Grants:Strategy/Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking review/Values & Culture

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10 years of Wikimedia Foundation grantmaking


We recognize that knowledge is differently understood, constructed, used and expanded in different contexts, and we value these differences.[edit]

Our lens of diversity - particularly of geography, language and gender - implies that the motivations, means and methods of expanding knowledge on our projects are different for different communities. Communities that have traditionally been marginalized from mainstream knowledge production - for instance, Global South or women - are motivated and challenged by the power differentials in current global knowledge production and dissemination. Our team’s work at times challenges the very core of the encyclopedic work of Wikipedia: questioning what ‘notability’, ‘reliability’ and ‘citation’ means in order to progress towards the ‘sum of all human knowledge’, whether oral or written, offline or online, by multiple voices or just a few.

We share power through a participatory approach to funding. Community members are invited to participate in decision making in a structured way through their involvement with grants committees.[edit]

The first grant advisory committee was set up in 2011. These volunteers are our partners and our colleagues, and we devote significant time and effort to ensuring they remain involved in decisions about funding that affect the communities they work with, and feel a part of the decisions that are made. Thanks to these efforts, WMF is a pioneer in the field of participatory grantmaking.

We value an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere in our grants spaces, both online and offline.[edit]

This involves working with a broad range of grantees committee members to enable them to feel welcome. To this end, we have designed friendly space expectations to guide interactions in the grants namespace, and have worked over time to eliminate barriers to entry to all of our grants programs. We strive to take cultural contexts into account when understanding people and issues. Rather than encouraging surface-level civility, we try to dig deeper where we know issues are occurring and help all parties feel heard. We strive to move beyond standards of minimally acceptable behavior, and model and encourage constructive behavior.

Within our team we maintain an atmosphere of constructive criticism and reflection.[edit]

Rather than patting ourselves on the back once we have achieved something, we enjoy analyzing what happened and how things could be better. To this end, we share information freely within the team and work in a collaborative spirit. We are constantly challenging one another to improve our ideas and broaden our points of view. We put the accomplishments of communities front and center rather than claiming credit for our achievements.