Grants:APG/FDC recommendations/2016-2017 round 1/ne
The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met at the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) offices in San Francisco, California, U.S., on the 13th–17th November 2016. It assessed the Annual Plan Grant (APG) proposals and related documents, submitted in Round 1 of the 2016-2017 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
There are two major structural changes that occurred within the Wikimedia Foundation grants programs over the last year that have had, and will continue to have, significant impact on how the Annual Plan Grants (APG) process operates. These are: the creation of the Simple APG process, and the possibility of APG funding approval for a period of two years.
The FDC was impressed by the very high level of proposals in this round, with clear improvements over those in previous years. While the FDC expresses concerns with specific elements of each organisation's application, the overall quality, detail and consistency of the applications being submitted to the FDC continues to improve and this appears to correlate with the overall stability of these organisations. It is the FDC's hope that the whole process of Annual Plan grants - including these FDC comments, ongoing WMF Staff support, community consultation, and the associated strategic planning processes - is helpful to these organisations, above and beyond the grant amount itself.
Starting with the current round, the Global metrics have been superseded by the new Grant metrics, consisting of three shared metrics (total participants, number of newly registered users, and number of content pages created or improved) and at least two grantee-defined metrics. In addition, program-specific metrics can also be defined by the organisations.
This revision is aimed at both simplifying the metrics and at making them more flexible, by enabling each grantee to choose what is best suited for them, matching them with the actual goal of the program and the organisation strategy.
Metrics like "Percentage of organisation members involved in one or more activity" or "Total time of all volunteers on charity programmes" may be good fits for an organisation that wants to strengthen the volunteer engagement in its activities, while "Additions to or contributions to Wikipedias other than native language" may be adequate for a program that aims to reach audiences outside the country, and "File usage" for an organisation focusing on photo contests and similar activities.
In order to be useful, metrics need to be clear and measurable. In this respect, the FDC is doubtful of metrics like "New partnerships," where it is unclear what constitutes a new partnership, and the importance of the specific partnership is not taken into account.
In other cases the relevance of the metric is not clear at all, as in the case of "Blog posts." That metric was used as a proxy for visibility, but it measures the effort and not the result (it is easy to simply publish more blog posts, which may or may not be read).
Additionally, it is important that organisations track metrics over multiple years, which relies on stable measurement techniques year-on-year. Some organisations did this well in this round, while others were less clear with their year-on-year growth.
Relationship to Simple APG
One year ago the Simple APG process was introduced. This new funding method for Wikimedia affiliates has been crucial in bridging the funding gap between organisations funded through the FDC process and those funded through projects grants. Most significantly, the associated WMF staff resources and the Simple APG volunteer committee provide a level of practical support that is neither possible to give, nor necessarily wanted, for the larger affiliates in the FDC process.
The complementary relationship between these two systems now provides Wikimedia affiliates with the means to obtain the level of active support, or flexibility, that fits their individual needs. Three applicants to this round of FDC funding may benefit from the support provided by the new system: Amical Wikimedia, Wikimedia Serbia and Wikimedia Ukraine.
The Simple APG process may offer these three organisations a more appropriate type of organisational support, with lower application and reporting requirements. However, all three organisations joined the FDC process before the Simple APG process was available. Given this, the FDC offers these three organisations the choice of:
- accepting the FDC-recommended grant offered for 2017; or
- re-submitting their 2017 annual plan to the Simple APG process in January, when proposals will next be assessed. In this case, the FDC process would provide bridge funding to ensure each organisation has funding in the interim period.
If the organisations decide to switch to Simple APG, there is flexibility in this new system for them to return to the FDC process at a later stage. The aim of the proposal is to provide affiliates an option to choose a program they find the most suitable and best to thrive.
Two-year APG funding
Two applicants for this round of the Annual Plan Grant process were invited to submit proposals for a two year period — Wikimedia Österreich (WMAT) and Wikimedia Sverige (WMSE).
This is a pilot project for both the Wikimedia Foundation's grant-making program as well as for these recipient organisations. The stability and effectiveness of these organisations over the last several years (in terms of budget, programs and staffing) were the key factors in their eligibility for the trial. The applicants were invited to submit a grant request that was constant for the duration of the two year period (not a larger amount in the second year). Should they choose, the organisations may accept only the first year of the FDC's funding request and return to the annual funding system, but that choice must be made at the time the grant is approved rather than after one year. For this trial, all funds approved will be accounted for out of the 2016-17 FDC "budget envelope" to ensure that it does not affect the amount of funds available to potential FDC applicants in 2017-18.
This is a pilot project and the FDC notes that the necessary modifications to monitoring and reporting processes have not yet been finalized. The funding model being used for this pilot will need to be revisited to ensure sustainability. However, the FDC is confident that the added benefits of stable and confirmed funding for these organisations outweighs the risks of their not meeting financial or programmatic objectives, or of limiting funds available for other affiliates. The two chapters will provide an interim report in lieu of the annual impact report, and the FDC intends to make a lightweight review of these reports at its scheduled 2017-18 Round 2 deliberations.
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 49,000 EUR 49,000 EUR 54,600 USD 100% -28% Wikimedia Argentina* 241,140 USD 232,500 USD 232,500 USD 96% 0% Wikimedia CH 330,000 CHF 294,000 CHF 298,900 USD 89% 0% Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. 279,198 EUR 139,599 EUR 155,600 USD 50% ‡ Wikimedia Israel* 860,000 ILS 860,000 ILS 227,000 USD 100% +3% Wikimedia Nederland 340,000 EUR 340,000 EUR 379,000 USD 100% 0% Wikimedia Serbia 130,170 EUR 94,200 EUR 105,000 USD 72% -7% Wikimedia Sverige 2,950,000 SEK (2017)
2,950,000 SEK (2018)
2,950,000 SEK (2017)
2,950,000 SEK (2018)
345,150 USD (2017)
345,150 USD (2018)
100% +13% Wikimedia UK 310,000 GBP 297,500 GBP 390,000 USD 96% +7% Wikimedia Ukraine 87,000 USD 87,000 USD 87,000 USD 100% +16% Wikimedia Österreich 265,000 EUR (2017)
265,000 EUR (2018)
265,000 EUR (2017)
265,000 EUR (2018)
295,400 USD (2017)
295,400 USD (2018)
100% +6% जम्मा ~ 2,827,000 USD (2017)
~ 640,000 USD (2018)
~ 2,570,000 USD (2017)
~ 640,000 USD (2018)
- * One member of the FDC recused from deliberations regarding this applicant: see below.
- ‡ The FDC grant request from WMDE in 2015-16 was in different format, specifically for funding software development projects, and therefore not directly comparable to this round.
The overall funds available for movement entities through the APG program (FDC and Simple APG) in the year 2016-2017 is USD 5,675,000. Approximately USD 3,467,000 was requested in this round (including the two-year funding), and USD 3,210,000 has been recommended, leaving approximately USD 2,465,000 available for Round 2 and for the Simple APG process. 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: 49,000 € (EUR) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: 49,000 € (EUR)
The FDC recommends approving Amical Wikimedia's funding request.
Amical continues to show a clear focus on spending effectively, concentrating its expenditures on programs. Over the years Amical has consistently carried out impactful projects and achieved good results. The focus on long-term partnerships, captured by one of the grantee-defined metrics (“Percentage of repetition”), is likely to increase long-term impact. In this regard, the “kick off and follow” system used with libraries has proved particularly successful. The other grantee-defined metric, “Member engagement”, is clearly tied to the goal of the organisation. However, other metrics may be less relevant (as “Number of papers published” and “Number of attendees to conferences”) or difficult to measure, like the number of conflicts on Catalan wikis.
Within the Wikimedia movement, Amical is an excellent example of a community-driven organisation that aims to become a community-led organisation. Amical is pursuing a different model from most of the other organisations in the Wikimedia movement, and this model is a very effective one for Amical's local context.
The FDC acknowledges that Amical is forging a very different path to other organisations in the FDC process but it remains concerned, as consistently expressed over several years, about the sustainability of such an approach. While Amical's structure has its strengths, the absence of a strong institutional framework can lead to lost opportunities.
As noted in previous FDC recommendations, there is a risk that volunteers may not be able to sustain this amount of work in the future. Lack of volunteer ability or availability may also lead to execution bottlenecks.
In line with this, the FDC recommended in 2014-15 that Amical start thinking about organisational sustainability. In 2015-16, the FDC reiterated this concern, noting Amical's expressed commitment to remaining a frugal volunteer-based organisation. Given what the organisation was achieving with a single staff person, the FDC urged Amical to consider the long-term sustainability and capacity needs of the organisation.
Related to sustainability is the question of budgets. Each year, Amical has requested a smaller grant than the previous year. Since 2014, there has been a 40% reduction in Amical's overall budget and a 50% reduction in funding requested from APG. On the one hand, the FDC appreciates Amical's efforts to streamline its funding requirements, spend efficiently with minimum overheads, and remain a lean, frugal organisation, which is consistent with Amical's stated objective of becoming a "truly volunteer-led organisation." Even so, the FDC is concerned about the effect that decreasing budgets may have on Amical's future sustainability.
The FDC notes that the current application is less detailed than that of the previous year, and the overall clarity and quality of the application does not seem to be improving. Therefore, while the FDC is recommending that the stated grant request be approved, it strongly recommends that Wikimedia Amical look to the Simple APG process for its next annual plan. With a continually decreasing funding request, but with the FDC's increasing concern about organisational sustainability, the FDC feels that Amical's annual plan is currently more suited to the support that Simple APG provides.
Amount requested: $241,140 (USD) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: $232,500 (USD)
The FDC recommends funding Wikimedia Argentina's proposal with an amount matching the amount it recommended last year.
Wikimedia Argentina has a long and successful history of FDC funding. In this annual plan, WMAR has expanded its previous activities and ideas, building on a healthy understanding of growth and learning from its past. While complimenting WMAR on its overall growth, maturity, and evolution as an organisation, the FDC notes that Wikimedia Argentina's plan remains overly long and detailed, making it difficult to implement. In line with its 2015-16 recommendation, the FDC once again strongly urges WMAR to provide more concise proposals in the future, in order to improve their effectiveness and to avoid spending resources that can be used in a better manner.
Wikimedia Argentina has a strong education program that can be a model for other chapters. In particular, the online training program has the potential to scale well in the future and be used by other entities around the world. WMAR's partnership with Wikimedia Israel on its education program has the potential to produce synergies and positive outcomes for both chapters.
The FDC commends WMAR on integrating an important movement-wide issue - the gender gap - as a strategic priority that cuts across all of its programs. The Committee recognizes it as an additional opportunity for WMAR and its attempt to fulfill the previous year's recommendation to reach out to similar-minded organisations. However, it is not clear how the gender gap will be tracked and measured in all these program elements. The FDC also notes the creativity shown in addressing limitations on Internet access.
With regards to metrics, Wikimedia Argentina has provided year-over-year comparisons, demonstrating clear growth in targets in each program category. This is useful. It has also visually highlighted new project elements, which is useful as well. Wikimedia Argentina's effort to develop a systematic method of measuring content quality - via a quality index - is also innovative. Nonetheless, there are too many metrics, not all of which are relevant. It is not clear which of these are key metrics, and which of those metrics are most important or should be prioritized. In addition, the grantee-defined metrics are difficult to understand, and may take a disproportionate amount of time to measure, document, and update.
The FDC also notes that WMAR projects a substantial underutilisation of funds this year, and the growth of the budget in WMAR's proposal is not likely to be utilised, although it may be partially due to currency fluctuations, whose effects in the future are not easy to foresee.
Furthermore, the FDC feels that WMAR's activities would benefit from further geographical diversification and welcomes the steps in this direction. Moreover, the Committee would encourage stronger input from Wikimedia Argentina to Iberocoop and the overall movement.
Amount requested: 330,000 CHF (proposal)
Recommended allocation: 294,000 CHF
The FDC recommends funding Wikimedia CH's proposal with an amount matching the amount it recommended last year.
WMCH has a new strategic plan in place, and is working on a fundraising strategy. However, in this application the links and priorities between activities and results are not clear. Also, although the budget is broken down by project line, it was not detailed enough to understand the impact between the spendings and the each of the activities within those projects. As such, the Committee found it difficult to entirely understand the plan.
The new executive director of WMCH appears to be making efficient use of available resources. However, the recent episode around conflict of interests on the WMCH’s Board is very concerning in terms of the maturity and conflict resolution capacity of the organisation. The FDC hopes that the various steps taken by WMCH will prevent such happenings in the future.
WMCH is comprehensive in its approach to several of its programs, such as the education project that covers both high school and university level education. It also supports a wide number of Wikimedia projects, including Wikisource, Wikivoyage, etc., and it is doing this in a balanced way across the four different language editions that are particularly relevant to Switzerland. This includes supporting smaller Wikimedia projects with smaller Swiss language communities (such as French Wikisource).
WMCH's software development plans are rather opaque. Although the organisation has a history of successfully developing software, primarily Kiwix, its plans for future development work are unclear. Kiwix is currently organising as a separate organisation, with some funding through the WMF project grants; although mentioned in the proposal, it is unclear how much development WMCH will continue to do.
The GLAM stats tool development is particularly lacking transparency. From the proposal, it is difficult to understand what the project is, the status of it, and whether consultation with other movement stakeholders has taken place. Although this improved through documents provided offline to the FDC very late in the process, this results in a lack of confidence about whether the program will be developed in a transparent and consultative way with the community, and this approach is likely to result in poor outcomes.
Software development work in Switzerland has high costs, so it is important to make sure that the work is relevant and that software development work is an effective use of WMCH's unique capabilities.
Projects are often driven by one person, such as the ongoing program around the visually impaired, which leads to concerns about how stable these programs will be in the long run. There are a lot of projects under the Community program and effort needs to be made to make sure that these are projects that will lead to long-term impact in a stable way, and also that these programs are not splitting staff time across too many areas.
The GLAM program is a foundation of WMCH's multi-year strategy. This program appears to be well-tailored for collaboration with the organisations that they work with, including both large and small GLAM groups, as well as both major and minor language groups. This includes development of the GLAM Wiki Collaboration Group, and participation in the Europeana GLAM network.
Diversity is highlighted with follow-up and continuation of successful projects such as Art + Feminism. The FDC is uncertain of the expected response to the banners encouraging editing of "female-specific content". The FDC also notes the intention to continue work on the project to support visually impaired users, and encourages WMCH to share the results of its research throughout the Wikimedia community.
WMCH has reported an average level of results, but the impact of some projects has been difficult to measure. One of this year's grantee-defined metrics, the "number of people reached", is a collection of disparate methods for interaction, some of which are very difficult to measure. This metric would benefit from clarification or simplification. The FDC notes that new partnerships do not normally illustrate impact; focusing on both results (e.g., number of documents scanned, number of images used on Wikimedia projects) as well as the potential for additional results may provide better information on effectiveness and impact of the partnership.
The FDC feels that WMCH is demonstrating improved performance compared to previous years, however it is not yet doing so at the level that justifies an increase in funding.
Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.
Amount requested: 279,198 € (EUR) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: 139,599 € (EUR)
The FDC recommends funding Wikimedia Deutschland's proposal with half the amount that has been requested.
While the FDC recognizes that WMDE is a stable, effective organisation with a strong presence within the Wikimedia movement, the FDC believes that WMDE's spending is not efficient and the impact that it achieves is unclear.
WMDE is the only affiliate organisation with sufficient scale and effectiveness to tackle projects on the scale of Wikidata or the community wishlist. The FDC appreciates that WMDE has submitted an application for unrestricted funding for its annual plan, rather than focusing on specific parts of the its budget as last year. It also recognises the value of the Annual Compass, through which WMDE co-designs its annual plan with the community. However, WMDE has ample organisational capacity to design and implement its programs and activities. Thus the FDC expects a plan with more granular detail and more challenging programmatic targets in future applications.
WMDE has not provided enough detail in its programmes and in its budgets, limiting the FDC's ability to provide detailed feedback on the various projects. Notably it is unclear where the organisation's budget growth is allocated. WMDE could carry out a number of its activities more efficiently and with lower cost and staff, by using more cost-effective approaches. This has been emphasised in past recommendations from the FDC.
The FDC recognizes that WMDE is an organisation with great capacity in external fundraising. We note that most of WMDE's internationally-recognised programs are all funded with separate tied grants (e.g. Wikidata and the annual Wikimedia Conference), or funded as a consortium (e.g., FKAGEU). Conversely, the community wishlist project is locally funded and the FDC applauds the way the matching WMF and WMDE teams collaborate successfully. Equally, the FDC notes the important role that WMDE is playing in advocacy work at the EU level, and its leadership role in the FKAGEU.
The targets set by WMDE are either unclearly defined or are lacking ambition for such a large organisation. Some programs (particularly volunteer support) have consistently demonstrated poor impact compared to the large amounts of money that are invested in them, and have had little impact on editor decline within the German Wikimedia community - especially where there are three well-funded chapters working to support this community. Local spaces, while effective and representative of German culture, are not currently providing sufficient impact to reflect their cost, and are underused by the community.
The FDC notes that WMDE has historically had difficulty with responding to community needs, particularly given the fragmentation of the community and vocal individual voices, and that this has been improving through the Community Wishlist process. The FDC encourages WMDE to ensure that, with its vast capacity, it remains responsive and flexible to community-originating ideas.
Amount requested: ₪ 860,000 (NIS) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: ₪ 860,000 (NIS)
The FDC recommends approving Wikimedia Israel's funding request.
Wikimedia Israel is a stable chapter with a history of building enduring and impactful relationships with other organisations. It has produced both innovative and successful programs (e.g., education), but has also been willing to stop programs that are not producing results (e.g., reactivating inactive editors). The willingness to learn from both successful and unsuccessful efforts is laudable, and reassures the FDC that experimental programs such as the support for Ladino Wikipedia will be regularly monitored and will be continued or halted, depending on the impact and results compared to investment.
WMIL has addressed three major concerns that the FDC had raised the previous year. First, it has ensured that volunteers do not get crowded out by staff in its programs, and that volunteers are much more engaged in their programs and provide expertise to them. Second, it has taken active steps to secure external funding for the first time. Third, it has started working on the Arabic Wikipedia, representing a good example of WMIL's ability to be flexible enough to respond to opportunities. The external funding for this program accounts for the bulk of the increase in WMIL's budget for the coming year.
WMIL's education program is one of its programmatic strengths - it is scalable and demonstrates high impact, and some aspects are carried out in partnership with another chapter from a different part of the world. Another programmatic strength is the strategy of building sustainable partnerships with multiple institutions and individuals within and outside of Wikimedia. WMIL is successfully able to follow-up and convert one-off events into longer partnerships; for example, the Hackathon was used to seed the developer community.
WMIL appears to have an optimal number of staff that have the mix of skills to support its programs. It is noted that WMIL repurposed one of its staff roles after reviewing hundreds of applications for a different job description, resulting in a positive outcome for a challenging situation. The FDC notes the plan to increase staffing costs with the intention of further developing skills within its employees, and ensuring stable and motivated staff.
Grantee-specific metrics appear to be fairly well focused. The number of content pages appears to be somewhat low based on previous results. The FDC also notes that the Ladino project may not have significant impact, but at the same time it is appropriately scaled and resourced.
Wikimedia Israel does not maintain a significant reserve fund. While there may be a rationale for this in the local context, the FDC encourages WMIL to build its reserves in the interests of contingency planning and sustainability.
Amount requested: 340,000 € (EUR) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: 340,000 € (EUR)
The FDC recommends approving Wikimedia Nederland's funding request.
Wikimedia Nederland is a stable organisation with respect to finances, staffing, and governance. It has had limited success in securing external funds compared to other European or mature chapters; the FDC encourages WMNL to continue its efforts to seek out other funding.
WMNL has a strong strategic plan with well-defined goals. The programs and activities in its proposal are clearly tied to its strategy. The FDC notes especially that WMNL proactively recognizes the challenges of its programs and has included a risk assessment and mitigation plan for each of the programs. However, the FDC notes that WMNL does not currently have a level of impact that is commensurate with the quality of its strategic planning, and with its current level of funding. The FDC expects for future application rounds a more ambitious approach with more challenging output targets, increasing the impact of the proposal results.
The FDC agrees that the community health program has a high risk of not meeting the targets, but can potentially lead to a strong impact on a key issue for the community, and encourages Wikimedia Nederland to go ahead with its plan.
The FDC also appreciates that WMNL experimenting with projects designed around thematic priorities, but points out that to maximize/ensure the impact of the "Nederland in the world" it will be important to connect with the local communities.
Regarding to the initiative of considering a educational program in this proposal, the FDC suggests WMNL to take advantage of the great experience that other chapters/affiliates have been building in this theme.
This Committee notes that the grantee-defined metrics are aligned with the general spirit of the proposal, focusing on editor retention and impact on non-Dutch projects.
Amount requested: 130,000 € (EUR) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: 94,200 € (EUR)
The FDC recommends funding Wikimedia Serbia's proposal with an amount consistent with its projected spending for the current fiscal year.
The FDC lauds Wikimedia Serbia for the enthusiastic and proactive approach of their proposal. The committee continues to highlight the value of Wikimedia Serbia's programs related to education and the potential to scale at the national level.
As has also been mentioned in the staff assessment, WMRS has been increasing its grants year over year since entering the FDC process, and it is unclear to the FDC whether the increased total budget is leading to commensurate impact. This has been a concern raised by the FDC repeatedly every year. We also note that there has been a significant underspend in the current fiscal year.
Some time ago, Wikimedia Serbia decided to eliminate an executive director position and have relied on their board for staff management. Taking into consideration that at this stage they have 4 FTE, this management structure is vulnerable to changes in Board leadership, and staff changes may draw Board resources away from other important functions.
Moreover, the FDC is disappointed that WMRS has stepped back from taking a leadership role in regional CEE work despite being one of the oldest, most well-funded, and highly staffed organisations in the region.
Wikimedia Serbia's programs are remarkably diverse and demonstrate a high degree of responsiveness to community interests and requests. This has resulted in good community engagement. However, it also reflects a lack of overall strategic planning and a lack of focus on projects that are most likely to have impact. Several of the projects are dependent on one or two volunteers, which can have an adverse effect on stability and continuity. The FDC has expressed this concern in the past, and does not see any indication that WMRS has considered the potential benefits of narrowing focus.
Several of the activities of the current year were not meeting expected results at the time of the mid-year progress report. The education program, however, has produced positive results over several years. Moreover, some of the metrics in the proposal do not look realistic.
The FDC has reviewed historical recommendations, activities, and reports of Wikimedia Serbia, and notes that Wikimedia Serbia joined the FDC process at a time before the Simple APG process was available. The Simple APG program includes various areas of support in assisting groups and organisations to develop organisational skills, including skills that are valuable in presenting grant applications. The FDC strongly encourages WMRS to consider applying to the Simple APG process, as described on the overall comments. Overall, The FDC believes it is essential that WMRS goes through a thorough strategic planning process if it wants to successfully continue in the FDC process.
Amount requested: 2,950,000 kr (SEK) per year for 2017 & 2018 (proposal)
Recommended allocation: total of 5,900,000 kr (SEK) for 2017 & 2018
The FDC recommends approving Wikimedia Sverige's requested funding for both 2017 and 2018.
The Committee again finds that Wikimedia Sverige is a stable and well-established organisation, and praises the high degree of transparency and detail in their budget, as well as their sensible and comprehensible annual plan. Nevertheless, the FDC has noticed some deterioration in the overall proposal's quality, including metrics, as well as challenges that WMSE will face due both to their other grants' obligations and their eventual end. The Committee hopes that the two-year allocation will help Wikimedia Sverige to focus on the long-term strategy, appropriately define and measure the metrics for its work, fulfill the commitments to the external grantmakers and manage the transitions when their current external grants expire.
The committee recognizes WMSE as a mature organisation that has been successful at obtaining restricted-grant funding from external sources. The FDC notes WMSE's smooth transition to a new Executive Director, enabled by their organisational stability and strong connection to the local volunteer community.
The design of the proposal including four programmes (Access, Use, Community and Enabling) is clear, with strong links among particular activities and a good balance between proven projects and innovations. There was a good mix of high-level overviews for each program, along with overviews of the planned activities that fit in with the programs. Each of these has proven outcomes, and are leveraging successful partnerships with external organisations. In particular, the FDC commends the Access programme area as impressively robust.
The FDC praises the shown future-awareness of WMSE's Board (e.g., approving budget in advance, improved ability to plan finances in the long term) and the implemented stable structure for growth, which reflect an increased maturity of the organisation. It is good to see that funding is being used to increase reserves. The Committee also applauds WMSE's continued success in securing external funding. It is also good to see the long-term planning and capacity building (e.g., multi-year conference and event-planning) that has been established as a clear goal with specific objectives.
However, for an affiliate of this scale and stability, and with such a good track record of defining contextually relevant metrics, the FDC is unanimously disappointed at some of WMSE's choices for metrics for 2017-18. Even though the "trust making" and "visibility making" projects in 2017 might result in useful frameworks which produce results by the end of 2018, the FDC is vexed with the "number of blog posts" metric that is being used in the interim. Not only will this metric fail to measure impact in either visibility or trust, it sets a very bad example in both the first year of grantee-defined metrics (replacing the "global metrics" system) and also multi-year funding. The organisation will therefore be without reliable measures of success for the major part of the funding period. Relatedly, the FDC remains confused about the definition of the "bug reporting" metric and questions whether WMSE can extract actionable information from its results.
Similarly the FDC finds that the organisation's strategic plan is not as detailed compared to previous years. Had it not been for WMSE's history of achieving objectively good results, this, plus the aforementioned concerns about metrics, would have resulted in a reduced allocation recommendation.
Amount requested: £310,000 (GBP) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: £297,500 (GBP)
The FDC recommends funding Wikimedia UK's proposal with an increased amount over that recommended last year, though not the full amount requested.
The FDC appreciates that WMUK has been working hard to continue improving the impact of the projects listed in its proposal. The FDC, as per previous recommendations about WMUK, continues to appreciate the strategic approach and the long term vision of each of the programs presented on the proposal. The FDC is pleased to note the successful transition after the selection of a permanent CEO and the reorganisation of staff, and the stability this has now brought to the organisation. This is also reflected in the efficient financial management that combines an improvement in program targets and grant spending.
The FDC is pleased to see WMUK designing and considering programs and activities such as the minority language program (Welsh and Gaelic languages), which has the potential to scale and expand to Scotland, and notes that WMUK is seeking to raise external funding to support these new initiatives. Projects such as the pilot with the Kurdish and Middle East Women Centres illustrate a commitment to improving diversity.
The FDC commends WMUK's decision to identify "volunteer hours" as one of the grantee-defined metrics. For the FDC this metric is particularly relevant, as it corresponds to the Chapter's effort to ensure volunteer-centric programs. However, the FDC is skeptical about the ability of WMUK to achieve the high targets mentioned on the proposal.
While in its last year's recommendation the FDC acknowledged the increased involvement of volunteers in WMUK programs, the FDC believes that WMUK is not yet effective enough in leveraging the potential and support of their active local communities and volunteers, who have the ability to do great work and support the chapter to grow and to achieve higher results. The FDC is unsure if the planned increase in staffing will correspond to a more-than-proportional increase in WMUK's impact.
WMUK has been showing exceptional work around GLAM and education and is encouraged to continue executing these successful programs. But with the resources (in budget and staff) they have, the FDC believes they can successfully expand the variety of programs and be more innovative with their programs.
The FDC is pleased to see WMUK improving around its programs and their impact, which had been a concern raised in last year's recommendation. We appreciate the increase of results and encouraging WMUK to continue on that successful path. At the same time, the FDC still believe that the amount requested by WMUK is too high at this stage and believe it will be better for the organisation to increase its staff and budget in a more modest, step-by-step approach.
Amount requested: $87,000 (USD) (proposal)
Recommended allocation: $87,000 (USD)
The FDC recommends approving Wikimedia Ukraine's funding request.
The FDC recognizes that Wikimedia Ukraine is a lean grassroots organisation, with strong ties to its local and regional community. The budget increase is well-justified with a reasonable increase in staffing in Lviv and Kiev, and a planned growth in scope of already existing programmatic lines, including partnerships and outreach.
The Committee notices the depth of detail of WMUA's budget, and the metrics tied to the programs and staff in a strong and relevant way. In particular, regional diversity used as a grantee-defined metric has been found to be contextually important.
The FDC notes the significant proportion of competitions-related expenses in WMUA's proposal. The quantitative success in Wiki Loves Monuments 2015 and an international adoption of Wiki Loves Earth gave the chapter momentum, resulting in running three photo competitions in parallel (WLM, WLE and Science Photo Competition) in 2016 and proposing their continuation in 2017. It is notable that a very high proportion of WMUA's budget is for programs. The FDC is aware of the difficulties in running many activities within a wide range of geographic area and is pleased with their success in addressing this challenge.
However, the FDC recognizes the long-term challenges Wikimedia Ukraine will face. This year WMUA plans to increase their budget by 16%. WMUA's budget is already highly focused on spreading resources among volunteers, including previously mentioned competitions, ceremonies and prizes. The FDC is concerned that WMUA plans to increase even more their investment on these activities. While being aware of contextual limitations of some programmes in Ukraine, the FDC encourages WMUA to improve the diversification of their activities and programs in order to include also non-competition activities and shift more resources (both staff and budget) into them.
The FDC has identified that the education and GLAM programs are effective, and it is worth considering the expansion of these programs. Moreover, efforts in increasing trust and awareness of free licences are ambitious but clever and worthy of investment. The Committee also notes WMUA's ability to both adapt programs from other areas of the movement and to provide its own valuable input to a successful regional platform (WMCEE).
The Committee also appreciates strong links of WMUA to the growing Ukrainian Wikimedia community and recognizes the efforts to keep costs low. Nonetheless, the FDC is concerned that WMUA is heavily reliant on its board for staff management. While this structure is very lean, with 74% of the budget dedicated to the unstaffed portion of programmatic activities, the FDC is concerned that it may be not sustainable in the long term, especially if WMUA wants to continue its growth.
WMUA does not have a strategic plan in place and is still conducting planning on an annual basis. A strategic plan is a necessary part of the FDC process: since WMUA indicate that they are going to work on developing one, the FDC is looking forward to see this in their next proposal.
The FDC encourages WMUA to consider the Simple APG process, as described in the overall comments. The Simple APG program includes various support to assist groups and organisations in developing organisational skills, including skills that are valuable in presenting grant applications that WMUA may value from them.
Amount requested: 265,000 € (EUR) per year for 2017 & 2018 (proposal)
Recommended allocation: total of 530,000 € (EUR) for 2017 & 2018
The FDC recommends approving Wikimedia Österreich's requested funding for both 2017 and 2018.
WMAT is a stable, trustworthy organisation that can be relied upon year on year to provide good results. The ability to deliver the proposed programs is demonstrated by its performance and achievements over recent years. WMAT has a compact, efficient and effective staff team, which they plan to keep stable over the next two years. Staffing costs are reasonable.
The FDC commends the targets that WMAT has set, notably the focus on attracting diverse audiences to the various programs. The clearly identified target audiences increase the likelihood of attaining a higher impact. The grantee-defined metrics are good, and relevant for the proposal. The targets set in this plan are innovative yet reasonable, and build on those of previous years. The approach with metrics to include clear 6-month milestones over the two years of the program is excellent. The inclusion of the "elephants" helped to clearly demonstrate WMAT's capacity for self-evaluation and risk assessment.
The FDC notes with some disappointment that WMAT's annual plan did not provide project explanations that would be sufficient to understand what actions the organisation would undertake in practice over the next two years, for example with the flagship wikiHeimat project. The high-level/strategic overview was found to be excellent and, for a multi-year plan, it is preferable to have concerns about programmatic details rather than strategic direction. However, both of these components are essential in a well-constructed annual/biennial plan.
Some of WMAT's activities are not as efficiently budgeted as could be hoped. In particular, as already noted last year, travel budgets seem to be overly large, and the photography equipment pool is expensive and is only relevant to a small set of users.
WMAT's planned work to foster its local tech community is good to see, however it will be important to build a comprehensive long-term approach in this area in order to make most efficient use of the outcomes of a hackathon in 2017 and the community of developers in the region that this event may establish. The FDC invites WMAT to take into consideration the experience of Wikimedia Israel with the 2016 hackathon.
Eleven proposals for this round were submitted on 1 October 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 organisation based on the 2014-15 impact reports as well as the data grantees shared through their progress reports in 2016. Before the face-to-face meeting, the FDC held a call on 29 October 2016 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. 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.
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 fifth iteration, the committee comprises nine volunteer members:
- Chair: Anne Clin (Risker)
- Vice Chair: Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
- Secretary: Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
- Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
- Garfield Byrd (Gtbiv) [was unable to participate in the in-person deliberations]
- Bishakha Datta (Bishdatta)
- Itzik Edri (Itzike) [recused from deliberations regarding Wikimedia Israel]
- Candelaria Laspeñas (Cande_laspe) [recused from deliberations regarding Wikimedia Argentina]
- Mike Peel
Two members of the FDC recused themselves from the discussion and decision-making related to one allocation due to a perceived or actual conflict of interest. These are listed above.
The FDC was supported by WMF staff throughout the deliberations. These staff included: Delphine Menard, Katy Love, Winifred Olliff, Sati Houston, Morgan Jue, 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.