Learning patterns/How to apply for a Simple Annual Plan Grant
What problem does this solve?
In 2012, the WMF Board of Trustees with input from the Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group developed the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) process for distributing funding among Wikimedia Affiliates. This process is led by a committee of nine volunteers who meet twice annually to make decisions about Annual Plan Grant applications, and after the committee's recommendations are approved by the Board of Trustees, applicants are offered general support grants in the amounts defined by the committee. This process works best for organizations that already have resources (time, money, staff) to participate in a rigorous application process, that need large grant amounts, and to whom the autonomy and flexibility offered by general support grants is very important.
This process doesn't work well for organizations and less formal groups that need some funding for their programs and operating expenses (including staff for programs or administration), but don't meet the eligibility requirements for the FDC process or don't have the resources to engage in such a rigorous process or to plan so far in advance. This means that many worthy organizations doing good work weren't able to access annual plan grants, and had to apply through the Project grants program, even though they may not even require the flexibility of general support grants or amounts over $100,000 US dollars. This problem became clear during the Reimagining WMF Grants consultation process. We realized the largest organizations in Western Europe were achieving more impact through the FDC process, but that we weren't able to distribute funds to many organizations and groups that needed them, especially to groups or organizations working with emerging communities outside of Western Europe, and to informal groups. While a few exceptional organizations in Eastern Europe and South America were able to break through the barriers to the FDC process successfully, we realized we needed more ways to help smaller or less formal groups and organizations in different parts of the world succeed.
This is why we started Simple Annual Plan Grants.
What is the solution?
Simple Annual Plan Grants are for organizations and groups that already have experience managing successful programs and managing funding (through the WMF or another funder), and are ready to plan all of their activities and expenses for an entire year. Unlike grants through the FDC process, which starts about 6 months before the time a grant is awarded, decisions about Simple Annual Plan Grants are usually made by the committee in about three weeks from the date of application. Hands on support is offered to all applicants from the time of eligibility and throughout the course of the grant, and WMF staff and committee members will be there to help you during each step. Changes to the application are welcomed during the review period, and may be suggested by the committee in order to improve your grant application.
Simple Annual Plan Grants are available to Wikimedia Chapters, Wikimedia User Groups, and non-affiliate organizations and groups with close alignment with the Wikimedia mission. Current grantees include organizations and groups from Eastern Europe, South America, Asia, North America, and Western Europe focusing on GLAM partnerships, education programs, competitions, and community building, among other programs and activities. We hope to support more regions and programs with future grants.
Things to consider
- Grants may be up to $100,000 US for 12 months. If you receive a Simple Annual Plan Grant, your group or organization may not receive Project or Rapid grants during the grant period; events are the only exception.
- Grants may request funding for staff and contractors, and eligibility for this will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
- Grants can cover both program expenses and operating expenses.
- Simple Annual Plan Grants include a specific budget that is approved by the committee and WMF at the time a decision is made about the grant, but changes may be made to the budget throughout the grant with the permission of WMF.
- Only organizations and groups with documented experience managing successful programs may apply.
- Only organizations and groups with documented experience managing funding from WMF or another source may apply.
- If you know your group or organization has difficult receiving grant funding due to legal or regulatory constraints, you may not be able to receive a Simple Annual Plan Grant. Even for Simple Annual Plan Grants, regulations around sending funds are more highly scrutinized. This is something that will need to be addressed early in the application process.
How to apply
- Are you uncertain whether or not you will be eligible to apply? Reach out to Simple APG program staff right away to discuss your application. This could save your group or organization a lot of work, in case there are steps you need to complete before becoming eligible.
- If you are applying for significant funding or staff, you will need to show that your group or organization is ready to take on these responsibilities and that you are following good practices for groups and organizations. Review the guidelines and good practices here, to see if there are things your group or organization should implement before applying.
- If you don't yet have documented experience managing successful programs or funding, complete several Project grants or Rapid grants. This will also help you prepare for the Simple Annual Plan Grants process in other ways, since WMF staff will help you develop your ideas and manage your projects.
- If you are not a recognized Wikimedia Affiliate, consider whether there are benefits to applying for recognition as a Wikimedia User Group. This may give you better access to the community of Wikimedia Affiliates, so that you can better learn about the work of others in the Wikimedia world and share your work. You'll also get access to using certain Wikimedia trademarks through an affiliate agreement. This is not required to apply for a Simple Annual Plan Grant, but you might be asked about it during the application process.
- Do you think you're now eligible? Use this button to submit a few simple details about your application. WMF staff will then contact you to begin the eligibility process. If you are determined eligible, WMF staff will set up an application form for your group or organization which you can take as long as you need to complete.
Information you need to make your application
- You will need to know what 2-3 programs you will focus on in the coming year. For each program, you will need to supply SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timebound) program objectives and targets.
- You will need to submit a detailed budget including all your expenses for your programs and operations organized by line item. Even if you have other sources of funding, you still need to submit a complete budget with your application and indicate which items are covered by other sources. A template is available for organizations working on this for the first time.
- As part of your first application, you will be asked to link to some information about your past program achievements and what you have learned. These will be links to blog posts or reports that your organization has already created.
- If you are requesting any staff or contractor positions, you will need to fill out some details for each staff or contractor position, including a link to a detailed job description and a description of how this staff person or contractor will spend their time.
- Before making your application, think about what makes your organization or group unique. Is there something you offer the Wikimedia movement that no one else can? This might be something unique about your programs, the way your group or organization works, or your organization's mission. Be sure to emphasize this in your application, since showing that you have something special to offer will make it more likely that the committee will approve your grant.
- If you can find a way to show that many people from your group, organization, or community are highly invested in the application process, you will be able to make a better argument to the committee that you are likely to have the volunteer resources to implement your plans. So if you can involve more people directly in the application process, that's a good thing.
- Most groups and organizations will have discussions with relevant stakeholders leading up to the application process. If these discussions are documented online (even in a different language), we recommend that you link to these from your application. The committee will view good practices around consulting with your community very favorably when considering your application.
- Requests for staff and contractors are given the most scrutiny, so be prepared for more intense questions and discussions from staff and the committee if you request any.
- Requests for merchandise and printing not directly tied to program activities are also typically scrutinized. So if you include items like this, make sure you are prepared to explain why these expenses are necessary to help your organization achieve more impact.
- Try not to request the maximum amount allowed, in case you need to request an increase during the year to respond to an urgent opportunity.
- Some grantees will work with committee members as part of the application process. Make the most off this relationship by helping this person understand your work, as this person will provide a direct link between you and the committee.
- Communicate early and often with WMF staff. This will help you avoid misunderstandings that may create additional work for you and your colleagues, and you may receive additional support from WMF.