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Grants talk:APG/FDC recommendations/2012-2013 round1

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This page is for comments about the FDC's recommendations to the board on funding allocations for Round 1, 2012-13.

Please leave comments under the appropriate section for each entity. For general comments, please leave them in the designated section below.

Formal complaints should be submitted to the Board representatives on the FDC.

General comments on overall recommendations


I want to make a quick comment thanking the FDC for its work. I haven't reviewed the recommendations in detail and I wasn't present for the deliberations, but based on the outcome I see here, it's clear that the FDC has taken its responsibilities seriously. This was a tough challenge: the timeline was short and all the participants inexperienced, the FDC itself is a newly-constructed team with most (all?) members having never met prior to their appointments, the information available to them and the time for deliberations was limited, and the process overall completely new and untested. Given all that, it's a small miracle the FDC was able to reach agreement at all.

But it looks like they did better than that. They didn't rubber-stamp: rather, they clearly attempted to evaluate each proposal on its own merits as well as the track record of the organization behind it, with the goal of increasing our overall impact. I see this as a promising beginning for the FDC, and I think it's impressive. Sue Gardner (talk) 19:30, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

I've just read through the recommendations and want to offer my deepest, sincerest, most heartfelt thanks to the FDC - the high quality of your work and the thought and effort that has gone into this is evident from the way the recommendations are framed. In addition, I found the comments and key issues/themes very insightful. Congratulations. This is a historic moment and a big breakthrough for the movement. Bishdatta (talk) 15:42, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
I second every word of the above comments. Thank you for doing a hard job well - a great precedent for future work. SJ talk  05:15, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMAR


Comments regarding WMAT


Thanks to everyone who worked hard to get to these results! --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 19:32, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

+1 - Thank you very much for the work, the thorough assessment and the trust in WMAT. --Denis Barthel (talk) 21:35, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMAU


Below is cut from a posting on Itnernal-l Nov 25, from Charles Gregory secretary of the new Board for WMAU elected the same day. Put up here by Anders Wennersten (talk) 21:03, 25 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
The new board of Wikimedia Australia accepts the determination of the Funds Dissemination Committee in regards to our proposal for Round 1. We are grateful for their recommendation to allow us to re-apply in Round 2, while also recommending we apply to the Wikimedia Grants Program for interim funding.

The board looks forward to working with the FDC to achieve a more positive outcome for the chapter, and the community in Australia.

Thanks for posting here Anders :) -- Chuq (talk) 08:09, 2 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMCH


WMCH took note of the recommendation of the FDC, as well as the more detailed explanations received directly.

We recognize the relevance of the FDC arguments, however we can not easily reduce a budget based primarily on projects proposed by community members.

Nevertheless we will follow the spirit of the FDC recommandation by the identification of priority projects to be completed in 2013 and then to be funded following FDC recommandation. Other projects will be funded differently or postponed to 2014.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 21:34, 22 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMDE

  • Please give some direct, detailed attention to assure (mandate?) WMDE's continued support/growth/performance-upgrades of Toolserver. This may require bypassing WMDE governance, since governance has threatened to defund. Toolserver functionality cannot be replicated by any other chapter, or WMF, in a timely way. --Lexein (talk) 04:49, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
    The FDC doesn't have that authority. It's a grants body, not a court that can overrule the Board of Trustees of an applicant. I'm not sure you are correct about WMDE ceasing funding - they are trying to find a new model for funding it, but I don't think they've said they'll let it die if they don't find one. --Tango (talk) 12:20, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Thanks for your comments. We have just bought 3 new servers for the toolserver and, as we have written several times before, will continue to support and operate the toolserver during the planned transition. Best, --Sebastian Sooth (WMDE) (talk) 13:15, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMF


Thank you for the excellent work the committee has done. Can you say more about the one opposition to the WMF allocation? SJ talk  22:00, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

As a committee we've decided that we're generally not going to reveal our individual concerns about particular applications, as long as these concerns are within a limit of still supporting the general recommendation. I believe that this is, in general, a good practice, as it results in members not being singled out, as well as not being considered as being specifically biased towards some entities in the future rounds. Pundit (talk) 22:28, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
This is a good place for me to comment that I was quite pleased with the wide range of thinking expressed by different members of the FDC during our deliberations about allocations. The committee did not rubber stamp the recommendations of the FDC staff or the compliance report. Rather, different people had different ideas about how to determine the amount to allocate. By listening to each other we developed a way to let everyone involved use their own way of evaluating the proposals, and at the same time have a method of blending these into a joint decision. It was truly amazing to see the the way that the group worked through the disagreements and found consensus. Varying viewpoints were frequently expressed which I think is important to note. So, although only the WMF allocation notes one member dissenting, that does not mean that there was uniform thinking on the rest of allocations. And I see it as a good thing that varying opinions were expressed because our movement is diverse and needs to get even more diverse. Welcoming different opinions is key to expanding our reach. FloNight (talk) 23:15, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
To be more clear: I am not interested in knowing individual views. However I would like anonymized feedback on aspects of the WMF application which received less than unanimous support. I guess that any applicant would want such feedback, to improve their future efforts. (If you feel it is better to share such feedback privately, that is also ok. But I prefer to ask for feedback through this public process.) SJ talk  13:37, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
One member of the committee had a general view that programs should as far as possible be decentralized to chapters. And that even with the last minute narrowing of the focus the requested amount of funding included too much of programs that still could be decentralized. The person is in general satisfied with the overall comments to WMF, even if not with the amount, and therefore agrees on the whole set of recommendations. Pundit (talk) 16:09, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thank you, that's just what I wanted to know. SJ talk  21:10, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
By the way the topic is discussed on the WMF request's talk. --Nemo 17:29, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
I don't think there is any discussion anymore, there was one when the proposal was submitted, but a better place for a current discussion is probably here, isn't it? Pundit (talk) 18:18, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMFR


Wikimedia France acknowledges and agrees with the FDC decision. The arguments provided with the decision makes sense to us. Wikimedia France will submit, if possible, a request for the round 2. Schiste (talk) 20:37, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

That being said, we would also like to take that opportunity to congratulate the FDC for the tremendous work they did. This was a first time we went through that process, and it is amazing how well it went. Of course we encountered some bumps along the way, but it is amazing it went that smoothly. We would like also to thank the employees that supported the FDC work, during our submission we must say that they were really helpful and understanding and were doing their best to ease the process. Thanks to everyone who was involved in this process. Schiste (talk) 21:47, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Agreed ! Anthere (talk) 23:26, 15 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMHU


Comments regarding WMIL


Comments regarding WMNL


We at WMNL would also like to express our thanks for the work done by the FDC. We appreciate the professionalism of their approach and the attention with which every proposal was studied. We take the comments on board and are now looking forward to start implementing our activity plan for 2013! --SRientjes (talk) 09:22, 22 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Comments regarding WMSE


Comments regarding WMUK


On behalf of the staff at Wikimedia UK, I want to say a big thank you to the FDC. We had a meeting this morning, and agreed that this was an awful lot of work for a committee of volunteers - and that it was done well. We want to thank you for your dedication to the movement - everyone is happy to write articles and take photographs for Wikipedia, but those who take time to review financial information for Wikipedia are no doubt made of sterner stuff! Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 10:55, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Other comments


"However, we also believe in the autonomy of the chapters to continue to put aside funding for the WCA as they deem fit, and each chapter is free to fund the WCA from other sources if they should wish to do so."

Chapters are, presumably, free to fund the WCA from their FDC grant should they wish to do so - there is no intention of putting a restriction on the grants, is there? --Tango (talk) 00:21, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Correct. The funds are unrestricted. EE can use them as they believe is the best for the movement.
In general, one of the topics that needs more discussion in the movement is whether we want to encourage organizations that are funded through FDC to become sources of funding for other organizations. There are pros and cons to having funding flow through existing organizations to other groups. One large concern is whether EE are well versed in the international regulations to give international grants. And in general do they have the capacity to be grant giving organizations? And should the chapters in the richer area of the world control the funding going to the global south or other under represented areas? Would it be better to assist these organizations to request funding from the general funds of the movement so they can not feel pressure to confirm to existing chapters interests? That said, there are positives to having funding decisions originate in a decentralized way if it is done with a large amount of broad community involvement. These are questions that need vigorous discussion in the wider community in the near future. FloNight (talk) 00:48, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Those are definitely important questions, but I don't think they really apply to the WCA. They aren't grants, they are membership dues - the WCA exists to represent and support chapters and chapters cover its costs. That's very different to a grants programme where you give other people money because you think they can further you goals better than you could by spending that money directly. --Tango (talk) 02:33, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Right, the situation is somewhat different for the WCA. But in general, it is worth having a community discussion about how different types of organizations in the movement receive funding including organizations like the WCA. FloNight (talk) 02:53, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
I think that with WCA the model that needs to be established is a one that assures accountability, transparency, and responsibility of funding. The less intermediaries, from this point of view, the better. Also, usually it is better when the process of strategic planning and budgeting precedes funding, that is when organizations have to prepare a solid, fool-proof project, and then receive financing, rather than when they get a fixed percentage of the chapters' budgets and decide how to use it later. Accountability to the movement at large is something we've been discussing quite a lot over the years, often in the context of WMF, but all of these discussions and concerns are directly applicable to WCA as well, and since it is only now beginning to be incorporated, and since there is a volunteer and community-driven model of funding large organizations (FDC), I personally believe that it would make sense to persuade the Board to consider WCA for FDC funding, which seems perfectly viable, rather than use membership fees. I totally understand that one of the purposes of membership fee model may be more independence from WMF and that's understandable. However, FDC is not WMF, it is fully composed of volunteer Wikimedians (including chapter activists). Pundit (talk) 08:16, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Nowdays, most of Wikimedia org gets money through the annual fundraiser (WMID and WMPL being the two on top of my head that have other sustainable funding ways). Once you aknowledge that, it doesn't really make sense for the WCA to be funded through chapters rather than the FDC directly. I mean it would mean dozen of international transfer, with fees and exchange rate, from WMF (per FDC recommendation) to chapters and then dozen of international transfer, with fees and exchange rate, from the chapters to WCA. Let's save us some money and make our life easier and ask the FDC to fund the WCA. Unless it has changed a lot, last time Wikimedia Foundation hoard of trustees mentioned the WCA, they were much supportive of the chapters working on that, so I can't really see why they would oppose the FDC to fund it. This could have changed, but I would be surprized if it has. Schiste (talk) 08:50, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Special funding guidelines


FDC members and staff, a great thank you for your work in setting up the system and completing round 1. It's really intensive judgmental task, and the feedback provided to chapters, and to the movement as a whole, is a significant step forward for us.

May I comment on the section in the report, How to interpret and use the special funding guidelines (as outlined by the framework)?

When I first saw the guidelines that initial grants may be increased by a maximum of 20% or reduced by a maximum of 10% (exception, no reduction in the first year), I interpreted this as an attempt to provide a modicum of funding stability to entities (particularly the bigger ones with established staff). Specifically, the formula, if followed, would take a baseline of 100 to between 100 and 120 in the following year, between 80 and 144 in the second year, and between 64 and 172.8 in the third year. If the maximum reduction were applied throughout, by the third funding cycle an entity's funding could be chopped back to 64% of its baseline, or boosted by 72.8%.

In theory, this weakens the FDC's ability to make changes to entities' funding to reinforce the foundation's strategic plans and other priorities of the movement. With hindsight, now we see the first recommendations, these growth/reduction limits seem like an inappropriate straightjacket—several chapters have been awarded significantly less than they asked for, and in any case the original benchmark (that is, the "100" in my point above) seems to be very hard to determine—ideally it should have been published before the FDC met.

The framework does give wriggle room on this point, sure. But, for example, I wonder why a guideline exists that would tie each entity in subsequent funding cycles to a minimum–maximum window tightly related to the initial decision to award significantly less than they asked for. Apart from anything else, we want entities to rapidly improve, but once an initial signal is sent through a funding reduction it will take a long time to climb back to reflect such an improvement.

Perhaps the Board of Trustees might consider whether the 80/20 guideline should be dispensed with. The system doesn't seem to need it, and might well suffer if it were a major constraint on the FDC in coming rounds. Tony (talk) 12:50, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Hi Tony, thanks for this insightful comment. I'm not so certain about the straightjacket metaphor. Please, keep in mind that many (if not most) foundations impose growth limits on their supported organizations. This is mainly because handling larger budgets requires know-how and there is a clear and steep learning curve. It is really easy to waste either money or people's engagement and slide into mismanagement, when budgets grow too quickly, and it happens also to organizations which are exemplary and excellent at previous stages of development. This is not because of the lack of competence per se, but because of the lack of competence related to larger structures, governance, accounting, legal etc. issues related to the bigger size. In fact, the 20% growth is not that moderate, in business world it would be considered quite nice. Also, keep in mind that we may or may not have our funding growing as quickly as the applicants appetites. Scarcity may be even a problem of the first year. Everything depends on Round 2, but we may not end up with that much money "saved" after all, it is quite likely that we're going to make use of the most of the given budget anyway (of course, it depends on many factors, mainly related to which chapters decide to apply, whether WCA is eligible and goes for it, etc.). I think that the principle of introducing some brackets on the budgets, and only exceeding/reducing them in extraordinary circumstances (such as obvious need to professionalize a small chapter, outstanding and novel ideas proposed in an impressive and persuasive way, etc.), which we basically applied, is actually sensible. We were not following the logic of the hard-and-fast limits to the letter, we have tried to be really reasonable and flexible about it. Pundit (talk) 13:23, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply
Pundit, this all sounds good. Thank you. Tony (talk) 22:45, 16 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Correcting miscalculation


On Janurary 21 the FDC staff found a figure in the recommednation that was a miscalculation - the total is stated as being 8,43 MUSD when the actual sum is 8,51. FDC have discussed the mistake and found it is not effecting the recommendation as such nor the Board decision made, as the figures for allocaion to each entity was and is correct. FDC therefor have decided that I, as Scretary of FDC, shall change the number and enter the correct one, which is now done. No notification of this change will be done according to the decision by FDC and its Boards representatives.Anders Wennersten (talk) 06:45, 23 January 2013 (UTC)Reply