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Grants:PEG/WM US-DC/Bootstrapping grant/Report

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Report accepted
This report for a Project and Event grant approved in FY 2011-12 has been reviewed and accepted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?



As a startup grant, the main objective of this grant was to carry out the administrative tasks necessary to form a new chapter organization. This included filing papers with the DC government for incorporation and other matters as detailed in our financial disclosure. We were able to carry out most of these tasks, and we are pleased with the ongoing positive response to our Wikimedia chapter and its outreach efforts in the form of editing and content creation events, both in our geographic jurisdiction, and in other locations by our members and supporters. The 2011 bootstrapping grant was the key factor in our organization's ability to mobilize the local volunteers and connections needed to launch the Wikimania 2012 conference.

This grant was necessary for Wikimedia DC to establish itself as a legally compliant not-for-profit corporation in D.C. and as an online organization. Our web presence allows us to announce events and solicit contributions, while our legal filings are the first steps in establishing Wikimedia DC as a local educational organization to spread the Wikimedia movement in the Washington, D.C. area.

Additionally, we received funds to carry out events in conjunction with the National Archives and Records Administration. We held two events: a scanathon at Archives II in College Park, Maryland, featuring a presentation by the Archivist of the United States and tours of the facility, as well as a meetup at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. See w:Wikipedia:Meetup/NARA 2 and w:Wikipedia:Meetup/NARA 3 for more information on both. Both events occurred thanks to the efforts of NARA and their Wikipedian-in-Residence, who reached out to us to administer the funding for his events.

While most of the objectives of our grant were achieved, we were unfortunately unable to secure recognition as a tax-exempt organization by the IRS due to issues with our application that could not be resolved in a timely manner. We are continuing to pursue tax-exempt status, and are looking forward to filing a new application this month. In the meantime, we are also deferring our application for a charitable solicitation license and for liability insurance. We have determined that the benefit would not justify the expense, and we are interested in using Foundation funds that will provide a more direct benefit to our organization and the Wikimedia movement. As such, we are requesting the balance of the grant to be used toward a projects and events-oriented grant.

Project goal and measures of success[edit]

Project goal[edit]

The goal is to complete all necessary paperwork in order to exist as a 501(c)(3) educational charity in the District of Columbia. This includes paying for filing forms and for services not yet rendered and to reimburse people who paid on behalf of the chapter.

  • To obtain recognition from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. Not done
  • To be granted a charitable solicitation license from the District of Columbia. Not done
  • To have a P.O. Box operating through June 2013. Done
  • To have an assured registered agent. Done
  • To have an operational website for the chapter's purposes, including receiving Wikimania registrations. Done
  • To have D&O insurance. Not done
  • All persons who have advanced money to the corporation will have been reimbursed in full. Done

The goal with the NARA grant, merged into this one, was to hold four of "backstage pass" events at the Archives. Two were carried out, but the second was more expensive due to the use of a required caterer. The goal of the October 8 event was to scan photographs for Wikimedia Commons; however, technical issues prevented the event from being more productive.

Measures of success[edit]

Our measure for success is the carrying out of the administrative tasks as set out in the proposal with the intent of establishing a compliant and operational Wikimedia chapter in the DC area. We have failed at obtaining the tax exemption status and we have deferred the insurance and charitable solicitation license; however, we have learned plenty in the process and they are only temporary setbacks. As a whole, Wikimedia DC is a functioning organization and this grant made that possible.

Lessons learned[edit]

What lessons were learned that may help others succeed in similar projects?

The biggest lesson to learn is applicable to all U.S.-based chapters, present and future: forming a chapter should involve experts in non-profit governance from the start to handle the incorporation and tax-exemption recognition processes. While between the several Wikimedia DC founders we had some knowledge, enough minor details were overlooked to cause considerable delay to the process. We hope to overcome the insufficiencies of our original application by basing our new one on Wikimedia NYC's successful application, which was crafted with the help of outside experts. It would be helpful to partner with an organization or expert which has already successfully received legal recognition within your legal jurisdiction, and which is willing to help walk you through the process.
An unexpected lesson is the importance of securing a "bricks and mortar" physical business location for purposes of doing business as a non-profit, as opposed to operating as a community organization which is run out of someone's home. In addition to satisfying particular legal requirements for charitable solicitation, a regular meeting space setup is essential for high-quality audio for remote participation. The option of remote participation by phone or teleconference turns out to be especially critical for holding regular monthly meetings requiring attendance by a quorum of participants spread out through the Washington, DC area. Do-it-yourself audio teleconferencing in the Washington, DC area does not produce consistent results; the WiFi in public libraries and cafes is often too slow for using Skype. Using independently raised funds, we have secured shared office space at low cost.

What impact did the project have on WMF mission goals of Increased Reach, Increased Quality, Increased Credibility, Increased and Diversified Participation?

Forming an organization allowed us to create a central entity to organize Wikimedia enthusiasts. To that end, we had over 60 members in our first year. We now have an organizational structure that has allowed us to hold ongoing outreach events, including the successful Wikimania 2012 conference, and will allow us to carry out more activities that further the goals of Wikimedia. Additionally, our funding for NARA events allowed us to hold a local event attended by over 30 people, and it allowed us to build our ties with an important free-knowledge organization in the region.

Reporting and documentation of expenditures[edit]

The funds remaining from this grant in the amount of US$2,628.38 were deducted from another grant payment for Grants:PEG/WM US-DC/Projects 2014.

Did you send WMF documentation of all expenses paid for with grant funds?

An archive of receipts will be sent. Yes

Details of expenditures:

Description Amount allocated Amount spent Difference Explanation
To reimburse the person who used his own money to open the corporate checking account. $100.00 $100.00 $0.00
To file for incorporation in the District of Columbia. $77.00 $78.58 +$1.58 Photocopying costs
To file a trade name with the D.C. government, "Wikimedia District of Columbia," upon approval from the Wikimedia Foundation to use that name. This registration will last two years. $55.00 $55.00 $0.00
To file IRS Form 1023 (to receive a non-profit determination from the IRS). $750.00 $850.00 +$100.00 Increase in user fee.
To file for a D.C. Charitable Solicitation license. $330.00 $0.00 -$330.00 We have decided to defer applying for a license. We will do so in the future with independently raised funds.
To pay for two years of operating a P.O. Box. ($102 first year, $96 second year.) Two years for the P.O. Box so that it may be renewed through Wikimania. $198.00 $222.00 +$24.00 Price increase.
To pay for a registered agent service in the District of Columbia for one year. $90.00 $165.00 +$75.00 Price increase; additional filing fees not originally accounted for.
To pay for a Linode 1024 web hosting plan for 12 months $431.86 $405.17 -$26.69 Use of lower-cost hosting plan for the first few months.
To pay for a two-year SSL certificate. $149.98 $219.97 +69.99 Purchase of an additional year of SSL certificate.
Renewing wikidc.org, wikimediadc.org/.com, wikimania2012.org/.com through the end of 2012 $113.29 $72.27 -$41.02 Registration discount; use of different registrar; donation of wikimediadc.com name.
To pay for two years of a $2 million D&O insurance plan from Sacker Insurance. $2,000.00 $0.00 -$2,000.00 We have decided to defer purchasing an insurance plan. We will do so in the future with independently raised funds.
Grants:GLAM NARA/Events fund $400.00 $398.76 -$1.24

Total spent: $2,566.75

Amount underspent in US Dollars: $2,628.38

Will you be requesting re-allocation of remaining grant funding?

We are requesting the leftover grant funding to be rolled over to Grants:PEG/WM US-DC/Projects 2014.

Will you be returning unused funds to the Wikimedia Foundation?

Any leftover funds in the successor grant proposal will be rolled over to a new proposal or be returned to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Additional requests and related proposals[edit]

Will you be requesting an extension or were you granted an extension?

We were granted an extension to September 30, 2013. We are requesting no further extensions.

Please link to related grant proposals here:

Grants:PEG/WM US-DC/Projects 2014