Grants talk:APG/Proposals/2012-2013 round1/Wikimedia Australia/Staff proposal assessment
Resources, skills, and capacity
I am a bit miffed at the assessment of criterion 'D'.
As WMAU knows it has limited capacity due to no internal staff, we have worked very closely with partners who have provided their human resources in-kind to the project. The SLQ project was project managed by SLQ with SQL and WMAU managing their own funding. The APC project was project managed by APC and funding administrated by UQ. This strategy has worked well. In both projects WMAU has provided training to members of these organisations and their volunteers, and has successfully converted at least two people (per project) brought in by our partner into competent Wikipedians who have written DYKs, GAs, Wikinews stories, run training workshops themselves, etc.
In the 2013 Annual Plan we have intentionally continued to ensure that the majority of budget, and all large projects, has a partner with a vested interest and human resources capable to ensure the project is successful. Our membership is heavily engaged in Sports, GLAM and Academia, meaning these types of projects are attractive to them.
The Research projects (30%) are administrated & project managed by a university, and as they are federally funded competitive grant programs, the application must document objectives and deliverables and success measures, and the administrating partner must provide milestone reports. With the Research project that is part of our disability sports initiative, it is building on a mature partnership where the necessary human resources have been provided in-kind to the project, and where the partner is providing other resources and skills to the project as needed.
GLAM projects (30%) will be selected based on the ability of the partner GLAM institution to provide the HR resources needed to manage their project, and their ability to engage volunteers in their community and our community to achieve the projects objectives. The SLQ-WMAU outreach project was part of the SLQ annual plan; they were very committed to its success. We recognise that we need that level of commitment, and we have in the past communicated this to a number of GLAMs that have approached us without a clear intent to be a net-positive on the organisational capacity front.
The next largest component of the budget is for obtaining our first staff.
I would especially like to object to the comment that "WMAU has faced challenges with [the plan to hire staff] in previous years". Our previous plans to hire staff were built around the expectation (and jointly signed agreement) that WMAU would participate in the fundraiser. Had that happened, we would have been able to hire consultants to advise us and assist us in the hiring of our first staff, and the funds to pay our first staff. Our plans were thrown into disarray by the WMF's decision to change course, firstly to the "Annual Grants" program, and then to the FDC that we know and love now. John Vandenberg (talk) 02:39, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
- This is a quote from WMAU's proposal to the FDC:
- Wikimedia Australia had several plans on the 2011-12 budget that were not realised. The most significant failed strategic item was the employment of our first staff member. Despite good intentions, the organisation has not been able to establish the policies and process needed for this.
- It seems the context provided in the comment above related to reasons for not hiring staff may be different from that presented in the proposal.
- From reading the proposal, the staff resources WMAU is expecting from partnerships are not clear, but the FDC may find this context offered here helpful.
- Thank you for your engagement. Regards, Wolliff (talk) 20:31, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
- How this relates to "resources, skills, and capacity" is beyond me.
- Our previous challenges in hiring staff should be something the WMF accepts a lot of responsibility for. As a result I am stunned that the WMF staff are using it to justify giving us a low score, under criterion 'D' of all places. Yes, WMAU has failed to have traction on one of the WMAU Strategic Plan's core priorities: staff. The Strategic Plan was written when WMAU had the funding security of being responsible for receiving donations and giving unneeded revenue to the WMF. The Strategic Plan was written before WMF decided to disregard contracts and pushed WMAU out of the 2011 fundraising agreement. We rolled over, and waited for the FDC.
- Now that the FDC is looking like it will become a stable and reliable funding system, WMAU is requesting funding from the FDC in order to overcome the challenges we've faced in previous years on the staffing front.
- The passage you quote explains that we have tried to do the preparatory work involved using volunteer labour because we believe it is inappropriate to spend tens of thousands of dollars engaging consultants when we do not have stable revenue to employ anyone; the money is better kept in reserve for volunteer and partnership projects. We had hoped that volunteers, including our board, would be able to find the time to learn all the laws and do all the paperwork. The volunteer board hasn't had time, and the rest of the volunteers don't see this as an important use of their time given that WMAU doesn't have funding to fill a permanent position. Therefore we are requesting funding to ensure traction on this in the coming year.
- The resource we need to employ staff is .. funding! But the WMF staff assessment is using their prior lack of funding to WMAU as a justification for .. not funding WMAU's plan to a) hire staff. ;-), and b) run projects which draw heavily on staff from partners.
- Regarding the WMF staff not being sure of the resources WMAU is expecting from partnerships, it is a shame that the WMF staff have not asked any questions about this. Our Annual Plan clearly says that the two research projects are for funding by Australia's peak funding body (the ARC, which is public funding) and will be run by our peak universities (UQ and USyd). Perhaps the WMF staff are not familiar with the term 'administrated by' in our Annual Plan, or the university/research grants world in general.
- The Australian nationally competitive research grant systems, like those of most first world countries and the EU, require that one institution (typically a university) is the 'administrating institution', which means that institution is held responsible for the administration of the project. I assumed this is true in the USA, but maybe you have different terminology over there.(Unfortunately Wikipedia doesn't have much in the way of good content about w:research administration) The administrating institution must submit a research proposal to the funding body with a budget, and take full responsibility for its success. The research proposal lists all of the academic staff resources which will be publicly taking responsibility for the project. These academics may be staff of a different institution, either in the form of collaborating partners (e.g. other academic institutions) or industry partners (i.e. non academic institutions), and draw on expertise and resources from partners in the grant as required. However it is the good name of the administrating institution that is on the line if a project starts and fails. The institution and academics are all publicly accountable here in Australia for any approved ARC grant, as these grants are funded from the public purse. As a result, the university has administrative staff involved in the pre-application phase (its there job to ensure the institution has lots of good quality applications submitted) and the university administration becomes more heavily involved if funding is approved, as the administrating institution must (legally) ensure their academics are tracking well against the project goals, or the project is shut down before too much public funding is misused. John Vandenberg (talk) 22:54, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
I also object to the comment -- WMAU has faced challenges with [the plan to hire staff] in previous years. I was part of the committee that was put together to develop Wikimedia Australia's strategic plan over the course of that time we explored the issue an came to the conclusion that under the then joint fundraising arrangements it was necessary for WMAU to hire a staff member to assist the committee both with the necessary documentation of the fundraising and with other functions of the association. It was also decide that WMAU would discuss taking on the funding of a Foundation employee as means of addressing concerns over the cost of transfering funds from Australia to the US arising from the fundraising. The strategic plan was put forward to the WMAU committee for approval and the membership at the AGM. Once the the WMAU committee was aware of the decision byt eh Foundation to withdraw the joint fundraising arrangements it was only appropriate that WMAU committee reconsider its plan to hire an employee.
IMHO rather than down grade because of this change of mind it should be upgraded as it was highly appropriate response to suspend the plan to hire employees. The committee needed to be able to ensure that WMAU conducted its afairs and hired in a professional manner. That it had the tasks to appropriately utilise the employee whether full-time or part-time along with access to stable funding source. Gnangarra (talk) 05:07, 27 October 2012 (UTC)
- Thank you for the comments, Gnangarra. Please see my response to John above. Regards, Wolliff (talk) 20:32, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
It is true that Wikimedia programs have been conducted in Perth without monetary support from Wikimedia Australia. Apart from "Wiki takes ..." events (Wikimedia Takes Fremantle I and 2, and Wikipedia:Wikipedia Takes Joondalup), which are genrally not run by chapters, I am only aware of Freopedia, which is being organised by WMAU members and regularly consults with the national chapter . The only "Wiki takes ..." event which requested support from Wikimedia Australia was Wikipedia:Wikipedia Takes Perth Foreshore, which did not receive as much as it asked for. WMAU has most certainly been supporting projects undertaken in Perth and Western Australia by Western Australian editors. As the 2010–2011 financial report says on page 5, "Of the grants given to members in Australia to 1 October 2011, Western Australians were the biggest recipients, followed closely by Queenslanders." Wikimedia Australia has supported Western Australians to attend Wikimedia-related events, whether large or small, such as the 2011 Berlin Chapters Meeting and the Perth Wikipedia Day celebrations (see the relevant resolution). In addition, Wikimedia Australia has had at least one committee member from Perth, such as myself, since November 2009. Graham87 (talk) 08:26, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
- Thank you for the additional context, Graham87. Regards, Wolliff (talk) 20:36, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
- There were also regional WA projects: Dunsborough, Busselton and Pemberton. For the two years that we have sponsored v:RCC in Canberra, a Perth person has been provided a travel grant by WMAU. User:SatuSuro in 2011 and User:Fox in 2012. In September 2011, the Paralympics project held workshop at the State Library of Western Australia (v:The History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia/Meetings/Perth 18 Sept 2011), attended by three Paralympians, Graham Pearce and Laura Hale (who have both since become a board members) and myself (paid for entirely out of my own pocket I should add, and w:Armidale->Perth flights arnt cheap).
- It appears the WMF staff are saying that Wikimedia Australia is unable to meet the challenges of "seeking to serve a very large region with a scattered editor base", and using some Perth program as evidence. I believe that the WMF assessment is severely flawed, so I ask that the WMF staff please explain what Perth activity they are referring to, and how it is relevant, or retract this statement.
- Looking beyond the unexplained & unsupported assertion that there is some Perth activity being run outside the chapter, Wikimedia Australia has been specifically building programs to support what we call "Regional" engagement, for activities that are outside the capital cities. WMAU only contributed funding to SLQ workshops that were held outside at last 2 hours drive away from Brisbane. Other State Libraries are now very interested in running programs in 2013 with the same funding criteria. This is all described in our Annual Plan.
- I would also like to add one more comment regarding our geographical challenges. I was brought up in Toowoomba (a regional town), have lived for years in the capital cities of Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, and now live in Armidale (an even smaller town). Many of our members also live in regional Australia, or at least visit regional Australia regularly. After I became president, I have been steadily building a useful w:category:Wikipedians in Australia. For example, the entire state of QLD and NSW now have regional categories, and many small towns now have members. An example I like to use is the NSW town of Bathurst, with a population of ~33,000 people. In April 2011 I created w:Category:Wikipedians in Bathurst, New South Wales and populated it. There are three (3) long-term but irregular editors (occasionally 'active'), and a few others who have never really got hooked on Wikipedia. So we built a category, and I organised a meetup there to coincide with the wmau:Meeting:2011 AGM. Two locals attended. I drove at least six hours each way to attend, and another member user:Mattinbgn (who had never met a Wikimedian before, besides me when I met him for breakfast behind the black stump one day) also drove at least six hours each way to attend, picking up user:Bidgee along the way. Another member PeterJeremy, who lives in Sydney, was on a weekend trip and he popped into the Bathurst meetup, unannounced ;-). In May 2011 I also organised a trip from Canberra to w:Wagga Wagga (pop: <50,000), where Siska (WMID), Laura and I met Bidgee first the first time, again at my own expense. We've also organised two meetups in Townsville, but sadly no locals attended. Our organisation agrees with the assessment that geography and low population is a challenge. But it is a challenge we're up for. The solution is more funding, as travel costs within Australia are high, and travel costs to events outside Australia are even higher. John Vandenberg (talk) 01:35, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Regarding this paragraph:
- "Several grants awarded in 2009-2010 were never executed and were not reported on for several years, and few details about the projects’ execution or impact were reported once grant reports were received. However, the chapter had experienced a change in leadership during that period."
I want to ensure that it is clear that the grants in question were all awarded at the beginning of July 2009 for the 2009-2010 FY. The 2009-2010 board did not provide reports on what they had used, which wasnt very much. The majority of the grants were not touched. It was an unproductive year for the organisation, as the first president moved on to other pursuits, and treasurer became president and then didn't do anything. As a result on 19 September 2010, I came back onto the board, and Craig joined the board, we (almost) immediately agreed to hand the money back to the WMF. (wmau:Meeting:Committee (2010-11-25)#Return of grant money) We talked to the WMF about this, so they should have been very aware that the grant was not completed in the period. The WMF asked as if we wanted to roll these grants into the next financial year, and we said no; we wanted to return it rather than try to run projects that a different committee had proposed and failed to complete. WMAU and WMF have been in slow discussions about the amount to be transferred, and the WMF has only recently informed us that reports need to be written for the grant money that was handed back. Those reports essentially say "Project not done; money handed back or money yet to be handed back". The WMF were informed that this was the outcomes of those projects back in November 2010. There are two grants which were partially spent in the 2009-10 FY, and we've been trying to ascertain what impact they had, in order to write the report. We did return a chunk of this grant money in the April 2011 transfer, and the September 2011 transfer has not yet happened (the 2010 Fundraising agreement required a second transfer). The amount is question is about USD 1000, and the WMF owes WMAU money. Not the other way around. John Vandenberg (talk) 15:53, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
I completely reject the statement that "Leadership has been relatively unstable over past few years".
The board was quite stable after incorporation, with three permanent members, until 8 May 2010 when Brianna Laugher quit mid-term, deciding to direct her effort into open source instead of open content. She thought that she had done enough leading the organisation from a dream to a relatively stable organisation which had held its first strategic workshop. Brianna and everyone thought the organisation would carry on.
However the board was unable to pull itself together from this mid-term resignation; rather they did almost nothing until the next AGM.
Since that AGM, three of the six committee members have been on the committee for two consecutive terms, and all three are founding members.
Except for the nine month period 29 November 2009 – 9 September 2010, I have been to every 'Melbourne', 'Australia' and committee meeting since mid-2007 (see Wikimedia_Australia/Establishment_timeline). During the pre-incorporation and pre-AGM periods I was heavily involved in the development of the Rules and the resolutions which form the organisation we now have today (see wmau:resolutions).
Craig Franklin has been the treasurer for two years, and was heavily involved in the organisation before he joined the committee.
Charles Gregory was involved in pre-incorporation preparation and served on the committee pre-AGM. After the first AGM he took a break (from 11 January 2009 – 9 September 2010) but rejoined the committee at the same time as Craig and I and has served two terms.
I have only quickly looked at some of the boards of other chapters, but I have yet to see a chapter whose board has more that half of their board consistently for the last two years. John Vandenberg (talk) 17:45, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
After reading this talk, I can't help saying that the unhelpfulness of the answers to John, Gnangarra and Graham87 is astonishing. --Nemo 22:43, 15 November 2012 (UTC)