Grants:Strategy/Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking review/Impact

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10 years of Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking


The Wikimedia Foundation has been asking the question "What is the impact of grants?" for a long time. There have been a number of efforts to answer this question, focused primarily on short-term outputs (number of pages edited/created and number of participants recruited/involved). In the first quarter of FY 18-19 alone, grantees reported almost 1 million Wikimedia content pages created or improved, 33,616 new participants, and 78,168 total participants in WMF grant-funded projects. We conducted a number of impact evaluations in the past that try to encompass the breadth of grantee work. You can read more about these evaluations here.

However, the impact of grants goes far beyond what we can count in the short-term. It goes beyond common metrics such as edits, page views, articles or editors. And it goes far beyond what we can even capture on-wiki or online in general. It spans the online to offline, the tangible to intangible, the transactional to transformational. Community Resources aims to articulate some of these longer-term outcomes, in order to inform future funding decisions, expand the conversation around impact, and illuminate offline activities and programs as key components in achieving our vision. In our ongoing 2018 project to understand the more transformational aspects of impact, we identified four major areas of impact:

  1. Enabling cultural heritage: Enabling humanity to partake in our collective cultural heritage.
  2. Building community: Deepening the trust, connection, collaboration, belonging, and identity of communities around the world.
  3. Improving diversity & inclusion: Bringing in those who were previously left out, creating a more diverse and globally representative movement.
  4. Expanding the free knowledge ecosystem: Convincing knowledge stewards (galleries, libraries, archives, museums, etc.) to open their doors, thereby expanding the ecosystem that is working toward free and open knowledge.

In each of these four main areas you can read about projects we’ve support through grants to lead toward transformational community change. We believe they best exemplify the type of impact our team hopes to support through grants, mentorship, and capacity building. Note: some of these case studies are still being written.

Increasing diversity[edit]

As written in the goals section, Community Resources has made diversity -- in leadership, participation, and content -- a core goal of our work. We have made significant strides in supporting new and emerging communities and increased gender diversity through our projects and grants. Examples of this can be seen in the Community Capacity Development work, the 2018 impact case studies, organizational and programmatic diversification in affiliates, as well as projects driven specifically by CR.

By the numbers, we have succeeded in funding a more diverse set of countries and languages, increased funding to emerging communities (272 grants in 2017/2018 vs. 115 grants in 2013/2014), as well as for projects focused specifically on gender diversity (50 grants in 2017/2018 vs. 6 grants in 2013/2014).[1]

With limited staff capacity for gender diversity, we have lead two projects over the last several years to support more projects related to gender as well as to understand the current landscape of gender diversity leaders and projects in the movement. The Inspire Campaign for Gender Diversity aimed to (1) experiment with proactive grantmaking and test whether we could leverage resources to make progress on gender diversity; (2) improve and expand understanding of the gender gap; and (3) proactively source and support new projects aimed at increasing gender diversity on Wikimedia projects. Through the campaign, we funded 12 projects, increased support for women leaders, and signaled to the broader community that the Community Resources team is a strong supporter of increasing gender diversity in the Wikimedia movement. This lead to our team’s increased involvement in local, regional, and movement-wide initiatives to support gender diversity as well as a more nuanced understanding of the issues. In 2017/2018, our team partnered with Rosiestep to interview 65 gender diversity leaders across the movement. The interviews shed light on the best practices and challenges facing leaders both online and offline. Please see Advancing Gender Equity: Conversations with Movement Leaders for the full report.

We have been limited in our ability to make significant and strategic progress in the area of gender diversity due to lack of staff capacity and organizational support. A new resourcing strategy will be needed if we are to continue progress in this area.

Fiscal Year 2013-2014

Community Noun project 2280.svg Globe icon (the Noun Project 30701).svg Noun project 6396.svg Diversity (40786) - The Noun Project.svg Double-barred dollar sign.svg
Grants awarded
Countries represented
Emerging community projects
Gender diversity projects
Dollars funded

Fiscal Year 2017-2018

Community Noun project 2280.svg Globe icon (the Noun Project 30701).svg Noun project 6396.svg Diversity (40786) - The Noun Project.svg Double-barred dollar sign.svg
Grants awarded
Countries represented
Emerging community projects
Gender diversity projects
Dollars funded