On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 10:13 PM, Michael Snow <wikipedia(a)frontier.com>wrote;wrote:
On 8/11/2011 7:08 PM, phoebe ayers wrote:
Anyway, thanks for raising the importance of
Board agrees: there's a reason it was first in our list of principles.
To my mind "decentralization is important" raises a whole bunch of
other important questions: is decentralization more important than
efficiency as a working principle?
I think it is, at least up to a point. We need
to have a diversity of
tools and actors involved in fundraising, and decentralization should
help that if done well. Also, we do not have an obligation to maximize
revenue, so efficiency is not necessarily a cardinal virtue. I don't
mean that we should disregard efficiency, but we can choose to sacrifice
a bit of efficiency if, as a tradeoff, this benefits some other value we
think is important like decentralization.
One thing that struck me about reviewing chapter
financials was that
there are 20+ chapters that don't directly receive donations and
haven't applied for many grants to date, and thus have little to no
money to support program work. Though mostly outside the scope of the
Board's letter, this is for instance one part of our model that I
would like to see change -- Wikimedians everywhere should have better
access to resources to get things done. On this specific point, I do
disagree with Birgitte -- I think a well-developed grants program [and
it's true we're not there yet, but want to be soon] could actually
help us decentralize faster, in that to obtain money needed for
program work chapters or other groups wouldn't have to develop the
(increasingly difficult) infrastructure needed to directly fundraise
with all the attendant legal and fiduciary concerns.
I like the sound of this, but
with a note of caution about a
"well-developed" grants program. In many contexts, as grants programs
develop and mature, grantees end up needing to develop increasingly
complex infrastructure to secure and manage grants. At that point, it
may not be any more helpful to these objectives than the model we are
trying to move away from.
Fair point. By "well-developed" I just meant "something that works
One of the criteria of working well could be low overhead... Again, the idea
of supporting grants is not exclusive to the WMF: I am so pleased to see the
expansion of the WMDE program, as well.