Grants:PEG/2011 Review

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The Wikimedia Foundation is conducting a public review of its grantmaking practices and process in the past calendar year (2011). We'd like as much of this review as possible to take place here on Meta. Our grantmaking itself happens on Meta, including discussion about proposed grants, so past grant requests and their associated discussion pages are available and linkable from the Requests page.

Please help us by offering your insights, adding questions and comments to this page, and facilitating the conversations below. To the extent possible, please link your contributions to actual experiences with the grant program as we are seeking to learn from experiences to date and would like to have the conversation grounded. We welcome contributions from:

  • current and past grantees
  • applicants not funded
  • Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) members
  • WMF staff
  • Chapter members who are not current and past grantees
  • Other community members not affiliated with chapters

Please include your affiliation and signature with your contributions below.

Experience with the grantmaking process[edit]

Please share your experiences about the Wikimedia Grants process. For example, does the process make sense, is the process practical, and is the process easy or difficult for applicants and community members to understand and participate in?

Please consider the following questions:

How did you find out about the grants process?[edit]

Was it clear to you how the grants process worked when you embarked on the process?[edit]

Were you able to get assistance from WMF staff or community members during the process?[edit]

Were the questions asked of you reasonable questions that you felt able to respond to? Did the questions help improve the grant?[edit]

Do you feel that the GAC and WMF staff focused on the right issues when they reviewed your grant?[edit]

Do you feel that the GAC and WMF acted in a manner that focused on serving the Wikimedia mission and ensuring fiscal responsibility?[edit]

Did the grant process unfold in a reasonable amount of time?[edit]

What would you do to improve the process in the future?[edit]

Besides WMF staff, who should review grants?[edit]

For example the GAC, another group of volunteers, or the community at large

Do you feel that community review via the GAC is a valuable element in the process[edit]

How should grants be reviewed, and when should they be reviewed?[edit]

What should be required of applicants during the review process?[edit]

  • I would make more clear in description of GAC how does actually work (i.e. just writing personal opinions, no decission power, no common opinions) and also more clear who actually make the decission. I would also suggest to put to the accepted and non-accepted grant proposal a brief decission reasoning. Simpy somethink like "This proposal was accepted beacuse: ...." or "This proposal was rejected because:...". It could be simply done by Template:Grant request - with just one more field "reason=" Polimerek 12:15, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Impact of the work funded by the WMF grants program[edit]

  • In reviewing the grants that have been funded by WMF and the results, do you think that the work funded through grants achieved valuable impact? Consider both direct and indirect benefits, and evaluate past successes and mistakes.
  • What kind of grants do you see as most valuable for WMF to fund?
  • What kind of grants should we not fund?

Evaluation of prospective grantees[edit]

To date, WMF has generally taken an open door approach to welcoming grantees to apply for funds with limited prerequisites or review of prior work in the review process. Do you think that there should be more rigorous evaluation of grantee experience and readiness to manage programs and funds in the review process? What elements should we prioritize?

Grant Advisory Committee[edit]

Please share your thoughts and impressions about the Wikimedia Grant Advisory Committee. Comment generally, or respond specifically to the questions outlined below on GAC composition and review.

Composition of GAC / GAC membership[edit]

Consider the following questions when offering your thoughts on the composition of the GAC:

What do you think about its current makeup?[edit]

Consider how you would like the GAC to be composed, and how many members in should have.

How should we add or replace members?[edit]

For example, should we hold elections to choose between candidates and if so, where and how? Should there be requirements for membership?

Should there be a fixed term for members of the GAC?[edit]

Why or why not? How long? Consecutive terms?

Quality of GAC review process[edit]

Consider the feedback provided by the GAC and the discussions on past grant requests' discussion pages, and comment generally or evaluate the following aspects of GAC communication:

Substance of GAC comments[edit]

Style and tone of GAC comments[edit]

Advice and support provided to applicants by the GAC[edit]

Reporting by grantees[edit]

All grantees are required to report on their grants as a condition of the grant. Consider the Grant reports submitted for 2011 so far and guidelines for reporting, and respond to any of the following questions:

Do the reports contain valuable information?[edit]

Are they missing any essential or useful information? Are there additional questions that should be asked during the reporting process?

What should be required of grantees during the reporting process?[edit]

How engaged and responsive should we expect grantees to be during grant reporting?

Can the reporting process be improved in any way?[edit]

How should we as a community make use of the grant reports to improve our work over time?[edit]

Recommendations to improve the grants process[edit]

  • 1) Ideally, there should be another staff person, someone with a gentler touch, to help the a grantee's rough idea make its way to a proposal. Currently, grant-recipients work on their own and figure out the process. then Asaf and GAC review the grant, asking questions and requesting clarification, there is no one to help the person requesting the grant. This problem compounds itself, if the person requesting the grant is not a native English speaker, and has trouble articulating his position. Another staff member supporting Asaf, might fill in the role of a middle-man. I've heard good things about Winifred, someone like her or Bry can be considered for a supporting role to Asaf's position. Their role can be expanded to cover the process after submission, if Asaf and GAC raise any issue or find anything missing in the grant, they can contact the grantee and help them through it with a gentler, lighter approach then the single point interaction system it is now.
  • 2) GAC's role needs to be fleshed out more, they are only going to be undermined more and more, if they are not given a voice to oppose or disagree with the staff person in charge. A system where the staff member votes on a private list together with the committee but still holds Veto powers or more votes than individuals could be considered. There should be a safeguard in cases when there is widespread or unanimous agreement between the committee, that has to make the staff person re-think or re-evaluate their position.
  • 3) GAC and the staff person, can leave an actual template-filled review in the end based on their opinion. People reviewing for GAC can use a template based on who votes, which marks a grant as "GAC approved" or "GAC unapproved" after 7-14 days of the grant submission. The staff person can then hold the final decision, to fund it regardless of the approval or not. The end decision, as expected, can lie with the staff person.
  • 4) Micro-grant system- The grant system should be split up based on the amount requested. Requests less than $2000 USD should not require a review or a formal approval process by GAC. They should require lesser scrutiny and be generally addressed before the larger grant. This doesn't mean that they should be approved without consideration, only that the attention devoted, should be proportionate to the amount requested.
  • 5) Also worth considering, Chapter related grants and individual grants should be separated completely. This might be something to consider later on, but it will help demarcate the process.
  • 6) Metrics should be set up to consider activity and standing within the community besides the impact of the project itself.
  • 7) Community endorsements should matter, they should matter more than they do now. They are barely considered or measured when it comes to approving grants.
  • 8) There is no assessment process after the grant has run its course, for what impact the project had. There is a formal report on some grants, but pictures and a less-informal, but a more comprehensive follow-up process within the staff can help focus on certain areas.
  • 9) Promotion- The grants aren't well mentioned or advertised within Wikipedia. There should be more mentions of them at WIkiprojects, and VP. The really active core-community still hasn't taken a liking to the process. This should be addressed.

Regards. Theo10011 22:16, 23 December 2011 (UTC)