Grants:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round1/Wikimedia Israel/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 Israel|
|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||1,553,837 ILS|
|Estimate of total amount proposed to the FDC for the upcoming year annual plan in US dollars||438,337 USD|
|Exchange rate used to calculate estimate in US dollars and date accessed (mm/dd/yy)||0.2821 US dollars to 1.00000 Shekel (calculated on 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*||549,440 ILS||1,553,837 ILS||183%|
|Overall budget||725,679 ILS||1,714,637 ILS||136%|
|Number of staff||3.1||4.6||48%|
Overview of staff assessment
What are the top strengths of the plan?
- Past programmatic success, and past emphasis on programs rather than institutionalization
- Strong commitment of board and volunteers and the onboarding of a new ED
- Improvements in reporting and sharing lessons with the movement
What are the top concerns with the plan?
- Proposed growth in both budget and staffing is too rapid
- Proposed plan is not feasible, with too many activities for an organization in transition
- Current and proposed staffing plan is ill-considered
To what extent does the plan address the strategic goals and priorities of the movement?
- This proposal has the potential for strong alignment with several strategic priorities, but the rationale presented in this proposal is not clear.
- Of its programs, its Recruiting new volunteers program and its Creating long-term strategic partnerships program are best aligned with strategic priorities, respectively Participation and Quality. The program Establishing Wikimedia Israel’s role as a leader in both Israel and abroad is weakly aligned with any strategic priority; WMIL's leadership has been and will be established through its overall programmatic impact and organizational effectiveness.
- WMIL has a strategic plan in development, but not yet publicly shared. This makes it difficult to understand strategic alignment where strong context is not included in the proposal.
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?
- WMIL is well-positioned to have impact on Hebrew language Wikimedia projects, as it is enabled by an active and vibrant community. The number of active editors in Israel continues to increase. WMIL’s work focuses on editorship and contributions, which has significant potential for impact.
- WMIL has done work in the past that may be useful to others in the movement and is continuing to pursue some innovative programs that may be useful to others, such as its programs focused on editor recruitment.
- WMIL has a track record of executing programs successfully at a relatively low cost, pursuing effective programs and emphasizing program work rather than growth and institutionalization.
- While WMIL has a mixed track record with reporting, it is improving.
- WMIL has not put a strong emphasis on measuring its work in the past, but it has expressed a desire to improve its metrics.
- WMIL has a committed community of volunteers and a good focus on participation on the Wikimedia projects, but may need to strengthen its membership base in order to continue to execute effectively on its activities.
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?
WMIL is proposing growth in its overall budget from 564,440 ILS (US$ 146,716) to 1,714,637 ILS (US$ 487,113): a total budget growth rate of 204%. WMIL anticipates spending 725,679 ILS (US$ 204,714) this year, which when compared to its planned 2014 budget would yield a 136% total projected spending change between 2013 and 2014. In addition, it is requesting a correspondingly high growth rate in movement resources of 183%, significantly above the maximum increase of 20% recommended in the guardrails.
- WMIL has a committed board and community of volunteers who enable its work.
- WMIL has focused on increasing the base of editors and contributors in the past and the proposed program for recruiting new volunteers builds on this experience.
- WMIL is building on its past successes with partnerships with a number of GLAM and other institutions. In particular, the partnership with the National Library of Israel has resulted in a successful Wikipedian in Residence program.
- Two local donors have confirmed positive experiences working with WMIL, commenting particularly on the Board’s strong commitment.
- WMIL attempted to hire a permanent executive director in 2013, but decided not to move forward with renewing her contract after three months. A new executive director was hired in August 2013. Especially with the challenges of managing such transitions, including the time needed to bring a new ED on board, the proposed plan seems far too ambitious in scope and scale.
- The impact on Wikimedia projects is not proportionate to the resources being requested. Furthermore, WMIL has some metrics to track progress, but the quality and clarity of these metrics does not correspond to the amount requested.
- In its previous FDC proposal, submitted in 2012-2013 Round 1, WMIL proposed increasing staff by one position to a total of 1.5 full- and part-time staff. The FDC approved nearly a full allocation of US$141,172; however, WMIL has underspent in this current year and has planned to use this underspend to increase its current staff by 1.5 additional staff positions, totaling three people. The first notification to the FDC and FDC staff of these changes to staffing were through the 2013-14 proposal submitted on October 1, with a later mention on October 30 in the third quarter progress report. In addition, the proposed 2014 plan will add 1.5 additional staff. Within a year, WMIL proposes to move from 1.5 staff positions to 4.5 staff positions, including one part time (0.5) national service volunteer.
- Wkimedia Israel is increasing its operational costs and proposing a large amount for international travel and events, diluting its strong emphasis on effective programs (including editor recruitment, retention and content donation). This proposal is overly focused on international movement work, which will cost US$ 60,770 (~13% of the total budget, see expenses by program for details).
- WMIL has a mixed track record of budgeting effectively and spending consistently. For example, WMIL effectively executed a successful Wikimania in 2011, but spending on its current funds allocation has not been very consistent from quarter to quarter (see its Q1 progress report and Q2 progress report for details).
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 question on the discussion page asked about the chapter’s policy on growing its membership base.
- One community member expressed concerns around the chapter’s request in proportion to its membership.
- Another community member expressed concerns around the ability of the plan as articulated to impact the Wikimedia projects, leading to extensive conversations.
- Yet another expressed concerns about WMIL requesting more resources before building up its editor base more.
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 Participation and Quality, but the rationale presented is unclear.|
|(B) TThe initiatives in the plan have the potential to lead to movement strategic priorities, if executed well||3.50||WMIL is well-positioned to have impact on Hebrew language Wikimedia projects; WMIL’s work focuses on editorship and contributions, which has significant potential for impact.|
|(C) The initiatives in the plan have the potential to lead to significant impact, given context and amount of funds proposed||2.00||Programs may lead to impact in a local context and a broader context, but the amount requested is too large.|
|Ability to execute||(D) The entity has the resources, skills, and capacity (staff, volunteer, non-staff) for the plan to succeed||2.00||Committed board and community of volunteers, but there may be a danger of volunteer burnout with a plan of this scale and scope.|
|(E) The entity has a record of success in similar initiatives||3.00||The entity has conducted many similar initiatives in the past and has been successful, but they are also trying many new things at one time.|
|(F) The entity's leadership is effective, committed, and relatively stable||3.50||WMIL's Board is strongly committed and engaged in programs. The organization is currently undergoing a transition with its newly appointed Executive Director and plans to hire several new staff.|
|Efficient use of funds||(G) The funding requested is reasonable given the proposed initiatives||1.50||Budget is not consistent with the potential impact of the initiatives, and there are serious concerns about the proportion of operational costs and the staffing plan.|
|(H) The entity has a record of using funds efficiently and staying on budget||2.50||Mixed track record of budgetary management, including very successful management of the Wikimania 2011 budget and very irregular spending patterns with respect to the current FDC funds allocation.|
|Quality of proposed measures of success||(I) Clear indicators of success are outlined in the plan||3.00||Indicators are not focused on the Wikimedia projects and are of an inconsistent quality; while indicators have greatly improved from last year their quality is not commensurate with the scope of the proposal and the size of the request.|
|(J) A plan is in place to track the proposed metrics||3.00||Provides list of indicators to be tracked.|
|(K) The entity has a feasible plan in place to track the proposed metrics||2.00||WMIL has not demonstrated capacity for tracking metrics in the past; given the size and scope of this plan it is unlikely WMIL has capacity to track these 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||While past work has been innovative, the current plan is not feasible and so approaches are unlikely to be adapted by others.|
|(M) The entity is ready to share with the movement the lessons learned from the initiatives||3.50||Active within the movement; strong programmatic leader; improving with respect to reporting.|
|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|