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Wikimedia Foundation 2016-17 FDC budget recommendation

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In 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation Board put a limit on the FDC’s budget for annual plan grants, setting it at $6 million for the two following fiscal years (2014-15 and 2015-16). In recent months, the Board has revisited the FDC’s budget and is expected to make a decision in late January to implement in WMF's 2016-17 annual plan. This document provides a staff recommendation from WMF's Community Resources team that we intend to use as the basis for conversations with the Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director and Board about renewal of the Board’s funding resolution.


  • Until 10 January 2016: WMF Community Resource staff build out this page and consult with the relevant grants committees to improve it.
  • 11 January 2016: Recommendation finalized and handed to WMF Executive Director and Senior Director of Community Engagement, to bring to the board.
  • 30 January 2016: Board decision, to be included in the Board meeting.


To date, the FDC has not fully allocated its US$6 million budget in any fiscal year. But, we are seeing an increase year over year in the number of affiliates requesting and receiving funds from the FDC. Last fiscal year, a total of just over $5m in grants was allocated. This year the total is likely to come closest to $6m grants, as proposal requests for Round 1 + anticipated requests for Round 2 are likely to be around $5.5 million.

Over the last three and a half years, with seven rounds of grants, the FDC has increased its ability to make its decisions based on the grantee's impact. When the grants were first given in 2012-13, the committee had little consistent, year-over-year data to review. APG grantees have significantly improved their ability to track and report on key output and outcome metrics, and have simultaneously deepened their programmatic work to improve their results and scale impactful work. Now, the committee is able to review a few years of impact data, which includes global metrics plus other critical organizational data to make funding decisions. The organizations with the largest grants have beefn under significant pressure from the committee to demonstrate correspondingly large impact, and many APG organizations are now coming to the FDC with lower grant requests than before as they tighten programmatic focus and deepen / scale impactful work.

FDC funds distributed

Year Amount in USD Number of Annual Plan Grants
2015-16 (projected)[1] 5,500,000 at least 16
2014-15[2] 4,944,021 16
2013-14 5,667,062 15
2012-13 4,714,409 13

FDC Advisory Group recommendations[edit]

The FDC Advisory Group, comprised of Board members, external experts, and community members, was set up as part of the FDC Framework to review the FDC/APG program two years after its creation. In May 2014, the FDC Advisory Group reconvened in Frankfurt for its third and final meeting to advise the WMF Executive Director on the future of the FDC funding program. The Advisory Committee unanimously agreed that the FDC had “successfully reached its goal of better fund dissemination in our movement,” and recommended that the FDC/APG program “continues with some improvements to the process and structure.” In addition, they made several more specific recommendations.

Lila, as WMF's ED, responded to the FDC Advisory Group’s recommendations later that year. In her response, Lila signaled that the FDC/Annual Grants Plan program would indeed continue, and she encouraged organizations to work to turn offline work into online impact, as well as deepen the impact of their work. Lila emphasized that same message when she met with the FDC in November, 2014.

Increasing number of affiliates[edit]

New user groups are on the rise since 2014, as encouraged by the WMF Board.

Recognized Wikimedia User Groups

Year New user groups Total user groups
2015 (Q1 only) 15 47
2014 20 29
2013 9 9
2012[3] 0 0

We anticipate many of these new groups will begin with restricted project grants before moving to requests for funding annual plans. Affiliates are asked to do 2 project grants before requesting annual plan grants, in order to build experience in managing funds and grow board and volunteer leadership. Many new user groups are already receiving project grants, and Wikimedia Tunisie (recognized May 2014), has just received its first annual plan grant. Several others are expected to follow with more annual plan requests soon. User groups are demonstrating that they have the capacity to run impactful programs in local and thematic contexts.

To support smart affiliate growth, after consulting with the community, WMF is piloting a Simple Annual Plan Grants process as-of October 2015, with 4 organizations funded via this pilot so far.

The Simple APG model is intended to complement the FDC’s existing full-process by providing scalable support to affiliates who would benefit from annual plan funding combined with additional non-monetary support as they transition from project grants. Simple Annual Plan Grants will help organizations grow their ability to plan, implement and evaluate impactful programs and activities and build organizational capacities like governance. Once they have a proven track record in these areas, they are welcome to transition into the full FDC process.

Annual plans funded outside of the FDC process (via PEG or Simple APG pilot)

Year Amount in USD Number of grants
2015-2016 (projected)[4] 600,000 15
2014-15 241,927 10
2013-14[5] 479,693 17

Wikidata budget shifting from FDC to WMF engineering[edit]

Wikimedia Deutschland’s 2015-16 annual plan grant of $1.3 million is roughly 22% of the FDC’s $6 million portfolio. It is not yet clear how and whether the FDC will continue to fund Wikimedia Deutschland, as WMDE decreases reliance on FDC funds for general operating support to support a variety of mission-aligned programs and shifts to a restricted grant for software development.

In 2016-17, funding for WMDE’s Wikidata activities is likely to transition from an FDC grant into a direct contract overseen by WMF engineering. This potential shift is the result of a number of conversations between WMDE and WMF leadership, and in consultation with the FDC, given their 2014-15 recommendation about Wikidata funding.

Staff recommendation[edit]

In light of the information above, we recommend:

  1. that the FDC budget be set to a percentage of the WMF’s total budget for a few years to come. This fixed-percentage envelope will mitigate risk around any decline in revenue and contracting of WMF’s budget, and set community expectations.
  2. that this percentage be fixed at 10% with a plan to re-evaluate in 2 years.[6]. A budget of this size will continue to encourage the largest requestors to demonstrate correspondingly large impact, while allowing room for new affiliates. Note that if WMF's total budget remains at present levels next year, this would set the FDC budget at 6.5 million USD.
  3. that the scope of the FDC budget be expanded to an Annual Plan Grants budget, which would cover both simple and full process Annual Plan Grants. This will allow for an increasingly diverse model of affiliate growth, with more support for Global South affiliates, user groups and smaller chapters.

A note on strategic priorities: Grantees are still aligning their proposals and annual plans to the five strategic priorities from the 2010 strategic plan, and not enough clarity has yet emerged from the 2015 strategic planning process to replace these. This presents a challenge for grantmaking staff and committees, who use these priorities in their funding decisions. We hope the board will support and encourage the development of shared strategic prioritization across the movement.

A board decision is needed on the FDC budget in early 2016 so that the Community Resources team can build our portion of the WMF annual plan. We will be available to present materials or address any questions to help facilitate this.


  1. 2015/16 projection does not include Simple Annual Plan Grants, to be piloted this year.
  2. Decrease in 2014/15 FDC allocations due to new and data-driven focus on programmatic impact.
  3. Wikimedia User Groups concept was introduced in 2012
  4. Simple APG pilot begins in 2015-16
  5. 2013/14 annual plan grants funded via PEG were abnormally high because (1) WMEE and WMUA applied for both their 2013 and 2014 annual plans in the same year, (2) Wiki Education Foundation's year 1 funding, (3) WMFI annual grant was unusually high at $87K.
  6. Although this recommendation is for 10% of WMF's total planned expenses, we understand there is a request from some members of the community to have this percentage come from total revenue instead. It is unclear how that would work in practice, but we leave this for the board to consider