Grants:APG/FDC recommendations/2013-2014 round 2

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Introduction[edit]

The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) met in Frankfurt on the 21st–24th May 2014 in order to assess the proposals for 2013-2014 Round 2 and provide recommendations on them to the WMF Board. The FDC recommendations for each entity are given below. As an experiment, we have provided more comprehensive feedback to the entities this round. This is a direct response to a request from several organisations to offer more extensive comments. Feedback on whether this new format is useful would be appreciated.

Recommendations[edit]

The recommendation is in requested currencies; the amount in US dollars is for comparative purposes only (using recalculated conversion rates from 1st March 2014.

Entity Amount requested Amount recommended Change in FDC funding
Centre for Internet and Society* (Proposal) ₹18,406,454 ($297,831) ₹12,000,000 ($194,000) −20%
Wikimédia France (Proposal) €600,000 ($826,062) €600,000 ($826,062) +50%
Wikimedia Norge (Proposal) NOK 2,600,000 ($432,060) NOK 1,295,000 ($215,000) +58%
Wikimedia Foundation* (Proposal) ($60,064,000) Not applicable Not applicable
R2 total $1,555,953 $1,235,062  
R1 + R2 $7,502,070 $5,667,060 +20%

* A member of the FDC or the WMF staff recused themselves from the discussion or decision-making related to this allocation, namely: Arjuna Rao Chavala (recused from CIS), Garfield Byrd (recused from WMF) and Anasuya Sengupta (recused from WMF). The overall funds available for movement entities through the FDC process in 2013–2014 is $6,000,000. Of this, $4,432,000 was allocated in Round 1, leaving $1,568,000 for Round 2. In this round, the FDC has recommended an allocation of approximately $1,235,062, which leaves approximately $332,938 to be returned to the Wikimedia Foundation's reserves. The recommended allocation for the WMF is excluded from this, as it includes the next year's budget for the Wikimedia movement as a whole.

Centre for Internet and Society (CIS)[edit]

Amount requested: ₹18,406,454 ($297,831)
Amount allocated: ₹12,000,000 ($194,000)
Amount granted in 2013: ₹15,000,000 ($242,250)

The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) proposal sparked a significant debate among the members of the FDC. The FDC recognizes that the history of Wikimedia activities and representation in India has generated a particularly difficult and complicated situation for the Wikimedia movement in India. CIS’s Access to Knowledge (A2K) programme has come out of a contentious history of WMF’s intervention in India, and is perceived negatively by part of the community. The FDC recommends that CIS’s proposal should be funded at a reduced level, 20% less than the grant it has received in the previous two years.

CIS is an effective organization and has a capacity for impact. It has a consistent track record in internet advocacy, research and national policy shaping. It also has experience in content acquisition. Overall, CIS clearly has the ability to execute strategies, to “get things done”, and to offer meaningful measures and impact reports. CIS shows professionalism, and it sets high standards for transparency. CIS is able to adapt and strategically assess needs, as demonstrated by the individualised language plans that they have created. CIS was able to present a coherent proposal that would lead to impact on Wikimedia movement goals.

The FDC is concerned with the fact that there seems to be no clear strategy for handing over programs to local language communities to ensure sustainable growth. While recognizing the strengths of CIS (such as the already mentioned abilities in policy, advocacy, research, et al.), the FDC feels that program strategies and long-term impact do not necessarily leverage these strengths. The FDC also has concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of its language strategies. The quality of the content created through workshops is difficult to assess, and has at times been identified by the community and CIS itself as questionable. However, the FDC is happy to see experimentation taking place. The FDC hopes that lessons learnt are documented, analyzed and shared transparently with the community. The FDC is also not convinced that more funding would result in more impact. The complex and rather ambitious plan offered by CIS would be a challenge for any organization to execute.

Additionally, the FDC is concerned that there is a risk that staff-managed (and led) program work will result in less activity from volunteers. Despite over a year of Wikimedia-related programs, CIS’s community-focused work is not as integrated as it should be and this may negatively affect the sustainable growth of local and small communities. Furthermore, CIS’s potential for impact and its ability to engage volunteers may be limited by the sometimes challenging working environment in India’s Wikimedia movement, and the contentious history of WMF’s initiatives in India. The amount requested is significant in CIS’s local context, and CIS has not made a very strong argument for the proposed growth. CIS’s programs, while effective, may not be scalable or engaging more volunteers and the costs of the programs may be historically inflated. This may reduce the natural engagement, enthusiasm and motivations of volunteers.

The FDC encourages the WMF board and the Indian communities, as well as the CIS and WMIN, to take a step back, reflect on the situation in the organization, and jointly think about the next steps for the region. The FDC debated the application for a long time and some members considered many options, including a fresh start, as well as bridge funding until the next round so that both CIS and WMIN proposals could be jointly considered. In the diversity of opinions, a prevailing one was that the previous year’s funding level was too high in this context, and without demonstrated corresponding impact from the current programs.

The FDC discussed possible scenarios at length, and ideas were aired by different members that gathered various degrees of agreement within the FDC. We would like to share these with CIS and the community at large. These included suggestions that CIS:

  • Shift program focus around Wikimedia work to capitalize on CIS’s existing strengths (policy, advocacy, content acquisition);
  • Focus on creating an enabling environment in India and fostering the volunteer movement rather than doing the work directly itself;
  • Focus on the language communities it is currently working with in order to have a better long-term assessment, rather than expanding to cover more language communities;
  • Diversify the approach of its experimentation, taking into account the natural growth of projects and communities;
  • Work with Wikimedia communities to rethink things in India in general and have more strategic viewpoints.

In the discussion around the future strategy of the Wikimedia movement in the region, some members suggested more close cooperation between CIS and WMIN, or the possibility of a complete restart for both WMIN and CIS. Other members of the committee felt that rethinking the entire strategy could include the possibility that CIS not be given funding at all, with a corresponding disbanding of the local chapter (WMIN). Another member proposed a change in the direction of activities taken by CIS with a reduced amount of funding and allowing CIS to focus only on content acquisition, policy advocacy, and other high-level work that could create a favorable Wikimedia environment in India.

One FDC member had serious disagreements with the allocation amount.

The FDC does not want to see the status quo in India continue: a rethinking of the approach is needed. We would like to see a significant reflection on the existing programs take place before they are expanded.

Wikimédia France (WMFR)[edit]

Amount requested: €600,000 ($826,062)
Amount allocated: €600,000 ($826,062)
Amount allocated in 2013: €400,155 ($525,000)

The FDC has recommended full funding for Wikimédia France (WMFR) in this round.

The FDC has been impressed by WMFR’s work over the last year. WMFR has shown maturity in a difficult situation, and has worked through significant challenges. At the same time it has demonstrated innovation in programs and leadership. WMFR has a good opportunity to grow its programs, now that internal issues have been overcome.

The proposal is well-prepared and includes both quantitative and qualitative goals, although some measures are focused on outputs rather than outcomes. It is lacking in certain measures and SMART objectives, and some of the FDC would encourage WMFR to reconsider using SMART goals. If WMFR’s plans are successful, then they may have a broad impact, and will set a good example for organizations less versed in strategy.

WMFR is aiming to focus on the Wikimedia mission by directly linking offline work to online impact, and is currently measuring and tracking direct results of its program activities and plans to align these programs across broad indicators related to the Wikimedia Projects. In addition, it is mapping its costs to its programs through the budget and its quality framework.

WMFR is testing new programs and approaches (for example, its regional approach), while also building on past successes and expertise in areas in which it has an established track record (for example, institutional partnerships).

WMFR is a movement leader in actively and openly sharing learning with the movement through detailed reports and frank conversations, including discussions about failures and challenges.

The FDC recognizes that WMFR is setting high standards for itself and the FDC process. The FDC appreciates the ongoing, planned, and structured public reorganization process with a long-term strategy including limits on growth. In particular the clear path to sustainability and limiting the amount of movement resources needed is commendable. We look forward to WMFR’s implementation matching the high quality of its plan.

WMFR is planning numerous activities and designing its new and tested programs on a significant scale; as a result the plan may not be feasible, especially if WMFR’s revised staffing structure does not address past inefficiencies as expected. An issue of proportionality with the budget was also noted: the most successful programs reported appear to be the least costly, implying that there is a declining value in marginal increases of budget.

An issue that raises some concern for the FDC is that WMFR acknowledges that volunteer engagement is an ongoing and significant challenge, while at the same time presenting a plan that relies on significant volunteer resources. It is unclear how WMFR will find the volunteer resources needed to execute this plan.

The FDC recognizes the strategic thought that has gone into this proposal. We appreciate the fact that even though WMFR requests an allocation outside of guardrails this round, it makes this request in a persuasive and plausible way, and also has a long-term strategy for sustainable growth. In this context, the FDC thinks that funding this proposal at a significantly higher level than the guardrails is justified.

WMFR has the opportunity to fundraise outside of the Wikimedia projects, but has not yet done so significantly. Some FDC members feel that it is important that WMFR builds capacity to raise funds in future years and think that it would be better if WMFR decreased FDC funding as a share of its total funding.

Programs executed by chapters in areas of the world where no Wikimedia organizations exist may foster awareness in local communities and positive change. However, some FDC members expressed concerns about having a non-local organisation operating in a country and thus possibly preventing organic growth of communities and home grown initiatives. This is particularly true in WMFR’s case through its Afripédia program. Hopefully, this program can be taken as an opportunity to empower local communities and grow partnerships with local organisations, to achieve grassroots development.

Wikimedia Norge (WMNO)[edit]

Amount requested: NOK 2,600,000 ($432,060)
Amount allocated: NOK 1,295,000 ($215,000)
Amount allocated in 2013: NOK 821,758 ($140,000)

The FDC recognizes the potential of Wikimedia Norge’s (WMNO; Norway) proposal for 2014–15 and so recommends a 58% increase over the allocation WMNO received last year. However, the FDC thinks that the growth rate of 209% proposed by WMNO is very high, and that the proposal does not make a strong enough case for such a growth.

WMNO has been successful with its programs, especially in the area of GLAM. It has opportunities to collaborate with GLAM and other institutions in Norway, including its successful Wikipedian-in-Residence program. Most of the programs proposed are a continuation of and build on the success of past activities. However, the proposed growth rate is exceptionally high as compared to the incremental impact it offers in terms of local as well as global perspective.

It is clear that WMNO has some ambitious high-level targets directly related to its online areas of focus and impact. These high-level targets are well-aligned with the strategic priorities of increasing participation (tracking increases in the number of editors and active editors) and improving quality. Its focus on diversity is also commendable. The FDC is additionally pleased to see that WMNO has created a framework for understanding and reporting on progress against its strategic plan, which includes an evaluation matrix.

All in all, we believe that WMNO has not adequately justified the significant growth in funds it has requested. In particular, we are concerned that WMNO’s goals seem unrealistic. Its targets for increasing the number of editors seem overly ambitious in a context of a declining number of editors. WMNO’s goals all relate to online growth without clear rationale or explanation for how they will achieve these goals, and the strategies mentioned do not feel innovative enough in the light of such ambitious planned growth. Overall, the FDC feels that the funds requested are not in proportion to the likely outcomes or impact of this plan. It is possible that, given the size of the communities that WMNO serves, increased funds may not be the most important way to grow volunteer engagement. The FDC is also concerned that such an ambitious plan relies on a small volunteer community, including core WMNO board members.

The first year of staffing seems to have gone well so far, and we congratulate WMNO on the process. Still, the FDC is uncertain of the long-term impact of this professionalization. The FDC recognizes that WMNO’s staffing plan has been designed to work in a phased fashion, moving from part time to full time staff over the next year. The FDC believes this staffing plan may make sense in the local context. Some members of the FDC feel that WMNO may need to think seriously about how to better use volunteer resources, and particularly in effective volunteer–staff relationships. The FDC suggests that WMNO carefully considers the balance between staffing and program work when revising its plan based on the FDC’s funding recommendation.

The FDC is concerned that WMNO is focusing its efforts mainly on the FDC process and is yet to take advantage of the significant fundraising opportunities in its context, given that there are clear local options available,[1] and strongly recommends that it explores avenues of funding outside the FDC process. Some FDC members suggest that WMNO could make more use of its staff time to focus on doing this. WMNO’s attention to issues of diversity could also be an avenue to attract different kinds of resources.

Wikimedia Foundation (WMF)[edit]

no amount allocation per WMF request

Overall[edit]

The FDC acknowledges that the Wikimedia Foundation’s (WMF) openness to community review through the FDC process is in line with the tradition of our movement.

The FDC observes that the WMF has evolved its structure to become a sustainable organization with a solid base that allows for significant mobilization of resources that can be used instrumentally to achieve goals for the whole movement. However, the current proposal looks to be overly focused around assessment of risks and should be more proactive in identifying opportunities and existing resources.

The FDC recognises that the WMF is going through a maturation process in which activities and processes are put in place and adjusted in a consistent and organic way.

The FDC would like to encourage the WMF to share more data in advance, and to do so publicly as much as possible. It was very difficult to evaluate this proposal when some data were made available on short notice. Also, the budget submitted to the FDC is not a final one, and the FDC has to comment on a working version of a proposal. As a result, the FDC has to work on a proposal with a significant growth in administration and hiring, although it is also immediately clear that the suggested numbers were theoretical maximums, not meant to be met. For all future proposals, the FDC strongly emphasizes the need for a complete proposal: the WMF should undergo similar procedures as other entities in the movement. The Board may need to adjust the calendar of FDC work, but allowing for a comprehensive review by a committee from the community (such as the FDC) rather than the Wikimedia Foundation itself is essential, especially in light of the minimal feedback from the community on the public pages.

The WMF has been able to instill a culture of high standards for transparency, accountability and responsible management across the movement, and it has also been able to create a set of methodologies and processes to help all the entities in the movement achieve their goals, e.g. through strategic planning, SMART goals and metrics.

However, the WMF has had major difficulties in following these methodologies itself. Although the strategy for the WMF is well articulated, there seems to be a significant disconnect between its five-year strategic plan (focused more on a vision), and annual plans (focused on everyday work). Additionally, the proposed project, while maintaining a general high level of quality, clearly is a patchwork developed by different teams of people, which results in inconsistencies in terminology, levels of detail, and structure of parts of the document. There is a need for consistency and standardization of approaches across departments.

Even though the WMF advocates the use of SMART goals and precise metrics, it is not sufficiently precise in its own goal-setting and proposed outcome measures. The metrics the WMF proposes are sometimes opportunistic, or not clearly linked to the WMF’s work, although outcomes are well-defined. There is also a lack of major reflection and gains from failures in the past, at least in emphasizing learnings in the proposal. The workflows of the projects are not clear enough for an organization of this size. Finally, the proposed growth is very significant for an already large and mature organization.

Overall, the FDC is concerned by the fact that the WMF itself is not meeting some of the standards it is setting for the movement, although it is obvious that setting those standards is an ongoing process. The WMF in many areas sets an example for other organizations in the movement, and yet there are many areas for improvement. The WMF should increase its receptiveness to feedback from the community and the FDC.

The proposal is missing information about the next strategic planning process. In this last year of the 2010–2015 strategic plan, the FDC is concerned by the lack of a transition process for creating a new strategic plan; this need has also been translated in the lack of a long term vision at this point in time. There is a need for better public measures and regular checks against strategic plan deployment.

The FDC is concerned that while trademark protection and advocacy activities have a distinctive significance for the movement, and despite the high one-time costs in the trademark and community defence initiatives, they are not considered part of the focus of this proposal.

The FDC recognizes that movement organizations should not feel entitled to resources. It is important that all organisations in the movement, including the WMF, avoid this way of thinking.

Outside of the strategic planning process, the WMF’s proposal does not address the need to improve channels of communication with active editors and core Wikimedia activists and functionaries (such as ombudsman commission members, stewards, OTRS people, bureaucrats, check-users, etc.).

The FDC recognizes that there have been some attempts by the WMF for gathering community feedback, but believes that the current approach has proven insufficient in generating a strategic vision. The FDC strongly believes that there is a dire need for new ways to generate strategies and a new strategic vision for the Wikimedia movement, and urges the Board to make a significant effort to make sure that there is a roadmap to transition to the next strategic milestones. In particular, the FDC believes that, since community input on strategic planning so far has often been insufficient or difficult to gather, a community-driven advisory body (like, for instance, a “Strategic Planning Taskforce”) to the Board, specifically focused on developing a strategy for the movement, and not for the WMF, might be a way to gather the feedback needed. Separating strategies for the movement from the WMF’s is an important challenge for the near future.

The FDC is worried that the WMF has not followed the FDC’s recommendations from the previous round (2012–2013 Round 1), and that the WMF has excused itself from proposing an amount in the current round. The WMF should either clearly withdraw from the FDC process or undergo it on equal basis with other organizations in the movement. In particular, the WMF should apply for an amount, and should submit a full final proposal. The calendar for the FDC process may need to be adjusted to accommodate the WMF, but these requirements are important for the process. Allowing a thorough review of the WMF proposals by a community-driven body is especially important, since a lot of staffing and budget increases are not clearly and directly linked with the strategic priorities.

The WMF has high competencies in governance and in running a large organization, and should be significantly more proactive in disseminating its knowledge and supporting chapters and thematic organizations through training, onboarding plans, and fostering cross-chapter exchange.

Infrastructure[edit]

The infrastructure work that the WMF does is critically important to the Wikimedia movement, and should be well-funded to ensure high reliability of the projects and consistent availability of content. The most obvious outcome of this work is that the websites stay up reliably, and when challenges present themselves with the running of the websites, that they are handled promptly and professionally.

The recruitment of a new ED with a technical background matching the overall narrowed focus of the WMF should benefit this area of work. Additionally, it is good to see that a VP of Engineering is being recruited to focus on the work in this area — this will be a very important position. The FDC is concerned that currently there may not be enough staff in this area to most effectively support the websites; there is room for growth here.

It is good to see clear demonstrations of the ability to rethink processes for testing software and infrastructure, and likewise improved communication about and testing of changes to the software and infrastructure with interested community members. We are concerned that the team may be focusing on too many areas (for example, both software and server operations), which may detract from the work they are doing; focusing more on server operations may help.

The main problem with this area is that the metrics and goals are not well-defined, and are scattered across different locations. There are no clear links between outcomes and outputs. Some of the FDC would recommend the use of existing industry-standard server performance metrics, with both goals and historical trends, to monitor the work done by this department. Additionally, there should be a better balance of top-down and bottom-up approaches to goal setting; currently, bottom-up goals are too emphasized, which may be more operational than strategic.

Software development[edit]

Software development is a central area for the WMF given its narrowed focus. It has been and will continue to be a very important area that will be an important factor for the success of our projects, and our common goals and mission. The planned growth matches the focus on user experience, improving the architecture, analytics and supporting the ecosystem. The WMF's experience in adapting itself to Mobile through Wikipedia Zero and Mobile apps is commendable. Access through mobile devices is already a well-working functionality that needs to be developed further as new products and techniques for general mobile infrastructure are introduced. Wikipedia Zero is a promising initiative for giving more people free access to our projects.

This area has recently undergone major organizational improvements in project set-up and management and through the introduction of a structured approach to user involvement like community round-tables and the community engagement department. The FDC also appreciates the initiatives that make it easier for people outside San Francisco to get involved in software development through remote working. Making remote working easier allows for more diversity of employees and helps with staffing. However, the FDC is concerned with the planned large increase in personnel and resulting costs.

The assessment of the previous year’s plan and linkage with the strategic plan are not provided in a comprehensive manner to enable FDC to give better feedback. Hence the following feedback is produced based on high level understanding.

Some software projects have been appreciated by the community. Visual Editor experienced severe delays, impacted the community adversely and strained engagement pointing to weakness in planning and execution. In the agile model of development, there is less focus on targets and scope of work, when the work is more in the nature of improvement and does not have severe consequence if the plans are not successful. Stress on management structures and challenges with onboarding new people may put at risk the possibility to increase development capacity. It is better to develop better understanding of software team productivity, effectiveness of previous product development, and contribution of volunteers, other organisations and achieve a balanced growth.

The effectiveness of persona-based strategy for the identification of user needs and prioritization is not clear, as no evaluation of this has been done after the roll-out of Mobile apps. It is suggested that the software team assesses the effectiveness of its processes, tools, team by an appropriate mix of surveys, and use of experts in the field and take corrective action to address the gaps.

There is a need to match strategic priorities with software development, i.e. diversity in languages. Currently there is not enough focus on analytics and language engineering — these are very important.

It is good to see the WMF has a language engineering team. However, some members of the FDC are concerned that there is lack of focus on development of Indic languages programs, and that there is not enough diversity in languages for software development while few others appreciated the focus on language support in general. The focus is on right-to-left languages in the software development (this may be more of an issue with visual editor than language). Strategic priorities should also have software development support.

The FDC would like to see more initiatives for areas outside Wikipedia. Other areas should not be neglected and neither should focus on different languages/scripts and more of the new "middleware" type of software like Wikidata, Lua modules, and mapping tools. There seems to be a lack of strategy for sister projects specifically for engineering, for example Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons.

Administration[edit]

The FDC recognizes that the hiring of the new ED, as well as the thorough process of recruitment that led to it, is an important strength of the WMF.

The effectiveness and engagement of the legal team with the community is a clear highlight of the program, and the WMF is definitely an organization that is able to get things done.

However, the proposal is missing important input on administration and communication that the FDC needs to fully understand the topic. In particular, while there is a strategic plan for the whole organization, the human resources (HR) and administration strategy seems opaque and is not sufficiently described.

The FDC finds the split between administration and services confusing, even given the experience and knowledge of those on the committee. The WMF should make more of an effort to make its proposals abundantly clear even to bystanders. Additionally, the description of administration does not clearly show the difference between essential work and support work. For instance, legal work, which is clearly one of the core narrowed-focus activities, is included with administration along with HR and finance, which obviously play support roles for the Wikimedia Foundation, rather than core roles for the movement.

The costs of running the office are very high. It is clear that running an office in San Francisco does involve significant costs: it is understandable that this particular location brings significant benefits to an organization focused on software development, but nevertheless the burden on the movement’s resources is noticeable. Similarly, the overhead costs of administration are high in actual terms, even if they are modest for the region, and the overall number of people in administration and finance is large, which might indicate bureaucracy. There are also certain doubts about personnel growth. For instance, growing a fundraising team significantly without a corresponding significant increase in the amount of funds being raised requires a much better rationale.

In general, measures for administrative work seem to be lacking from the proposal, even though the WMF may have an internal system of measurement and planning in this area.

We would like to see the WMF be more proactive and communicative about the events that take place in its offices; these should have been included in the FDC proposal. The same applies to volunteers and interns that provide assistance in the office, and it would be good to also see the numbers of these increase in the future.

Overall, the FDC finds the level of detail provided about administration insufficient.

Grants[edit]

The FDC commends the diversification of channels put in place to distribute funds. Different target groups and processes allow the WMF to address specific needs and contexts within the movement. Moreover, to this day, most grant processes include a component of community input and review, which strengthens the alignment with stakeholder needs across the movement as well as stakeholder representation in decisions about the distribution of funds.

Overall grantmaking targets are extremely clear, which allows for measurable goals and, hopefully, successful evaluation and adaptation.

The FDC remarks that a significant part of the Grants program, Partnership and Alliance Grants, has not undergone community review. The FDC would expect such programs to offer the same possibility for community engagement in their designs. As a matter of fact, the FDC wonders whether having a separate process for such grants, however experimental they may be, is efficient and whether integrating these grants within other existing processes might make more sense. It is also not very clear which part exactly of the grantmaking funds go to the Education Program.

The FDC notes that the WMF capping of FDC funds was done without community consultation. The amount foreseen in the annual plan for grantmaking does not reflect the capacity of the broader movement outside of the WMF to accomplish the Wikimedia movement mission.

The FDC believes that reporting processes should be structured and regularly communicated and explained, and that support should be provided to groups, individuals, and organizations in making their reporting as useful for them as for the wider community. Reporting should in any case be extremely adaptable in order to suit both the types of grant programs and local contexts in which grants are issued (from a blog post to a granular budget report, for example).

A greater integration and development of periodic community review mechanisms during the course of grant periods could be implemented, especially for organizations or groups more loosely affiliated with the Wikimedia movement. These mechanisms could include not only discussion pages, but also surveys and assessments by third parties.

The FDC thinks that the grantmaking team could try and identify, understand, and coordinate with existing initiatives and encourage easy geographical collaboration between active groups by liaising among grantees and existing and known local actors, thus allowing for synergy and maximum impact of all Wikimedia-related activities in a given region or context. For this as well as for overall grant impact and work, some sort of visualization (maps, graphs, …) might be useful.

Finally, offering a pool of global metrics to be used in evaluation, and adapted to different levels of grants and to different funding channels, might allow for better cross-evaluation of funded projects and plans.

Endnote[edit]

Some FDC members object to the fact that the FDC is not being asked to provide a dollar amount for the WMF proposal, as this is a distinct difference from how the FDC assesses the other organizations that apply to it. They would like to see the WMF apply with a dollar amount next year, and to run its annual planning process on a similar timescale to that expected from other organizations participating in the FDC process.

The FDC deliberations process[edit]

Prior to the deliberations, the FDC reviewed the proposals for a period of one month, aided by staff assessments and analysis on programs, finances, grant compliance and history, as well as community comments on the proposals. Staff presented an overview of these findings to the FDC during the deliberations. The FDC and FDC staff also asked clarifying questions to the entities on the proposal form discussion pages during the four-week community review period (and prior to the publishing of staff assessments), and observed the discussions about the proposals.

The FDC used the following model to deliberate on each entity's proposal except for the WMF:

  • Before the face-to-face meeting took place, the FDC identified high-level strengths and concerns of the proposal, met virtually to discuss these, and requested additional input from FDC staff where needed.
  • Each FDC member submitted their initial funding recommendations before the face-to-face meeting. These numbers were presented at the start of the deliberation on each proposal.
  • The FDC staff presented their staff assessments for each proposal, which were posted on Meta before the face-to-face meeting.
  • Garfield Byrd (WMF Chief Financial Officer) presented his financial overview for each proposal.
  • The FDC discussed the strengths and concerns of each entity's plan, including its proposed programs. The FDC reviewed the history and context of the entity as well.
  • The FDC then discussed the potential funds allocation for each entity, starting with conversation about members’ individual recommendations. There was significant conversation and debate about each proposal. FDC members then re-evaluated their recommended allocations until consensus was achieved. Successive reviews of proposals were held where the review did not reach a consensus on the funding amount.

In the case of the WMF, the FDC followed the following process:

  • Before the face-to-face meeting took place, the FDC identified high-level strengths and concerns of the proposal, met virtually to discuss these, and requested additional input from FDC staff where needed.
  • Nicole Ebber presented WMDE's staff assessments of the WMF plan, which was posted on Meta before the face-to-face meeting.
  • Anders Wennersten presented a financial overview of the proposal.
  • The FDC discussed the strengths and concerns of the WMF's plan, including its proposed programs. The FDC reviewed the history and context of the entity as well.

The deliberations took place in Frankfurt, Germany. In order to manage the confidentiality of the process, the FDC set out the following ground rules for the meeting, which were sent around to WMDE staff prior to the deliberations:

  1. FDC meeting participants should not talk with WMDE staff who are not taking part in the meeting about the applications under consideration or the FDC process as a whole while the deliberations are taking place.
  2. The outcomes of the deliberations should not be shared with WMDE staff or others that are not taking part in the meeting before they're publicly announced.
  3. WMDE employees are not to attend the meetings unless invited in to support the FDC
  4. Non-participating people, service staff, etc. are not to be allowed into the meeting facilities while the deliberations or discussions are taking place.
  5. These ground rules will also apply to any Wikimedia organization who hosts an FDC meeting. The host organization should not have its proposal under consideration during that particular round of deliberations.

The FDC’s mandate[edit]

The FDC's mandate is to recommend to the WMF Board allocations of Wikimedia movement funds to eligible entities, based on an assessment of the ability of eligible entities to realise movement goals. The FDC allocations are in the form of general funds to support the annual plans of entities, which cover staff and other operational costs as well as program expenses. While this implies trust in each entity that receives FDC support, it also implies great responsibility and accountability from the entities to ensure that the expenditure of movement resources has the highest possible impact. As a result, the FDC primarily assesses the ability of entities to execute their plans responsibly and efficiently (organizational effectiveness), alongside the likely impact of the initiatives and activities of the entities (programmatic effectiveness). The FDC process intends to support entities who, in turn, work on building editorship and readership in their communities, and supporting access and content on the different Wikimedia projects. We hope that over time the FDC will be ensuring that learnings from across different entities and the regions, languages and communities they support will be effectively shared with the global Wikimedia movement.

The FDC's mandate is up for review after this round of deliberations. The next step in the process is for the FDC Advisory Group to evaluate the last two years of the FDC's work, and to provide a recommendation to the WMF Executive Director about whether it should continue in the future. The Advisory Group is meeting in Frankfurt immediately after this round of FDC deliberations.

About the FDC[edit]

The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) for the Wikimedia movement is a committee of community members that makes recommendations to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) about how to allocate funds to eligible entities within the movement. The FDC was established through a resolution of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation, and currently comprises nine members, seven of whom were selected by the WMF Board in September 2012 and two of whom were elected in June 2013:

The two WMF Board representatives on the FDC are Patricio Lorente (who was present during the deliberations this round) and Bishakha Datta. The Ombudsperson for the FDC is Susana Morais.

Yuri Perohanych was unable to attend the meeting in person, and did not participate in the deliberations. He was consulted for his views, and agreed with the recommendations given here.

For 2013–2014, the FDC has been tasked with the responsibility for recommending allocations of movement funds for entities with proposals in two rounds: Round 1 (with a proposal deadline of 1 October 2013, FDC recommendations deadline of 1 December 2013 and Board decision deadline on 1 January 2014); and Round 2 (with a proposal deadline of 1 April 2014, FDC recommendations deadline of 1 June 2014 and Board decision deadline on 1 July 2014). The proposals for Round 1, community responses and staff proposal assessments, as well as other information on the FDC, are available on the FDC portal. Please also see the Frequently Asked Questions page for more details on the history and process of the FDC. More information on future rounds, including deadlines for the Letters of Intent and proposals, can be found on the FDC process timeline on the FDC portal.

The FDC was supported by WMF staff throughout the deliberations. These staff included: Garfield Byrd, Leslie Harms, Kacie Harold, Winifred Olliff, Anasuya Sengupta and Jessie Wild, who supported the FDC throughout the meeting. Additionally, Nicole Ebber was present on behalf of WMDE for a specific discussion about the WMF proposal. WMF and WMDE staff who were present during the deliberations did not take part in the discussions around proposals; they offered analysis, helped facilitate, took notes and responded to any additional queries by the FDC.

Notes[edit]

  1. Local fundraising options already mentioned by WMNO include the Norwegian government’s funds for encyclopaedias.