From: Liam Wyatt <liamwyatt(a)gmail.com>
I understand what you mean, and agree with the sentiment, but I think the
"funding question" you're referring to is the practical application of the
broader issue of "organisational roles".
What I still don't understand, despite the fast and helpful answers from
both yourself and Hisham (thank you) is the differentiation of the
organisational roles between the Trust and the Chapter. I had originally
assumed that the Trust was set up because it provided a legal way for the
WMF India Team to be a 'branch' organisation of the WMF (not just
individual contractors). But, from reading the description of the legal
setup of the Trust, it seems that the Trust is, in fact, legally
That is correct. The Trust is legally independent of WMF. A important driver for this was
to provide adequate legal insulation for its team members arising out of potential issues
on content, over which the team has no editorial control, in any case.
Presumably this means that Hisham and the rest of the
now employees of the Trust and no longer contractors to the WMF directly.
Not yet. All 3 of us are still consultants to WMF. (I have taken on an additional
responsibility at the Trust.)
Once the funding for the Trust is in place, it will house the team (and they will no
longer be consultants to WMF.)
If that is the case, then presumably the WMF has
basically the same amount
of legal and financial control over the Trust than it has over the Chapter.
Namely, it provides project funds (one-off or ongoing) and provides
You are right in that WMF's legal and financial controls over the Trust and Chapter
are similar at an organisational level (and by organisation, I mean Trust & Chapter,
not WMF). Having said that, when a formal grant is made to the Trust, there will be a
significantly intensive degree of programmatic, governance and financial control over a
grant to the Trust. For instance, statutory financial audits will be prescribed and ad
hoc financial audits will be permissible. A governing council will be established for
WMF to review plans and progress on grants and provide strategic and operational
Both organisations, presumably, also have the right
to seek funding and undertake projects independently from the WMF so long
as they meet their organisation's mission.
Yes, that is correct. Having said that, and I speak for the Trust here, fund-raising is
not something that we have been tasked with and we lack the organizational bandwidth to
conduct this systematically. (The India Programs team is currently 3 strong - and is
budgeted at a total strength of 5.)
Therefore... I'm confused about the differentiation of organisational roles
because it seems we now have two, independent from each other, non-profit
organisations in India that are both also equally independent from the WMF.
The Chapter is already registered as a non-profit. The Trust is applying for non-profit
status. I'd nuance the independence from WMF of the Trust at an organization level
(which is true) with my earlier comments about governance, oversight and audit controls at
a grant / program level.
The only difference, as I understand it from what
earlier, is that the Chapter is legally a "Society" (with an elected board
and members) and the Trust has two appointed trustees.
Is that the case?
Hopefully provided a clearer picture in my earlier answers?
As a practical question - to make it more concrete
less abstract - what can the Trust do that the Chapter cannot?
And, if the
Chapter can legally do all the things that the Trust can do (and the WMF
has the same amount of control either way), why do we need two
Legally, I think there is very little distinction in terms of what can be exclusively done
by either Chapter or Trust.
From a practical perspective, I'd say the Trust would have - by virtue of (eventually)
having a full-time team - the required capacity and capability to undertake programs with
a level of intensity that the Chapter would find challenging (at the present time) -
again, largely because the Chapter (currently) does not have a full-time team in place.
The advantage that Trust brings to the table is speed and intensity. I think the nature
of the Trust's operations will be to identify high-potential opportunities, design
& implement high-quality pilots and transfer learnings to the Chapter, other community
groups and the community at large. As and when the Chapter and/or other community bodies
have built the capacity to take over projects from the Trust, the Trust will fully
The advantage that the Chapter has is scale. By nature of its large membership base, and
the geographic spread of this membership base, the Chapter will probably always be best
placed to ran large-scale national programs.
Having said all this, I understand your line of questioning. This is a catalyst project
and this is the first time this has been done anywhere so we need to evolve an appropriate
cohabitation model. I'd just reiterate that there is so much to do that there is
enough work and more for the Chapter and the Trust and other community groups (and others