[Wikimedia-l] [Foundation-l] Volunteers Wanted: Funds Dissemination Process Advisory Group

Andrew Gray andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk
Tue Apr 10 12:42:30 UTC 2012

On 10 April 2012 13:09, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:

> I've asked a very simple question, could you answer it? What questions
> do you want this process to answer? What it is about the FDC that we
> don't yet know and need to devote a lot of time and money to working
> out?

The resolution basically says "there will be a committee, it will be
powerful, Sue has a draft and can figure out the details". It doesn't
tell us... well, anything else. There are recommendations, but those
are *proposals* and the community may decide it strongly objects to
parts of them - now is a good time to figure it out. Many of the key
details are sketchy.

Some possible questions I can think of, in ten minutes over my
lunchbreak: What limits will there be on what the FDC can recommend?
What ability will it have to control funding to WMF itself for
non-core spending? How independent will it be of either WMF or the
chapters? How will it apply to the "non-chaptered" community? Will it
be able to decline to fund Board-recommended projects? Do we need to
develop alternative structures for funding work in circumstances
impractical under US law? And that is before membership becomes an
issue. We argued for weeks earlier in the year about chapter-nominated
Board seats - who exactly will sit on the FDC? Will they be elected or
appointed; what will the mix of community members versus professionals
be? Will there be any non-chapter community members? What will be the
legal constraints on its membership? Who are the elected members, if
any, answerable to?

>From my position - and I haven't been following this overly closely, I
admit - the FDC looks like it will be a remarkably powerful body; it
will have a major impact on any major project not done directly by
WMF. It may not have the same power as the board to set overall goals,
but it will have a great deal of de-facto control over the
implementation of those goals. A lot of our governance problems (or
perceptions of governance problems) stem from the fact that the
"movement" evolved organically from a very different thing six or
seven years ago, and is perhaps not the organisation we would have
designed had we a blank sheet today.

Given all this, it definitely seems a good idea to have a detailed
look at how it is going to work rather than just bash something
together. I can imagine that if the resolution had said "...and
directs the Executive Director to pick six people and have the first
meeting in May", there would have been an immense outcry that we
*weren't* taking the opportunity to think it through, that it was a
power grab, etc etc etc...

- Andrew Gray
  andrew.gray at dunelm.org.uk

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