One can argue about whether it was a good idea to give 15% of the Foundation's annual grant budget to largely-unrelated charities as a snap reaction to a wave of US political protests. But assuming it was - this happened in the middle of the pandemic, with the WMF operating on extremely restricted resources (with many staff working half-time, see [1]), and was trying to react to an unexpected event quickly, so I doubt it could have been done in a significantly more transparent or participatory manner. And the community was also stretched pretty thin, there were constant complaints of being consulted about too many things at the same time, with the movement strategy discussions, board election discussions, code of conduct discussions, branding discussions etc. going on, while people's personal lives were in disarray due to the lockdowns and other virus-related disruptions; some consultations had to be delayed, even the board elections had to be delayed. So I doubt the community would have had the capacity to practice oversight, had it been invited to.

That's not to say those we shouldn't ask for more transparency and participation *going forward*, as those circumstances are now largely behind us (at least in the Global North; not sure about community capacity in the countries which would be the most logical beneficiaries of an equity fund). But we should acknowledge the severe constraints the WMF was under a year ago.

(disclaimer: I work at the WMF, in a non-grantmaking-related position. All of the above is my personal opinion as a long-time community member.)


On Thu, Sep 9, 2021 at 10:21 PM Yair Rand <> wrote:
I haven't yet had time to look over the grantee organizations, and the general issue of funding non-Wikimedia efforts has been fairly well-covered by statements from all four recently-elected trustees, so I'm just going to take a moment to bring up some points about the specific process used here:
* This was not participatory. Neither the community nor any community-elected group were invited to look these over even to give advance feedback, much less make a decision.
* This was not transparent. Even after the fact, no notes were given on what the WMF used to judge the options; no metrics, no pros-and-cons analysis of each, no general review. Nor was a list of rejected applicants made public, as far as I can see.
* COI concerns: Given the lack of any mentioned standards about this (I haven't seen anything resembling the FDC's COI rules, and the WMF's general COI policy seems quite lacking for something like this), and given the problematic history this Fund in particular has in this area, I must ask: Did any staff, trustees, or committee members involved in this process have any personal associations to any of the grantee organizations, and if so, were they (/would they have been) required to recuse themselves from the relevant decisions?
* The Committee appears to have committed to sharing "terms of each grant and updates on their progress" on Meta, per the FAQ. I don't see any links to the grant terms. Should we still expect these things?

(A few excerpts from answers given by the recently elected, at the Q&A on the topic of funding non-Wikimedia efforts in general:
"I don’t think WF has any money to spare for any other causes irrespective of their worth. There’s an NGO or 100 for any cause, and WF cause is exclusively Wikimedia movement support." - Victoria
"At this time, I'd be reluctant to start funding projects entirely unrelated to Wikimedia projects." - Pundit
"The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to support and empower the communities of the Wikimedia projects and the projects themselves. Among the many worthy goals that one can set, we choose to pursue this one. [...] The Wikimedia Foundation looks relatively big and well-resourced (in terms of money, people, etc.), and it is tempting to use some of them for other purposes. However, the truth is that the Wikimedia Foundation is not so big, and the resources are very limited. If we scatter them in too many different places, we will end up achieving nothing - and the Wikimedia projects will be the first to pay the price." - Laurentius
I'm not going to try to clip Rosiestep's answer because I feel like a clipped version would risk being misrepresentative of her position. I recommend reading the full versions of all four (quite interesting and nuanced) answers at )

(There are, of course, more fundamental problems with the Fund, but let's leave that for another time.)

Thank you.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 8 בספט׳ 2021 ב-10:09 מאת ‪Lisa Gruwell‬‏ <‪‬‏>:‬

Hi everyone,

We are excited to share that we have chosen the first round of grantees for the Knowledge Equity Fund pilot. The Equity Fund Committee selected six grantees across the Middle East, Africa, and North and South America who focus on issues of access, education and equity within the regions they support. You can read an overview of the six grantees and their work on Diff[1]. We’ve also added information about the grantees and what’s next for this pilot program to our Meta page[2].

We are happy to welcome these new grantees, and look forward to their work as movement partners to support the free knowledge ecosystem. Let us know if you have questions on the Talk Page[3].

Thank you,

Lisa Gruwell and the Equity Fund Committee





Lisa Seitz Gruwell

Chief Advancement Officer

Wikimedia Foundation

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