Hi Andreas,

Thanks for your email. As Lisa shared in response to the original thread and question, the $8.7 million was used to set up a grantmaking fund at Tides Advocacy to fund two areas: 1) Funding Annual Plan Grants (APG) to the affiliates and 2) creating a $4.5 million Knowledge Equity Fund. To the first area, $4,223,994 of the Tides Advocacy Fund is planned to be distributed to the Annual Plan Grant affiliates (chapters) [1] this fiscal year. In the link above you can find the APG grantees from Round 1 and the amounts given, and the proposals for round 2, which will be approved this week.

Regarding the $4.5 million that we set aside for the Equity Fund, We will have more details to share on the Equity Fund, and the plans for providing grants from the Equity Fund, within the next week. 


Nadee Gunasena

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:APG/Proposals

On Tue, Jun 1, 2021 at 6:47 AM Andreas Kolbe <jayen466@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi all,

Yair Rand (quoted below) inquired last December about a 2019/2020 WMF expenditure item, the $8.723M the WMF transferred to a "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund managed and controlled by Tides Advocacy". 

The 2019/2020financial audit FAQ[1] said, "The Wikimedia Foundation is still setting up the specifics of the Knowledge Equity Fund and will share more information in late 2020." 

Replying to Lair last December, Lisa updated this[2], saying, "We intend to announce the Knowledge Equity Fund in early 2021, once we have a bit more details and specifics worked out."

Inquiring for this information again in April, I was told by Kassia on Meta[3] that there had been delays, but "We will be able to share more information in May about the Equity Fund, its structure and eligibility for the Fund, and we will also have materials on Meta with more detail."

If any such information was published in May (I may possibly have missed it), could you please provide a link, and if not, could you please publish it now? 

Or could you at least answer the following: 

1. Are the entire $8.723M, sent to Tides almost a year ago now, still with Tides? If yes, where will the money go? 

2. What public reporting will there be of how the funds are used? 

3. If any of this money has been spent over the past year, where has it gone?

On a related matter, note the thread on Hacker News that kicked off yesterday.[4] It contains a useful microcosm of public responses to the current fundraising paradigm and is well worth studying.

Best wishes,

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_reports/Financial/Audits/2019-2020_-_frequently_asked_questions/id#This_year’s_report_says_that_the_Wikimedia_Foundation_provided_an_unconditional_grant_of_$8.723_million_to_Tides_Advocacy_for_the_Wikimedia_Knowledge_Equity_Fund._What_is_the_Wikimedia_Knowledge_Equity_Fund?

On Sun, Dec 13, 2020 at 8:54 AM Yair Rand <yyairrand@gmail.com> wrote:
According to the recent Independent Auditors' Report of the WMF [1], at some point prior to the end of June 2020, an entity called the "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund" was established, and $8.723 million was transferred to it by the WMF, in the form of an unconditional grant. The Fund is "managed and controlled by Tides Advocacy" (a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit previously led by the WMF's current General Counsel/Board Secretary, who served as CEO, Board Secretary, and Treasurer there). Given that a Google search for "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund" yields zero results prior to the release of the report, it is clear that the WMF kept this significant move completely secret for over five months, perhaps over a year. The Report FAQ additionally emphasizes that the WMF "has no right of return to the grant funds provided, with the exception of unexpended funds."

The WMF unilaterally and secretly transferred nearly $9 million of movement funds to an outside organization not recognized by the Affiliations Committee. No mention of the grant was made in any Board resolutions or minutes from the relevant time period. The amount was not mentioned in the public annual plan, which set out rather less than this amount for the entire grantmaking budget for the year. No application was made through any of the various Wikimedia grants processes. No further information has been provided on the administration of this new Fund, or on the text of the grant agreement.

I am appalled.

-- Yair Rand

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Nadee Gunasena 
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