Grants:APG/Proposals/2015-2016 round1/Wikimedia CH/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
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.
- Potential for impact at scale (Wikidata, Kiwix, tools)
- Improved program design and strategy in 2016 plan
- Adapting approaches as a result of learning (e.g. leaner community support model)
- Targets are too low with respect to funding requested and number of staff
- Offline activity not clearly linked to online impact
- Capacity may be limited in the wake of staff transitions
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 CH works in a linguistically diverse region, and with several language communities, which presents ongoing challenges as well as ongoing opportunities.
- Costs of operating, and staff costs, are high in Switzerland.
- Wikimedia CH has opportunities for raising external funding which it has not yet been able to advantage of.
Past performance edit
Will this organization's past performance with program implementation enable this plan to succeed?
- Past achievements have not been commensurate with funding received. Wikimedia CH has been receiving very large grants for many years, without corresponding results.
- Some of Wikimedia CH’s most significant results delivered in terms of content have been generated by a few prolific contributors supported through some of Wikimedia CH’s most low-cost programs (e.g. camera and equipment lending).
- Wikimedia CH has had difficulty linking some of its work to online results, especially offline-focused Kiwix work. While Wikimedia CH is tracking distribution of Kiwix, it has been difficult to track how offline content is actually being used. Kiwix recently won the CH Open Source Software Award.
Organizational effectiveness edit
Will this organization's overall effectiveness enable this plan to succeed?
- Wikimedia CH has undergone significant staff transitions in the past year. Without paid staff to lead the organization, Wikimedia CH’s Board has stepped into a working role. Wikimedia CH currently has no executive director, though they intend to hire one in the near future. Given the significant program activity planned for the coming year, the existing lack of organizational leadership raises some concerns about capacity.
- Wikimedia CH’s approach to community support has been staff-intensive, but Wikimedia CH has changed its approach to community support to be leaner and more focused, as a result of what it learned from its previous approach.
- Despite significant funding, Wikimedia CH has not taken a prominent role in improving movement practices and documenting and sharing learning with other organizations.
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 CH has worked to improve its strategic plan.
- Wikimedia CH has a strong focus on content, which is well-aligned with movement strategic priorities.
- Wikimedia CH’s new emphasis on policy work around open data, accessibility, public domain content digitization, and offline access is well-aligned with Wikimedia Foundation’s policy work and 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?
- Wikimedia CH has made significant improvements in its approach to program design, and has made a plan that includes relevant SMART objectives and logic models.
- Some of Wikimedia CH’s programs may have the potential for impact beyond Switzerland’s borders, including work on Wikidata and bot wrangling, Wikimini support, and tools.
- Wikimedia CH is also working to create a legal checklist for Commons users and provide legal support, which is a new area of support for online contributors.
- Wikimedia CH’s focus on Kiwix could possibly have large scale impact, although it has been difficult to measure. Kiwix has significant numbers of downloads to date (100,000 downloads through the Android app) and potential for external fundraising. As Wikimedia CH outsources the supply chain work, we wonder how they will ensure data privacy with outside clients.
Is this plan and budget focused on the programs with the highest potential for online impact?
- Wikimedia CH is requesting 10% less funding than it received last year and is reducing its staff, while reducing its overall budget by 3%. However, the grant request of 315,000 CHF is still significant with respect to the targets set.
- Given the high costs of operating in Switzerland, Wikimedia CH will need to achieve results on a significant scale and secure external funding to continue receiving funding at this level. Wikimedia CH receives significant additional funding through local fundraising and payment processing.
- We appreciate Wikimedia CH’s ongoing efforts to increase the organization’s efficiency and reduce costs.
- It is unclear that Wikimedia CH’s budget is weighted towards impactful activities. Significant amounts of funding for this year’s Wikimania are not accompanied by a clear link to impact. For instance, 15,000 CHF is budgeted for Wikimania (10k for scholarships and 5k for community support), and will also need to allocate staff resources to administer the scholarships and support. Meetups are budgeted at 10,000 CHF.
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
|Wikimedia CH has an improved strategic plan. Its programs are strongly aligned with this strategy and with movement priorities.
P2. Potential for impact at scale
|WMCH's potential for impact for scale is growing through its focus on Tools. Kiwix (offline dissemination), Wikimini and other tools is likely to reach many users, though some work remains to be done on understanding impact of offline dissemination. WMCH continues to produce content with significant views. Finally, the organization has changed its staff-intensive community support model to a more scalable model.
P3. Objectives and evaluation methods
|This year, WMCH has moved beyond an approach to only evaluating outputs, and has set targets that address outcomes. WMCH is working to measure quality as part of its work. At the same time, given the amount of funding requested, we would expect WMCH to be using tools such as needs assessments and logic models to better explain the context of its work.
|While WMCH is working on the gender gap, their plan is quite limited for an organization of this size. Kiwix has the potential to reach those not currently being reached.
O1. Past results
|Despite continued large investments, we have not yet seen online outcomes commensurate with funding. We think the current plan has good potential for success, but past results are not strong and mostly come from a few prolific contributors supported by WMCH's lower cost programs.
|WMCH is now applying learning more effectively to improve its program plans (e.g. community support approach).
O3. Improving movement practices
|WMCH is coordinating with other chapters working with German speaking communities. At this funding level, WMCH could take more of a leadership role in the movement.
O4. Community engagement
|While WMCH has conducted some community surveys to better understand community needs, approaches to working with the community have not been extremely effective in the past.
|WMCH is currently undergoing significant transitions in its staff and it is unclear how new staff structures will effect the organization. WMCH has struggled to bring in significant volunteer resources to support its work, beyond a few key contributors.
B1. Past budgeting and spending
|WMCH has not made progress in external fundraising. Past funding has not led to commensurate results in terms of online outcomes.
B2. Budget is focused on impact
|Proposed results are not commensurate with funding. Staff costs are high relative to proposed impact. How Wikimania funding and support will lead to impact is not clear.
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.