Grants:APG/Funds Dissemination Committee/Additional Information and Analysis/Interviews/Ting Chen

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Interview date: 4/27/12 Note: These notes were captured from an email from Ting instead of through a phone interview

What do you believe is the most effective model for the FDC? What types/sizes of funding should go through FDC (vs. other channels?) Personally I think the FDC should do high-level distributions. It should not make distributions that go into details of individual projects or even every small grants to every individuals. It should make a high-level distribution for a whole chapter, or for the Foundation as total. So say it should evaluate if the program WMDE set up is reasonable, how did their past year looked like and how would their prognosis for the coming year look like. As far as WMDE is doing their job according to the standards, it is not necessary for the FDC to determine how WMDE should distribute its own community funds and what project would be financed.

What scope of authority should the FDC have? Relationship with Board? The decision of the FDC should be very high. Only the board could overrule its decision.

What role should the FDC in promoting/driving “standards of excellence” in process and strategy alignment? I am not quite sure about the answer of this question. There are two possibilities. The one is that the FDC is actively setting up standards and also controlling it. The other possibility is that the Chapters Association should do this. In the second case FDC can from time to time review these standards and from time to time check if the chapters are working according to the standards. My concern for the first possibility is that the Chapters Association had already stated in their statute that one of its duty is to set up standards. If we have two authorities who set up standards this can be confusing. The other concern is I am not very sure if the FDC with its volunteers are able to bring up enough time to set up and control the standards.

What membership? Types of representatives? Selection process? This is another question that I am not sure how the answer should look like. Let me start with the risks.

Out of my experience in the Wikimedia movement there are two sorts of risks here:

  • People who are only interested to push their own agenda and ideology and don't care about other people's opinion / people who are so convinced by their agenda and ideology that they cannot accept that other opinions are also valid.
  • People who are only interested in get into a certain position and win a certain status. As soon as they reached this status they lost interest in doing the hard work and practically drop out.

After all these years I still didn't find a way to prevent these problems. You can observe someone for a long time and think the person is really promising. But you still can totally surprised and disappointed as soon as you charge them with the responsibility. For such an important committee like the FDC I think this would be really catastrophic.

Personally I believe that we don't need the people to have high financial skills. Because as I said I expect them not doing the fine and detailed works, but the high level works. But we need people to be highly honest, highly morally integral, we need them to have very good communication skills because I believe they will have to be able to make very difficult communications, and they need to be dedicated, not afraid for the work load.

What should be the role of the Advisory Group? I believe the advisory group is only at the first years to be a help to set up the committee before it is full functional. So here we need people who are experienced in the movement, in financial skills, in HR etc.

How would you envision the FDC evolving over time? The best case is it can really evolve into an authority of its own. It will always be a difficult committee with a lot of conflicts, but the best case is its decisions and members are nevertheless respected and followed.

What do you anticipate being the most contentious issues in this process? There are too many. The power of distributing resources is the highest power that there is in the politics. Because of this, there will always be conflicts arround the FDC. And all the known problems and risks from the economy or from the politics where people have the power to distribute resources. I hope we can mitigate these risks and problems as much as possible from the start of it.

What communities across the movement should we include in this process? How? In my personal opinion, for the FDC it is chapters / Thematic Organizations and Foundation. For associations, projects and individuals they should get funds either from the community funds of their chapters, thematic organizations or if there is no chapters or organizations at their geographic area or thematic topic, from the Foundation.