Notes Discussion on Finances, Prague November 25, 2018
Financing across the network
Notes of the Chairpersons’ meeting Prague, November 24 - 25, 2018
During our retreat in Prague we exchanged ideas about Revenue streams and Resource allocation of the international movement and agreed to come to a discussion note (or a list of suggestions) as input for the working groups of the Movement Strategy Process. These notes are derived from Etherpad and edited by Grijz (talk) 14:27, 1 February 2019 (UTC).
We agreed to the following preambule: “Money is an indispensable resource to systematically stimulate local initiatives that support the further development of Wikimedia projects”.
The question put forward was if we wanted to discuss the current system, based on the “Haifa letter”. In short: The money given by small donors is collected by WMF. The affiliates are not allowed to run WP banner campaigns themselves (except for WMDE). The money is distributed via grant programs.
Comments and suggestions
- There were several comments on the idea of introducing decentralized fundraising.
- At this moment it is not transparent how much is donated in the various countries, there is only a breakdown per continent available.
- Despite the lack of information some countries feel that they can raise the amount that is collected by the banner campaigns. They think they know the local customs and sentiments better, and the local tax regulations, and they underline that a local association will be more inviting to donors.
- It is currently impossible to perform IBAN payments from/to the Foundation. This is both a problem for the chapters and the general public. It is felt that the general public is more willing to fund the Foundation if it could be done with IBAN payments and, where applicable, make use of a national tax exemption.
- In many countries there are local tax reductions in place; the donors can get tax reductions in case the donation is done locally. Currently this is impossible since the Foundation can not issue national tax exempts. For example, in Belgium the tax reduction is 45% - this way we might double (without any real effort) the small donor gifts just by giving the possibility for tax exemption. Nearly half of the donation would then be paid by the Federal government...
- On the other hand: Centralized fundraising at first sight might seem to be more efficient and gives us the chance to send similar messages and do it in a similar design (not send totally different messages in different countries).
- There’s considerable knowledge about the effectiveness and about the execution of banner fundraising campaigns at WMF staff.
- Another solution could be to stick to central planning and only adapt it to the local context with help of the affiliates.
- Nevertheless we feel that different revenue streams need more consideration. Some chapters have gained experience with local fundraising other than the banner campaigns. Diversifying revenue streams reduces risk and increases flexibility.
- In some countries finding funding for projects is easier than finding funds for the basic administration of the affiliate. Project funding alone is however not sufficient, there are quite a lot of administrative and infrastructure costs at national level that need to be covered as well.
- Suggestion to coordinate and/or collect and share expertise on grant applications for international funding schemes.
- This leads to the question which forms of affiliates should be doing fundraising. As money is involved there should always be a formal organization (registered with bylaws etc) doing fundraising.
- Local laws need to be considered when deciding on this issue - some affiliates might not be able to transfer funds outside the country (e.g. Ukraine)
- A suggestion is made to do some piloting with decentralized fundraising in some countries to gain more experience and build up knowledge.
Do the current grant programs comply with the needs of the affiliates? Is there any overlap or areas not covered? Can we design the very basics of an overall grant program. Think of: goals, target groups, minimum organizational demands for grant applicants, max-min amounts, need for consultancy, fulfilment procedures (apply, report, feedback loops and timelines). Can we design the basic organizational structure a resource allocation body? Which stakeholders must be involved? Where are the decisions made?
Comments and suggestions
- From the five different grant programs currently in place to receive funding from the WMF, only 2 are mainly used by organizations: AGP and SAPG.
- What do we think that the Resource Allocation Working Group must take into account: Metrics, Equity, Impact of the funds used?
- Is it possible to carry out an analysis of the current systems and point out the strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the supply criteria that should be considered / covered in the new model that the working groups are working on.
- Fulfillment procedures should be added too, and (as is currently the case) should be adapted to different ranges of amounts requested.
- As regards to the organizational structure of a new resource allocation body: We can give thoughts of a future structure from the perspective of the different stakeholders to be involved.
- Discussion: We should start with the NEEDS that we as affiliates have and formulate these as an input for the Wikimedia 2030-working groups. It might not necessarily be a suggestion for a new design from scratch. May be it is possible to come up with criteria for a new process?
- Is it clear how we envisage the separation of legislative power, executive power and judiciary power? Avoid a situation were a stakeholder wears two hats, especially where conflict handling is necessary.
- There is a relation between the grant program and the recognition process of affiliates. See also discussion paper: Development of organisations of the Wikiverse_–_what do we need to evolve?
- How to include the outcomes of the Movement Direction (Knowledge as a service, Knowledge Equity)? New decentralized organizational structures will come to exist (may be as a replacement or may be as a complement to the current organizational forms such as user groups and chapters).
- With regard to the strategic direction: knowledge as an equity (as a social movement) will also make it necessary to rethink the funding sources of affiliates.
Original notes see: Affiliate Chairpersons meeting November 24 - 25, 2018