I have been following the grant process with keen interest. I have rather
noticed a worrying trend that I think for the sustainability of the grant
program and the continuity of the volunteer spirit we need to address this
issue as a regional group.
First and foremost we must bear in mind that Wikimedia Foundation is donor
funded and non profit. And as such people give and make it possible for the
organization to support the activities of volunteers. Therefore our request
and demands must be guarded.
Again we need to know that the movement relies on the activities of
volunteers ( more content are created by volunteers than any other set of
people) and as such that should be spirit we should be promoting through
all our undertakings.
After painstakingly going through the grant request of some Usergroups,
what I noticed was something rather alarming. I will just mention a few of
The Wikimedia Inc Nigeria for instance was requesting over $55,000 (aprox
$4800 a month) for an office space at a time when even bigger tech
organizations etc are moving to working remotely and hence promoting work
In addition to this, there were line items for projects that have other
organizations running and hence have funds they disburse for organizations.
(Arts and Feminism,Wiki Loves Africa etc)
My second observation wasn’t only alarming but also ridiculous.
The Dagbani Usergroup which linked to GOIF as exclaimed on their own pages (was
actually formed from the GOIF
put in separate grant applications totaling over $220,000.( far higher than
a continental group like Wiki in Africa and country group like Wikimedia
CIV) This same group is also behind another group (LUCG) that has currently
put in another rapid grant
request. ( tye proposed Twi Wikimedians Usergroup
also an offshoot) A question was posed about their link to GOIF (their
mother institution) and the answers seem quite unreasonable, because all
the separate activities can be rounded in one grant request as programs to
paint a holistic picture of their annual activities rather than create
Now let’s take things into perspective.
The Dagbani language is spoken by less than 10% of Ghana’s population of
over 30M people. The user group is fairly new and their primary focus is to
reach the target Dagbani population which could be much more organic than
their forced request for salaries for 10 trainers per month.
Their community has less than 30 active contributors based on the current
criteria for active members (3 edits per month), and hence even using their
entire membership for the 12 month period, means members will be
overwhelmed and burned out easily.
Now the request to pay volunteers to train is to be treaded cautiously as
this could change our culture for volunteerism and encourage participation
because members can receive payments for contributing (mentoring, training,
Based on the monthly salary requested for these 10 trainers, it is only
right to assume that each of these trainers will organise at least 2
trainings per month making a monthly total of 20 trainings (annual 240
trainings). This is somewhat ridiculous and overly ambitious for even a
well developed Wikimedia community.
Aside from the aforementioned monthly payment for 10 volunteers/trainers
they are also requesting for 2 other paid roles with very exorbitant
amounts requested as salaries especially for the Executive Director role
($5000 a month), which even top manager levels in Corporate Ghana and in
government workplaces never receive. In the first place this is a small
group trying to rally and sustain a community and these requests for staff
is just surprising and out of place.
In addition to this, there was a request for a paid WiR for 12 months
($3,500 for 12 months). Apart the huge salary this is even problematic
judging from the fact there was no partnership with any organization to do
a GLAM activity or a project that needed an embedded Wikimedian in a
partner organisation, which is normally the workflow that creates the need
for a WiR.
Again this wasn’t even part of the goals of this organization. A closer
look at the budget further shows that most of the requests are either
frivolous, overpriced or outrageous.
Looking at such a small language Usergroup what is the need for an office
space and all the equipment for an office?
The request for 6 MacBook airs for team members is rather an insult to the
charitable donors of the foundation. The million dollar question here
though, is why MacBooks? And why 6 of them? Wikimedians don’t need priced
equipment to deliver on their jobs and if the intention is to be able to
loan it to the community then macbooks still seem outrageous (because they
can be destroyed easily with change of hands).
Then comes a request for two foreign trips at a time when most
organizations are putting hold on trips. However the question is trips to
where? For what? And why two team members?
These and many several budget items feel out of place, from requesting for
research line items (which I am wondering what it's meant for and the goals
of the research) to requesting specific team members for projects
(arts&feminism) which should be managed by already requested staff roles
(why hire other people again when you have a project manager for the
organisation, who is supposed to run projects anyways)
Everything in that budget seems padded and inconsiderate to the many donors
that believe in our vision. Such characters should not be supported in our
movement and be watched closely.
Lastly I have noticed significant changes to the budget (from about
$190,000 to about $39,000) after the questions posed by the committee, this
is a significant 80% drop from the initial request
As to whether the new requested amount is a true reflection of the needs on
the ground we all all judges. I am fully aware that the grant proposal has
been updated but I decided to bring to light the initial grant request
because if it has has been approved I am sure the group would have accepted
the full funding. And also the current grant is still padded.
I have also copied Affcom in this mail because I wanted to bring to their
notice the other trend that I wanted to spell out. The proliferation of
language Usergroups. The same group has one Usergroup and three incubator
groups why so? Three of these groups have applied for grants separately.
We need to re-examine our commitment to this cause. Wikimedia is a
voluntary movement to promote the sum of all human knowledge. Yes it’s ok
when we sometimes expend our expertise so ask for some remuneration. But we
shouldn’t form Usergroup groups with the basis of being employed or a
conduit for making profit.
Thank you all for your participation and support during the 2021 Months of
African Cinema Contest which ended on 30th November 2021.
Based on our initial statistics, we have been able to get about 3,000
articles created in over 14 languages! A big thank you to everyone who
created articles during the contest for making this happen. We also want to
sincerely thank all organizers who have managed to make the contest happen
in their local communities.
The review of all the submitted articles will commence as soon as possible
and we hope to announce winners in February 2022. If you haven’t already,
please remember to list your articles in both the Users by Articles page
and the article achievement section in order to get your articles
assessed by the international jury.
We wish you all a fulfilled month ahead and look forward to your
participation in future projects!
Community Liaison, Afrocine project