Grants talk:APG/Proposals/2014-2015 round1/Wikimedia UK/Staff proposal assessment
Response by Wikimedia UK
Dear FDC, Thank you for your comments and thoughts.
As we move forward towards the final decisions on this year’s FDC allocation we would like to make a few comments that we hope will inform the discussion.
Much of what we have proposed is of course contained in our core planning document.
Our proposals for growth
We completely understand the need for prudent use of movement funds but do not believe the growth we are proposing at 14.5% is unsustainable. It is based on careful calculations of our staff and community capacity. It is worth remembering we delivered a full programme this year plus WIkimania! WMUK has matured significantly as a chapter with good planning, monitoring and financial controls. As we state our plans are based on a decreasing dependence on FDC funding with a commitment to a greater proportion of self-funding.
We are proposing new posts but each post needs to be looked at on its own merits.
- The Fundraising Assistant post is proposed to support in-country fundraising capacity expected by the Foundation and supported by us. It will be an income generator and is an important investment. It will focus on reducing our reliance on movement funds by developing UK Trusts and Foundations and restricted income streams to support our programme work. Our aim is to become more independent of the FDC thereby releasing funds for the Global South and other Foundation priorities. This post should become self-financing during the next financial year.
- The new Programme Support post is there to ensure that there is the maximum impact from our project work by supporting Wikimedians in Residence, developing partnerships and ensuring measurable impact through focused work with clear and well collected metrics.
- The Developer post is an aspiration based on community feedback and its demand to develop work in this area that will be of benefit to the whole international community and complement the work of the Foundation. We accept that the detail is not there yet as we are still working on the results of a needs assessment report we commissioned but the funding requested is, we feel, an accurate reflection of the costs involved.
Budgeting and the use of reserves in the past
We are clear that we will not be using reserves in this plan. WMUK is still a young organisation and the first two full years of operations did demonstrate spending variances. This was understandable given the experimental nature of our programme.This year we expect to have a year end without significant underspend.
We have been trailblazers in formulating SMART targets and metrics. The targets were, by the necessity of timetabling, constructed before the start of our programme year in February 2014. We are now in quarter three and assessing how well these measures reflect our work. We have metrics that focus on quantity and quality of content, such as bytes added and files uploaded, going across our activities. We are also focusing on assessing the growth of our ‘offline’ volunteering (e.g. people coming to events), as this reflects our work in building the local community, and has a direct link in how many activities we can deliver. These activities then have an effect on our online work.
The global metrics from the Foundation are relatively recent and so full alignment will have to be a matter for our 2015-16 programme where we expect to be able to do that while learning from our year end results. We are confident that we have made good progress in measuring and setting our targets and are proving our impact.
In light of comments on our plan and our emerging Q3 metrics we are already amending our programme targets for 2015-16. We would hope that part of this process of FDC funding would be negotiations on how commensurate impact could be measured in revised targets.
Comments on some specific programme areas
GLAM work. We are glad that you have recognised the high potential for GLAM partnership. We believe that we have been working successfully with the potential. The reputational benefit to Wikipedia and the sister projects of having formal associations with institutions of world renown such as the British Museum, British Library, Science Museum, Royal Opera House, National LIbrary of Scotland etc has done a great deal to change the public’s attitude to the reliability of our projects. We will continue working on it in the 2015-16 activity year.
It is as a result of this that we have proposed additional growth to consolidate and enhance this work. The new posts work directly to building these relationships with more support for project work and the development of tools to demonstrate impact.
Policy and advocacy work. This is difficult to measure and takes a long time to deliver results. How does one measure the impact of signing a policy document such as the Lyon Declaration? An important aspect of this work is building relationships and making sure one’s case is heard by those in a position to influence change. By being involved with initiatives such as the Speakers Commission on Digital Democracy, by meeting senior people at bodies such as the Intellectual Property Office, by becoming more involved in European policy and actually meeting heads of important committees and their staff we are making the case for favourable change at the most senior level of politics.
IT Development. Wikimedia UK has employed two contracted developers since November 2012, who have worked on a variety of projects - including out sites setup and management, QRpedia, and the VLE. This has been supported by non-specialist staff time and the input of community members via our Technology committee. It is therefore not accurate to say there is no proven capability. However, we accept that progress has been uneven and slower than we wish as a result of the capacity to support this work being low (around 0.4 FTE). This is why we have proposed supporting this work further with expertise and focus offered by a full-time post.
Product management is a specific skills-set and the proposed budget anticipates taking on dedicated staff to deliver that capacity consistently. The proposed budget has been put forward with express intent to address that and deliver against our strategic goal G4: Encourage and support technological innovation.
We would argue that rather than lacking focus, the intention of developing this area of our offer is to enhance our existing and more established programme streams. For example; the numerous high level conversations with GLAM and education partners we have maintained it is clear that software solutions to problems around digitisation, accessibility, metadata and project integrations are preventing mutual gains for institutions and the Wikimedia movement. In terms of reducing barriers to access - many public institutions are interested in accessing specific audiences by partnering with us. This is is also an important focus in delivering restricted funding sources.
Education. It was not clear this information was required. We are sorry we missed it (a request over the last month would have helped) however four universities use the course extension (Hull, Portsmouth, University College London, Queen Mary University of London), the latest of which contributed 1.5 million bytes of data in Q3.
Our plan explains that we intend to narrow focus for our Education Organiser on Higher Education, particularly through our Campus Ambassador programme and through the staff revisions focus more time on building substantial relationships in other areas of education.
I hope these comments have been useful. With such a very tight deadline they are understandably brief. We know how hard this has been for all concerned but we enjoy our working relationship with the FDC staff and look forward to it continuing.
Response from FDC staff
Hi Jon, Richard, and colleagues and friends at WMUK,
Thank you for sharing this feedback! We appreciate that you were able to contribute this additional information to the staff assessment. What you have shared here we will make sure that the FDC able to consider as part of their deliberations.
Again, many thanks for this detailed response, prepared in a very tight timeline.