Grants talk:Start

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Link to Values[edit]

Link to Wikimedia Foundation Values would be more useful (instead foundation:Values). Page Wikimedia Foundation Values may be translatable in the nearest future. --Kaganer (talk) 18:29, 20 September 2017 (UTC)

I agree Divinesomu (talk) 08:40, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

Place or category for grant requests open to community comment?[edit]

Suppose that volunteers wish to review or comment on grant requests. I think the grants process has always been imagined to be open and to solicit community endorsements, critiques, and review.

How should anyone find grant applications which are open for comment? Is there a category of open grant applications? Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:03, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

@Bluerasberry: Hey Lane, sorry for the delay responding here. I was away on parental leave for the past few months. Your assessment of the grants process is correct-- volunteers are always able to provide feedback on grant proposals, and this feedback is valuable to committees and staff (in the case of Rapid Grants) in making funding decisions. There are indeed categories and pages that show a clear list of open grant applications, and they are separated by grant program. Here is where to find them:
I think you are suggesting that we create and make accessible page that lists all open grants across programs. Is that correct? I can discuss that with the team, because that would be relatively easy to throw together using a DynamicPageList given that open proposals of each kind of grant are always in a category. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 18:28, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
@I JethroBT (WMF): Parental leave?! Wow, congratulations!
Thanks for these. I was not suggesting that your team make any particular changes because I did not know that the "browse applications" lists were available. I have no strong opinions on these lists because I am just now looking at them, but yes, it does sound interesting to be able to generate dynamic lists perhaps based on characteristic. I am not sure what those characteristics should be, but maybe by region or topic, because so far as I know those are the most likely reasons why one person would be interested in commenting on a grant. Thanks for your reply. You resolved everything here. Great job! Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:44, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

NPO Accounting Software for Currency Conversions[edit] --Nemo 17:18, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

@Nemo: Thanks Nemo. We currently use services from Oanda to handle general currency conversions related to grants, but this looks like a useful tool to handle conversions from multiple currencies. That's a situation that comes up often enough for grantees that I'd like to look into whether this is something we could recommend. My one concern is that, as it is right now, only folks with some knowledge of coding/APIs will be able to use it, as there isn't enough documentation for folks without that kind of technical experience. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 18:36, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

How does the WMF grants team feel about saying "no"?[edit]

I am not sure what I have been experiencing, but recently I assisted some individuals in making small WMF grant applications (less than US$2000) and I got responses from the WMF grants team which are challenging for me to understand. From my perspective, it seems like the WMF team might have some motivation to avoid telling an applicant "no", and instead communicates a "no" response in an indirect way. I wanted to share the situations here to open a conversation, and to advocate for quick clear answers from the WMF grants team. A "no" answer can be a good thing and there is no shame in giving one!

I want to start by saying how happy I am with service from the WMF grants team. This entire online grants application process is a crazy experiment which has brought lots of successes and amazing opportunities. What follows are some reflections and not a criticism.

For the rapid and travel grants, the pages say something like a person can apply for a grant and get an evaluation and answer in 2 weeks. That is fine - if an application can be accepted, great, and if not, then I hope that the WMF grants team will clearly say "no" so that I can have closure and move onto something else.

Here are some strange cases:

Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru
user applied for grant 22 November
WMF review started on 30 November - the "travel grant" team turned this over to the "rapid grant" team who would review this, but the application is still active
user check in 4 December - no response
user check in 3 January - no response
WMF response on 12 January - "Since this request is not eligible, that means that it will neither be declined or accepted", but also, the WMF reviewer marked this as "not funded"
user followed up by making the same application with the rapid form, now at Grants:Project/Rapid/marielavzla/Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru

As an applicant, the response that I wished that I would have gotten from the WMF grants team would have been a strong "no" on 30 November at which time I could have completed the correct form instead of having to wait for a response.

Offline Wikipedia deployment in Syria
user applied for grant 24 February 2017
WMF response on 27 February - there is a good legal reason for not funding this, but the application is open
WMF response on 14 March - since the WMF cannot fund this right now, the WMF marked this as "draft". "Draft" is the user indication that a user is in the process of completing a form and has not yet submitted it to the WMF. Strangely, WMF grants team uses it here to indicate that the WMF grants team is drafting a response to the grant or that the response is pending.
user check in 22 November - no response
user check in 3 January
WMF response on 9 March - WMF will not fund this grant, and marked the application as "voluntarily withdrawn by the proposer". This is strange because the denial is coming from the WMF side. Why mark not just say "no", instead of indicating that the user withdrew the request?

As an applicant I could have accepted a "no" on 27 February. If for some reason the WMF wanted to pursue this, then the grants team could follow up with me, just because I think even at 27 February the answer was "no". It is challenging for me to keep the community team doing outreach in this area in limbo with an uncertain answer. I feel like WMF staff had a clear understanding of this situation at the beginning, but for whatever reason, has an aversion to giving a clear "no".

offline wikipedia in greece (travel grant)
user applied for grant 11 August 2017
WMF response 17 August - there is some problem, and some request for more information
WMF response 7 September - advice to reapply but as "rapid" grant rather than travel grant
user moves grant application from "travel grant" to "rapid grant" on 23 September, application now at offline wikipedia in greece (rapid grant)
WMF response 16 November - WMF staff person posts to rapid grant application that user should create a rapid grant application
user response 22 November - this is a rapid grant application, request for evaluation
WMF response 30 November - WMF insists that rapid grant application is a travel grant request, but says that the WMF rapid grants evaluator will review this. This is confusing because it seems apparent to me that in the URL this is in the "rapid" grants space.
user check in 3 November
WMF says follow up is coming on 12 January but also marked the grant as not funded with the note "not funded because not eligible for TPS funding", and seems unaware that there is both an application in travel grants as well as in rapid grants

The response that I think I wanted was a clear "no" by 7 September, then a rapid grant evaluation within two weeks from 23 September. If I got a "no" then fine but the closure is useful.

Discussion points
  • To what extent are these experiences typical of exchanges with the WMF grants team?
  • How often do travel or rapid grant applications have a wait time of more than one month for the final evaluation?
  • How can users have better communication with evaluators?
  • To what extent are the evaluation outcome labels meeting the needs of applicants and evaluators? For example, why is "draft" used for both user draft and WMF drafts, why is "not funded" an indication of "neither be declined or accepted"? I am a native English speaker and I have trouble with this.
  • What are typical wait times for evaluations?
  • What behind-the-scenes motivations exist for WMF evaluators to avoid giving a direct "no" answer when the response to a grant application is much closer to "no" than "yes"?

Thoughts about any of these? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:02, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

Hi Bluerasberry. Thanks for your questions. I'll connect with the Program Officers for TPS and Rapid Grants and we'll respond by the end of the week. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 17:13, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Hi Blue Rasberry. Thanks for reaching out and we’re sorry your recent experiences have been confusing and frustrating. We want to be clear that the grants team does not have any ulterior motive for not saying a definitive “no” to a grant proposal. If a grant proposal is clearly not eligible for funding or the project does not merit funding, we will decline. However, often times a proposal is not eligible for funding in TPS but is eligible for a Rapid Grant. Sometimes we are not sure ourselves if a project is eligible due to either U.S. or foreign funding restrictions and need to do more due diligence with our legal/finance teams and outside counsel to understand what we can and cannot fund.
Since Rapid Grants was launched in May 2016, the average time from submitting an application to receiving a decision from the grants team has been 14 days. For TPS, it is 16 days. Since this is an average, some grant proposals take a shorter time and some longer. The end of the year (November/December) is always the busiest time, plus there is a break for the holidays. This year, we closed Rapid Grants from December 18-January 14 to accommodate the year-end rush and Program Officer travel schedules.
In terms of the cases you mentioned, I will try and shed more light:
Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru: It looks like Marti determined that this proposal was not eligible for TPS, but may be for a Rapid Grant and pinged our new Program Officer, Woubzena to review. Unfortunately, my guess is that since Woubzena only joined the foundation November 13th, she either did not see the ping or was not sure what to do next. We should have followed up with her directly. She was also still on break on January 3rd when you pinged her. However, from Marti’s first response on November 30th it looks clear that it was not eligible for TPS and should be submitted as a Rapid Grant. For future reference, if a grant is not eligible for TPS but is eligible for a Rapid Grant, it needs to be submitted as a Rapid Grant to be reviewed and show up in this list of Rapid Grant Open Proposals. The proposals are reviewed by different processes and different people. Now that the proposal is a Rapid Grant, we will prioritize review this week.
Offline Wikipedia deployment in Syria: This was a case where we were unclear on the eligibility and needed time to receive guidance from our Legal team and outside experts to understand if we could fund activities in Syria. Getting the research done to determine eligibility can often take a long time in cases like these. It is not true that we knew a definite “no” for this case early on. “Draft” does not necessarily mean that we are waiting for the applicant to improve the proposal. We often use the “draft” status for those proposals that will not have a decision in the near term, but may be eligible in the future in case an applicant wants to re-open the request. However, when we realized we would not be able to fund activities in Syria in the foreseeable future, we should have moved to “not funded”. It’s clear from this experience that we do not have a strict protocol for when we apply the different grant status terms. We will work to align our team on when to use “draft” vs. “not funded” vs. “withdrawn”.
Offline Wikipedia in Greece: Looking through the two discussion pages, there was a lot of mixed communication! When the original TPS was moved to Rapid Grants, only the page name changed, but not the template of the grant so it still showed up as a TPS, which is why Marti was confused. The portal on the info box needs to be updated to Rapid Grant. I have updated the page and now it shows up in the correct place for Rapid Grants Open Proposals. Please let us know if the applicant still wants to pursue the project despite the delay. If yes, we will prioritize review.
Based on our average decision-making time for TPS and Rapid Grants, I do believe these cases are an exception. The fact that two are TPS--> Rapid Grant cases and the other is related to grantmaking in a difficult legal context make me hope that they won’t be repeated in the future. We are also considering merging TPS and Rapid Grants as there is a lot of overlap between the two programs.
If you or a grantee are waiting on a response, you can always email us directly. While we strive to respond to all pings on discussion pages, there are times when we either miss them or they get buried in the masses. This can happen with email as well, but it can be a more direct way to get a response.
I hope this answered most of your questions. If not, please let me know. Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 00:13, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
@AWang (WMF): I am satisfied with your attention and response. I appreciate the rapid pace at which everything in the Wikimedia movement changes and I know that the grants team does everything they can to both meet needs and innovate.
I would like to ask for either a commitment or response from you. My request is that when a grant reviewer can determine that a grant proposal will not be funded, then at that time, you use the "not funded" tag as the clear and terminal end to the review process. For the "Peru" grant above you note in discussing your reviewer, "However, from Marti’s first response on November 30th it looks clear that it was not eligible for TPS and should be submitted as a Rapid Grant." To me, the response at the top of the talk page was not clear. It looks to me like there was a call for further conversation here. A response which I would definitely have been able to interpret would have been your tagging this "not funded" or otherwise "this path is a dead end, do something else". What you knew at that time and what I did not was that I should have left that path in the application and gone to the other pathway. For now I would like to consider everything resolved, but if you agree that it is reasonable, I request that reviewers from now on immediately tag "not funded" to grants as the normal and expected way to communicate that the grants team will not fund something. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:45, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

Proposal to merge talk pages for grants[edit]

Currently there are various talk pages for different WMF grants I propose to merge all of these into a single talk page here. Benefits of doing so would be the following:

  1. Less confusion about where to post
  2. Centralized conversation about WMF grants
  3. Easier for users to watch one single page, which also would build a community of regulars in the forum
  4. Easier to search all previous discussions in a centralized archive

Here are the grant talk pages which I have found and which I propose to merge here:

  1. Grants talk:Project/Rapid
  2. Grants talk:TPS
  3. Grants talk:Project
  4. Grants talk:Start/Individuals
  5. Grants talk:Conference
  6. Grants talk:Simple
  7. Grants talk:APG

Here are some problems which a merge would address:

  1. The talk page is dead - Grants talk:Simple, Grants talk:TPS, Grants talk:APG, Grants talk:Conference
  2. Page attracts posts which are general discussion of WMF grants, not specific grant type for which forum is designated Grants talk:Project/Rapid, Grants talk:Project

I would not oppose forking out discussion pages after the merge if it happens that one type of grant gets much more discussion than the others, but right now, I would say that there is no regular discussion for any sort of grant. The usual wiki response to fragmented discussions on many similar topics is a merge of talk pages. Thoughts from others? Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:01, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

I am posting notices on the above pages of my intent to merge soon. I am directing anyone with comments to post here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:38, 12 April 2018 (UTC)
Hi Blue Rasberry, which imminent/actual problem are you trying to solve here? Your assumptions for why talk pages aren't used very often are based on which information? Braveheart (talk) 13:52, 12 April 2018 (UTC)

Category:Reports for WMF grants funded in FY Pending[edit]

There are 132 pages in this category, some of them from 2014 or earlier. In many cases it seems to be a miscategorisation. --Nemo 10:11, 19 May 2018 (UTC)

Category mingling[edit]

I'm trying to make sure that it's possible to navigate the categories for grant reports (or selected proposals if impossible) by criteria which trascend the specific grant program, for instance the grantee. See:

When no specific subcategory is available for a grantee, better add the proposal/report to a category named after the grantee, so that other related proposals can be found more easily. Often the grant pages are also the only pages describing what a certain group does. --Nemo 10:30, 19 May 2018 (UTC)