared with other applicants).

Wikimedia Armenia intends to continue and expand the WikiCamps program, which is an innovative initiative that has been well received within the Wikimedia movement. The FDC recognizes that WikiCamps have been a successful initiative, and that they have led to a considerable volume of contributions and a potential to expand and develop the volunteer base. There are discrepancies regarding the quality of the generated contributions and the long-term retention rate of the volunteers. The FDC is concerned by the cost of running the WikiCamps project, especially when it represents around 42% of the total grant requested by WMAM this round. The FDC is concerned about the high amount of resources devoted to one specific program - not only regarding funds, but also time and human resources – which raises doubts regarding the long-term sustainability of the project. The FDC recommends that WMAM carefully evaluates the quality of the project’s contributions to learn about its impact on content and editor retention, and consider reducing focus and reliance on this specific program.

As an emerging chapter, Wikimedia Armenia is a good role model in terms of diversifying budget funding and successfully raising funds through external grants and in-kind donations. We recognize that the work with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has not only allowed it to develop activities and partnerships of cultural and national significance, but also has helped to improve the capacities of the chapter as an organization. The FDC understands the cultural importance of the Western Armenia project, especially as it relates to the Armenian diaspora community, and acknowledges that some of this work is funded externally. In spite of this, the committee is concerned about the non-monetary costs related to this work, which entails two staff members working on a project where the impact is not completely clear, as well as the amount of movement money that is being spent on this relatively small language community. The FDC encourages WMAM to look for opportunities where this project can have a more clear impact – for example, content regarding Armenian diaspora in other languages wikis, and more multimedia content.

The digitization work is a potentially valuable program that can bring important documents in and about Armenian online. The FDC recommends that WMAM proactively seek advice from affiliates that have previously attempted digitisation programs, as digitisation is a technical and slow activity requiring strong relationships with the GLAM itself, which can become a great burden on the organization’s capacity without a correspondingly high impact.

The FDC congratulates WMAM on securing additional office space through collaboration with local authorities. However, the rapid growth in organizational budget and grant request is concerning. The FDC recommends Wikimedia Armenia reviews the effectiveness of the office space and report on it in future reports. Furthermore, the FDC considers this office renovation as a one-time cost. The FDC does not expect WMAM to include similar costs in future applications, and advises against considering this cost in future proposals as a new grant baseline.

Wikimedia Armenia plans to continue increasing their staff in order to support the chapter’s capacity and the growth of their programs and activities. The FDC is concerned that WMAM is heavily reliant on a single volunteer board member for both staff management and the leadership of the chapter’s Board. The FDC believes that this structure is not sustainable over the long term. The FDC recommends that the chapter consult with the FDC staff and other affiliates that have been in similar situations in the past to learn the lessons of those organizations without re-experiencing them. The FDC recommends that next year’s annual plan application include explanation of how WMAM has investigated, and addressed, the FDC’s concerns of organizational leadership sustainability.

Wikimédia France[edit]

Amount requested: 636,000 € (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: 570,000 €

The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimédia France (WMFR), an increase on last year’s allocation.

The FDC acknowledges WMFR’s effort to present a detailed and well structured proposal. Furthermore, the FDC continues to note that WMFR is a strong and visible leader in the Wikimedia movement with regards to professional practices, documentation, community engagement, and the implementation of projects work that are valuable to both the local and global wikimedia community. This includes in particular: Lingua Libre, which is innovative in technology and focused on countering systemic bias; WikiMOOC, which is both scalable and adaptable; the Wikidata conference, which leverages increasing popular awareness of Open Data; and the advocacy on Freedom of Panorama is a particularly commendable activity which is producing positive results and is likely to demonstrate impact beyond France. WMFR’s partnership with VLC will provide another avenue to quickly get multimedia content onto Commons.

The FDC commends the effort of WMFR on learning, documenting and sharing their knowledge. However, while the chapter has responded to the concerns raised in the past by improving its planning, its implementation of those responses does not appear to have resulted in improved program outcomes. For example, the FDC is concerned about the remote work done in Africa by WMFR, since the activities have not led to increased impact or long-term improvement in those areas, and WMFR and the project leaders for Wiki Loves Africa were previously advised by both the FDC (in the previous round 2) and the Grants Advisory Committee (more recently) to scale down or adjust the scope for this international work. For any movement entity working internationally, it is important to evaluate its ability to assess if the impact of remote work is sustainable by the local community after the program is concluded.

In light of the wide range of projects proposed in this annual plan, the FDC is recommending an increased allocation compared to last year. The potential impact of these projects, and their value to the local community and global movement, is high, and the FDC wishes to support those activities. However, the FDC recommends that WMFR focus on achieving higher impact in fewer projects, rather than lower impact across many projects.

Based on past performance, however, the FDC believes fully funding this grant request would not lead to a commensurate increase in online impact; as the link between the proposed budget increase and the hoped-for increase in impact is unclear. For example, global metric results provided for the current year have been low in both absolute and relative terms compared to other APG-funded organizations.

WMFR is increasing its reliance on APG. As noted in the past, the FDC encourages applicants to diversify their sources of funding and this is particularly true when organizations have a larger overall budget and are organizationally mature. The FDC encourages WMFR to investigate local grant funding and in-kind donations for its projects. WMFR’s clear emphasis on ensuring its own organizational health and obtaining independent accreditation is an achievement that may enable future work and fundraising. The FDC acknowledges and recognises the difficulties faced by WMFR in fundraising coordination with the WMF. In addition, the FDC notes the procedural difficulties in the application for WikiConvention Francophone. The FDC comments on this further in its review of the WMF annual plan.

The FDC would like to encourage WMFR to continue with their engagement with community via surveys, but the rate of survey-response seems low. It is unclear what lessons WMFR drew from these responses, and the nature of any practical plans to implement those lessons learned. In addition and based on past results, the FDC feels that the targets set by WMFR are not feasible.

The FDC supports the deliberate move towards regional programmatic activities, and local communities around France. The relationship with local tourism offices through the "Summer of Villages" program is potentially impactful and could be leveraged to supporting the work on other programs such as "Wiki Loves Monuments".

Wikimedia Norge[edit]

Amount requested: NOK 1,850,000 (proposal)
Recommended Allocation: NOK 1,610,000

The FDC recommends partial funding for the proposal submitted by Wikimedia Norge (WMNO), an increase on last year’s allocation.

The FDC continues to acknowledge the dedication and stability of WMNO board and staff: this is one of the chapter’s strengths and enables good governance. The organization’s prioritization of gender gap is well-focused and yields good results. WMNO’s GLAM program is maturing, with efforts to build new partnerships and collaborations with academia and libraries. In particular, the partnership with the Nobel Peace Center is commendable as it has demonstrated impact internationally. The FDC positively notes the planned collaboration with WMAM, and trusts that both chapters will report to the wider community on the successes and challenges of this program.

The FDC is seriously concerned about the lack of metrics to measure impact. In particular, the global metrics were frequently either not stated, marked as not applicable, not measurable, or to be determined. This makes it impossible to track the impact of programmatic work over time. The FDC encourages WMNO to set these goals and to work with WMF staff moving forward and expects to see this reflected in the next quarter report.

The FDC is also concerned at the proposed staff growth. While not large in absolute terms, it is still notable in comparison to the size of the organization, as well as the high employment costs in Norway. The planned staff composition, with three of the four employees accounting for a total of 1 FTE, is highly fragmented and generates additional costs. It might be more efficient to consolidate by merging some of those positions.

The FDC thanks WMNO for its efforts to address previous FDC concerns about a lack of direct integration with the Norwegian editing community. We hope the creation of a "community manager" position to focus attention on this issue will prove successful. Nevertheless, the FDC acknowledges that hiring new staff is not necessarily the best way to address a lack of community involvement in the organization. It is not clear whether it is the best approach in this context and the FDC anticipates information about the impact of this role. It is important to ensure that interaction with the community takes place across the organization, instead of being the specific task of one employee.

In previous years the FDC has encouraged WMNO to obtain external funding due to its high dependence on FDC funding. However, given the limited success of this approach thus far, and given that the FDC is also concerned about both staff growth and limited programmatic impact, the FDC suggests that WMNO focus its limited resources on increasing its impact first, before it focuses on diversifying funding. The FDC places a higher value on achieving impact than external fundraising. The FDC again recommends a stronger focus on programmatic impact, and activities with highest outcomes should be prioritized.

Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

The FDC appreciates the opportunity to review the draft Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) 2016–17 annual plan, and expresses its appreciation that the WMF has responded so positively to its recommendation of November 2015 that the WMF submit an annual plan using the APG format. The FDC recognises the significant investment of time, thought and effort on the part of WMF staff to assemble and share that plan, and to undertake the community review process.

The FDC recognises that the APG application format, and the timing of the process, were not optimal for the WMF but that this is a good-faith attempt to do as much as possible. The FDC recognises that this process was undertaken during a period of unprecedented organizational disruption, and on a very limited timeline that also included a community consultation on a limited strategic plan. The FDC looks forward to seeing detailed reporting on this annual plan, which may involve reconsidering exactly how the WMF reports on its activities. The FDC believes that proportionally greater value will be realised with a similar review in May 2017 (round 2 of the 2016–17 FDC deliberations); this current assessment should be considered a baseline to which subsequent annual plans can be compared.

Governance[edit]

The FDC is keenly aware of the extended period of turmoil within the Wikimedia Foundation, at the Board, executive, and staff levels, which was a key component in the FDC’s recommendations of November 2015. The organizational stabilization phase has now begun and the FDC applauds the professionalism and passion for Wikimedia’s values shown by Foundation staff, executives and Board of Trustees.

The governance processes, procedures, policies, and practices that led to the challenges over late 2015 and early 2016 should be adequately reviewed to prevent recurrence and facilitate improvements. The FDC acknowledges that the WMF Board has confirmed that it is reviewing governance processes. The FDC does not believe that an internal or self-review will provide the independent and professional insights that an externally managed, broadly defined, review of its governance practices will provide. In particular, an internal review is unlikely to be as effective, thorough, or disinterested enough to produce optimal results, and will lack the credibility throughout the broad Wikimedia community that would be attached to an expert independent review.

As part of its 2015–16 Round 1 recommendations, the FDC "recommend[ed] 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." The FDC feels compelled to reassert that such external assessment of WMF governance is strongly recommended. This recommendation is consistent with similar recommendations made by both the WMF and the FDC of some of the Wikimedia affiliate organizations, for example with WMFR, and the governance review of WMUK.

The scope of this review should not be restricted to the internal organization of the Board, but should also extend to the relationships between the Board and other parts of the WMF or the movement. In particular, it could include, but not be limited to:

  • Board composition including selection processes, recruitment and diversity
  • Onboarding processes for Board members and orientation
  • Relationship between the Board and the ED
  • Communication channels between the Board and the staff, community and affiliates
  • Selection process and criteria for appointed Board members
  • Advisory board constituents, roles and duties
  • Resources allocated to the Board to fulfil their duties/responsibilities

FDC acknowledges the limitations of the volunteer-composed body which is the WMF Board and proposes to take under consideration institutional solutions supporting the work of its members. Ensured strong orientation, wider usage of empowered trusted bodies and individuals to seek advice, restart of the Advisory Board, Financial Committee of C-level and Board representatives, broadening the Audit Committee beyond the Board and an internal auditor within the WMF reporting directly to the Board could be such steps. Furthermore, the FDC recommends the creation of an ombudsperson position that can act as a bridge between the Board and any person or entity who is not already a member or officer of the Board.

The FDC also recommends that this external review be conducted, that the results be received, and main points acted upon in a timely manner, before the permanent WMF Executive Director is appointed. The FDC would like to encourage the Board not to waste this good crisis.

Strategy[edit]

The previous Wikimedia 2011–15 strategic plan has now expired. A short-term strategic plan has been developed, upon which this annual plan has been based. The lack of clarity in strategic direction since 2014 has caused significant waste of time, money, talent, goodwill, and momentum.

Under the current transition leadership, the FDC expects to see a stable and actionable WMF strategy developed with active participation and buy-in of stakeholders throughout the Wikimedia movement. This notably includes the volunteer Wikimedia community and affiliate organizations. The wider movement's support (however that might be defined) is both a desirable and a necessary factor for the strategy's success.

Financials and staffing[edit]

It has not been possible to review the WMF’s financial budget in detail, since such a detailed budget was not presented in this round. The same applies to detailed breakdowns of staff time and costs. The FDC understands that this is a challenge for the WMF to assemble, but the FDC hopes that this can be addressed over the coming year, and a substantially improved plan presented for the next proposal from the WMF. The WMF, as the largest and oldest organization within the Wikimedia movement, should strive to act as a role model for other organizations in terms of fiscal responsibility.

The FDC notes that while staff numbers are only increasing by 5 FTE in the forthcoming financial year, in the last 3 months of this year the plan is to hire 15 people - which sounds like a rush to fill positions before the year end, after a year with significant staff turnover. The FDC encourages the WMF to not rush hires, particularly given that C-level staff positions need to be filled. It is also not clear whether staffing matches the stated goals in this annual plan or in the strategic plan as a whole.

The Wikimedia Foundation might want to evaluate how the size of its staff and its staffing structure are organized in order to meet set goals. Finally, the FDC points out that the rationale for the new staff is missing from this proposal.

Overall comments on programs[edit]

In this section the FDC comments broadly about the WMF’s stated programs. The FDC follows this with more detailed consideration on each overall set of programs, as well as the goals contained within them.

One of the common themes arising from the FDC’s deliberation about each part of the annual plan is a desire for the WMF to view its actions as leveraging a network effect utilising the resources of the global movement. This comment is equally applicable to the projects of fundraising, communications, partnerships, community tech, et cetera. Each part of the WMF is encouraged to see itself as an important component of equivalent activities happening around the world, and not just working in isolation. Until that is in place, the WMF will not effectively leverage lessons learned in the wider movement, its organizational memory will remain under-utilised, and targets will be far less achievable.

Unfortunately, the WMF didn’t provide the FDC a detailed budget, as is expected from any other affiliate applied to APG (even privately, as had been offered by the FDC). Moreover, the lack of detailed information about each program costs made it hard for the FDC to review and evaluate the programs. The FDC does acknowledge the efforts of the Legal department in this area to balance transparency to community review, and necessary-privacy of information relating to legal costs.

In terms of the Annual Plan itself, the FDC thanks all teams of the WMF for responding quickly and thoroughly to all comments raised during the public consultation period. The additions and adjustments that were made were greatly appreciated. However, a more consistent summarization and layering of information would make the annual plan more understandable. For example, due to the structure of the plan, the inputs (e.g., resources) are often unclear and the outputs of many programs do not have targets. Furthermore, it is often hard to understand what is operational and what is programmatic, especially in the technology section.

Many aspects of this annual plan are repetitious, with cross departmental goals appearing several times only phrased differently. The FDC acknowledges the time constraints of this annual planning process, but this fact, as well as the differing levels of detail in budgeting and goal-setting, indicate the fractured nature of inter-departmental communication and planning. The FDC does not wish to see operational-level detail, but where there have at least been clear key performance indicators stated this information is helpful. Frequently there were no metrics and therefore no baselines for this year against which achievements can be measured. Risks were well articulated, however they are not linked to programs, nor are they actionable.

It is not clear whether the New Readers projects is the Foundation’s new approach for emerging communities (the formerly called "Global South"). The link between "emerging countries support" and the New Readers project needs to be clarified.

The FDC appreciates the learning, analysis and research done in many parts of the organization. It is important that the learning process go beyond data collection and analysis and into action plans, implementation, and re-evaluation.

The proposal includes most of the activities carried out by the Wikimedia Foundation, including both the operational work and the development of new projects or programs (programmatic activity). The FDC appreciates the mention of operational work (for example, maintaining servers, APIs, etc.), which is vital for the continuing existence of our projects but is usually invisible to the broad community. However, in the context of an application, it is difficult for the FDC to evaluate this mixture of the two types of activities. It is suggested in the future to summarize the operational activities and their ongoing metrics, focusing more on explaining, setting goals and targets for the programmatic activities.

Departments[edit]

Community engagement: The FDC is pleased to see the emphasis and value placed on community health, and supports plans to ensure that Wikimedia communities are thriving; that their needs are understood by the Foundation; and that community members have access to critical resources. This can only lead to benefits for the movement as a whole.

The FDC commends the classification and alignment of teams under this department (i.e., Program Capacity & Learning; Support and Safety; Community Resources; and Technical Collaboration), as this is logical and clear. As a result the FDC encourages WMF to ensure that the department and teams are adequately resourced to achieve their programmatic goals.

The FDC is concerned with the decrease reported in KPI’s results for the second quarter (specifically in the Resource Engagement, The Wikipedia Library as well as Mentoring & Consultation reports) and encourages WMF to investigate the cause of the decrease and to take steps to correct this.

Product: The FDC recognizes the importance of the programs developed by the Product department as some of those that can deliver more impact within our movement. Most of the programs proposed are relevant and in line with the needs of the users and volunteers.

The FDC is concerned that there are too few programs dedicated to Editing (only VisualEditor and Content Translation) and sister projects beyond Wikipedia. Also, there are no proposed activities to improve tools for administrative actions.

Also, there are several activities regarding analysis and evaluation in this application. Although the FDC understands the needs to effectively assess the situation before implementing any change, it seems that there is little coordination between the departments and subdivisions within the WMF regarding analysis and research. Some analysis might be redundant considering other departments may have done the same in the past. The FDC expects the Product department (and the WMF in general) to improve the use of organizational memory, avoiding redundancies and focusing on more tangible activities that can lead to impact.

Technology: The Technology department is at the core of the services provided by WMF, and it is very important to the health of the wikis in terms of uptime, security, learning and safer software releases.

In general, the program should be better described for a department containing around 60 people. Some goals need better defined targets and metrics to track them. In addition, more measurable outputs are needed, and better milestones are needed throughout the year rather than just having end of the year goals, this can be done by linking to department specific annual plan documents.

The Product and Technology departments should present a more linked proposal, since in each of them most actions directly affect what the other is doing. In reality it might be true that the two departments are very well linked, but that is not apparent in this annual plan. Moreover, in the budget outline, those two departments are in fact coupled, making it very hard to understand the specific costs and staffing each one requires. It should be clearer what the relation between the two departments is.

Strategic partnerships: The value of the WMF coordinating major partnerships with external organization is potentially high, and in some circumstances the WMF is the only movement entity able to negotiate and formally agree to long term relationships.

However, the scope of "a strategic partnership" has never been described, nor how this area interacts with other WMF departments, making it difficult to know what work should, and should not be undertaken. Also, the relationship of WMF’s outreach to external organizations has not been clarified when there is a pre-existing movement partner in that space.

Finally, and most importantly, having one team responsible for both "corporate donations" (receiving money) and content-deals (e.g., pre-loading apps onto smartphones) mixes two very different kinds of relationships that are often kept very separate within the non-profit/charitable field. Corporate donations and content deals are both valid, but should not be coordinated by the same people at the same time.

Communications: Communications’ plans are unclear and unfocused. The plan does not make clear when the communication team plans to promote the Wikipedia/Wikimedia movement brand vs. the Foundation brand. The programs and the goals are repeated, sometimes in an inconsistent way (e.g., blog readership target is "increased by 10%" in Goal 1 and "increase by 5%" in Goal 2). Moreover, most of the goals seem very functional / operational, and very focused on social media.

The FDC believes the department work, as mentioned on the proposal, is critically missing collaboration with community media contacts and chapters and see an important role of the team to work with, to empower, train and support them.

Legal: The Legal Department provides both programmatic support to the global Wikimedia community, and operational support to the Wikimedia Foundation specifically.

The Legal team’s work with the Board of Trustees is briefly described in the non-program discussion of the Annual Plan. The FDC encourages the Legal Department to publish more information about the support that it does (and, in some cases, does not) provide to the Board of Trustees, particularly in terms of trustee candidate vetting, trustee selection, and trustee orientation.

Other teams[edit]

Fundraising: The FDC recognises that the Fundraising department has always been effective in its work. This is remarkable especially given the aggressive targets of recent years, that led about sustainability concern. For the upcoming year, the WMF has lowered its fundraising target from US$72 million to $63 million, which is in line with the planned budget for the year.

Fundraising would benefit from a better coordination with chapters and local community. Even in recent times there have been conflicts (e.g., in the case of Wikimedia France and Wikimedia Italy), but also increasing attempts to dialogue (e.g., with Wikimedia Poland). Given that the Haifa letter has now expired, the next year might be a good time to re-explore the issues of chapters doing direct fundraising, and sharing donor databases.

The development of the endowment will provide the opportunity to rethink long-term priorities and engage with stakeholders. The FDC appreciates the emphasis put on the long-term support of the Wikimedia mission.

Fundraising tech: The FDC appreciates that the fundraising tech staff are doing hard work behind the scenes.

Talent and Culture: The Talent and Culture (Human Resouces) team has been chronically understaffed and has not had a permanent C-level representation for over a year.

There appears to be a lack of information about the diversity of the staff of the WMF, and activities to specifically seek out candidates who will diversify the staff are not apparent or well illustrated. For an international organization, there is an apparent overall lack of global diversity. The FDC suggests that Talent and Culture consider what its goals should be in this respect.

Talent and Culture has also been actively involved in the recruitment and evaluation of candidates for the Board of Trustees. Many sources have identified the lack of diversity of trustee candidates presented to the Board as being a significant concern. This links into the governance review discussed above.

Team Practices: The Team Practices staff are effective in pulling together the various technical teams. The FDC recommend that this team’s role be expanded to include more non-technical groups and departments. The services this team provides has the potential become the key intra-organizational and interdepartmental data and knowledge link.

Finance and Administration: The FDC recognizes that due to major leadership changes and the short timelines, the financial information related to the draft Annual Plan was limited. The Finance Department has indicated that it will be reviewing the process for annual plan and budget development. The FDC encourages the Finance Department to provide leadership and guidance to other movement entities, as well as learning from those entities, to become a model of excellence in its area of expertise.

Process[edit]

Five proposals for this round were submitted on 1 April 2016. 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 organization 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 10th May 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 (excluding the WMF), 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 organization. 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. 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[edit]

The FDC and supporting WMF staff members at the Round 2 deliberations meeting

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 organizations. The FDC was established in 2012. Now in its fourth iteration, the committee comprises nine volunteer members:

This round, no FDC member had perceived or possible conflicts of interest.

The WMF Board representative to the FDC this round is Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit), who attended 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, Winifred Olliff, Sati Houston, and Sarah Malik. 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, in particular with regards WMF governance.

Appendix: WMF Department-specific discussion[edit]

As part of the deliberation process the FDC also reviewed each of the WMF's program areas to the level of detail provided in the Annual Plan draft. In an effort to provide additional feedback, this appendix lists detailed comments according to those program areas. For the reader's convenience, the summary of each department, written above, is also duplicated here.

Community engagement[edit]

The FDC is pleased to see the emphasis and value placed on community health, and supports plans to ensure that Wikimedia communities are thriving; that their needs are understood by the Foundation; and that community members have access to critical resources. This can only lead to benefits for the movement as a whole.

The FDC commends the classification and alignment of teams under this department (i.e., Program Capacity & Learning; Support and Safety; Community Resources; and Technical Collaboration), as this is logical and clear. As a result the FDC encourages WMF to ensure that the department and teams are adequately resourced to achieve their programmatic goals.

The FDC is concerned with the decrease reported in KPI’s results for the second quarter (specifically in the Resource Engagement, The Wikipedia Library as well as Mentoring & Consultation reports) and encourages WMF to investigate the cause of the decrease and to take steps to correct this.

Program Comments
1. Develop community leadership and mentorship The FDC would like to encourage WMF to focus the definition of a "community leader" in consultation with the community in order to ensure that the process of identifying these is accepted movement wide. As well as formalise the Peer Leadership Academy with clear access points.
2. Introduce training modules for functionaries and event organizers regarding issues management The focus on training, for example the harassment training, has a huge benefit for the community if delivered. However, it needs to be coordinated and synchronised with similar work being carried out by others (e.g., Wikimedia Nederlands). It is good to see support to groups that are not specific to languages or projects, for example the Stewards meeting this past year. Also, the FDC points out that hosting on new platforms (if this is what is intended for the training platform) can result in fragmentation of knowledge and narrowing of the participating community, and may not be as effective as hosting on wikis.
3. Develop capacity-building tools and resources for core Wikimedia programs While the need to have the one Wikimedia resource center has always existed, the FDC is concerned that this will not be successful if it is not properly resourced from within. There is a risk of duplication with existing resources that could dilute impact.
4. Allocate resources to effective community-led projects The FDC believes that it is important to balance the need for accountability to donor and the support to the grant applicant. Grant applicants ought to feel that the quality of their eventual program has been improved and helped as a result of the application process itself.

The recent restructuring of the grants processes makes a lot of sense, however there may be duplication of effort with WMF grants and chapter grants. The FDC recommends more clarification be provided on scope and requirements for each grant in consultation with the community at large.

It must be made clear in a timely manner to the grant applicant what the requirements are for each grant type in order to avoid confusions that sometimes arise, such as was seen in WMFR application.

It would be useful to clarify how much budget is available for each grant program by month or quarter in order to dispel any confusion about the availability of funds throughout the financial year.

5. Give more support to GLAM partnerships There is real need for better communication to the average Wikipedian about what GLAM is and how it fits into the broader projects, however this program seemed vague and lacks metrics.

It is good that GLAM becomes a stakeholder in engineering development. Programs capacity & Learning (PC&L) has been good at aggregating the good things about GLAM and the value of GLAM, but has not communicated this information more broadly; and finding issued communications is sometimes difficult.

The FDC encourages WMF to think about how to support community work with GLAM institutions in countries that don't have chapters (or aren’t the US), in order to improve support that can be extended to these areas in the future.

6. Support Affiliations Committee and affiliate partnerships It would be good to see increased support to Affcom to address tough issues (for example, when to close a chapter/affiliate), however this support and advice must be offered in a measured manner to avoid unintended consequences such as demoralising entire communities. A similar support program should be explored for Langcom.
7. Improve collaboration with communities in product development There needs to be clear guidance from WMF on the state of affiliate tool development and whether/when WMF will assume support of tools developed by affiliates.
8. Connect volunteer developer work with community technical needs The community wishlist is a worthwhile experiment, and the FDC is encouraged to see that the WMF intends to continue its support, including consideration of how to accommodate the needs of less populous projects. The collaboration with WMDE’s Community Tech’s team is commendable.
9. Identify support gaps and provide targeted resources The FDC believes that investing time and money into innovation within the movement is valuable. However the inspire campaign seems to be too frequent to see actual impact in between. One campaign seems the right number per year.

However, it seems like a thematically designed grant program; the process and support is the same; and this seems to put a limitation on other grant applicants who are not interested in the inspire campaign; these applications could be processed in parallel with the inspire campaign.

10. Maintain quick public response time and expand community surveys This program is vague and needs more clarification, in particular in the area of survey support and follow-up surveys.
11. Protect our users, staff, and public The work done by this team, seems to be obscure to the community at large and more can be done to make it more visible. For instance, emergency@ contact address might not be well-enough socialized amongst the different communities. This should be integrated into functionaries training in program 2.

Product[edit]

The FDC recognizes the importance of the programs developed by the Product department as some of those that can deliver more impact within our movement. Most of the programs proposed are relevant and in line with the needs of the users and volunteers.

The FDC is concerned that there are too few programs dedicated to Editing (only VisualEditor and Content Translation) and sister projects beyond Wikipedia. Also, there are no proposed activity to improve tools for administrative actions.

Also, there are several activities regarding analysis and evaluation in this application. Although the FDC understands the needs to effectively assess the situation before implementing any change, it seems that there is little coordination between the departments and subdivisions within the WMF regarding analysis and research. Some analysis might be redundant considering other departments may have done the same in the past. The FDC expects the Product department (and the WMF in general) to improve the use of organizational memory, avoiding redundancies and focusing on more tangible activities that can lead to impact.

Program Comments
1. Better understand our users The FDC values the relevance of understanding the behavior and needs of our community of users in the three levels proposed. However, there are no clear and tangible goals. Most of the research projects are presented in a more academic tone, which doesn’t seem very practical for improvement of the projects/products.

Throughout the entire proposal, there are multiple iterations of analysis and research, making it difficult to understand the difference between this particular program and the different individual instances, and how they will finally interact.

Also, there are concerns if the Wikimedia Foundation is the most appropriate organization to do this research and questions if there are potential opportunities with other institutions for research, especially in particular geographies (as in the case of the New Readers program).

2. Maintain and improve content discovery The FDC acknowledges that "Search" has been a controversial topic in Wikimedia for the last year for many reasons, not necessarily related to the goal of improving internal-search. Nevertheless, the FDC agrees that this is a goal with the potential for great impact, and is presented in an appropriate scale in the context of this annual plan.

The development of services of Maps, Graphs and other projects is appreciated as a way to improve the way content is delivered to the users. Concrete goals are proposed, but there should be better metrics to appropriately evaluate effectiveness of those programs.

Maintaining the Search APIs and increasing server capacity are considered of vital relevance, with an appropriate level of support. However, maintenance isn’t really a program but an operational activity.

3. Increase our global reach by increasing readership The FDC appreciates the relevance given to Readership, which represents the largest amount of users in Wikimedia projects. It is good to see the focus on readers and a working plan with them.

Goal 2 is a great example of having a clear link between goals, outcomes and targets. However, it is important to note that there must be more engagement with the general community, considering there are some initiatives already being developed by volunteers/contributors in these areas; and that the Wikimedia movement consists of more than the encyclopedic experience; particular sister projects and use cases demand a different UX.

Regarding Goal 4, it is important to note that there isn’t enough data yet to support the proposed hypothesis.

There are some concerns regarding the New Readers project and the way to approach emerging communities. Although the program proposes a new perspective to increase the readership in geographies with 85% of the world’s population, it is focused in a particular number of countries, some of them with already sizable communities of readers and editors (such as Mexico and India) and that have been included already in old projects, without a lot of impact. There are questions regarding the situation of other emerging countries that have not been included in the project (both developing and developed countries) and how the project in the selected geographies can be expanded in the future to other locations. There should be more research on how to continue with this project.

4. Maintain and improve content creation and editing tools The program designed to improve the creation and editing tools is valued by the FDC, especially those mentioned in the Goal 1. Some of those proposals are very relevant for the community of editors. However, there seems to be missing some relationship with Wikidata.

Considering the evolution in Internet access experienced in the past years, the inclusion of VisualEditor for mobiles is appreciated. However, it should be considered that there are still issues with the desktop version, so it is recommended to focus on streamlining the product before moving it to mobile, instead of working on a half-finished product. Also, it is important to start working on admin and curation tools for mobile.

5. Maintain and build contributor tools The FDC agrees with the goals proposed in this program, giving solutions and support for a significant number of community members. Collaboration between the TCB team at WMDE is appreciated.

However, the program lacks clear targets and detailed objectives regarding the implementation of the mentioned improvements.

The FDC appreciates that the Community Tech team has recognized the problems faced by smaller communities and are considering them in a separate group so they are more visible.

Technology[edit]

The Technology department is at the core of the services provided by WMF, and it is very important to the health of the wikis in terms of uptime, security, learning and safer software releases.

In general, the program should be better described for a department containing around 60 people. Some goals need better defined targets and metrics to track them. In addition, more measureable outputs are needed, and better milestones are needed throughout the year rather than just having end of the year goals, this can be done by linking to department specific annual plan documents.

The Product and Technology departments should present a more linked proposal, since in each of them most actions directly affect what the other is doing. In reality it might be true that the two departments are very well linked, but that is not apparent in this annual plan. Moreover, in the budget outline, those two departments are in fact coupled, making it very hard to understand the specific costs and staffing each one requires. It should be clearer what the relation between the two departments is.

Program Comments
1. Improve tools that help us understand user needs Overall this program has good goals. In particular with the first goal, it is critical to understand the baseline. There have been attempts in the past to create such tools. Learning from the failure to create those would be useful before another attempt.
2. Expand research capabilities Goals 1 and 2 of the program contain very high level research, not all of it seems to have practical implications, better visibility and links between various research activities would be beneficial.

The FDC requests that goal 3 objectives 1 & 2, will make the links clearer with the New Readers program, as for objective 3 of goal 3 the FDC finds it will be specifically useful, and would like the team to share the findings more broadly.

3. Improve site reliability Goal 1 has very important objectives, but as noted above, more milestones, targets and metrics are needed.

As for the second goal, the focus on tools labs is good. However the targets for the first objective are still undefined, and the second objective is good, but it should be communicated more broadly.

4. Improve site performance This program is well written, and is the best written in the technology department: it has timelines, targets and clear outputs. Exemplary program.
5. Expand the way software is tested This program is a well presented, well defined and highly realistic program. For a team with 7 people the FDC would expect more than one goal for a whole year.

Strategic partnerships[edit]

The value of the WMF coordinating major partnerships with external organization is potentially high, and in some circumstances the WMF is the only movement entity able to negotiate and formally agree to long term relationships.

However, the scope of "a strategic partnership" has never been described, nor how this area interacts with other WMF departments, making it difficult to know what work should, and should not be undertaken. Also, the relationship of WMF’s outreach to external organizations has not been clarified when there is a pre-existing movement partner in that space.

Finally, and most importantly, having one team responsible for both "corporate donations" (receiving money) and content-deals (e.g., pre-loading apps onto smartphones) mixes two very different kinds of relationships that are often kept very separate within the non-profit/charitable field. Corporate donations and content deals are both valid, but should not be coordinated by the same people at the same time.

Program Comments
1. Increase partnerships and promotions Only the WMF is well positioned to negotiate pre-loads of apps with cell phone manufacturers. Given the WMFs focus on mobile, new readers, and new platforms for delivering content, success in this area could have a massive positive impact.
2. Carefully grow Wikipedia Zero Wikipedia Zero is a valuable project and is consistent with the mission of the Wikimedia movement - free access to knowledge. However, it also comes into conflict with other values that the community holds dear - equity of access to that knowledge. The FDC acknowledges this balancing act and respects that the Wikipedia Zero operating principles as a concerted effort to mitigate these concerns. The FDC would like to specify that it supports this program, where appropriate, and with a steady eye on managing that moral complexity.

It is unclear whether conducting phone surveys would be an efficient use of time; and might be more appropriate to outsource this activity, or use other survey techniques.

The FDC is pleased to see community involvement integrated to this project, as it helps build sustainability of the movement "on the ground" beyond the Wikipedia Zero program itself. The FDC would also like to see a longer term plan for Wikipedia Zero given that it is never intended to be a permanent solution to problems.

3. Increase reach through new types of partnerships It is unclear what a "new type of partnership" is, and therefore how it should be resourced or measured.

Communications[edit]

Communications’ plans are unclear and unfocused. The plan does not make clear when the communication team plans to promote the Wikipedia/Wikimedia movement brand vs. the Foundation brand. The programs and the goals are repeated, sometimes in an inconsistent way (e.g., blog readership target is "increased by 10%" in Goal 1 and "increase by 5%" in Goal 2). Moreover, most of the goals seem very functional / operational, and very focused on social media.

The FDC believes the department work, as mentioned on the proposal, is critically missing collaboration with community media contacts and chapters and see an important role of the team to work with, to empower, train and support them.

Program Comments
1. Improve public understanding and appreciation for Wikimedia movement and projects No comment
2. Make our brand more consistent, relatable, and more easily understood While goal 2 seems to be outward-focused, the objectives seem to be much more inward-focused than appropriate.
3. Identify and build understanding of new audiences No comment
4. Increase awareness and product adoption among specific audience segments It is unclear how and if "content distribution" using social media will indeed be effective, taking into consideration that it is still unclear who are the audience segment and if social media is the right platform to reach to them.
5. Grow and improve audience and engagement on the Wikimedia Foundation’s digital channels Goal 1: Quantitative not qualitative goals are presented. Just increasing the numbers of followers on social media doesn’t really matter. It is more important to measure the reach and the engagement on social media, in a way that really reflect the quality of the posts.

It is unclear why the WMF need to promote the WMF Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/236653195/) rather than the Wikipedia brand.

The FDC urges the WMF to clarify the difference and the resources allocated to promote the movements brand vs. the foundation brand. It is sometimes unclear in both the annual plan, and daily practice, whether WMF-operated social media is promoting the organization or the movement.

Goal 1, Objective 2: The FDC encourage the WMF to collaborate with other chapters and community members who already done that in the past.

Goal 2, Objective 3: It is not clear to what extent the WMF is distributing their materials via Commons as well as social media channels.

Legal[edit]

The Legal Department provides both programmatic support to the global Wikimedia community, and operational support to the Wikimedia Foundation specifically.

The Legal team’s work with the Board of Trustees is briefly described in the non-program discussion of the Annual Plan. The FDC encourages the Legal Department to publish more information about the support that it does (and, in some cases, does not) provide to the Board of Trustees, particularly in terms of trustee candidate vetting, trustee selection, and trustee orientation.

Program Comments
1. Protect project trademarks and practices While there appears to be reasonable support for large movement entities (chapters/thematic organizations), the level of support and flexibility for smaller recognised affiliates is not well defined.
2. Support community members in unfair litigation while defending our mission No comment
3. Protect the communities’ discretion in determining proper content No comment
4. Join with the Wikimedia communities in advocating for policy positions relevant to the work of the communities The work being done in the Public Policy Portal is not well known outside of a limited number of movement partners. The FDC believes that there is significant interest in this subject area and it would benefit from greater visibility, which in turn is likely to result in greater participation in discussion and formulation of opinion.
5. Maintain transparency in our defense of content and user privacy The FDC is pleased to see that the legal department is actively trying to have an high level of transparency, despite the constraints of various types of privilege. Its Biannual Transparency report is a good example. The FDC encourages the Legal Department to review the information that was provided to FDC privately, as the committee feels that some of the information provided (e.g., some more detailed descriptions of the team’s activities) would assist the Wikimedia community in understanding the value of the programs and services provided.