Grants:APG/Proposals/2015-2016 round1/Amical Wikimedia/Staff proposal assessment/en
The staff proposal assessment is one of the inputs into the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) proposal review process, and is reviewed by the FDC in preparation for and during the in-person deliberations each round. The purpose of the staff proposal assessment is to offer the FDC an overview of the expert opinions of the FDC staff team about this annual plan grant proposal, and includes (1) An overview about all applications in the current round; (2) A narrative assessment; (3) An assessment that ranks each applicant according to specific criteria in program design, organizational effectiveness, and budgeting.
Overview for all assessments
High quality of proposals and annual plans
Proposals in this round have significantly improved in quality. Proposals are accompanied by detailed strategic plans, and some strategic plans include ways to monitor long term progress over time. With a few exceptions, proposals have been more focused and organized into 2-3 programs with common objectives. Most proposals have been more clearly focused on program work and have included less of an emphasis on operational details. Organizations have included logic models and other clear explanations (e.g. needs assessments and community surveys) to demonstrate why their work is needed and how proposed activities are likely to lead to results.
We appreciate the significant effort that has gone into these proposals, and also believe that the high quality of these proposals will aid the Funds Dissemination Committee in their understanding of each organization’s planned work. Furthermore, quality proposals with clear objectives will provide a strong foundation for each organization’s evaluation of their results in the coming year.
Better targets and effective storytelling
The inclusion of global metrics targets for each proposal has enabled a better understanding of the entire portfolio of Annual Plan Grant proposals in Round 1, and should help show the impact of Annual Plan Grant organizations as a group in a few key areas.
We know global metrics don’t tell the entire story of an organization’s impact. Organizations have included program-specific metrics that measure results that are specific to their work. We see organizations thinking about ways to understand the quality of the content contributed through their work, as well as ways the content is used by contributors (e.g. use rates for media), or readers (e.g. pageviews). Organizations are doing important work that is not yet reflected in global metrics, such as work in the areas of policy advocacy, building the MediaWiki community, and attempts to address community health. Organizations are striving to find good ways to show their achievements in these areas, and to link these achievements to online impact. We appreciate the different ways organizations are working to show the impact of their programs through metrics that are specific to their contexts, and we know this work will continue to be important moving forward.
Beyond the metrics, organizations are improving in their abilities to effectively tell stories and document lessons learned, both in terms of organizational learning and program learning. We have seen significant improvement from last year, with several organizations becoming systematic in the way they document and share their stories. We appreciate where organizations have highlighted important aspects of their work through effective storytelling.
This year, several organizations are using the lens of community health to structure their work with online contributors. Wikimedia Nederland is doing innovative work around training Arbitration Committee members and administrators. Amical Wikimedia, Wikimedia Nederland, and Wikimedia Israel are addressing online conflicts in their communities. We encourage them to share what they learn about this developing approach with the broader movement and Wikimedia Foundation, as we all stand to gain from these experiences.
Beyond this work, we have seen many organizations implement community surveys to gain a better understanding of the communities they work with and their specific characteristics and challenges. We see movement organizations as clear leaders in this area, since most have direct relationships with their communities and are well-equipped to address challenges that are specific to the geographies and languages they work with. We appreciate that learning how to address challenges in specific Wikimedia communities may be used to improve our understanding of community health in the broader Wikimedia context, which is one reason we see this work as so important.
Many organizations are looking beyond Wikipedia and Commons communities, to focus on other projects. Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia CH are both focusing on Wikidata this year, and Wikimedia Israel and Wikimedia Serbia are continuing their strong work on Wiktionary. A number of organizations are focusing on other projects like Wikisource and Wikivoyage, which may offer significant opportunities for improving content and increasing participation and reach.
Policy and legal work
Organizations are focusing on policy areas like copyright reform in a consistent and coordinated way. Wikimedia organizations already have a track record of participating in policy discussions. Some organizations, like Wikimedia Sverige, are seen by others as policy experts in their regions.
However, organizations do not yet have a strong track record with influencing policy, as it remains a nascent area of work. Plans focus on processes and mechanics of policy works rather than identifying specific and achievable policy goals.
Outside of policy work, organizations are also working on supporting contributors with legal expertise (e.g. Wikimedia CH and its work on copyright guidance for users on Commons).
In general, we see this policy work as well-aligned with Wikimedia Foundation’s strategies in these areas. We encourage organizations to continue to articulate how these policy goals benefit Wikimedia projects. We acknowledge that it is challenging to measure the outcomes of this work, and encourage further discussion.
Organizations are continuing to request funding for technical work, with a focus on technology tools. In general, we have seen an improvement in plans for technology work and have seen these projects proposed on a smaller scale. Some organizations already have expertise in these areas, while others are working to build more expertise. Beyond Wikimedia Deutschland’s software development plans, Wikimedia Sverige is working with its community to address bug reporting, and Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia CH are building relevant tools to expand the use of Wikipedia (text-to-speech, Kiwix and Wikimini). Wikimedia UK is also continuing work on VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and QRpedia. Wikimedia Israel is working on ways to support technical contributors to MediaWiki, and Wikimedia Ukraine is planning to support the development of gadgets relevant to its community.
Coordination among organizations
Organizations are continuing to coordinate with one another to improve movement practices and accomplish shared goals. Wikimedia Nederland, Wikimedia Österreich, Wikimedia Ukraine, and Amical stand out as high performers in documenting learning and improving movement practices, and Wikimedia Israel, Wikimedia Argentina, and Wikimedia Sverige, are making important contributions too.
Wikimedia Argentina and Wikimedia Ukraine are taking leadership roles in regional collaborations like Iberocoop and the CEE regional group. Organizations are collaborating across languages (e.g. Amical and Wikimedia Sverige), as well as within languages (e.g. DACH). A number of organizations are supporting international program groups and convenings, including Wikimedia Ukraine (Wiki Loves Earth), Wikimedia Nederland (GLAM conference), Wikimedia Österreich (Wikisource conference), Wikimedia Israel (Hackathon). Organizations in Europe are coordinating around EU advocacy issues.
Beyond technology tools, organizations like Wikimedia Österreich, Wikimedia Nederland, Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Israel are working on tools for advocacy work and education work that can benefit the broader movement. Organizations are also engaging actively with the Community Engagement team at Wikimedia Foundation to coordinate with Wikimedia Foundation on movement learning.
Quality of budgets
Budgets in this round varied in quality. Some organizations are still struggling to include an appropriate amount of detail in their budget. We believe more conversation is necessary to agree on the level of detail needed in these budgets, and to establish shared norms for good practices in budgeting and financial reporting. WMF plans to provide more in-depth guidance for budgets in the future.
Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Nederland have performed consistently in the area of making quality budgets and offering transparent financial reporting, and we’ve also seen significant improvement from smaller organizations like Amical and Wikimedia Serbia. Several organizations included staff time and costs for each program. This is a good practice, which can help organizations demonstrate how staff are contributing to different program areas, and tracking this closely will also help organizations understand how their resources are being allocated.
In some cases, however, we received budgets that included line large line items without sufficient detail for understanding the costs. This means that we could not draw strong conclusions about how budgets were weighted toward impact in many cases.
Finally, we noticed large amounts allocated to travel expenses, printing and promotional materials, and it is sometimes difficult to link these significant expenses to commensurate impact. Where expenses are significant, we would like to see clearer links to impact.
Pilot: one restricted grant request
The FDC makes general support grants to support programmatic and operational costs. For the first time, the FDC has received a request for a restricted grant, from Wikimedia Deutschland. We are piloting this approach to specifically support Wikimedia Deutschland’s software development focus. In a restricted grant, funds are allocated to specific line items in an organization’s budget.
|Proposed change (as a +/- percentage)
FDC or PEG funding
Overview of strengths and concerns
This section summarizes the strengths and concerns identified by staff, which are explained in the detailed narrative section of this assessment.
- Focused plan leverages proven organizational expertise (partnerships, community health)
- Strong community and volunteer engagement
- Lean and effective organization, decreasing reliance on Annual Plan Grant funding
- Lacks SMART objectives and clear targets for each program
Staff proposal assessment narrative
This section takes an in-depth look at this organization's past performance and current plans.
Context and effectiveness
This section takes a close look at this organization's context. Here are some questions we will consider:
How does this organization's environment (including its local context and its community) enable this plan to succeed and have impact?
- Catalan language projects are growing in content and editors, as is readership. Amical Wikimedia engages a high number of Catalan contributors in the organization as members and volunteers.
- While Amical’s work focuses on Catalan language projects, which are relatively small, language pride in Catalonia and government support may continue to motivate Catalan speakers to engage.
- Amical has impressive opportunities to collaborate with institutions in the cultural sector, which also enables more support from organizations outside of Wikimedia, and expands the reach of the projects.
Will this organization's past performance with program implementation enable this plan to succeed?
- Amical Wikimedia’s proposed plan builds on their past successful work and leverages the organization’s existing expertise in community health and partnership building.
- Amical continues to be a learning organization that uses their experiences to deepen their program work and make their work more effective year over year.
- Amical Wikimedia engages active contributors effectively in their education work as mentors, which provides benefits to long term contributors as well as encouraging contributions of content from students.
- Amical has been doing impressive work with libraries, which is leading to self-sustaining work on the part of many institutions, and which is continuing as part of their education program and as part of their core work in the plans for 2016.
- Amical is one of the highest performers in terms of global metrics so far in 2015, with impressive achievements in the area of content as well as in participation.
Will this organization's overall effectiveness enable this plan to succeed?
- Amical Wikimedia is a lean organization with only 1 FTE, and staff resources are focused on programs. Their unique model, where staff focus on programs and the board takes on administrative work, continues to be very effective in their context.
- Amical Wikimedia documents learning effectively for an organization of their size, and is growing in their ability to measure their work and set targets. Furthermore, Amical Wikimedia excels at applying learning to deepen their program work and improve outcomes. We hope to see continued work in this area as Amical builds their expertise as a learning organization.
- Amical’s leadership (board and staff) are stable, effective, and dedicated, and Amical has a large number of volunteers to implement their programs rather than relying on just a few people.
- Amical has developed strong expertise in partnership-building, and their consistent record of success continues to inspire confidence in Amical’s partners.
Strategy and programs
This section takes a close look at this organization's programs. Here are some questions we will consider:
Does this organization have a high-quality strategic plan in place, and are programs well-aligned with this strategic plan?
- Amical continues to plan work in a way that is consistent with their strategic plan, which has five strategic goals (cohesion, discourse, content, territory, and readers).
- Amical’s plan builds on past work toward Amical’s larger strategic goals.
- Amical’s programs are strongly aligned with Wikimedia movement priorities.
Do proposed programs have specific, measurable, time-bound objectives with clear targets, and are program activities and results logically linked? Are there specific programs with a high potential for impact?
- In this proposal, Amical Wikimedia clearly articulates the goals and importance of their community work.
- Amical is planning to explore community health by looking at conflicts on Catalan projects.
- This year, Amical Wikimedia included more targets than it has in the past for programs. However, programs lack SMART objectives and targets, making it difficult to understand and articulate what Amical Wikimedia will achieve against what they have achieved this year.
- Targets for the coming year include social media, so the number of individuals involved is high.
- Core projects will add content (images and articles). Amical Wikimedia anticipates that an impressive number of articles (10,000) will be created or improved through their work in 2016.
- Building on their successful work in GLAM, in the year ahead the organization is turning their focus to education. Amical is well-qualified to work in education, because of the organization’s close connections with community members and the commitment to ensuring articles are reviewed for quality.
Is this plan and budget focused on the programs with the highest potential for online impact?
- Amical Wikimedia is requesting a grant of $76,281, which is 17% less than last year’s request of $92,100. Amical Wikimedia plans to reduce their overall budget by 13%, thereby reducing their Annual Plan Grant funding overall and also the percentage of APG funding supporting their total budget.
- Amical is predicting to underspend on their budget in the current year, and has adjusted their budget in the planned year to reflect lower expenses. This may indicate that Amical Wikimedia is working to improve their budgeting accuracy.
- With their lean staffing plan, Amical Wikimedia continues to allocate funds to impactful work.
Summary of expert opinions (if applicable)
This section will summarize any expert opinions or other research.
Staff proposal assessment framework
This framework assesses annual plan grant proposals across the three dimensions of (1) Program design, (2) Organizational effectiveness, and (3) Budgeting. To complete the assessment, we identify whether each criterion is a strength or a concern:
- Major strength
- Neither a strength nor a concern
- Major concern
|Amical has a sufficient strategic plan in place for an organization of their size, and each of their programs are strongly aligned with this strategy and with movement priorities. Rationale for strategic alignment is clearly explained.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
|Amical's planned programs build on their strong track record of programmatic and organizational effectiveness, and is pursuing a self-sustaining partnerships strategy with the potential for scalability within their region. Targets set are ambitious and yet realistic based on past performance. Targets correspond to the amount of funding requested.
P3. Objectives and evaluation methods
|Amical has not provided SMART objectives for their programs, or baselines for understanding its work year over year. Plans for evaluation are not always clear.
|Other than including programs that have target audiences that include many female participants, Amical does not appear to be specifically addressing gender or reaching out to currently diverse communities.
O1. Past results
|Despite its small size and lean staffing model, Amical is one of the highest-performing APG organizations. While we have expressed concerns around capacity in previous years, Amical has overachieved consistently year over year. Amical's community of contributors and readers continues to grow and thrive under their stewardship.
|Amical is a learning organization that has greatly improved its ability to effectively document and share its work. There is evidence in this proposal that Amical is applying learning to improve its programs.
O3. Improving movement practices
|Amical has improved since last year in documenting and sharing. We commend Amical for their case study and encourage them to continue to share their learning more broadly.
O4. Community engagement
|Amical has close connections with the communities it partners with, with a high percentage of active editors engaged directly in the chapter's work as members and volunteers. Community members are deeply involved with the organization's planning processes, and community work is prioritized as part of Amical's core approach.
|Amical has performed well in the past, despite concerns expressed by FDC staff. The organization is now shifting its staff focus to education, which is a newer program that will require more attention, and this approach makes sense.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
|Amical is likely to underspend in this current grant period, but has requested a smaller grant for 2016.
B2. Budget is focused on impact
|Amical is a frugal and efficient organization with one full time staff member and a Board who handles administration. Budget aligns to impactful work.
Staff proposal assessment framework
- Major strength. This is something the organization does very well, and this is a strong indicator of future success.
- Strength. This is something that the organization does well, and this could indicate future success.
- Neither a strength nor a concern. This is something that does not indicate future success or make funding the application a risk, or aspects of this criterion conflict.
- Concern. This is something that the organization does not do well, and this could make funding the application a risk.
- Major concern. This is an area where the organization is not strong, and this could make funding the application a serious risk.
The organization has a quality strategic plan in place, programs are aligned with this strategy, and this strategy is aligned with online impact.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
Programs could lead to significant online impact at scale, and corresponding to the amount of funds requested.
P3. Evaluation methods
Programs include a plan for measuring results and ensuring learning, and employ effective evaluation tools and systems. Programs include SMART objectives, targets, and logic models.
Programs will expand the participation in and reach of the Wikimedia movement, especially in parts of the world or among groups that are not currently well-served.
O1. Past results
This organization has had success with similar programs or approaches in the past, and has effectively measured and documented the results of its past work.
This organization is addressing risks and challenges effectively, is learning from and documenting its experiences, and is applying learning to improve its programs.
O4. Improving movement practices
This organization effectively shares learning about its work with the broader movement and beyond, and helps others in the movement achieve more impact.
O5. Community engagement
This organization effectively engages communities and volunteers in the planning and implementation of its work.
This organization has the resources and ability (for example, leadership, expertise, staff, experience managing funds) to do the plan proposed.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
This organization has a history of budgeting realistically and managing funds effectively in the past.
B2. Budget is focused on programmatic impact
Based on past performance and current plans, funds are allocated to programs and activities with corresponding potential for programmatic impact.