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Grants talk:PEG/Cascadia Wikimedians User Group/4Q 2015 and CY2016 grant

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Latest comment: 7 years ago by Pine in topic Seattle license fee for 2017

GAC members who support this request

  1. --DerekvG (talk) 17:33, 17 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

GAC members who support this request with adjustments


GAC members who oppose this request


GAC members who abstain from voting/comment


GAC comments


Questions/Comments from Lankiveil


Firstly, I have to echo what's above in that the amount of work done by the entity in preparing for incorporation is impressive. Well done! I have a few minor questions:

  1. There is a significant expense of $500 (for two years?) for general liability insurance, which obviously is important if the group is planning to hold "real world" events. Has the group spoken to a professional in this area to confirm that this level of cover is appropriate and provides adequate security for volunteers and group members?
  • I contacted several insurance brokers, and engaged two of them in extensive conversations. I am satisfied that this level of insurance is as good as we are likely to get in terms of cost-benefit ratio and that doesn't require us to engage in tracking volunteer hours. The $500 is for one calendar year from the date that the insurance was engaged, so we will need to renew it in fall 2016. There is an additional type of insurance that we could have purchased that would cover certain types of volunteer liability, but it requires the tracking of volunteer hours in addition to the financial costs, and at this point I think that the headaches involved in doing the necessary accounting for this type of insurance plus the financial costs outweigh the benefits for CWUG as an entity. Note that individual volunteers may also have some personal liability insurance coverage through their property owners' or renters' insurance policies.
  1. In terms of automobile insurance, I'm a little concerned about the statement "volunteers must not drive on behalf of CWUG on a regular basis"? Is this going to be practical? Does this cover volunteers driving in private vehicles to meetups and other events?
  • We have not purchased automotive liability insurance for our volunteers. My understanding from talking with insurers is that volunteers will be covered under their personal auto liability insurance provided they are (1) not transporting others to or from events on a regular basis and (2) not doing activities for CWUG that are compensated beyond reimbursement for expenses like tolls. I would encourage members of CWUG who have questions about the extent of their automotive insurance coverage to contact their personal insurers. I believe that CWUG will effectively be obligated to purchase a commercial auto insurance policy if volunteers (1) transport others to or from events on a regular basis or (2) receive hourly or salaried compensation from CWUG; I will check with insurers again if these thresholds are reached. Currently we don't have a strong reason to engage in activities that would require us to purchase a commercial auto insurance policy, so we aren't.
  • How is 'regular basis' defined here? Are you talking about formal programmes and projects where volunteers are driving about as part of the actual event? I am just wary of exposing volunteers to potential legal liability for doing something as generous as offering to give folks a lift to meetups. Craig Franklin (talk) 10:23, 28 November 2015 (UTC).Reply
  • While it would be nice if giving people regular lifts to meetups didn't require a commercial auto insurance policy, it does according to my understanding from the insurance agent that I discussed this with. They said that for their purposes "regular" would be more than about once or twice a month. If WMF wants to grant us funds to have a commercial auto insurance policy sooner rather than later, I can investigate in more detail what would be involved including the administrative complexity for CWUG as well as the costs. However, this is not a priority for us right now and I would like to get this grant approved in its current form. We can revisit the issue of a commercial auto policy sometime in the next few quarters. --Pine 17:28, 28 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
  1. I am not sold on the expense to purchase a camcorder; while I know that videos of WM events are frequently requested, from what I understand they are seldom watched after the fact and I'm not convinced that spending money on this delivers value for money to the movement.
  • The value of the camcorder is not just to record events, it's also there to facilitate us having live meetings across significant geographic distances. For example, we are likely to use it if the plans for a 4-site all-day remote attendance conference come to fruition on Wikipedia Day 2016. As for recorded events, I found during WikiConference USA 2015 that neither of the DSLR cameras that I brought with me to the conference recorded video with very good quality, so there is definitely a case to be made for acquiring a camera that is specifically designed to capture good quality video.

I'm generally quite favourably disposed to the grant being approved and hope that there are good responses to the questions above to put it beyond doubt. Craig Franklin (talk) 03:07, 28 November 2015 (UTC).Reply

Community comments


WMF comments


Hi Pine and Peaceray, thank you for the time and effort you have put into preparing this request and to planning the activities described within. As stated in the previous grant review, we do not encourage user groups to incorporate as the significant amount of paperwork required may outweigh the benefits of doing so. During the discussion on your prior grant request and phone calls this fall, we understand that the Cascadia Wikimedians User Group feels that it is important to register as a 501c3 nonprofit and obtain local charity licenses necessary for fundraising, and in order to obtain access to services reserved for non profits. Given the amount of work that has gone into incorporating this year, it is impressive that the user group has been able to plan so many events in partnership with UW and the Wing Luke museum.

Goals and activities

  • The goals section includes many bullet points that seem to be activities rather than goals.
  • In the goals section, please describe what your user group hope to achieve through the planned events and by seeking formal incorporation.
  • Incorporation has already happened. We are not seeking additional funds for incorporation.
  • If you anticipate that there will be costs related to Wikipedia 15 events, please include them in this request so that you have funding available in January.
  • At this time I think that most of the costs will be travel-related and we can take those costs out of the travel budgets that we have requested.
Please move the activities currently listed in the goals section to the activities section. Use the goals section to describe what the user group hopes to accomplish through the work described in this grant request. For example, the goal of the editathons and GLAM activities seems to be to increase volunteers and build relationships with GLAMs for future projects. Using that framing, please describe the goal or outcome that the user group hopes to achieve by registering as a 501c3.
  • Updated, please have a look.
  • I'm adding a request for $50 for the Wikipedia 15 birthday cake and party supplies to be divided between British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. I hope that's OK!

Measures of success

  • Please update the measures of success section with a total number of participants, including new and existing active editors, who have taken part in fall events, as well as the total number of articles resulting from fall programs.
  • We do not have much of this data due to our limited human resource and evaluation capacity. I would guess that we had about 6 active editors periodically involved and 2 semi-regular new editors, depending on how we count.
  • Based on your experience with events so far this fall, please set a target for number of individuals who become regular event participants.
  • Our experience this fall was disappointing in terms of recruiting new regular participants. If we re-engage with UW in the future then we will make some adjustments to our format. I do not feel that there is sufficient data at this time to make a reasonable projection of our numbers at the end of 2016.
It is fantastic to hear that so many active editors and new editors have been engaged in activities this fall. Please add measures of success that indicate what you estimate these numbers to be after the events planned this fall. Going forward, it is a good idea to use sign in sheets at events so that it is easy to track participation.
  • I would estimate that we've had around 12 contributors editors total in the group in various ways at one time or another, and that we have incrementally grown participation at our events from Wikipedians who are already active. I'm hesitating to claim that our events this fall led to a new person starting from nothing and becoming a regular or semi-regular active editor. Based on a additional investigation, I am striking the statement that I made above that we managed to recruit 2 semi-regular new editors. We would liked to have grown through UW series but this did not happen, although I do think that we built camaraderie among the regulars and we were successful in building bridges with the UW librarians. I will add some information to the main grants page to reflect this.
  • One of the goals listed is to develop human resource capacity. What capacities would you like to develop, and what strategies will be used to achieve this?
  • Given our lack of paid staff, we need more volunteers involved in organizing and outreach work. Most of our current volunteers are generally interested in direct outreach and content creation (which is good) and not so much in fundraising, legal, grantmaking, evaluation, accounting, and tax matters (which are necessary to sustain and grow the organization); it would be very helpful if we had additional volunteer capacity in this area. We also hope to use a "train the trainers" model to increase the number of local organizations and individuals who contribute to Wikimedia, such as by training staff at GLAM institutions who can then train their other staff and volunteers.
  • We had hoped that our involvement at UW in fall quarter would produce success in this area, but it largely failed in this regard; we did succeed in generating interest among UW library staff and we are hopeful that in the future the library staff will identify someone who they are already funding to become a Wikimedian-in-residence for the UW libraries.
  • What indicators could you use to assess how the organization has benefited from incorporating as a 501c3 non profit?
  • We are already incorporated. The process of becoming a 501c3 is different from the process of incorporation. 501c3 status will facilitate our fundraising from external sources. A modest goal might be that we receive a total of at least $10,000 in external donations within 3 tax years of receiving our 501c3 status.
We are concerned that the financial resources necessary to register for 501c3 status and annual expenses required to maintain the status for three years (renewals, tax preparation, official business address and mailbox, etc) may exceed the goal of raising $10,000 in that time. Additionally, you have noted above that current volunteers are not interested in fundraising, legal, accounting and tax matters, so there is a significant risk that all of those tasks will fall on one volunteer, or they will not get done at all. We would much rather support the user group to engage in activities they are interested in, as that has a greater chance of growing the organization.
  • The likelihood that "the financial resources necessary to register for 501c3 status and annual expenses required to maintain the status for three years (renewals, tax preparation, official business address and mailbox, etc) may exceed the goal of raising $10,000 in that time" is very remote. (Perhaps the situation is different in California, which from my perspective is a very high cost place to do business.) A bigger risk for Cascadia Wikimedians is that there is a dependency on a small number of people who are familiar with the organization's legal and tax situations to keep the legal structure of the organization afloat. However, that concern would be there whether or not the 501c3 is in place.


  • Please elaborate how will the camera be used by the community.
  • The camera will be available for loan to the community. For example, it may be used to photograph our editathons and other events, as well as for photography of local events and geography. We don't have specific plans for a it as this time. Given the favorable financial terms on which we acquired the camera, this seems like a good long term acquisition.
Please set a measure of success or goal for the number of times that the camera is loaned to community members, and use a hidden category to track the use of images created through equipment loans.
  • I have added this to the goals section for the grant.
  • Please share details about travel for long distance events. How many people are traveling? To which events?
  • That budget is there to support travel chiefly between Seattle and Portland. Other opportunities may arise. The number of travelers is not known at this time.
  • In the discussion on Cascadia's prior request, we agreed to approve funding for background checks for the two individuals who have access to the user group's bank account. Please modify the budget to reflect that.
  • That is incorrect. Alex initially declined to fund any background checks. I later spoke with Garfield who indicated his support for background checks and said that he would speak with Grantmaking. The last information that I have on this subject was from Garfield, who said that he understands performing background checks for more board members if we have a working board, as we do.
The notes I have from Alex following your discussion with Garfield is that background checks for two people who have access to bank accounts is an allowable expense. Please let me know if you have records of Garfield telling you otherwise.
  • I have looked through my records and can't find written records, but my recollection from my conversation with Garfield is that he said that for a working board, conducting additional background checks is sensible if board members are willing to go through that process. This isn't a make-or-break issue for the overall grant, however our bylaws which we recently adopted do require some background checks. So either we will need to modify the bylaws, or we will need to find funding from outside of WMF to conduct the background checks. Since Garfield is no longer around, I would like to ask you to ask Boryana of her views on this matter. If she feels that the background checks for the two members with access to the bank account are sufficient then I think we can accept that for the moment and we'll work later on figuring out how to get the funds for the other background checks and/or I can make a motion to modify the bylaws. Let me reiterate that this isn't a make-or-break issue for the whole grant, it's a matter of trying to be prudent and manage risk.
  • I'm confirming here that Garfield's recommendation to my grantmaking team was that we allow funding for background checks on 2 people with access to bank accounts, but not for all board members (working or otherwise) - the primary risk to be managed here is among those directly touching the financial controls (in this case, the 2 folks who have access to funds in the bank). This isn't an HR issue for Boryana. I'd suggest considering adjusting your bylaws so you're not hemmed into more process than a user group should be reasonably expected to support...that could help free you up for the interesting programmatic work that I expect Cascadians would rather be doing :) Hope this helps clear up WMF's current thinking and practices around funding background checks. Siko (WMF) (talk) 23:16, 30 November 2015 (UTC)Reply
  • Hi @Siko (WMF): OK we will figure out how to deal with this. I do think there are some HR risks that we'd want to know about, particularly if there were harassment or other similarly worrisome issues that happened in the past and that I would hope would appear on a background check. In any case, I will modify the grant request to reflect that WMF will only fund two of the background checks. (There is a separate kind of background check that is required for Washington charities, but fortunately does not require funding to have the check done.) --Pine 06:49, 1 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
  • In the above linked discussion, Alex wrote that we will not provide funding for office space. Please remove that from the budget as well.
  • Alex's assertion was made under the old guidelines which I believe are being revised under the transition to the project grant scheme. I believe that the old guideline was developed after WMF observed excessive requests for office space from small organizations many years ago. Our request is for $25 per month for coworking space, not for a dedicated office. Furthermore, Washington law requires that we have a physical address on file as our place of business, and if we don't have an office listed as our place of business then the residential address of a board member will be published as our registered address, which would raise major privacy concerns.
The guidelines for PEG grants has not changed, and this budget includes the same funding for office space that Alex declined in the previous request. How much access to the coworking space is included in this monthly fee, and how will it be used for user group activities?
We are allowed 2 workdays per month. In practice, now that we have moved our mail service as a cost-saving measure, it's rare that anyone needs to visit the office space. After the move of the mail service, the primary benefit of maintaining the coworking payments is that we are allowed to have the coworking space be listed as our physical location in public records. If we did not do this, a residential address of a board member would be publicized as our physical address, which I feel is inappropriate and raises privacy concerns. I have searched for a cheaper coworking arrangement and haven't been able to find any. I think that $25 per month for privacy is reasonable. If you do not wish to approve this arrangement, please let me know what alternative you would suggest in order to maintain the privacy of the addresses of board members.

As we understand from past grant discussion, phone calls and emails this proposal is requesting funding for one time administrative expenses necessary to incorporate as a non profit, and that future requests will focus on programmatic expenses. If this proposal is funded, it will be important to demonstrate how the high investment of volunteer time and funding that has gone into formal incorporation has increased the user group's capacity to meet its goals, which should include goals focused on content and participation. Please let us know if you have questions or concerns about our comments. Best, --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 04:29, 24 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

@KHarold (WMF): responses above in bold. Thanks, --Pine 22:05, 24 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

Hi Pine and Peaceray, please see our indented responses. Cheers, --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 00:23, 26 November 2015 (UTC)Reply

Funding decision


Thank you for your thoughtful engagement in this process, Pine. We are pleased to approve this request for funding with the understanding that the Cascadia user group is exploring whether having 501c3 status enhances the organization's ability to meet its goals for outreach and content creation through external fundraising. Although the measure of success you have set for fundraising is over a three year period, your report for this grant should include a reflection on the benefits and challenges of establishing 501c3 and registering for fundraising licenses so that other affiliates in the movement can learn from your experience. You will need to demonstrate the value of this investment before applying for additional funds to cover administrative expenses related to maintaining 501c3 status.

As noted in our comments, we look forward to seeing more focus on programmatic activities in the coming year, and strongly encourage you to establish goals and measures of success for those activities, regardless of whether they require WMF funding. Having these metrics can help your board evaluate which activities are most effective for growing your user group, and can be helpful to show to potential funders or partners. Please work with your user group to develop a lightweight plan for volunteers to document participation at events.

We appreciate your dedication to supporting WIkimedia projects and volunteers in the Cascadia region, and look forward to learning from your experiences in the coming year. Cheers, --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 18:27, 2 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

Request for change authorization to camcorder budget


Hello, I'm writing to request change authorization for our camcorder purchase. This is time-sensitive due to the Wikipedia 15 event for which we'd like to use this camera, so I'm moving quickly to post this in public.

There is good news that Canon has come out with a successor to the Canon 32GB VIXIA HF R52 camcorder that we originally budgeted. The successor is model R62, and it is available for much lower cost, about $272.66 including tax. This is $220.04 less than the $492.70 that we budgeted for the R52. I am requesting authorization to make this change, and with the savings, to purchase accessories that may be useful (I am particularly thinking of this LED light kit for $57.92 including shipping and tax). We'll probably discover as we use the camcorder that there are more accessories that we can use, so the remaining funds can be held in a restricted reserve for this purpose. Any remaining funds can be returned to WMF at the end of the grant (Dec 31, 2016) or re-purposed with the consent of WMF and our board. Can I get consent from WMF and our board to do this? I'll email Kacie and our board members with this request. --Pine 23:27, 30 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

You have my consent. I would suggest that a possible accessory consideration might be a microphone, as we have not always had the best results recording presentations with the in-camera microphone. Peaceray (talk) 23:58, 30 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
Obviously a good idea, & second the microphone. - Jmabel (talk) 00:20, 31 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
I'm on board! -Another Believer (talk) 07:59, 31 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
Sounds good to me. —mako 18:10, 31 December 2015 (UTC)Reply
Nice timing. I support this. SounderBruce 04:58, 5 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Hi Pine, it is great that you have found a better, less expensive camera. Your request to purchase accessories such as a light kit, stabilizer and microphone are approved as long as you stay within the original camera budget. --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 16:16, 5 January 2016 (UTC)Reply



What to do with the savings


Continuing the conversation above: with the savings, I move that we purchase a light kit such as the one linked above (in this case including a grip), microphone (probably wireless), and if possible an extended warranty that covers accidental damage. (Other suggestions welcome).

Done Notifying @KHarold (WMF): @Peaceray:, @Jmabel:, @Another Believer:, @Benjamin Mako Hill:, @SounderBruce:, @Brianhe: in light of the general support for accessories so long as we stay within the original budget, but not so much support for an extended warranty, I have ordered:

  • Canon VIXIA HF R62 camorder
  • Kaizen Lavalier lapel clip-on microphone, approximately 20 ft cord
  • Adoer 160 LED video light panel
  • 8 rechargable AA batteries for the LED light
  • Second battery for the camcorder (battery life is estimated at 3 hours per battery)
  • Carrying case

Total cost: approximately $393.09 including tax, as compared to the original $492.70 budget, meaning we still have $99.61 in reserve. (: The items are scheduled to arrive around Wednesday. --Pine 21:59, 9 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Midpoint report


@KHarold (WMF): I hope to complete our midpoint report in the next week or two. Would you please assign the due date for the report to May 1? The report is likely to be complete before then. Thanks, --Pine 18:18, 4 April 2016 (UTC)Reply

Hi Pine thank you for requesting an extension on the report - it has been approved. --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 22:36, 4 April 2016 (UTC)Reply

Update regarding 501(c)(3) registration


@KHarold (WMF): we are in the process of applying for the 501(c)(3). Our attorney has recommended, and we have agreed, to proceed with a short version of the application form. The longer form is called a 1023 and the short form is called a 1023-EZ. Our relatively small amount of revenue makes us eligible to use the EZ form. There is some additional risk with the shorter form because it makes assumptions and if the assumptions turn out to be incorrect then the IRS can retroactively revoke the 501(c)(3) registration, but our attorney feels that the risk is relatively low since we have professional legal help with the form. This change from the 1023 to the 1023-EZ will reduce the cost of the 501(c)(3) registration from the originally budgeted amount of $850 to $275. Our attorney also says that the legal fees associated with the shorter form will likely be lower than the legal fees for the longer form, although we won't know the total amount of the legal fees until the paperwork is complete. Hopefully WMF will be happy to hear that we are saving some money by making this change. --Pine 18:11, 21 July 2016 (UTC)Reply

Hi Pine, thank you for the update. Let us know when you get the application approved so that we can update Cascadia's file. --KHarold (WMF) (talk) 21:42, 3 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • @KHarold (WMF): Our treasurer has informed me that we have received a letter from the IRS that says that we have been granted 501(c)(3) status. I am currently working on the year-end grant report which will include an accounting for how funds from this grant were spent. I imagine that a considerable percentage of the original grant total will be returned to WMF. My understanding is that AWang (WMF) will want to look through our receipts before finalizing the amount that will be returned. This process is on my to-do list. --Pine 18:13, 17 December 2016 (UTC)Reply

Seattle license fee for 2017


Hi @KHarold (WMF):, it appears that our Seattle license fee for 2017 is due on December 31st, 2016, so I would suggest that we take the $55 for that fee plus the $2.00 "convenience fee" that Seattle charges for online filing (at least, that was the amount as of the last time I looked) out of the reserve funds from our 2016 grant. Pinging Brianhe and Peaceray to bring this to their attention as well; I believe that our bylaws will require one of them to approve this expense, and Brianhe is currently in the best position to complete the online forms and go through the steps to pay the fee from CWUG funds. If we don't pay the 2017 fee by the December 31st due date then we will likely get a late fee on top of the $55 base fee and the "convenience fee" (or, alternatively, the cost of printing forms, using a check, and mailing the forms and the check). Thanks, --Pine 01:48, 20 December 2016 (UTC)Reply