Recommendation D (structure): Distribute existing structures
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
What is the issue we are trying to solve or improve with this recommendation:
The very vast majority of the movement resources are currently spent in North America and in Western Europe. In order to accomplish our strategic direction, we will need to allocate more resources heavily in certain communities, languages, and geographies where our resource allocation has been historically low relative to other areas. We will also need to empower the communities that have been left out by structures of power and privilege by giving them agency and decision-making authority over resource allocation.
- 1. Movement organizational resources and structures are distributed across the world, with more than half allocated to or in global south countries by 2030.
A certain percentage of all movement resources will be allocated to global south countries. This percentage should be refined and researched in a later process but has a minimum value of 50%. This percentage of movement resources allocated to be spent in global south countries specifically includes all staff, senior management, and oversight bodies, in the global Wikimedia movement.
The goal of this can be reached by investing in the creation of new movement capacity and/or the reallocation of existing structures and resources, but is deliberately intended to be resources to be allocated in and by people and projects in global south countries. That is – the decision making process, people, and authority over the resources will be located in the target areas; not merely allocated by the centre at the target areas.
- 2. Local or regional communities have agency and decision-making authority over how resources are allocated. One way this could happen is through distributed regional hubs. Resource allocation, reporting and programmatic coordination – responsibilities currently held at the centre - will be managed by hubs distributed around the world focused on specific regions.
Regional hubs are a new kind of organisation that does not yet exist in the movement. The organisational format may have a different legal model in each region depending on local context, but will have responsibility for collection and exchange of learning, knowledge.
Staffed organisations, regional hubs will receive an equitable share of the totality of movement resources that will collectively represent the large majority of total resources in the movement. The distribution will be done through a mixed set of central, regional and local distribution mechanisms that closely follow agreed upon Resource allocation principles (values/framework) to movement actors (Wikimedia & non-Wikimedia entities).
The regional hubs should be kept deliberately flexible to allow for new and changing circumstances, in the spirit of the already flexible and partially overlapping regional collaboration groups emerging in the Wikimedia movement.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
- That by 2030 there will be a clear understanding of how our resource allocation structures can represent the entire world.
- That we will be raising an increased amount of money, and that the majority of that money should be spent in locations different from where it was raised.
- That to be effective, responsive, contextual, and empowering, the decision-making power for resource allocation needs to be ‘closer to the ground level’ where it is being used.
- There will be a charter that stipulates the way movement entities are accountable to each other to avoid just shifting the political problem to the regional level.
- That we have the resources to distribute and that we want to distribute them.
- Despite creating a structure, resource allocation should be flexible – designed to integrate changes in power dynamics to allocate resources depending on diversity of actors, actions and impact wanted, with a constant care for localization/contextualization.
From Community conversations:
- Arabic community: “WMF should allocate regional budgets for specific targeted areas and groups that it wants to empower.”
- Hindi community: “For bringing equity, we need to bring focus with the access. For example, in certain geographies, a certain percentage of funds should be allocated to create new structures and support new organizations so that there are new activities in that region and we can achieve equity. How much and where the funds should be dispersed, a clear policy with defined geographical regions should be developed to further facilitate this process.”
Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?
- The very vast majority of the movement resources are currently spend in North America and in Western Europe.
- In order to accomplish our strategic direction, we will need to allocate more resources resources heavily in certain communities, languages, and geographies where our resource allocation has been historically low relative to other areas.
- Local expertise and insight will support more effective and equitable local investment.
- The current reality of resource allocation is that one central organisation is empowered to: raise the vast majority of the funds, directly control the allocation of those funds, produce the global priority/plans by itself, undertake most of the program itself, and be accountable only to itself. Instead, it is healthier if the “owner” of the resources, the “doer” of the activities, and the “oversight” for the process are not held by a single agent.
- “All resources are movement resources”. If we take the WHOLE of Wikimedia available resources (all the resources spent in the "name" of Wikimedia) they need to be allocated throughout the world.
- Some regions have had little to no clear “voice” or impact in the movement. Including, paradoxically, the USA. Due to the WMF’s dual role as global AND local organisation, a coherent USA community voice has not emerged and the WMF continues to sub-optimally serve both the local and global needs.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
- Power decisions will shift around the world, allowing for better representation and inclusion.
- A pilot project could be run in a region that is already active in a manner similar to what is envisaged – e.g. Latin America or Central-Eastern Europe.
- Resources will be held in various places in the network rather than in one place (various places might own various resources).
- There might be a massive growth in staff/personnel to handle the amount of resources and the reach of resources (distribution of staff location).
- More adequate impact/contextually relevant programmatic work.
- With the estimated growth of the movement and its resources this could mean that the resources allocated in the Global North do not necessarily have to shrink in the years to come, but they could shrink depending on the movement growth rate and the percentage (of movement resources to be spent in Global South countries) chosen.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
- Existing and anchored organisations.
- Existing staff.
- Existing Chapters, especially those in SAPG and APG programs.
- Wikimedia Foundation
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
- Recreation of global ethno-linguistic-nationalist regional confederations as seen in other international bodies (e.g. FIFA…).
- Unwillingness for regions to split/merge due to political pressure for status quo
- Sense of ‘exclusive rights’ over a ‘jurisdiction’
- Good existing staff leaving because they are unwilling to change their positions. Loss of talent.
- Loss of coordination and siloes created.
- During transition period, high vulnerability – risk of breaking the movement. Also, less efficiency at the beginning.
- Every centre has margins, and so by creating further centres we may be creating more marginalisation.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
The regional hubs are self designed and their scope can change dependent on the needs and wants of its members. We hope it won’t replicate existing geo-political boundaries and issues…. The Wikimedia movement already has some self-organising and slightly-porous/overlapping regional groupings, and this culture should be retained (e.g. CEE invites Sweden to attend, Iberocoop Invites Spain+Italy, ESEAP deliberately includes Australia…)
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?
- We acknowledge that the movement resources and decision making processes are heavily centered in the USA and in Western European organisations.
- The current reality of resource allocation is that one central organisation in a global and diverse movement is empowered to: raise the vast majority of the funds, directly control the allocation of those funds, produce the global priority/plans by itself, undertake most of the program itself, and be accountable only to itself. Instead, it is healthier if the “owner” of the resources, the “doer” of the activities, and the “oversight” for the process are not held by a single agent.
- There is a great disparity in the way movement entitles (beyond the WMF) are resourced – it is primarily correlated to how well they happened to be resourced in 2011. Even within geographical regions, let alone across regions, there is no consistent expectation for how much, or what kinds of activities are expected, viable, or allowed to be resourced.
Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?
- A: Clear Principles – this is necessary to ensure we have clear rules for redistribution of resources and mutual accountability.
- B: Participatory decision making – this ensures that volunteers and the recipients of the resources are included in the decision making process.
- C: Avoid pitfalls of privilege – this links via the need to design for equity not merely wait for it.
- E: Long term relationships – this is about building trust and respect among movement actors not merely a transactional/grantee relationship.
- F: Flexible structures – this is important to ensure we don’t merely build a new system and lock it into place.
Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?
Together with recommendation E it offers an answer to the scoping question Q1 How can resource allocation support structures that empower different actors within the free knowledge movement long-term? How is power connected to resource allocation and how can we utilize resource allocation to create change?
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
- Roles & Responsibilities – will provide a framework that stipulates oversight of these regional hubs.
- Revenue Streams – will provide a legal and technical framework for distributed revenue raising and international movement of those funds.
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?
There is a variety of opinions on this recommendation within the working group; we will be working to resolve this for the final version.