Grants:Simple/Guidelines for restricted annual grants
This page is meant to guide grantees receiving restricted annual plan grants through the Simple Annual Plan Grants program. These guidelines do not apply to organizations receiving Annual Plan Grants through the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) process, because this process only awards annual or multiyear general support funding. All grantees should consult the requirements included in their grant agreement and ask their program officer for advice about how to interpret these.
Why this is important
Notifying WMF or requesting approval for changes is your responsibility as a grantee. Not understanding or not meeting these requirements could put you or others in legal danger, or lead to difficult situations that may damage your reputation and ability to accomplish your mission. Not meeting these requirements, may also result in you losing your grant or not being able to apply for future grants from WMF. At the least, it is likely to result in increased monitoring and requirements for notification and approval and will damage your relationship with your program officer.
If you do not understand these requirements, contact your program officer immediately to set up a call.
The following circumstances require you to promptly notify WMF:
- Changes to key personnel, including board members (for example, a new board is elected).
- Legal or regulatory actions by your organization or directed at your organization (for example, your organization is being sued).
- Any incidents related to fraud or financial malfeasance (for example, your treasurer has run away with your money).
- Anything that affects your organization's governance or financial health (for example, a conflict of interest on the board is identified, you lose a major source of funding).
All of these examples in parentheses are real things that happen to Wikimedia affiliates. If something like this happens to you, please notify your program officer promptly. In some cases we may be able to provide you with advice or significant support to help you manage the change. At the very least, make sure you are notifying WMF as required. You may also let us know if other important changes are taking place with your organization, whether or not they are related to your use of grant funds. If anything is happening that may affect your ability to do your grant as planned, then we need to know about it.
Changes that require advance approval
The following circumstances require approval in advance from WMF. Approval in advance means that you need to make your request with adequate time for WMF to respond, prior to spending any funding or making any commitments related to the change that you are making. For example, you should not promise to hire somebody for a position that relies on grant funds (even verbally) until you have approval to do so from your program officer. You should not make contracts (even verbal ones) with vendors until you know you have the funds to cover your expenses.
(1) Where your budget or staff are funded by the grant:
- Changes to your budget, including moving funds from one item in your budget to another, adding items, or removing items, where changes amount to +/1 10% of any item being changed, or where they otherwise have a significant impact on your budget or plan.
- Changes to your staffing plan, including time worked, job responsibilities, titles, change in pay, adding or removing positions.
- Personnel changes, including when staff leave and when you plan to hire new staff to replace them.
- Any use of contingency funds.
- Any changes to the dates of your grant term, including shortening or extending the term of your grant.
- Any changes to the due dates or specific requirements of your reports.
(3) Changes to your grant amount:
- For annual plan grants, changes to the grant amount are generally not permitted.
- You may seek to use funds in your contingency by following the process for requesting budget changes outlined here.
How to notify WMF or request approval from WMF
How to notify the WMF:
- Email your program officer promptly, and be available for further discussion as needed.
- Include details about the change that has taken place, and let your program officer know how you think this could affect your grant.
- Let your program officer know if you need any support related to this change.
When and how to make your request for a change:
- Make your request by Emailing your program officer as soon as you are aware that you may need a change. You may also choose to post a public request on Meta (this is optional).
- Simple requests may receive a reply within days, while more complicated changes will take longer to approve, and may require consultation with the committee that approved your grant. If you provide complete information from the start, you can avoid the extended period of back and forth across timezones.
- If your request is complicated on controversial (such as a major staffing change), take the initiative of requesting a meeting with your program officer when you make your request.
What to include in your request for a change
- A detailed description of the change you are proposing. For budget changes, include an update budget. For staffing changes, include an updated job description or hiring plan. For programmatic changes, include updated goals or an updated evaluation plan.
- A brief explanation about why you are requesting the change.
- A brief explanation about how this change will impact your programs or your organization overall.
- Any requirements related to the timing of this request, such as a date by when you need the change approved. We will do our best to respect this, if we can.
Remember that all the same restrictions around activities included in your grant agreement apply to any changes you would like to make. For example, the restrictions around not using grant funds for lobbying or not using staff positions to replace work normally done by volunteers.
Managing unspent funding at the end of your grant period
- Your grant period may not be extended if that extension overlaps with another Annual Plan Grant funding period. (You can only be running one active APG at one time.)
- Monitor your spending against your budget regularly, to make intelligent adjustments throughout the grant (see policy above).
- If you are approaching the end of a grant cycle and know you will have significant funding left over, you can request a reallocation before your grant ends (see policy above).
- Grant funds must be spent on expenses incurred during the grant period. You can continue to pay expenses incurred during the grant period up until the time you make your final report.
- Grant funds may not be applied to expenses incurred outside the grant period. If you don't use the funds for expenses incurred during the grant period, you will need to return the funds to WMF. Expenses incurred outside of your grant period must be paid from the grant corresponding to that grant period. There is one exception to this (see point below).
- Your program officer may engage you in a discussion about operating reserves, and support you in establishing an operating reserves policy during the year. If your organization meets the requirements, remaining funding may be allocated to operating reserves in some cases. Note that this is not to support expenses that you expect to incur in the coming year, but rather is a long term investment in your organization's stability. This is generally limited to organizations with fulltime staff that lack operating reserves or an ability to build them through other means.
Question & Answers
I am not sure I fully understand the requirements included around notifications and changes in the grant agreement. What should I do?
- Contact your program officer.
I'm not sure if a change requires notification or approval. What should I do?
- Contact your program officer.
I messed up and didn't notify WMF of a notification or change in a timely way. What should I do?
- Contact your program officer.
Well... you get the idea ;)