Grants:Strategy/Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking review/Goals & Audiences

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10 years of Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking


Whom do we serve?[edit]

The Community Resource (CR) team aims to empower individuals, groups, and organizations (except for-profit organizations) interested in promoting the Wikimedia vision. Our primary resource is grant funds which we disburse through six grant programs, but we are also a source of advice and mentorship for Wikimedia activists, program coordinators, and leaders. We take a long-term view to cultivating movement leadership through patient and customized support for volunteers and movement partners in their different contexts.

Concretely, CR funds individual volunteers, volunteers organized into informal user groups, all-volunteer Wikimedia chapters, Wikimedia chapters and thematic organizations with paid staff, and, less frequently, non-Wikimedia organizations with Wikimedia-relevant projects.

The CR team does not directly support all contributors to the Wikimedia projects. We do not pay anyone to edit a wiki (write articles, upload photos, proofread texts, etc.), and, outside of the hardware donation program we do not provide hardware or Internet access to volunteers, outside the context of specific grant-funded projects.

What goals have we been working toward?[edit]

The CR team's main resource -- grants -- has been to date an indirect way to pursue a wide variety of goals. Our current grantmaking model has largely been reactive, meaning that we fund from the pool of applications that come to us; the only exception has been our Inspire Campaigns which were proactive campaigns focused on specific topics (e.g. gender or anti-harassment). The goals of our applicants vary tremendously, and our grant portfolio has made progress across a spectrum of goals, rather than one or two strategic priorities. You can find more about these outcomes in the later section on Impact.

In addition to simply making funds available to support mission-aligned community initiatives, the CR team has also actively pursued some team goals through its grantmaking activities:

Diversity[edit]

  • Diversity in leadership -- we seek to widen the circle of movement program leaders, encouraging people with ideas to seek funding and execute their ideas. We empower historically marginalized volunteers, like women volunteers, and newer volunteers (not from the "old guard").
  • Diversity in participation -- we encourage projects that seek to diversify the participation in Wikimedia projects, e.g. more women editors, more indigenous peoples' participation, more participation by people of African descent. We do this through grant funding and proactive Inspire campaigns.
  • Diversity in content -- we encourage projects that seek to diversify the content on Wikimedia projects through grant funding, e.g. the various Wiki Loves X campaigns, Central & Eastern Europe Spring, Wikipedia Asian Month, Art+Feminism.

Conduct & Safety[edit]

  • Civility in online conduct -- the CR team has determined and enforces a civility standard in the Grants namespace on Meta wiki, the platform for inter-project collaboration. Meta wiki, as a whole, does *not* have or enforce a civility policy. We set this standard in an effort to make the already stressful act of seeking funding and receiving public scrutiny as comfortable and supportive as possible. Although this Friendly Space Expectations initially met with some resistance, it has successfully set guidelines for civility, and has set the tone for the expected engagement in online spaces dedicated to this sort of work. The CR team hopes, but we cannot prove, that this has had a carry-on effect on adjacent spaces.
  • Friendly spaces at face-to-face events -- Over the past several years, the CR team has introduced the concept of a Friendly Space Policy (FSP)at face-to-face events. Beginning from merely suggesting and encouraging the implementation of an FSP at events, the CR team has made it mandatory for larger events to include an FSP and an on-site response team, thus achieving a cultural shift across the wider Wikimedia movement in how to handle attendee safety at events. CR collaborated with the Trust and Safety team on supporting materials for educating volunteers about safety needs and protocols.

Increased effectiveness[edit]

  • Discipline in event programming -- as the primary funder of national, regional, and international gatherings of Wikimedia volunteers, the CR team has gradually increased the level of discipline and care in creating meaningful, productive programs at events. Strong, relevant event programming leads to high quality, impactful events. The CR team introduced needs-assessments as a standard step in event planning, encouraged diverse and (where appropriate) international program committees, and cultivated practices of post-event assessment via surveys, blogging, and learning patterns. Thanks to CR's encouragement, many regional and international events became significant sources of peer learning, capacity building, and experience sharing, over and beyond natural socializing. Thanks to requirements put in place around good practices in program planning, we see grantee-partners planning programs more effectively at every level (from rapid grants to annual plans), including setting goals and creating quality evaluation plans.
  • Encouraging good practices in finance and governance for affiliate organizations: This has been done by requiring these practices to be part of grantee work (e.g. requiring auditing practices and compliance with board recommendations in the area of governance), evaluating grantees in these areas as part of our grant eligibility criteria, conducting regular onsite financial interviews with organizations receiving large grants, sharing best practices, and offering support and counsel to organizations that require or request it.