Grants talk:APG/Proposals/2015-2016 round1/Wikimedia UK/Staff proposal assessment
Wikimedia UK takes on board the assessment of Wikimedia Foundation staff of our proposal for an annual plan grant in 2016/17. We were pleased to see that our work in the area of learning and evaluation has been recognised, as well as our increasingly strategic and successful partnerships with the GLAM sector and beyond. We also recognise that staff had concerns in several areas and we wanted to to respond to these specifically.
Firstly, we would like to highlight the significant staffing and structural changes at Wikimedia UK over the last year. As you may be aware this has resulted in a change of Chief Executive and a complete restructuring of the staff team. This was a direct consequence of the need, identified in last year's FDC feedback and also by our own board, to make more effective use of our resources and better focus on outcomes. Any change of this nature is difficult, and the combination of simultaneous staff restructuring and ED transition has had a significant but temporary cost both in money and in our capacity to deliver. We ask the FDC to bear this in mind when reading the staff assessment and to support us as we create a better-focused, more efficient organisation.
In addition to concerns about past results, staff have expressed doubts about our targets, and whether these are high enough to reflect the amount of funding that we are requesting. Programme delivery is a key priority for WMUK going forward and we are keen to ensure that targets are both ambitious and achievable. We would therefore welcome the Foundation’s input into our targets for next year, given your overview of the whole movement as well as knowledge of individual chapter contexts, and are keen to discuss expectations around this.
In the assessment of strategy (P1), we were concerned to see that you felt that some programmes are not aligned with movement priorities, as in all the programme descriptions we believe that we have demonstrated how they link with and support the Foundation's strategy and priorities. It would be very helpful for us to be given specific examples of where this is the case, so that we can seek to address these and ensure strategic alignment.
We were somewhat surprised to see diversity (P4) as an area of concern. We are already working on minority language development in Wales, and in fact have had a very significant impact on the growth of the Welsh Wikipedia, where we accounted for 80% of the encyclopedia’s growth last year. We are keen to develop this work further and are currently exploring the potential for an African languages project; ensuring that we are building on our own and other chapters’ learning in this area and taking an inclusive, volunteer-led approach. We are also strongly committed to addressing gender diversity, which is reflected within our staff and board make up (in both of which we have exactly a 50% gender split) and in our volunteer base, as well as in many of our events and projects. This focus on gender diversity is fundamental to our approach as a Chapter but was not, perhaps, stated explicitly enough within our proposal.
In terms of community engagement, you rightly identify that we are building a more strategic approach in this area, with the incorporation of volunteer engagement within our core programme delivery roles, and two volunteer strategy gathering days over the past year that are informing our thinking around this work. We acknowledge that this is an area where we can develop further, and we have firm plans to do so during 2016/17.
Under B1 and B2, which pertain to costs and budgeting, we wanted to highlight the fact that the WMUK programme itself was not overspent during 2014/15, but rather it was the unexpectedly high costs of Wikimania that drove the charity into deficit, followed by an expensive but necessary restructuring process. In terms of the staff changes that happened during the year, whilst these weren't proposed within our FDC bid (which was developed in the main during the summer of 2014 and focused on planned programmes and impact) as soon as the need for a new staff structure became apparent, these changes were all closely and carefully planned and supervised by the board, with the Foundation advised at all stages. We now have in place much more robust financial monitoring systems and are forecasting a breakeven position at the end of 2015/16, due to careful financial management during the year.
WMUK is confident that we are in a strong position to develop greater reach and impact over the next few years, following internal changes including the staffing restructure and, before that, improvements in governance. We are in a very special position in the UK, with access to some of the world’s leading cultural and educational institutions and a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and we have strong relationships with GLAMs with a high potential in terms of online impact. We also hope to deepen our work with partner organisations to support Wikidata’s “Data Partnerships” initiative, and incorporate more Wikimedia projects such as WikiSource. The board and staff team share a strong, ambitious vision for the future and with your support we look forward to delivering this successfully, for the benefit of the UK and for the whole Wikimedia movement.