Grants:APG/Proposals/2015-2016 round1/Wikimedia Österreich/Staff proposal assessment
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 edit
High quality of proposals and annual plans edit
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 edit
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.
Community health edit
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 edit
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.
Technology work edit
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 edit
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 edit
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 edit
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
|2.5 / recent increase to 2.75
|10% / 0% with recent increase
Overview of strengths and concerns edit
This section summarizes the strengths and concerns identified by staff, which are explained in the detailed narrative section of this assessment.
- Leader in documenting and applying learning and sharing more broadly
- Leader in improving movement practices
- Stable and effective organization
- Increase in staff in 2015
- Budget not clearly focused on impact (e.g. high travel costs)
- Increasing reliance on APG funding
Staff proposal assessment narrative edit
This section takes an in-depth look at this organization's past performance and current plans.
Context and effectiveness edit
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?
- Wikimedia Österreich focuses on German language projects and Commons, along with several other Wikimedia organizations. Wikimedia Österreich has built effective relationships with individual community members within a small community.
- Wikimedia Österreich has leveraged in-kind donations. While they don’t include these in their official financial records, they have systematically tracked and evaluated this important support.
- At the same time, Wikimedia Österreich has not been able to secure additional external funding and they acknowledge this challenge. Wikimedia Österreich is addressing this challenge in the current and upcoming year by experimenting with different models.
Past performance edit
Will this organization's past performance with program implementation enable this plan to succeed?
- Wikimedia Österreich has delivered 6,800 articles created or improved and 2,500 images in use by the middle of 2015.
Organizational effectiveness edit
Will this organization's overall effectiveness enable this plan to succeed?
- Wikimedia Österreich is a learning organization that emphasizes improving movement practices. Wikimedia Österreich has been a convener and a leader in several work areas and regional groups. Wikimedia Österreich has supported CEE chapters, and will host this year’s Wikisource conference in Vienna. Wikimedia Österreich has actively engaged with Wikimedia Foundation’s learning and grantmaking teams to contribute to movement-wide systems and approaches.
- Wikimedia Österreich is a stable organization with effective leadership, and models good governance practices.
- Wikimedia Österreich has good systems for documenting organization and program learning, and getting information from volunteers and community members. Wikimedia Österreich is effectively adapting and prioritizing their programs as a result of learning. For example, the organization chose not to continue their popular Wiki Loves Monuments program due to a lack of results.
- Wikimedia Österreich engages with their small community of volunteers through face-to-face interaction, and has strong relationships with key volunteers. Community members and volunteers are engaged actively with the organization’s planning processes.
Strategy and programs edit
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?
- Wikimedia Österreich’s plan is aligned with their strategy.
- Content-focused work is clearly aligned with movement strategic 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?
- Clear and relevant objectives, logic models, good explanations of desired changes.
- Staff-intensive approach to community support may not be scalable.
- Plans for 2016 programs will likely continue to generate large amounts of content. The organization may want to grow toward emphasizing quality metrics and use rates.
- 2016 participation targets appear low compared to their 2015 achievements by mid-year. For instance, they have reached 9,000 participants by mid-2015, and have a target of 3,000 for 2016.
- Wikimedia Österreich’s advocacy work has potential. They have developed some targets for this work.
Is this plan and budget focused on the programs with the highest potential for online impact?
- Wikimedia Österreich has a good track record with consistent budgeting in recent years.
- Wikimedia Österreich is proposing 8% budget growth from $283K to $305K, and is requesting a 10% increase in Annual Plan Grant funding from $256K to $280K. This means that budget growth is primarily funded through APG, and also that Wikimedia Österreich is increasing their overall reliance on Annual Plan Grant funding. This is concerning for an organization with a small staff and relatively small community.
- Wikimedia Österreich will need to continue to work to diversify their funds, which has been an ongoing challenge.
- In the current year, Wikimedia Österreich has increased their FTE from 2.5 to 2.75 members, partially to support the Wikisource conference. This staff growth is concerning, given the small size of Wikimedia Österreich’s community. As it grows, Wikimedia Österreich will want to ensure that staff growth is commensurate with results.
- Wikimedia Österreich’s budget also includes about 50K euro for travel expenses, which is a significant amount allocated to travel.
Summary of expert opinions (if applicable) edit
This section will summarize any expert opinions or other research.
Staff proposal assessment framework edit
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
|WMAT has a good strategic plan. Activities like content-focused work and advocacy are strongly aligned with strategic priorities, and strategic alignment is clearly explained.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
|WMAT's staff-intensive approach to community support may not be scalable.
P3. Objectives and evaluation methods
|WMAT has a clear plan in place to evaluate its work, and has a strong track record of effectively measuring its work in the past. WMAT monitors its ongoing progress according to goals set. WMAT's objectives go beyond global metrics to provide useful insights into its programs that are important to the organization's specific work. At the same time, WMAT has a history of setting low targets, and we hope to see the organization improve this over time
|WMAT has included a target for number of women involved in some of their education work, but has not otherwise strongly emphasized diversity in its proposal.
O1. Past results
|WMAT is achieving consistent results in terms of online impact. However, some targets seem low considering performance to date in 2015.
|WMAT is a learning organization that effectively documents and shares its work, and manages risks and challenges effectively. There is evidence in this proposal that WMAT applies its learning to improve and prioritize programs. For example, WMAT has canceled some ineffective programs even when they were popuar.
O3. Improving movement practices
|WMAT is a leader in improving movement practices. WMAT is active in regional collaborations, including DACH and CEE, and is hosting an international Wikisource conference. WMAT has actively engaged in international learning activities, and in mentoring other organizations.
O4. Community engagement
|WMAT has systems for maintaining contact with community members directly, and has relationships with many active contributors in Austria. The community is involved with WMAT's processes for planning and prioritizing activities, and community support is a key focus of WMAT.
|WMAT has proposed a clear plan with a strong performance in past work, and has the staff and volunteer resources to implement their annual plan.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
|WMAT has been spending on target and performing consistently.
B2. Budget is focused on impact
|WMAT has significant costs for travel which may not be strongly aligned with impact. Staff growth is a concern.
Staff proposal assessment framework edit
- 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.