Talk:Funds Dissemination Committee/Complement to Standard Grant Approaches

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On May 23 2012, Barry Newstead (WMF) joined a discussion initiated by TSB with Tango, Wittylama, Jan-Bart, SJ and Solstag, and agreed with the idea of a structure that could complement the work of the FDC and other standard grant approaches. Barry Newstead (WMF) shared he "would be supportive of considering a proposal for a pilot project using a portion of WMF's Grant budget, if there is a group that wants to structure it" and TSB offered to draft the pilot project aiming at:

  • assessing "supply" of reviewers to collaborate and work in a decentralized way
  • assessing "demand" from fund-seekers not served in the current option set
  • addressing potential problems of "gaming" the system

Initial idea[edit]

The Board of Trustees will always have the fiduciary duty to approve (or veto) recommendations on fund dissemination. At the same time, the community could review fund requests, share its grassroots knowledge and make recommendations to fund initiatives that can achieve movement goals in a decentralized and collaborative way. Instead of restricting to a few members the responsibility of reviewing all fund requests, the idea below aims at strengthening the capacity of the community to evaluate and monitor all of its own initiatives.

The Wikimedia movement strategy project has already given us a good example of how "more than 1,000 people from around the world contributed in more than 50 languages [with] 900 proposals aiming to meet a wide variety of challenges and opportunities." There are also other benchmarks to be adapted and developed (the wiki way), like for example: Kickstarter and Flow Funding.

According to their website, "Flow Funding is "a way to have a foundation’s money reach numerous new beneficiaries who are chosen (and funded) by people with extensive grassroots experience". "The emphasis is on trusting the needs presented during the year that each funder recognizes as meaningful and worthy of receiving funds."

  • A defined amount is entrusted to a Flow Funder each year for a number of years
  • Flow Funders canNOT fund their own projects or that of a relative
  • It is preferable NOT to use the entire year's amount to fund one single initiative
  • Flow Funders report back to learn from each others’ experience

So, what if a large number of volunteers with relevant experience within the Wikimedia movement could become "Flow Funders" ? For example, individuals from diverse backgrounds (geography, language, gender, projects…) could be selected by referendum over certain qualities or in a similar way to the Wikimania’s scholarship process. Each volunteer would advise proponents and would be empowered to allocate funds, together with at least two peers, to Wikimedia’s projects that they recognize as meaningful and worthy of receiving funds (but never their own initiatives), and report back periodically in an open, collaborative and transparent way.

All projects would be available in one single platform, so called "wikistarter" by SJ. In this platform, financial resources and communities of connected volunteers would then grow through the trust that is given and received, potentially reaching people and projects hard or impossible to connect, supporting initiatives outside normal structures of English proposal-based grantmaking and fostering learning communities around the movement’s strategic goals. --TSB (talk) 11:51, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm interested in following up on approaches that could add value to the movement, so I'll follow up what is happening here. FloNight (talk) 15:36, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Potential flow funders[edit]

In this pilot project, we will first have to check how many volunteers with relevant experience within the Wikimedia movement could act as some sort of "Flow Funder".

In order to do that, I will initially assess the interest of potential candidates by contacting the internationally diverse group of volunteers selected as Wikimania Scholarship recipients this year (130 individuals from 57 countries). They are highly engaged participants in all Wikimedia Projects and have shown potential to add value to the movement. Additionally, I will contact the existing GAC members (13 volunteers). They have a great deal of experience and interest in the Wikimedia grant review processes.

I asked each one of the 2012 Wikimania Scholarship recipients and 13 GAC members if he/she "would be interested in participating in the allocation of funds to Wikimedia movement's initiatives ?" TSB (talk) 12:18, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

If you are interested in participating in the allocation of funds to Wikimedia movement's initiatives, please add your information below:

  • At any time, please add your name, username, gender (Country) and comments.
  1. Dumisani Ndubane, Thuvack (talk), Male (South Africa) -- This is a good idea, it would help in de-centalizing allocation and maybe to an extent make the process less strenous. I would be interested in being a flow funder.
  2. Keeyong Eom, Daffy123 (talk), Male (South Korea) -- I would definitely like to be a "flow funder!"
  3. ----, Taketa, Male (Netherlands) -- keeping my name private
  4. Andrew G. West, User:West.andrew.g, Male (USA) -- Interested.
  5. Ganesh Kumar Paudel, User:Ganesh Paudel, Male (Nepal) -- Interested
  6. Alexandre Hannud Abdo, Solstag (talk), Male (Brasil) -- Very excited about this pilot.
  7. Vasanth S.N. User:VASANTH S.N.,Male (India)--Interested.
  8. Lila Pagola User:Lpagola. Female (Argentina)--Interested.
  9. Meerim Mambetova User:Meri. Female (Kyrgyzstan)--Interested.
  10. Evangeline User:Bejinhan. Female (Malaysia) --Interested.
  11. poupou, female (Germany) -- interested, keeping my real name private
  12. IbrahimPsy111, female (USA) --Interested in learning more details.
  13. Islahaddow, female (South Africa) -- I am keen to find out more about this.
  14. Ilario, male (Switzerland/Italy) -- As member of GAC, I am interested in having this experience too
  15. marctaltor, male (Spain) -- same as Ilario XD
  16. Kiril Simeonovski, male (Macedonia) -- Member of GAC.

So far, 13 Wikimania Scholarship recipients and 3 GAC members (list above) showed interest in this pilot project. And I am glad to see that It is already a very diverse group of people, from 14 different countries and editing in several languages (Xitsonga, Spanish, Portuguese, Nepali, Macedonian, Kyrgys, Korean, Kannada, Italian, German, English and Dutch). Six women showed interest so far, but I hope the list may grow longer as we further develop and eventually implement this pilot project. --TSB (talk) 14:34, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

not a good idea[edit]

there is far too much opportunity for abuse here, as I see no way to keep so many funders in so many places in the world honest. Call me cynical if you like. Id rather see an "ambassdor" idea to help develop ideas and apply for fundingThelmadatter (talk) 16:44, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

I am inclined to disagree with you on this one. Having gone through the model and the above suggested safe guards, I think it is a "do-able" model. The numbers never lie, and I would like to believe that it is almost hard to find a dishonest volunteer. But thats just me and my personal view. --Thuvack (talk) 14:22, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
Thelmadatter, one of the three goals of this pilot project aims at "addressing potential problems of gaming the system". We will definitely pay attention to your concerns and limit opportunities for abuse and avoid any sort of dishonesty. At the same time, we will do our best to decentralize the funding system by empowering grassroots volunteers to identify and support great initiatives. By the way, can you further describe your "funding ambassador" idea? It sounds very promising, in my opinion. TSB (talk) 16:56, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Potential initiatives to be funded[edit]

In this pilot project, we will also have to understand the initiatives that could eventually be supported by a "flow funding" model.

In order to do that, I would like to ask each interested volunteer from the list above ("supply" of reviewers) to describe ideas, projects and initiatives that could benefit from the support (advice, funding and follow up) of each flow funder. Examples of initiatives that have already taken place are also valid, as they can help us understand how the "flow funding" model could have impacted the movement. TSB (talk) 08:03, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Please describe below ideas, projects and initiatives that could benefit from the support (advice, funding and follow up) of flow funders :

Initiative Description Country Volunteers Budget
ClueBot NG details USA
A good case-study for what brings me here is ClueBot NG (CBNG). These developers do not get paid for their efforts, yet their bot has 800,000k vandalism reverts. Without CBNG, I can only imagine how much manual human effort, OTRS requsts, and other mess would have been required to track down all this damage. CBNG is not perfect yet serves a critical role, with its developers ocassionally dissappearing for periods (completely justified). I wonder if small financial incentive could spur/incentivize/reward the development and maintenance of such tools. There are many tools in existence across many domains -- but security would seem an acute issue. West.andrew.g (talk) 17:26, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
This sounds like an exciting project, I would consider flow funding this, as it has tangible deliverables and can be documented and evaluated. As the community grows, we will need more and more of bots to make editing easy and less time consuming. --Thuvack (talk) 19:13, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
Winter Classes details South Africa 10 University students $5000
Winter classes are the best way to help grade 11 & 12 students to catch-up on their studies in areas where education levels are very poor. Getting University students to volunteer to teach winter classes has been done before with great results, yet not always possible to reach as much of SA poor student population as possible. Volunteers will use articles selected from wikipedia/Wikiversity to run workshops, thus exposing students to Wiki learning environment. Thuvack (talk) 19:07, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
GLAM ASIA details Korea and Japan
Although copyright and other issues that relate to images from the United States and the European Union are rather firmly controlled and overseen by many volunteers, I must say cooperation with different agencies regarding uploading more historical images in Asia (such as Korea and Japan) is quite slow. By allocating some funds to Wikipedia Korea and Japan would definitely help the situation, thereby preventing future copyright issues and encouraging upload of more historical images from Korea and Japan through cooperation with Korean and Japanese archives. --Daffy123 (talk) 13:49, 5 June 2012 (UTC)
Wikisprint details Argentina $3400-$4600
Gathering 10 "experts" from 3-4 cities of Argentina, and 1-2 international Spanish speakers guests (ideally) during 2 days, for editing Wikipedia on one specific topic, for instance: gender topics, history of photography in Argentina, or other topics better represented in not digital sources. An example done experimentally in Arequipa, Perú is: We are about to test a similar version in the city of Mendoza, Argentina on next June 15 an 16, with gender as a general frame for contributions and improvement of Wikipedia articles, and co-organized with a representative of RIMA (Network of information for women in Argentina) and from the University of Cuyo.--Lpagola (talk) 20:12, 6 June 2012 (UTC)
Convidando o Brasil details Brasil
Brazil, as many other developing or unequal countries, have huge latent growth potential. But tapping that potential would take some expert and devoted Wikimedians to run through the country, literally in pilgrimages, through cities that, although lacking infrastructure in many ways, have at least the minimal to participate in the movement, but will never ever feel included if not personally in touch with somebody. This kind of activity represents, in my opinion, the prime fruits among outreach activities, particularly in highly unequal countries like mine, as they go beyond getting museums and universities involved - which just involves those who already had access to the knowledge system and in a certain sense still reinforces inequalities of participation, even if it reduces inequality of access to the contributed materials. --Solstag (talk) 02:32, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Against inequality details Brasil
I have been in the past contacted by institutions in Brazil working with indigenous people to help them organize, most times for the first time ever, their native knowledge in ways that are both recognizable by academia and respectful of their traditions. There are so many fucking hard anthropological and epistemological issues involved in this that only an alien would suggest that any of the Wikimedia projects has anything to do with it at first. However, it is directly and deeply connected with the Wikimedia mission, and being absent from these crucial moments, when the hardest and most expensive - both in money, effort and emotions - work is being done, radically detracts from the ability of the Wikimedia movement to engage it with credibility on a later stage.

There are known wikimedians interested in assisting these processes and there are activists and scholars involved who abide by the values and mission of the Wikimedia movement. Why shouldn't we support their work towards making these critical knowledge construction processes, that will shape entire civilizations, more collaborative and open and socially driven. We need ways to fund these activities that strike directly upon inequality and this is the kind of activity I would support as a flow funder in my position. --Solstag (talk) 02:32, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Initiative details Country Volunteers Budget

Wikimedia Flow Funding model[edit]

Considering that the flow funding model aims at building a stronger community of volunteers and at supporting the organic growth of the movement by:

  1. Empowering volunteers to review, fund and report back on local initiatives in their own language;
  2. Reaching initiatives outside of the radar from the Wikimedia Foundation and local chapters;
  3. Supporting innovative grassroots solutions to local and global challenges and opportunities faced by the movement.

In your opinion, how should the Wikimedia flow funding model be designed in order to fulfill its goals and also avoid potential problems of “gaming” the system?

For example, if each flow funder is entrusted with the decision power to spend up to a certain amount per year for a number years in local initiatives aligned with the strategic goals of the movement, how could we strengthen the review and evaluation processes of both the funded initiatives and the flow funders? TSB (talk) 12:38, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Hi TSB. I have done a lot of reading on this method. There are many safe guards over and above the ones mentioned above that can be initiated and I list some of them below:
  • Limit the flow funding in currency (i.e giving cash) to a specific percentage of the amount that a flow funder can authorize. The remander to be inform of goods/commodities.
  • Set up a training/workshop for flow funders to polish on reporting and management skills.
  • Set up anual meetings (perhaps include into Wikimania) for flow funders to meet/report back/review projects.
  • Set-up funding circles for peer review mechanisms.
at the end of the day it comes down to trust, its the core of any flow funding mechanism. --Thuvack (talk) 12:04, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Thuvack, thanks for doing research, perhaps we should start a list of links to some of the documents you read? I have researched only a little up to now and I agree with your suggestions, but have some questions.
  • Must flow funders be able to speak English? (I think yes, for now)
  • Can a group of people works as a single flow funder? (I think not)
  • Do we foresee any conflict of interest problems? (Can a flow funder be in a committee, chapter board? I see no problem for now.)
  • Are flow funders expected to be recurrent, or is it preferable to have rotating funders? (This is a tricky one)
  • Do we want funding circles to be local? (I think we need local review, but may also benefit from randomly drawn circles)
  • Would funding circles be autonomous - other than having to work publicly and on-record (wiki, irc etc) - or do they specifically report to somebody? (Not sure, probably autonomous, but there must be some reviewing for the process as a whole)
  • Does the flow funding program need a dedicated manager or committee (I think it does need a manager in the beginning, not sure about a committee, perhaps connected to the previous question about process review)
  • How are flow funders selected, and how many? (These are probably the hardest questions, but also a function of all other answers)
  • How much money each flow funder gets? Do all get the same? If recurring, dos the amount increase as you keep doing well?
Well, that's a lot to think about!
--Solstag (talk) 23:18, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi Solstag. I have been away on work commitments and havent had a chance to look at this. Yes we must definately start a global list. I have a small one on my user page here, that you can have a look on a preliminary basis. I have read some and others I must still go through, but they make for an interesting read and raised some questions in my mind already. -- Thuvack (talk) 07:21, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Flow funding Pilot Project[edit]

I will put together below an initial description of the Pilot Project. I am taking into consideration the comments, questions and suggestions made so far, but please add more comments and suggestions below each topic --TSB (talk) 17:21, 22 June 2012 (UTC)


The Pilot Project should assess if and how the flow funding model can contribute towards building a stronger community of volunteers and supporting the growth of the movement. In order to do that, we will have to monitor:

  • commitment and development of volunteers that are selected to act as flow funders;
  • quantity, quality and impact of initiatives identified and supported by flow funders;
  • challenges and risks associated with the flow funding model.


Up to 20 flow funder candidates for the Pilot Project will be drawn from the existing list of interested Wikimania Scholarship recipients and GAC members. There will be no restriction in the membership criteria for the Pilot Project regarding to age, time availability, proficiency of language and other commitments (members of committees, chapter boards etc). The goal is to fully explore the opportunities and challenges of a flow funding model within the Wikimedia movement and then adapt the selection process and membership term and criteria according to the Pilot Project experience.


The Pilot Project will last for 6 months, from July 2012 (right after Wikimania) to January 2013. In this period flow funder candidates will be asked to identify, review, fund and report back on (fully/partially) implemented local grassroots initiatives.


An independent part-time dedicated professional should be hired to coordinate and facilitate the Pilot Project, as Barry has already stated "the pilot would need to avoid drawing on WMF staff resources". The selection of a contractor will be done by the WMF Global Development team, according to their judgement and budget availability.

Funding opportunities[edit]

Based on the initial examples shared by some of the flow funder candidates, we may encounter a wide range of initiatives to be funded. During the Pilot Project the funding criteria should be flexible enough to accommodate all grassroots solutions identified by flow funders, as long the initiatives show potential for impact against the global movement's priorities and targets. The quantity, quality and impact of initiatives identified and supported by flow funders will be continuously monitored during the Pilot Project.

Decision-power limit[edit]

Each flow funder should be entrusted with the decision-power to allocate with autonomy up to a defined amount. The amount per flow funder depends on budget availability, but in order to fully empower individuals to act as flow funders we should aim at a $4,000 per candidate in the Pilot Project and up to $20,000 per flow funder in the full scale structure, according to previous flow funding experiences. In addition to fund resources, flow funders should also have access to items from the Wikimedia merchandise shop. The Pilot Project will help better define the resources that should be given to flow funders and if and by how much those resources should increase or decrease over time and according to performance.

Funding restrictions[edit]

Flow Funders should not use their decision-power to fund their own projects or that of a relative.

Training activities[edit]

Workshops and training activities among flow funders and invited volunteers should be designed and facilitated by the Pilot Project coordinator. The training activities should support flow funders to identify, review, fund, monitor and report back on local initiatives. Funding circles of flow funders will be created to foster a sharing and learning environment. The first funding circle will be composed by the international group of candidates in the Pilot Project. As the flow funding model evolves, local and randomly drawn funding circles should be created and facilitated in local and international languages.

Collaboration, communication and meetings[edit]

During the Pilot Project, flow funders should collaborate on Meta, if possible in English, and post announcements on a new mailing-list that will be open to the public to read. Regular online meetings should be scheduled on IRC and the first face-to-face meeting will take place at Wikimania in Washington, DC. As the flow funding model evolves, Wikimania should remain the best option for an annual meeting of all funding circles and new tools and meeting could be created to support flow funders' activities.

Review process[edit]

Initiatives with potential to be funded should be evaluated by each flow funder according to her/his own individual best judgment, considering:

  1. Potential for impact against the global movement's priorities and targets;
  2. Availability and readiness of resources required to execute the plan;
  3. Ability of fund-seeker to execute the plan responsibly;
  4. Efficiency of the proposed use of funds;
  5. Community feedback on the likely impact of the initiative;
  6. Degree to which the funding will add new knowledge to, or spur innovation in, the Wikimedia movement.

Additionally, funding circles will help flow funders with non compulsory peer review mechanisms.

Payment process[edit]

Funds should be directly transferred from the Wikimedia Foundation to initiatives identified by flow funders. All transactions should be transparent and accessible to the public. If requested, the system developed by for decentralized fund allocation can be used by flow funders, funded initiatives and the Wikimedia Foundation. This system could help us build a transparent and easy to handle payment process during the Pilot Project that could be adopted if the flow funding model evolves and the number of funded initiatives increases.

Reporting process[edit]

In the Pilot Project, flow funders will be part of a single international funding circle, facilitated by the Pilot Project coordinator. In order to increase accountability and knowledge sharing, each participant together with other interested volunteers is expected to monitor his/her funded initiatives and regularly and openly report back on Meta, if possible in English, on the initiatives' impact and experiences. The commitment of flow funders to the reporting process will probably represent the single best indicator to evaluate the performance of the flow funding model and of its participants.

Meeting at Wikimania[edit]

will there be a meeting of potential flow funders during wikimania? as far as i can see all candidates are scholarship holders, so we should all be present in washington? br--Poupou l'quourouce (talk) 09:29, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

I second this idea. We could develop together the pilot project on meta until Wikimania and make some final decisions when we meet in Washington, DC. What about meeting early in the morning on Friday July 13th at the venue place? --TSB (talk) 14:15, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Interested in this meeting. Please contact me closer to the time. -- Thuvack (talk) 21:20, 14 June 2012 (UTC)
I'll be there for the meeting, and agree it will be better if we can get there with a more developed idea. --Solstag (talk) 22:46, 16 June 2012 (UTC)


I see the Funds_Dissemination_Committee is moving forward quite swimingly with nominations and what not. There is a ton of discussion in and and around that page. Can someone comment on whether this "flow funding" model that was previously discussed here as any chance of gaining traction? Thanks, West.andrew.g (talk) 22:45, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

We received today a formal feedback from Barry Newstead, informing that "if you are able to garner significant community support for a small pilot (less than $20,000 total cost) then we would be comfortable considering funding it through the Wikimedia Grants Program. In order to garner community support, you would need to present the proposal on Meta and invite discussion via Wikimedia-L, so that you get a good community response."
Considering the above, I have just finished to draft a proposal within the suggested budget and I would like to invite all candidates to develop it here.
(Andrew, your personal email seems not to be working since before Wikimania)
TSB (talk) 19:52, 15 August 2012 (UTC)