[Wikimedia-l] Comments on compliance and the FDC Round 2 decisions

Anasuya Sengupta asengupta at wikimedia.org
Wed May 8 22:43:15 UTC 2013

Hi Pine,

My apologies for the tardiness of this reply; I've been away in India with
family and am only just back.

It's an important question to ask, because the Grantmaking team's programs
- including the FDC process - have and are being set up with a strong
self-evaluation component. We exist to support our movement through grants
and shared knowledge as key resources, and we can only do this well if
we're good at listening and learning ourselves.

Overall, we're looking at multiple feedback mechanisms (including surveys
and discussion groups at conferences like WMConf, Wikimania). As an
example, we did a survey of the FDC Round 1 process which we shared in
Milan, and used as a way to get more face-to-face feedback. This helps us
know both broad and specific areas that we need to improve on and to do so
quickly and appropriately. One thing to keep in mind with grantmaking
programs is that process feedback is easily and quickly incorporated (like
wiki-tables that made life miserable for FDC Round 1 applicants and we
could improve for Round 2 applicants). However, substantive feedback (like
the nature of questions, or entirely new sections of inquiry) need to be
incorporated at the end of the year for the new year, so that the nature of
the proposal doesn't change dramatically over the year, or from one round
to the next: it's not fair on either the new folks applying, or the
committee reviewing the proposals. We intend to do surveys of all our major
grantmaking programs over the next few months, so that we have a good
baseline against which to measure our progress as a team.

Again, it's useful to remember that our proposal processes might seem
'heavy' to many in the movement, but they're pretty light-weight (with the
possible exception of wiki-tables) in comparison to other grantmaking
processes that are far more demanding for far smaller grant amounts. As a
comparison, in the human rights and social justice grantmaking world, most
grants are in the range of 5,000-50,000 USD.

For the FDC in particular, the FDC Advisory Group will assess the first
year, and towards the end of the second year (March 2014), give the Board a
recommendation on whether the mechanism works (or not) and should continue
(or not).  The FDC Ombudsperson also gives an annual report which is
independent and autonomous on the FDC process.[1] With these various
inputs, the staff and FDC will create a report for Year 1 which we hope
will be shared back with the community at Wikimania.

Other forms of external or independent assessments will also be part of our
process: Kevin Gorman's retrospective of the grants program so far, for
instance, was really useful and we've already incorporated several of his
recommendations.[2] With the Program Evaluation team, we're also going to
get much better at sharing the good and best practices that already exist
in the movement, and at pointing out work that's relevant from other

Finally, we're planning some internal and external research to better
provide guidance to grant applicants on issues like potential growth
trajectories and useful ways of thinking about moving from entirely
volunteer to staffed groups. We're obviously not working on this in
isolation - there has already been some good thinking within the movement
on this - and we'd be glad to be in conversation with anyone who wants to
work with us on these issues.

The Grantmaking team is a work in progress - we didn't exist in our present
form last year, we've essentially restructured and reconfigured ourselves
over the past few months, set up the FDC and IEG processes, and learnt
rapidly about what works (and what might not) - and we're always open to
feedback. If people are uncertain about who to reach out to, please do get
in touch with me: as the person who heads the Grantmaking team, (some
element of) the buck does stop with me. :-)



On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 9:34 PM, ENWP Pine <deyntestiss at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Asaf,
> Thank you for sharing your perspective.
> This situation is complicated. I think it should be reviewed by an
> uninvolved third party, probably the FDC ombudsperson. I think it would
> take significant time and a lot of emails in this thread to accomplish what
> a review by the ombudsperson could accomplish in a faster and more thorough
> manner.
> Would you or someone else from the Grants staff please address the more
> broader questions that I raised earlier? I realize that these may have been
> easily overlooked due to the high volume of email on this list recently, so
> I'll repeat here.
> "Several interesting comments have been made in this thread regarding the
> value of a more holistic evaluation of the FDC and GAC processes with
> regards to chapters especially regarding the hiring of a chapter's first
> full time employee. There have also been comments made regarding the
> "heavy" nature of the FDC grant application process. Would the WMF staff
> please indicate whether a review of these concerns is under consideration,
> if so, how they plan to conduct the review?"
> I think you partially addressed these questions in your response but I
> would appreciate a more direct reply from you, Anasuya, Jessie, or anyone
> else in the Grantmaking and Programs group. Please feel free to fork into a
> separate thread if you like.
> Thanks,
> Pine
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***Anasuya Sengupta
Senior Director of Grantmaking
Wikimedia Foundation*
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
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