Grants talk:TPS/Support

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Receipts and daily allowances[edit]

  • I suppose we cannot do without proper accounting, not least in order to avoid problems during our audit. I.e. for flights we should require a receipt + the electronic ticket & the boarding cards. This is what most donors require nowadays. Generally one would want to have the original receipts rather than copies in order to avoid double accounting;
    Yes, indeed. I'll add this. Ijon 16:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
    Are we really going to ask each grantee to mail us original copies of the receipts though? WMF generally accepts electronic copies in the interest of processing this documentation expediently. Wolliff 18:12, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Do we grant daily allowances? Especially for people from low-income countries this might be important. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 14:41, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
    I suppose so, yes. What is WMDE's policy on this? Ijon 16:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
    WMDE's policy regarding grants is pretty much nonexistent. ;-) I only started drafting it. It is one of many pending issues. Regarding the type of activities WMDE traditionally supports most of the time, the question of per diems doesn't really come up, as these are meetings and workshops were food is typically provided. Apart from that, I guess there is an implicit understanding that when you travel within Germany for a day or two, buying a sandwich and a coffee does not kill you. However, when it comes to international travel, especially from low to high income places, things are different. Until recently I used to work with indigenous peoples for an organisation called IWGIA, where this question was much more acute and therefore needed to be dealt with. There we had a fixed per diem amount for food etc. (excluding accommodation). Each meal, which you did not have to buy yourself had to be deducted. For breakfast you had to deduct some 15%, for lunch 30% and for dinner 30% (appr, that's just from the back of my mind.) However, the trickier bit is how to determine the overall amount. Here you have to take into account the local price level. Actually there is an official country list for daily allowances from the Germany tax authorities (IIRC). (The first column is the relevant one). The amounts are in Euro.
    Generally I would think that for individual international travel, per diems should be included, somewhere along these lines. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 13:52, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, this is basically what we do at the Foundation. According to the Foundation's Travel Policy, per diems may be claimed at 75% of the US government rates. I like the 75% rule, as it carries an implicit message that we, as a donor-funded organization, can and should be a little more frugal than the government. In my experience, even at 75% of the rate, the per diems are more than enough.
    So this begs the question -- let's say we agree we offer per diems (with deductions for non-covered meals, as you say), what do we base our rates on? The US government's table is fairly exhaustive (i.e. includes rates for most world destinations), and so is a reasonable basis. But perhaps the German (or an EU?) table would be more preferable to you? I think the Foundation can be flexible on this. Ijon 16:36, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
    I think that 75% of the GSA (US gov) per diem rate is reasonable for meals and incidentals, as I agree we should be a little more frugal.
    75% of the Department of State M&I rate is quite generous (these are for outside the US), while the GSA rates (for within the US) are, I agree with Johannes, a bit more frugal (but perfectly adequate). I would like to establish an expectation that volunteers document their expenses and provide us with receipts (when they have them) even if they apply for per diem reimbursement. Partly, because I would like to document how much they are actually spending (and on what) so that we can adjust these per diem rates appropriately for different locations. In general, I think using per diem rates is a bit messy, but I also see the merit of this idea, so I think we should see how it goes. Wolliff 18:12, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
    Does the per diem rule also apply for hotels? I've had trouble with the government per diem rate sometimes, especially for conferences when rates tend to be higher and hotels more sold out. Also it's often advantageous to network with people, to stay at the conference hotel, (sometimes with special group rate) but might not exactly be within perdiem -- especially 75% of perdiem. Also, if you have a federal government ID, many hotel chains actually do have government per diem rates, similar to the AARP --retired persons or AAA (automobile association) rate. Sometimes that gets sold out or unavailable, especially for conferences. We obviously don't have a government ID, but does WMF have negotiated rates with any hotel companies, and if so which and would grantees qualify? Cheers. Aude 20:02, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
    Are you suggesting that the per diems should also cover hotel expenses? I was thinking of per diem rates just for personal consumption, whereas accommodation costs should be budgeted and accounted for separately. What is the foundation's policy on this? --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 10:05, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
    Regarding accommodation, I would say that a provision should be included asking the applicant to seek affordable accommodation. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 10:05, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
    Agreed. Accommodation should just be budgeted for. Per diem is for meals and incidentals (like public transportation). Ijon 17:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
    I agree with Johannes, and maybe it would be a good idea to provide a list with ranges we'd generally consider acceptable? Standards for accommodations vary widely across cultures and walks of life, so it might help to provide applicants with a general range of what we expect. We could use 75% of the US department state department per diem rate for hotels as a max (based on my extensive experience booking travel pretty much everywhere, that amount is reasonable as a max). Happily, most WMF volunteers are actually a lot more frugal than that when traveling on the foundation's dime :) Wolliff 18:00, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, that would be good. Can you add that? Ijon 19:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

pre-financing vs. later reimbursement[edit]

Hi, I am not sure whether we should by default pre-finance. In order to encourage proper accounting and reporting, one could also say that by default, costs are reimbursed after receiving the original receipts. Pre-financing should not be ruled out, however, it would be an option which has to be requested separately. I am thinking of this option, because the amounts granted may often be within a range, where it is still bearable for the applicant. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 09:47, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Added to the policy. Ijon 17:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
In the note about pre-financing at the end of the Then What? section, we ask applicants to tell us if they can't afford to bear the burden of spending the money up front, but in the intro it's noted specifically that we aren't inquiring into applicants' financial situations. Isn't there a conflict here? I'd rather change the wording to something like "If you need funds disbursed in your advance for any reason please specify this in your request." Then I suggest have a process in place for ensuring that reports and documentation of expenses are submitted in a timely way (for example, establish a deadline within 2 weeks of the event). Wolliff 17:49, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Good point. Go ahead and change. Ijon 19:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Geographical scope[edit]

While the WMF has in principle a global mandate, WMDE's mandate is limited to Germany. If we start considering applications from other countries, where strong chapters with funding capacities of their own exist, this might be seen as trespassing. So if applicant xx from, say, the Netherlands, approaches us to participate in a venue in the Netherlands, we would have to refer him to WMNL. If WMNL concludes that the application should not be supported, than, we, WMDE, should respect this and thus should not step in. Things may be different in countries without a chapter or in case of chapters without funding capacities. However, even in the latter case I would say that supporting an application should be contingent upon their prior informed consent. (They might be exceptions, in countries where for political or other reasons a chapter is dysfunctional or unable to act as they would want to, but as a general rule of thumb, their consent should be obtained). --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 09:53, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Policy updated. Ijon 17:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
More accurately, we should consult with the local chapter (where available), but we shouldn't need the chapter's consent. Chapters would often be able to give us valuable background information and context about the grantee, and an endorsement from the chapter would be a very positive factor in our considerations; likewise, a chapter's opposition to a request is a strong red signal, that we would have to have a good reason to decide against. However, there may be (and, indeed, there already are) some cases where specific individuals don't get along with their chapter's current leadership, and we don't want to led such things get in the way of making a decision based on what's best for our mission. I have updated the policy page to reflect that. Ijon 18:26, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Co-funding / own contribution[edit]

I think we should also have the option of not fully funding a request on the table. There might be situations where it is wise to ask the applicant to cover a share of the overall cost from their own fund or through third parties. I am not saying that this has to be applied frequently, but in any case, the question of what percentage of the eligible costs is requested from WMF/WMDE/etc and which percentage is covered from other sources should be part of the standard application form (if we are going to have one) --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 10:05, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Added to the policy. Ijon 17:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Allowable participation scope[edit]

There needs to be a clear definition of what is expected would fall under "mission aligned". I am assuming that requests would be encouraged but limit to international travel for events such as GLAMcamp or interchapter conferences, but what about oddities such as:

  • the London V&A Wikilounge event where we put out a call for translation help (someone may have wanted to fly in from Spain or India),
  • or where grants already exist but are more limited such as the WikiConference in India where grants have been available from the Indian Chapter and the UK,
  • or for small events where there may be a particular reason such as a key Welsh language advocate wanting to fly from Patagonia (where Welsh is spoken) to Wales for our first ever, but small, Wikimeet in Welsh,
  • or for Global South activities which may not be in the Global South, such as international travel to join a British India Society supported Wikimedia UK outreach event where the brief included participation to discuss better support of minority Indian languages.

Further in the scenario where a local Chapter had already rejected a request for funding, would this grants committee ignore (or stay unaware) of such a decision and fund anyway or would there be a process of alerting the local Chapter in advance of approving funding? Thanks -- 05:14, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

I doubt we can come up with a clear-cut machine-decidable set of criteria for evaluating how mission-aligned a proposed activity is. We'll need to employ some human intelligence here, certainly for the first period of this program's operation. Things may become clearer the more requests we handle. Taking your list as an example, here's my own thinking on them:
  • London V&A -- rejected. Flying someone over to the UK merely for being able to speak Spanish is not a good use of our resources.
  • WikiConference India -- would be considered. Specifically, the WCI itself only offered scholarships for participants from within India, so there's room for the Participation Grants program to help bring some additional attendees.
  • Welsh Wikimeet -- would be considered. Such travel, however, would need to be carefully weighed in terms of expected impact vs. cost. Funding a regional train ticket for a social meetup that may create social ties is reasonable; flying across the Atlantic for the same is not; flying to discuss and launch a major joint project of some sort may be.
  • British India Society event -- would be considered. As in the previous example, the expected impact should justify the expense, but it is conceivable that such a request would be approved.
I hope this explanation of my own thinking helps get an idea of the kind of considerations that would be before us when evaluating requests.
Yes, we would seek to consult with a local chapter whenever possible (not just when we know of a previous rejection), and take its view into account. I don't expect many cases where a local chapter would reject a proposal for a reason other than lack of funds where the Participation Grants program would approve the request. On the contrary, I expect chapters would often refer requests to the Participation Grants program, adding their endorsement. Ijon 23:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Can we amend the section "Out of Scope" to make it clear that in some cases we will consider offering scholarships to attendees that couldn't be funded through other scholarship programs (for example, chapter scholarship programs) due to a lack of funds? I think the "Out of Scope" section as is will be confusing to some applicants otherwise.Wolliff 17:42, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, go ahead and amend. Ijon 19:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Hi! I'm helping organize a hackathon in January in San Francisco and a hackathon in February in Pune, India as part of my work at the Wikimedia Foundation. These are Wikimedia Foundation events. We're funding a few people for each event to go help run it, but we as event organizers aren't sponsoring participants who need subsidies. I thought, "Oh, we can suggest that interested people apply for participation grants!" Lightweight, fast response, a process already in place so I don't have to run it. And so I've been telling people to apply for participation grants.

But the "Out of scope" section says, The Participation Grants Program is not designed to provide funding for participants to attend or participate in Wikimedia events (for example, an event sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation or a Wikimedia chapter). To seek funding for participation in a Wikimedia event, please contact the organizers about a scholarships program for their event. The organizers themselves can submit a grant request through the WMF Grants Program to fund a scholarships program for the event. And then the WMF Grants Program page says, If you would like to request a grant to fund participation in an event or activity, please see Wikimedia Participation Grants. So, I'm a WMF event organizer/sponsor trying to help people who want to attend a Wikimedia event; what should I do/have done? (Very possibly the answer is "you should have budgeted travel grants as part of your event budget, and should have run your own travel scholarship request/decision process within the event." In which case, please tell me and I'll fix my planning for the future. Sumanah 03:34, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

Correct, Participation Grants are not meant to replace planning for scholarships/subsidies in events our own movement organizes. We had made a clarifying comment in the PG page, but I've just made a slight clarification on the main Grants page too.
Indeed, Wikimedia event organizers should budget for scholarships as part of their event plan. It makes more sense from an overall budgeting/planning perspective, as it more clearly associates that cost with that event. Also, Participation Grants are funded in partnership with WMDE (and in the future possibly other chapters as well), so it's not the same "pocket" money is coming out of as regular Wikimedia Grants. Ijon 18:11, 24 December 2011 (UTC)

further queries[edit]

Is this intended to cover Wikimania, for which there is already a generous sponsorship scheme? How does it fit with that? If a Chapter wanted to participate, would it be able to give a certain amount for applicants from its geographical area and a certain amount for applicants from elsewhere in the world? I personally feel that Wikimedia UK would be going wrong if either all of its budget for this kind of thing went towards individuals resident in the UK, but equally we'd be going wrong if none of the budget went towards helping UK residents go overseas. Thanks, The Land 09:56, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

See my response in the previous section for some detail. As for Wikimania: as you say, Wikimania has its own generous scholarships program, and so the Participation Grants program would not accept requests to fund Wikimania attendance.
I understand the motivation for the question about reserving a certain sum for supporting UK residents specifically. It's a good question, and I don't have a good answer. Generally, we conceived this program as a global one with a lightweight process. Managing reserved budgets and tracking approved participation grants against them would certainly add work to the operation of this program. However, it's not at all out of the question:
Perhaps we can experiment with this -- WMUK can commit some funds to the Participation Grants pool, join the committee evaluating requests, and see what the approval ratio of requests made by UK residents is; if it turns out to be too low for WMUK, we can then reserve some/all of the remainder of the WMUK contribution to the pool for UK residents only. What do you think? Ijon 23:43, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Posting grant reports "In an appropriate context"[edit]

As in, "Compose a report after the event, and post it publicly in an appropriate context" under "Criteria." Can we define appropriate context for the applicant or simply remove this phrase? What's the reason for including it, and is there a way to state more directly what we mean? Wolliff 17:39, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, that should have read "appropriate channel", not context. Anyway, I ended up described it under "What then", section 2.2, so I removed this phrase from the Criteria section. Thanks for spotting this! I like to avoid opaque phrases! Ijon 18:28, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Signed acceptance letter[edit]

Think we should allow acceptance by Email and avoid requirements for paper acceptance as much as possible. For much larger grants, WMF still accepts Email acceptance, so I'm not clear on why we need more stringent requirements for these small grants. Is it considered a benefit to the grantee? In which case, should we provide either options? Am I missing any background on this? Thanks. Wolliff 18:36, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't see a need for actual signed copies. e-mail acceptance is fine by me. Perhaps WMDE has legal requirements around this? Let's let Johannes weigh in on this; if WMDE can live with e-mail acceptance, I think that would be much better for everyone. Ijon 19:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
OK. I'll wait for his response on this and the question of digital receipts before making any changes to these areas of the page.Wolliff 19:15, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

One week turnaround[edit]

I think we should extend the review period to at least 2 weeks just to make sure we can meet the expectations we outlined. What do you guys think? Wolliff 18:36, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Good point. The 'one week' did not take into account contacting chapters; that does add to the turnaround time. I've changed it to 2. Ijon 19:54, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Can I suggest that you require/encourage there to be around 4 weeks clear time after agreeing the grant and before the event starts to minimize the costs of travel and accommodation - since both of those increase dramatically in cost the closer you get to the event? Another aspect here would be recommending that applications are submitted in time to clear prior to deadlines for applying to speak at conferences (or otherwise, approving applications subject to a speaking opportunity being provided to the applicant). Mike Peel 23:22, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Including legal name[edit]

I added a note to the section about how to apply stating that applicants must provide us with their full legal name when the Email us, but do not need to publish it publicly. We will need it in order to complete the grant acceptance agreement and actually send them money. Wolliff 22:47, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Composition of the grants committee[edit]

Grants:Participation/Committee seems to be missing an explanation of why those people are on the committee. In the past, this page has stated that "chapters contributing $5000 or more per year are represented in the Participation Grant Committee", but it's not clear why that level of funding is required to participate on the committee. Could this be elaborated on, please? Thanks. Mike Peel 23:12, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for this comment. I have made the $5,000 criterion explicit on the Committee page. As for why this criterion was chosen: it is of course an arbitrary sum, neither more nor less justified than $4,000 or $6,000, but the argument for having a minimal amount to send a delegate to the committee is to ensure this grantmaking can remain a lightweight process. It seems to me (and I'm open to arguments to the contrary) that allowing a representative from any group willing to contribute, say, $50, to this program's pool would quickly result in a committee with about 50 members, which would be a very unwieldy forum to reach decision about what we expect would be fairly simple requests. We welcome discussion about this, and the structure and operation of this committee is certainly not set in stone. Ijon 04:59, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Funding opportunities vs. providing baseline funding[edit]

Some chapters may be able and willing to fund individual grants, rather than just providing baseline funding for the grant process, particularly during the early stages of this process or where those applications fall under other activity's budget lines (e.g. WMUK has a budget for GLAM activities that's distinct from our general participation budget). If grant applications originate from countries with chapters, or are likely to be of interest to chapters based on their previous activities (e.g. WMAU with Indonesia, WMUK with India, etc.), will those chapters be asked/given the opportunity to directly fund those grant applications? Thanks. Mike Peel 23:29, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Interaction with existing grant methods[edit]

A number of Wikimedia organisations have existing grant methods in place already - for example, Wikimedia Poland and Wikimedia UK - how would this interact with those methods, in terms of redirecting enquiries to the appropriate grant process, avoiding duplicated grants, or funding grants that have been rejected elsewhere? Thanks. Mike Peel 23:35, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

We certainly do not mean to supplant such existing programs. On the contrary, we aim to complement them and extend them (potentially) to cover all Wikimedians worldwide. Where a chapter participation/community grants program exists, we would certainly encourage applicants to try the chapter first. A page listing such programs with the geographies they serve would come in handy. As mentioned earlier on this talk page, a request denied by a chapter on any grounds other than lack of funds would need extraordinary circumstances to be approved by us (i.e. a lot of weight will be given to chapters' perspective).
The problem of duplication, however, is quite real, and I'm open to suggestions on how to mitigate it. For our part, we do all our grantmaking in public, here on Meta, so it's easy for chapters to check and see whether a request is also being made from our program. Ijon 00:32, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I should have mentioned yesterday that this question was prompted by an internal-l email from someone else (I'm not sure how much I can say about that here?); you might also want to reply to their email. ;-)
A page/list as you describe sounds like a good idea - should that be on this page somewhere, or elsewhere? Information on the grants that WMUK gives are also generally in public, although some go through different means than the page I linked to above (e.g. GLAM funding, and also when we offer scholarships), so doing a bit of checking in both directions would probably be a good plan to avoid duplications. Asking chapters probably covers a large part of that already, though. Thanks. Mike Peel 08:03, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
As a member of the Wikimedia Poland Wikigrants Committee and due to the lack of an English translation I'd just like to clarify that the Polish Wikigrants programme is not supposed to offer participation grants for events, meetings or any activites within and outside of the Wikimedia community. We only offer grants (i.e. a refund) for travel and entrance tickets which are directly related to collecting information for Wikimedia projects, e.g. bus/train tickets for photo scavenger hunts, entrance tickets to museums, galleries and so on. Therefore, this grant proposal differs from the Wikigrants programme that we've been running for past several years and might be interesting for the chapter to join in. The decision, of course, will be taken by the Board of Wikimedia Poland. Regards, odder (talk) 23:45, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

End to end costs of centralization[edit]

A key argument against a chapter such as WM-UK that has an existing history of offering grants and scholarships for non-UK (but mission relevant) activities in order to help those in other countries without their own local chapter support, is that the proposed central committee introduces staff costs where currently there is none. There will be an added cost of transferring any money internally and then the additional staff costs to:

  • account for the new PGC activities
  • sit on the PGC (at the moment WM-UK has no staff costs for funding reviews though we may in the future)
  • pay the money and account against receipts
  • report back in compliance against the legislative requirements of the source funding countries in order to satisfy charities governance requirements and tax legislation
(†) It is not clear why WMF and WM-DE have made it a requirement of the operation of the PGC that they would hold all funds from other chapters in advance, as opposed to ear-marking the money. For example WM-UK can hold accounts and pay money direct to a claimant in Euros, USD or GBP at the time of payment rather than in advance and thereby avoid the risk of unnecessary advance charges. In practice end to end banking and transaction charges may well be less paying from the UK compared to Germany or the USA.
(‡) The mission of the WM-UK charity is not limited to UK activities.

It would help if these end to end staff and other costs were analysed and presented in simple and unambiguous terms, for example by explaining how much a $1,000 grant will cost to administer under the proposed PGC system. In the case of our chapter, we can then compare these costs to the current (sometimes zero cost) associated with some of WM-UK's current international grants and the WM-UK board then has a basis on which to balance benefit against cost and any risk. I am particularly concerned that we avoid the cost of double accounting and administration where the chapter has to present accounts for grants and the PGC pays staff to duplicate the same reporting even if there is a difference as to level of detail. -- 09:54, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

Hi, could you explain what you mean by saying that "WMF and WM-DE have made it a requirement of the operation of the PGC that they would hold all funds from other chapters in advance, as opposed to ear-marking the money." ? As hard as I try, I simply don't understand what you mean to say.
Still, it seems to me, that your main concern is the extra cost caused by this kind of arrangement. So these are my thoughts: I feel that the administrative overhead is negligible, compared to the benefits. In fact, the Participation Grants Committee is nothing more than a decision-making body. It does not hold or administer any funds. The latter is taken care of entirely by one of the participating organisations (a chapter or the WMF), under the current arrangement either by the WMF for disbursements in USD or by WMDE for EUR. So the only extra cost are the (wo)man hours we spend discussing the proposals and developing policies. However, if it wasn't for this programme, I would discuss them with my colleagues at WMDE, occupying their time instead. So technically, the fact that proposals are discussed and decided upon by this new body, does not increase cost by any significant measure. Personally, I greatly welcome the opportunity to have this kind of exchange and cooperation with other organisations within our global movement, not least, because I feel that our funding policies still need a great deal of polishing and refining and this programme gives me a great opportunity to start doing so. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 10:07, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Please note that this program has separated funding from disbursement, on purpose. WMF and WMDE both have significant paid staff resources able to handle the paperwork involved with disbursement with relative ease. We have tentatively divided the disbursement between the organizations so that WMDE would disburse all Euro grants and the WMF would disburse all other currency grants, to best utilize each organization's financial infrastructure.
Thus, any participation grant approved by the PGC (whose members come, per the current structure, from the funding bodies), would be actually disbursed by either WMF or WMDE in its entirety. Periodically (we propose every six months), there will be a reckoning of funds disbursed by each of the (currently) two disbursing organizations, and an amount owed by or due to each of the funding bodies would be calculated; thus, WMUK could choose to contribute money to the pool and not do any disbursing at all (minimizing overhead), and just pay its share to the disbursers once every six months -- as simple as a single wire or cheque. Perhaps WMUK would consider it reasonable to act as a disburser of GBP grants, should those come up, but that's entirely up to WMUK! Ijon 05:13, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Johannes, my statement about WMF and WM-DE making it a requirement to hold funds is based on the description at Grants:Participation/Organization where disbursement is limited to the two organizations. If this is not the case I suggest the process is reworded in a way that can accommodate other organizations to join the PGC. Sorry, the response that administrative overhead is "minimal" is vague and does not enable me to compare the end to end costs if I am to ensure the best use of charitable funds.

Ijon, your expectation that WMF and WM-DE disbursing funds minimizes overheads is not clear to me, in practice this would be accounting by two chapters instead of one and involves the cost of two international transfers instead of one or none (depending on the location of an end recipient).

Considering that 3 grants have been made already, can you point me to where these are reported so I can see how this works? Thanks -- 07:28, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

Fæ, thanks for your remarks. The first report is available at Grants:Presenting at PAN Lab of CLEF 2011/Report. The other two grants have been approved, but the event is still in the future, so no report is available as of now.
Regarding the question who holds and disburses the funds, the "organisation" sub-page merely describes the current situation, as there are two participating bodies at this time. Currently, the easiest solution seemed to be that WMF disburses USD amounts and WMDE EUR amounts. If more chapters were to join, one would probably start taking turns in disbursing funds in order to have a balanced process. There is absolutely no suggestion, that other participating bodies would have to transfer their contributions to WMDE or WMF. If the language on the organisation sub-page is ambiguous in that respect, we have to fix it.
Regarding the cost issue: What the participation grants committee does is have weekly Skype or IRC meetings (if there are pending applications) and (hopefully) approve them. I don't see this causing any administrative overhead. I really don't see how to put a price tag on this, as even if there was no PGC, I would probably bother one of my colleagues to discuss the applications with me. (sorry for repeating myself!) Personally, I find it an enriching experience to have this kind of exchange and I would love to see more chapters participating and feeding their expertise (geographic, thematic etc) into this process. From my point of view, the main feature of this (still experimental) programme is not centralisation, but internationalisation. I don't think that this programme should replace existing local grant programmes at all. And if local grant programmes exist, they should take precedence, as in the case of the latest proposal, which has been submitted to the participation grants programme, but which, as it seems, will likely be taken care of by Wikimedia Sverige. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 12:51, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, a rationale that "I would be sitting at my desk anyway" is not a good way to budget or explain to the UK Charities Commission where the grant from the fundraiser goes. If staff are to be relied on to professionally and transparently assess proposals and ensure compliance to the mission then this should be made part of operational plans, part of standard time recording and appropriately budgeted for. If I ask WM-UK staff, rather than an unpaid volunteer, to sit on a funding panel and represent the trustees then I am required to account for this in my budget, I would be surprised if WM-DE has no similar requirement. I agree that such a meeting ought to be a good experience but at the same time I still do not see my expectations for operational good practice unreasonable.
Thanks for the link to the grantee's report for the PAN Lab of CLEF, I was looking for a document that covers the PGC's assessment against the mission and grant recommendation, perhaps this is in some minutes? -- 14:32, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I can't recall writing "I would be sitting at my desk anyway". Please look above, this is neither what I wrote nor meant. I intended to say that assessing an application in the PGC will take no more man-hours than considering the same application in another setting. Therefore grant-making through the PGC does not cause extra costs as compared to doing the same locally. The in-house hours spend on the PGC are of course registered under appropriate items in the time registry, but your question specifically referred to "costs of centralisation", and my current estimate is that there are no extra costs.
Regarding the PAN Lab grant -> this predated the formal inception of the programme, thus it was discussed and decided via e-mail. --Johannes Rohr (WMDE) 15:14, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for paraphrasing and misinterpreting. There appears to be no information for me to estimate the costs involved for WM-UK taking part in the PGC and no current documents showing the nature of how reporting will be done. Presumably these are areas to be resolved in the future and I'll take that into consideration in our board discussions. Thanks -- 15:43, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

I was asked at our last WM-UK board meeting in November to explain the issue more clearly here. I raised two original questions which are re-phrased below in plain English to avoid confusion.

  1. What are the reported costs of running this committee? WM-UK provide grants with a lightweight process, at the moment the costs are zero though at some point in the future some of this work may be done by employed staff. If we join the PGC then there would be costs for our CEO or another member of staff to sit in on the meeting on a weekly basis and collaborate in necessary inter-organizational accounting and reporting beyond the current reports that WM-UK is obliged to produce.
  2. Where are the minutes or reports of this committee to be found demonstrating how grants are assessed against the joint mission or alternative definition under which grants are awarded?

Thanks -- 22:12, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

  1. The committee meets once a week for up to 30 minutes if there are open requests (we have now gone more than three weeks without new requests, for instance, so zero time was spent on this). So far, the time cost was therefore quite small. I'd guesstimate it would average at about a meeting every other week, i.e. approximately 15 minutes per week per PGC member (currently 2).
  2. Here are the minutes we have so far. Ijon 03:09, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Notes on advance disbursement[edit]

We intend to reimburse most grant recipients after they complete an event report with expenditures fully documented, except for cases in which advance disbursement is specifically requested by the applicant. We've run into some confusion with a couple of grantees so far who did not request advance disbursement but were expecting it, so I've made this information more prominent on the application page. Let me know if you have other suggestions. Wolliff 16:57, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

I cannot see the constraint that payment would be after the report is made public, at the moment it reads as payment would be after the event only. Presumably common sense applies in that we would make payment if the applicant, for example, is hospitalized soon after the event and so is delayed in getting a report finished. -- 00:01, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

Booking[edit]

Hi, In some cases -- especially for people (like me) who come from a developing country, booking a hotel online is a huge challenge, since credit card usage is not really popular (at least in my country). Therefore, is it possible for WMDE/WMF to book a hotel for a scholarship recipient (upon request) to save the applicant the hustle of payment processing? I believe that this can even result in saving a few dollars that would be otherwise lost to currency exchange if the money was wired to the recipient and then wired again to the hotel. Abbasjnr (talk) 06:52, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

This seems more of a general chapters question as it probably would not make that much sense for WMDE to make bookings in London for a traveller from Israel when we have a chapter that is based in London. For chapters with permanent or contract staff who help with events and coordination, it makes perfect sense for them to act as a local representative to help with some of the difficult bookings and details for international travellers. WMUK has considered using a preferred travel agent, this is a contentious area as it can add commission fees to travel arrangements but does avoid administrative staff spending a lot of time on travel logistics and sometimes on helping with visa problems. Where WMUK is providing scholarships directly, the chapter has also opted to both give advances or pay directly as well as make bookings. Where a grants body does not have the staff, I would suggest firstly deferring to the most relevant local chapter, who may well offer a range of options for bookings and even payment. It would be interesting if the accommodation part of a grant/scholarship payment were going directly to the host chapter in such circumstances, which may well avoid some or all transaction fees, if handled appropriately; such as through factoring into end of year reserves, or in our particular case, making a later adjustment in the WMUK annual free grant to the WMF. -- (talk) 07:18, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's possible to book hotels for recipients of Participation Support, upon request. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:33, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Email problems[edit]

I created this support request, then I emailed participation(at)wikimedia(dot)org, as per the instructions. I received an automated response which says "the group you tried to contact (participation) may not exist, or you may not have permission to post messages to the group." Question mark? --Cryptic C62 (talk) 14:01, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Hi, Cryptic. Sorry about that! Our IT folks have made a change that rendered that address unreachable for about 48 hours. Please send it again, it should be working now. Thanks! :) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:21, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
Done! --Cryptic C62 (talk) 13:41, 1 March 2013 (UTC)