Grants:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round1/Wikimedia CH/Staff proposal assessment
Applicants should read this document to familiarise themselves with the assessment criteria; however, it should be edited only by FDC-related staff. The staff will use the document to set out their objective assessment of each funding request from eligible entities – specifically, to determine the extent to which plans align with the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement, and the extent to which the entity is well-placed to execute those plans effectively. The staff will base this report on proposals from entities and input from the community and other stakeholders (including, where required, deeper due-diligence on the entity's previous track record within the Wikimedia movement). The staff will provide completed reports to the FDC, which will then make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on funding allocations. See a note from FDC staff explaining the process is more detail here: FDC portal/Note on staff proposal assessments 2013-14 Round 1.
Methodology behind the 2013-2014 Round 1 FDC staff assessments
The FDC staff assessments provide a snapshot of the staff review of Annual Plan Grant (FDC) proposals, and identify both strengths and concerns with the work proposed.
- We did this through both portfolio analysis - looking across proposals and calibrating across different organizations - as well as assessing the context of each individual organization and its proposal. We did our best to be as nuanced as possible. For example, we understand that an organization that is beginning to formalize structures and bring on staff may have far fewer resources for learning and evaluation processes than an organization with a longer history and full-time staff. At the same time, a larger organization is also likely to have complex program structures and processes, that reflect in its use of metrics and measures.
- We significantly increased the inputs to the staff assessment process from last year. They include:
- The proposals themselves, with the attached documents (strategic plans, annual plans, detailed budgets etc)
- Past and current reports (FDC quarterly progress reports, grant reports etc)
- A portfolio view of financials across proposals: FDC_portal/Proposals/2013-2014_round1/Financial_overview.
- Internal financial, evaluation and compliance inputs from the WMF Finance, Programs, Legal and Grantmaking teams.
- We used a few key principles for the assessment, across all proposals. These are not new, and are detailed in the narrative and scoring sections of the assessment. They include:
- Impact on Wikimedia projects and the global movement. We looked for the rationale behind the work organizations do, aligning them to the Wikimedia strategic priorities and goals. We looked particularly for direct and indirect impact of this work on Wikimedia projects; for example, growth in contributors and content donation. Most importantly, we looked at whether the funds requested were justified in the context of current and potential impact of the proposed work.
- Organizational strategy, leadership and governance. We looked for evidence that an organization had a good understanding of its own context, and the needs, opportunities and challenges of the communities it seeks to serve or partner with. We looked for board, staff and volunteer leadership that is committed, effective and engaged with these communities and practising movement values of openness and transparency.
- Rates of growth and financial management. In this round, only two returning applicants asked for funds within the recommended maximum growth rate in movement resources (annual plan grants/FDC allocations) of 20%, which is itself a significant rate in many contexts. In addition, many organizations are underspending on previous grant allocations and/or have extensive reserves, which makes overall growth rates even higher. We appreciated organizations that were not spending for spending’s sake, and being careful and prudent about resources; we hope this continues. However, significant underspends (particularly on programs) across a number of organizations flag the challenges of budgeting, planning and program design. It may be that the most effective and impactful programs do not always need significant resources. We specifically looked at the nature of long-time underspends in the context of organizations with a history of overbudgetting and underspending.
- Program design, learning and evaluation. We recognize that the Wikimedia movement at large is still developing a more nuanced understanding of how we measure our impact, as volunteers and as organizations. We looked at each organization’s self-defined metrics and measures for success, both qualitative and quantitative. We searched for indicators that went beyond process (or outputs) and looked at intended outcomes and specific goals or targets. We recognized, however, that many organizations are in the process of establishing baselines for their work, and incorporating learning into program design and re-design. We appreciated organizations that were open about these challenges and were honest and reflective about their own capacities and systems.
Note: We shared our nearly final draft assessments with all FDC applicants a day ahead of publishing them, so that organizations had some lead time for sharing these with their Board and staff. We then took all responses into consideration where possible, making factual changes and clarifying our statements where necessary. We encouraged organizations to note all substantive comments and concerns on the Discussion pages of these assessments.
|Name of eligible entity||Wikimedia CH|
|Summary staff assessment [substantial concerns: none/some/many]||Many concerns|
|Total amount proposed to the FDC for the upcoming year annual plan in currency requested||500,000 CHF|
|Estimate of total amount proposed to the FDC for the upcoming year annual plan in US dollars||552,400 USD|
|Exchange rate used to calculate estimate in US dollars and date accessed (mm/dd/yy)||1.1048 US dollars to 1.00000 Swiss Francs (calculated 1 October 2013)|
|Date of proposal submission||1 October 2013|
|Adherence to proposal process [yes/no]||Yes|
|Adherence to legal, regulatory, and policy regulations [yes/no]||Yes|
|Adherence to US anti-terrorism laws [yes/no]||Yes|
A detailed summary of the financial information from all proposals is here: financial overview document. Movement resources are defined as what the entity received through FDC allocations or grants or what the entity retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle.
|Projected 2013||Proposed 2014||Proposed change (as a +/− %)|
|Movement resources*||362,000 CHF||500,000 CHF||38%|
|Overall budget||550,000 CHF||904,824 CHF||65%|
|Number of staff||3.4||4.7||38%|
Overview of staff assessment
What are the top strengths of the plan?
- Useful and innovative work like Wikipedia in Jail and thematic programs like The Alps
- Supports a diverse language community within Switzerland and beyond its borders
- Acknowledges past challenges and builds on past successes
What are the top concerns with the plan?
- Proposed funding is too high, especially when the active community is very small
- Potential impact of these programs on global Wikimedia projects is low or unclear
- Metrics are insufficient given the organization’s size and context
To what extent does the plan address the strategic goals and priorities of the movement?
- WMCH’s programs are aligned with the strategic priorities, but the rationale presented is sometimes unclear. For example, offline work seems most closely related to Reach, but WMCH lists it as related to Participation instead. The impact of offline programs like Kiwix on participation goals is still unclear.
- WMCH has several programs aligned with Quality, including GLAM and Education, and it is addressing Reach through its offline work.
- WMCH does not have a strategic plan to support its proposal, and so it is difficult to understand its rationale when the proposal lacks context. Additionally, the level of detail provided in this proposal is low, and so it is sometimes more difficult to clearly see the links.
Context of the entity and community
To what extent does the context of the entity (e.g., community participation, fundraising context, sociopolitical environment) enable or inhibit the entity's potential for impact? To what extent does the entity's experience enable or inhibit the entity's potential for impact?
- WMCH supports several high-potential language communities, but is working with a very small community within Switzerland, and in Western Europe, where many other movement entities are working.
- WMCH recently restructured its staff to include several senior level positions rather than one executive director.
- WMCH is an experienced entity that has been entrusted with a large amount of movement resources in the past.
Feasibility and risks for the annual plan
How feasible is the annual plan? Specifically:
- To what extent are the budget, staffing, availability of volunteers, and other resources realistic for achieving the anticipated outcomes?
- Are the timelines realistic for the proposed initiatives and associated activities?
- Are there acknowledged and/or unacknowledged risks in the proposal?
WMCH is proposing to grow its movement resources again significantly by 38%: its request is for 500,000 CHF (US$ $552,400). This rate of growth in movement resources is above the maximum increase of 20% recommended in the guardrails.
- To some extent, WMCH is building on its past programmatic successes rather than taking on additional programs, but WMCH is also working in some program areas where few other chapters are working, such as offline dissemination.
- In the past, WMCH has shown a willingness to openly acknowledge when some programs are not working and change its plans accordingly. For example, it realized that participation in the Third Age Online (TAO) project for elders was not effective, and revised its plans as a result.
- Some targets set in this proposal seem extremely low with respect to the funds requested. For example, 5 new active editors in the Community Support program or 10 participants in Edit Togethers in the Community Support program. Many metrics are focused on outputs rather than outcomes, and so the quality of these metrics are not commensurate with the size of this request. There are concerns around WMCH’s capacity to measure its work, given past performance.
- WMCH does not have a strong track record with reporting. Each of its progress reports for its current FDC grant have been submitted late or with incomplete information. (See, progress report for Q1 and progress report for Q2.
- It is surprising that more coordination with other groups pursuing offline work was not mentioned in this proposal, as there may be opportunities for consolidation or collaboration.
- Its role in cross-movement work is also not clear in the proposal. For example, the cooperation and complementarity with neighboring Wikimedia organizations is mentioned only briefly. Similarly, work with Canada, Australia and Indonesia is mentioned only briefly, without detailed explanation.
- Governance challenges include clarity around Conflict of Interest issues, with community members asking about the relationship between Board and staff members.
- WMCH is projecting a 17% underspend for its current FDC allocation.
Summary of expert opinions and/or community commentary
Summary of the opinions of subject-matter experts on the plan
- None requested.
Summary of community commentary on the plan
- For detailed comments from the community, the FDC and FDC staff, as well as responses from the organizations themselves, please visit the proposal form discussion page. The summary offers a brief overview of the questions or comments from community members, and is not an endorsement of the views expressed on the proposal form discussion page.
- One member of the community expressed concern about the hiring of the Chief Science Officer, who was formerly the Chair of the Board. Others responded disagreeing with the concern about the hiring of the new Chief Science Officer.
- Another member of the community appreciated the work of the Neuchâtel Herbarium project, as it also receives non-movement funding, and may be able to be integrated into some kind of class project.
Scores, comments and feedback
Scores provide only a preliminary assessment for consideration by the FDC. The rubric for scoring is below.
|Dimensions||Criteria||Score (1–5)||Comments and feedback|
|Potential for impact against strategic priorities||(A) The plan addresses the Wikimedia movement strategic priorities of the Wikimedia movement (infrastructure, participation, quality, reach, and innovation)||3.50||Programs in this plan address strategic priorities, including Quality and Reach, but the rationale presented is sometimes unclear; WMCH does not have a strategic plan.|
|(B) TThe initiatives in the plan have the potential to lead to movement strategic priorities, if executed well||2.50||The potential impact on German, French, Italian language projects is unclear. WMCH's community is small, and the potential impact as articulated is very low on a global scale.|
|(C) The initiatives in the plan have the potential to lead to significant impact, given context and amount of funds proposed||2.00||Initiatives are unlikely to have significant impact in the broader movement context, but may have limited impact on a local scale.|
|Ability to execute||(D) The entity has the resources, skills, and capacity (staff, volunteer, non-staff) for the plan to succeed||4.00||WMCH has a committed staff and a small but diverse community.|
|(E) The entity has a record of success in similar initiatives||3.00||Learns from its challenges (e.g. TAO project) and is building on past experience rather than exploring unfamiliar initiatives.|
|(F) The entity's leadership is effective, committed, and relatively stable||3.00||Some governance concerns around previous Conflict of Interest issues; staff leadership is stable and committed.|
|Efficient use of funds||(G) The funding requested is reasonable given the proposed initiatives||2.00||Budget is not consistent with the potential impact of proposed initiatives.|
|(H) The entity has a record of using funds efficiently and staying on budget||3.00||Record of underspending on past grants, but is spending on target with respect to its current funds allocation.|
|Quality of proposed measures of success||(I) Clear indicators of success are outlined in the plan||3.00||Clear indicators include targets, but are not focused on outcomes, as we would expect for a request of this size.|
|(J) A plan is in place to track the proposed metrics||2.00||While WMCH provides a list of indicators to be tracked, there is not a clear plan in place that is commensurate with a request of this size.|
|(K) The entity has a feasible plan in place to track the proposed metrics||3.00||There is some overall capacity to track and monitor metrics.|
|Potential to add knowledge and/or other benefits to the movement||(L) The initiatives in the plan, if successful, could be helpful and/or productively adapted elsewhere in the movement||3.00||Pursuing some innovative programs such as "Wikipedia in Jail" and thematic areas, but the plan lacks strong and innovative approaches needed for a request of this size|
|(M) The entity is ready to share with the movement the lessons learned from the initiatives||3.00||Active within the movement; the entity learns and shares with other movement groups to some extent but has not developed its capacity for regional collaboration to its full potential; the entity has a mixed track record with reporting and sometimes submits late or incomplete reports.|
|Dimensions||Evaluation criteria||1 = Weak or no alignment with criterion||3 = Moderate alignment with criterion||5 = Strong alignment with criterion|
|Potential for impact against strategic priorities||(A) The plan addresses the Wikimedia movement strategic priorities||The plan will not directly address any strategic priorities||The plan will partially address strategic priorities or other goals that are closely related to the strategic priorities||The plan will directly address several strategic priorities|
|(B) The initiatives have the potential to lead to the strategic priorities, if executed well||The initiatives have no clear connection to strategic priorities||Some or all of the initiatives have an unclear relationship to strategic priorities||The initiatives have been shown (by the entity or the movement) to lead to strategic priorities|
|(C) The initiatives have the potential to lead to significant impact, given context and amount of funds proposed||The initiatives will have marginal impact in the local community and the broader Wikimedia community, given context and amount of funds proposed||The initiatives proposed may have a significant impact in the local community, given context and amount of funds proposed||The initiatives could have significant impact at scale, both in the entity's local community and in the broader movement, given context and amount of funds proposed|
|Ability to execute||(D) The entity has the resources, skills, and capacity (staff, volunteer, non-staff) for the plan to succeed||The entity has neither the number nor the amount of resources, skills, and capacity needed for success.||The entity has some relevant staff and volunteer capacity, but may be under-resourced for some initiatives||The entity is well-resourced with the relevant skills and capacity for success|
|(E) The entity has a record of success in similar initiatives||The entity has had trouble succeeding in similar initiatives||The entity has not engaged in similar initiatives in the past||The entity has conducted similar initiatives in the past and has been successful in achieving desired results|
|(F) The entity's leadership is effective, committed, and relatively stable||Leadership has been unstable (e.g., changing on an annual basis)||Current leadership is committed to the entity; some concerns exist around stability or effectiveness of leadership||Current and past leaders have demonstrated the ability to develop and execute on strategic plans; leadership team has been stable and transitions have been smooth|
|Efficient use of funds||(G) The funding requested is reasonable given the proposed initiatives||Based on FDC experience and relative to other proposals, the plan contains significant over- or under-budgeting, and/or has not thoroughly accounted for costs||Based on FDC experience and relative to other proposals, the budget is generally consistent with the initiatives; some initiatives are likely to be over- or under-budgeted||Based on FDC experience and relative to other proposals, the budget is reasonable, and rigorous cost projections have been presented|
|(H) The entity has a record of using funds efficiently and staying on budget||The entity has a poor record of budgetary management: e.g., consistently and significantly below budget (such as 50% underspending), and drawing on organizational reserves due to overspending||The entity has a middling record of budgetary management; e.g., generally on-budget for its biggest initiatives and cost items, properly recording any over- and under-spending, and with plans in place for improvements||The entity has consistently strong record of financial management; e.g., consistently staying on or below budget (within ~5% of budget), and putting surplus funds towards the entity's and/or movement's goals|
|Quality of proposed measures of success||(I) Clear indicators of success are outlined in the plan||Initiatives have no associated indicators of success, or the proposed indicators are unrealistic and/or unmeasurable||Each initiative has indicators of success, but at least some indicators are unrealistic or are not clearly connected to the initiative||Each initiative has a realistic and carefully framed set of indicators of success associated with them, which are rigorous and time-bound|
|(J) A system is in place to track the proposed metrics||The plan does not include methodology or timing for tracking and collecting metrics to measure progress against proposed indicators of success||A proposal to track progress against indicators exists, but has flawed methodology or unrealistic timelines and initiatives||The plan includes timing and tracking of proposed metrics, and additional initiatives (e.g., surveys, research) to track indicators|
|(K) The entity has a feasible system to track the proposed metrics||No systems are in place to track metrics, or staff or volunteer capacity to manage metrics tracking||There is some overall capacity (e.g., staff, volunteers) to track and monitor metrics, but the entity does not clearly have the relevant skills to do this||High-quality systems, and the necessary skills and capacity to manage these systems, are in place|
|Potential to add knowledge and/or other benefits to the movement||(L) The initiatives, if successful, could be helpful and/or productively adaptedelsewhere in the movement||The initiatives would not be relevant to other movement groups||Some initiatives may be relevant to other movement groups||Many initiatives proposed are new or have seldom been tried elsewhere in the movement; if successful, other movement entities would benefit from doing similar initiatives|
|(M) The entity is ready to share with the movement the lessons learned from the initiatives||The entity is isolated from other movement groups and rarely shares information; the entity's leaders and members seldom participate in movement-wide functions||The entity is somewhat active within the movement, and is developing more relationships with other movement entities with which it could share lessons learned||The entity has regular communication with other movement entities, is a regular participant in Wikimedia events, and has a track record of sharing with others|