The Affiliations Committee submitted this budget request at the end of June 2012 and it was approved at the end of August 2012 by the Board of Trustees of WMF. The budget is being managed based on the "Internal Process on Spending" approved in September.
The Affiliations Committee (formerly the Chapters Committee) has been tasked by the Board of Trustees to develop a plan to effectively handle its extended scope. In accordance with this request, the Committee submits the following budget request for consideration by the Board at its July 2012 meeting.
This budget request has been discussed at the March 2012 in-person meeting of the Committee and has been expanded on since and approved by resolution. The request tries to calculate the value of the various requests, it does not necessarily require the introduction of new funds, merely an appropriate allocation and focus for already existing programmes, and the extension of facilities provided to the Committee through the Board's budget.
The Committee has found it beneficial to conduct in person visits in countries where there are nascent chapter groups. In the past, travel has been approved on a case-by-case basis from the budget of the Board and decisions on travel has been influenced by the consideration to visit mostly countries that already have a high potential for a chapter (for example, countries where there are at least 15-20 interested people present). The expansion of the affiliate network, and in particular the lower threshold for establishing a user group will mean that a visit from the Committee would make sense in more cases.
Committee travel could take a number of different forms and serve a number of ends. Visits to countries with early development of offline activities, where a visit would explain the support net the Wikimedia movement can provide, the road to affiliation and generally help to vitalize and invigorate the group. Visits to regional conferences in regions where there are countries without local affiliates could serve similar ends and in addition would facilitate first contact between the Committee and the nascent groups. In some cases a visit to a country where there is an active group trying to achieve affiliation status could help in moving the application forward by allowing for fact finding, and an interactive review process, in addition to the benefits on moral and knowledge sharing.
The requested amount is the upper annual limit, the Committee will try to minimize costs where possible.
For the better functioning of the Committee an annual meeting where the possibility of reviewing processes is included in the budget. Based on timing and co-location (e.g. the Berlin Chapters Meeting or Wikimania) an added benefit of the meeting would be the ability to meet and have in-depth discussions with representatives of the applicant groups and the Board of Trustees (Movement Roles Group).
The cost estimate includes travel for all ten members of the Committee and possibly other logistics (meeting room cost). The actual costs will vary based on the location of the meeting, the number of Committee members who will have travel arranged through other funds and the possibility that the co-location partner provides the meeting room and logistics for free. The Committee will try to minimize costs, the amount in this request should ensure that the meeting can take place if some or all such attempts fail.
Wikimania is the global meeting of the Wikimedia community. Awarding Wikimania scholarships is the mechanism through, which the representation of unrepresented or priority areas is ensured at the conference; however, past experience shows that often there is no scholarship recipient from countries where there is an emerging chapter or other affiliate. To correct this bias, the Committee would like to request that special consideration be made for countries with applying groups and to the leaders of this group.
We would like about 5 scholarships to be set aside for candidates/countries recommended by the Committee, by supplying the Committee with the requested budget for this purpose and allowing it to choose the applicants among those who did not qualify for the general WMF scholarship through the same process that scholarship-awarding chapters use. Estimate is based on about $200/person cost of registration and lodging, and the unknown costs of travel dependent on the location of the applicants.
The presence of the people who receive a Committee scholarship would be beneficial in two ways: 1) it would expose the scholarship recipient to the international community, giving them ideas and networking opportunities and 2) it would allow the Committee's representatives present to have discussions with the recipient (for example, to explain the process, or to facilitate resolution to open questions in the approval process). Given that these applicants would be coming from countries where a local affiliate is just being set up or in the stages of consideration, we expect that the recipients would continue to be members of the community for a long period and their participation to have beneficial aftereffects for a longer term.
Affiliate start-up grants
The Chapters Committee has been delegated the authority to approve "chapter start-up budgets, within the amount allocated by the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation". Before that, the Chapter Coordinator was allowed to grant new chapters funding for certain start-up costs and these rights were transferred to the Committee. In the past years the Committee has not been informed of budget allocations for such purpose, and has therefore not used this facility to help new entities in their first steps. We would like to request the Board to provide such an allocation in the next fiscal year.
The Committee would like to use this facility to provide small unrestricted grants (or restricted grants for the purposes outlined in the linked delegations) to newly recognized chapter groups and possibly other affiliated organizations to assist with their start-up costs and allow them to focus on programmatic activities from the start. The aim is to provide basic seed funding for the costs of setting up the organisation.
We would like to utilize the WMF Grant system's existing infrastructure for this purpose to allow for transparency and to take advantage of the existing institutional background. However, we note that the existing criteria (e.g., a minimum of $500 requested) and the extensive review process might not be a perfect fit for new groups whose costs might be lower or who might be intimidated by the level of scrutiny for a grant that would cover administrative necessities only. We ask that the Grant programme be opened for grants approved by the Committee (to the extent of the budget line set aside for such grants) even if they fail to meet some of the criteria (for example the one on minimum amount), and that the staff and community members administering the grants programme cooperate with the Committee in ensuring that such grants are disbursed quickly and monitored through the existing systems.
Working with Affiliates is a part of the normal duties of several WMF employees; however, the work and existence of the Committee requires some staff time to be allocated specifically to the Committee for its effective functioning.
The Committee expects the need for the following allocations. We note that this is the first such request from the Committee, we have only estimated and not measured the required staff times even in cases where there is past precedent of staff assistance to the Committee. Times are on an annual basis.
- Travel coordination time: 25 hours – 1 hour per travel request, about 10-15 requests annually to arrange travel logistics and handle reimbursements; an additional 10 hours for logistics of the annual Committee meeting
- Wikimania scholarships: 5 hours of the time of the person handling scholarships
- Affiliate start-up grants: 15 hours of time of the person handling the WMF Grants
- Invited staff observers: 25 hours for observing the mailing list and providing advice
- Legal: 5 hours
- Total: 75 hours work of about 4 different employees
The Committee will request advice or assistance from other staff members from time to time if they can further the work of the Committee by for example providing information based on travel they have done on behalf of their work, or educating local volunteers about affiliates on their official trips.
- 2012-03-31 Resolution on the Affiliations Committee
- Based on discussions on the budget request and charter, it is understood that the Committee may allocate scholarships to events other than Wikimania.
- The rules governing Committee grant giving are clarified in the Charter
- 2006-4-4 Resolution of the Board of Trustees
- Currently there is one invited staff observer: The Head of Global South relations acts as an invited observer on the Committee's mailing list due to his extended exposure to Wikimedia communities and that his duties include handling grants, trademark and other requests of emerging Wikimedia communities. He has provided useful input to the Committee's work on information received during his normal duties, and well beyond.