Wikimedia Conference 2011/Documentation/Grants

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Speaker's presentation
Speaker's presentation
Introduced by: Asaf Bartov
Introduction: WMF continues to be committed to our grant making program and we see it as an important funding source for chapters and others to pursue important work that advances our collective work. We expect to expand the program further in 2011/12 and would like to have a discussion of ways to improve moving forward.
Goal: Reflect on grants over the past two years and prepare for 2011/12 grant process
Description: We have two years of experience with the grants program and it would be good to reflect on what we have learned and how we should adjust as we continue to grow this area of work. Of particular interest would be discussion of:
  • program opportunities that chapters might pursue with the support of grants.
  • barriers chapters face in designing and/or implementing grants and ideas for overcoming the barriers
  • ways that we can integrate community input and feedback into the design of grants and the decision making process.
  • ways that we can make the grant-making process more efficient
  • others?

Goal of the WMF Grants Program[edit]

  • Inform
  • Improve
  • Increase grant application, maximise applications
  • Inspire organisations
Q (WMF): What can we learn from experiences of the grants program so far?
A: It's not very visible.

Q: Why is funding (200.000 $) comparatively low?
A: Actually, the budget will be around 400.000-450.000 $ this year. It is growing. WMF is well over budget regarding grants this 
year. There is capacity for a lot more.
A: As WMF gets better at figuring out how to report to donors, there is room to improve reporting grants.
A: The grants program has accountability requirements built in. In other areas like fundraising, accountability agreements are a 
lot weaker. The grants program is designed to be accessible. You should be able to get a grant with the WMF, but still 
accountability is a must.

Q: The grant amount may rise, but as I see it, other organisations than chapters will be able to apply for grants also?
A (WMF): The idea is not to create competition between chapters and other organisations. This is well suited to provide areas with 
money where there is no chapter in sight.

Q: Waiting is long between the application and the positive/negative result.
A: This is about to change!
  • It used to be that once a grant was given there was the obligation to follow up quickly. Nevertheless, most grants worked out well. Some didn't. Reporting on what worked and what didn't was weak.
  • There have been few applications made by few chapters so far. That's bad, since so many chapters say they don't have money to start projects. There is money available. Be bold!
Q: If as a chapter you have a certain amount of money, can you still apply for a grant?
A: You don't need to be exactly broke. See if the WMF is interest in funding specific projects that you are not able to finance 
(even though you may be financially resourceful).


  • Grants are meant to create leverage, so that goals can be reached.
  • Asking for a grant is not a sign of weakness, it shows initative and planning.
  • Chapters are not measured by their fundraising success.
  • Program work matters. Do outstanding program work. This is not about money first.

A Grant's Life[edit]

  • mission-aligned grant ideas
  • Try to match WMF strategy. However, if your idea is really good, but doesn't fully match the strategy, go for the idea.
  • Try to innovate. Try to break new ground.
  • Adopt and adapt other chapters' ideas.
  • The WMF will be creating and curating a program catalog. If you'r trying to think of an idea, you'll be able to look at the

catalog for guidance.

  • Applying for a grant to finance a venue for your event might not be a good idea in terms of spending donors' money.
  • Generally, grants are one-time. They are not meant to support recurring expenses or salaries (exceptions, of course).

Preparing for a proposal[edit]

  • Gather.
  • Discuss within.
  • It may make sense to discuss without.
  • Identify resources.
  • Look for in-kind opportunities.
  • Do you really need a grant? Can the goal be reached without WMF help?
  • Discuss with the WMF.


  • Make a request (Grants:Index):
    • Define goals and scope.
    • Explain the movement benefit.
    • Name the budget.
    • State Non-financial requirement.
    • Propose a timeline.
    • State your measures of success. How will we know whether the programm succeeded?
    • Provide contact information.
  • What if you get the grant? Are you ready to get started? Be prepared, e.g. with human resources.


  • Mission, impact and realism will be reviewed.
  • New:
    • grant advisory committee
    • community feedback and request revision period
    • public decision
  • New: year-round service. There are no more deadlines.


  • You not only get money but also other means of support.
  • If your request is not funded, there won't simply be a "no". The reasons will be explained, so that early re-submissions will be made possible.

Execution and progress reports[edit]

  • Use funds.
  • Take good care of donor money.
  • Constantly reassess your goals and progress.
  • update and revise plans.
  • consult the WMF, ask for help.
  • Be prudent and frugal.
  • Communicate!

Completion and final report[edit]

  • Sort out finances as early as possible! Be timely with the finances in particular. This is time-consuming.
  • Analyse post-morten. What went according to plan, what didn't?
  • Write it all up. A great help: Write a journal all the way.
  • Be public.
  • Do include mistakes! This useful information for others and yourselves in the future.

Accumulated Wisdom for the Ages

  • Distill information from your grant report for the other chapters. Re-contribute by spreading information in places where the community pays attention (e.g. GLAM-site)

Chapter (Micro-)Grants Programs[edit]

  • For "WMF" read "any chapter".
  • unaffiliated Wikimedians as recipients (Ask people for ideas)
  • different scale
  • Familiarity is a huge advantage for chapters to leverage from.
  • Experiment and see what works and what doesn't.

one-stop resource

Example grants:

Q (Australia): The grants program so far hasn't been bad, The direction this is headed now is great. Is there capacity for non-
financial advice?
A (WMF): Go ahead and ask for support, like if Jimmy could join you for an event...

Q (WMF) Some chapters alread give micro-grants. There are certain acitivites that are preapproved in a way. Things like access to 
certain pages etc. You will get it. Are there experiences, e.g. regarding overhead?
A (Poland): The overhead in our case is some people meeting on the IRC for a few minutes. So this almost no overhead. We're 
running through the 7th edition of our grant program. 

See Polish grant program.

Q: If we as a chapter are supposed to give really good estimates on numbers and stuff we do expect the same regarding committed 
WMF feedback.
A (WMF): A whole grant process should be done within three months time. We do feel committed to give feedback.

Q: What about currency issues? 
A: Like in the Czech case we took up on the Dollar drop there (30%). We take care of currency issues. This is a good question that 
we are keeping our eyes on.
Q: Are weapplying in US currency or our own?
A: It shoudn't matter much to you. For accounting reasons we record in US Dollars. We are an open international community. It's 
easy and good information for other chapters in transparency if the amounts are recorded in Dollars.

Q: How about investing in the future, like training for activists?
A(WMF): That is possible. You can think of capacity building. We encourage chapters to develop longer perspectives, projects on a 
greater scale.

Q: What is the Foundation's receipt policy about grants?
A: Well, if you can't get a receipt, you can't. Please report to your overseeing board. WMF is not auditing your receipts. It's 
just that you should keep them.

Q: Is there a way to find out what other chapters need?
A (WMF) Excellent question! Asaf will be fairly well informed about other chapters' grant needs. Contact him!
A: Chapters with resources available of course can be approached. That might be good for the global movement as a whole.
A: Smaller chapters should be bold and do exactly that: ask the bigger chapters!

Q: Since other bodies can apply as well: Should a Wikipedian turn directly to the WMF or to the chapter first?
A: Turning to the WMF directly is possible. The question then is: Have you spoken to the chapter? Still, WMF doesn't want ( 
especially new) chapters to be seen as gatekeepers from a community point of view.