Grants talk:PEG/Hiring Staff

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There is a potential problem with requiring staff to work on programs that are also engaging volunteers on similar tasks. It may be an issue in some jurisdictions that you cannot terminate the staff member on the grounds of redundancy while their duties continue to be performed by a volunteer; this is to protect people's jobs. Kerry Raymond 04:09, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I understand this would be a problem under certain (few) jurisdictions, and it would be duly considered when appropriate, but I think we can safely ignore it for the purposes of thinking about a general policy. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Admin work is often of least interest to volunteers, yet there are often legal requirements that require proper documentation and reporting (often by appropriately qualified people) to be carried out. This is why many organizations employ staff or out-source for book-keeping and similar administrative functions. Kerry Raymond 04:09, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Indeed, and outsourcing (not hiring) accounting/book-keeping is the way many chapters have been taking. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

In many jurisdictions there are considerable legal obligations on employers, e.g. Workplace health and safety, superannuation, etc. Employing staff will considerably increase the administration required to manage their employment. Who will do this work? Kerry Raymond 04:09, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes. This is one of the concerns in hiring employees, and the only possible answer is "the chapter board and that first employee herself". This is already mentioned in the "Issues" section of the page. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

All in all, the need for paid staff and local implications of chapters being employers is really only something that can be worked through locally by each chapter. But certainly WMF should not allow chapters to proceed without due diligence of these kinds of issues, as WMF could get drawn into a mess either legally or in terms of bad PR (which is bad for donations). Kerry Raymond 04:09, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Correct, hence the need for a chapter in good governance and working order with an active board etc. as a prerequisite for considering adding an employee. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Disentanglement planEdit

I have one suggestion for a requirement that is not yet, at least explicitly, present: a chapter requesting a grant to pay for employees should also present a plan to achieve independence on that matter, involving a combination of efforts to find their own funding for staff and to reorganize their work so that volunteers and local institutional partners can get it done. This plan would be part of the larger plan which is to be evaluated, tracked and reported on. --Solstag 04:34, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

I absolutely agree. There is a question if we want to have self-sustainable chapters, or chapters which are financially dependent from WMF... Polimerek 08:43, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure this should be a requirement. Are we sure we don't want to support hiring staff in chapters that may have significant (legal or economic) trouble raising funds, and may have to rely on the WMF's general resources for years? Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmm. Well, I don't mean an "immediate plan", just something to get them seriously thinking about it. A plan could be something along the lines of "in X years, once we accomplish Y, we shall be able to go on by ourselves". And X could be very large (like 5 years) depending on the context. If a group can't conceive and commit to, not even to a long-term, path to become self-reliant, then it should take a step back and try simpler projects that don't require staff. It's not so much about the feasibility of the plan as it is about the maturity of the group. If you don't know enough about project management to commit to a long term goal, then go through a few cycles of the regular grant system before taking a bigger step!
--Solstag 04:02, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
One could still argue that there are places where a staffed chapter would never, ever be sustainable. Well my opinion is that in those places we shouldn't aim for a staffed chapter or activities that require one. We don't yet have the kind of resources to solve war, famine, etc. Plus, in places were the institutions are so fragile that a worldwide connected NGO with access to lots of funds for projects can't reach sustainability, I don't see the reason for WMF to fund permanent staff when the justification for that is mostly to deal with other institutions.
Now, in those cases a WMF chapter still could, perhaps, work as a hub to other more fragile NGOs in the region, which would justify permanent staff. But once you aim at that, there are plenty of other sources of international funding available whose mission is more aligned to such work.
Ok I have now gone completely off-topic, and I'm talking to myself ;) --Solstag 04:02, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Not at all! These are thoughtful comments, and I thank you for them. I shall think about them some more before responding. Ijon 16:14, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Chapter QualificationEdit

I think chapter qualification should be determined before raising any grant to such Chapter. Some of the Important Points are as below-

  1. Chapter should have stable Administration staff
  2. Chapter should gain a Good feedback from respective Community, all member of the community should be welcome to give their feedback regarding Chapter if this is satisfactory then such Chapter should be given further grant in future because we should be aware whether local communities are satisfied with chapter activities or not. if not then Chapter should be asked to improve this drawback. So a feedback survey may be conducted for each chapter. On behalf of this feedback and Chapter's quarterly reports we can decide whether to give them donations further more or not.--Mayur (talkEmail) 16:42, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
Well - and what about for example Swiss chapter - what is a "respective Community" for them? Italian, French, German, Schwyzerdütsch or Romansh Wikipedia? Or from the opposite direction - for what chapter German Wikipedia community should be sruveyed? For German, Austrian or Swiss chapter or all of them? Polimerek 09:59, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Respective Community is basically Community for which Chapter is working to increase Wikimedia Movement. Like in Case of India Chapter Respective community is all Indic Wikis Editing Community & All existing members of Chapter. Both Survey and Chapter's Quarterly report should be given some weightage on behalf of which their performance may be decided.--Mayur (talkEmail) 01:11, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
I would say the "who is our community" question should be resolvable technologically. Chapters can run a geonotice on all relevant languages (yes, all four in the case of WMCH) once or twice a year pointing to their latest report and latest plan, and let their communities provide feedback and support (or rejection). We should make sure all chapters do a good job of communicating with and serving the community. In particular, we must make sure that Wikipedians outside the capital and major cities are also heard, even if they rarely/never make it to meetups etc. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Administration vs. program activitiesEdit

The page currently says "Greater than 70% of time to be spent on actual program work; less than 30% on administration". I would actually fundamentally disagree with that. In most cases, I suspect that the real bottleneck with finding volunteers is for administration rather than program work - if paid staff can cover the admin work, then that will hugely multiply the ability of the volunteers in the chapter to get things done. So I would flip this around, and say that ideally 70% of the time should be spent on administration that is supporting volunteers, _not_ on program work. Mike Peel 23:07, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

70% admin work, 30% harrasing volunteers to do their admin work or tried to make them do their admin work, and for them to check reports for admin work that has been done for them - that said, they would make an awful program suggestion since theirs would be too beuracratic, less courages, since it relate to make their job (read: admin work) - less challenging.
However, suggestions for program are most welcome from *Drum rolls*: Consultant, expert, volunteer training (read: leadership training, accounting training, tax training, law copyright and organization conduct training. I haven't read them all (proposal) but does it say anything about grant that non-employee related - that can do that? One employee is restrictive to that particular employee knowledge, which is limited. But grants that allowing people to get input and feed back on their program (that doesn't include employee) should be encourage - (too lazy to log in)
I agree with Mike on that, but would go even further: Do not hire someone for the administration work in the first place, hire someone for managing the chapter. I remember during the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin this year, someone mentioned that they were looking for a payed position "to do all the boring work". That would be a waste of money, I believe, especially in the early stage of organizational development. What the WMF should focus on (*if* she should pay for chapter staff at all, that is a different question and I am not done yet thinking this through), is building up management capacity, e.g. someone who can put together a strategy for the chapters growth, can put together a program plan and a budget, can hire project managers and oversee their work, communicate with the community and the press, etc. pp.--Pavel Richter (WMDE) 07:15, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
I second Siska here -- you get what you pay for: if you pay someone to mostly administration, mostly administration is what you'll get. I do acknowledge Mike's comment about volunteer preferences, and I think the best middle ground here, as several chapters have indeed done, is to outsource as much of the administration as practically possible (e.g. accounting, payment processing, merchandise processing), and leave volunteers responsible only for the bare minimum of administration (e.g. coordinating a time/venue for a public talk). Would you say that addresses your concern, Mike? Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)


"Chapter has a strategic plan that is accepted by their local community and aligns with the goals of the Wikimedia movement to grow our community" - although this sounds great in theory, in practice it must be a nightmare. The WMF had already a big problem defining what their community is, let alone a chapter. For example, what "community" should have approved any strategy for Wikimedia Nederlands? The Dutch speaking Wikipedia? All Dutch speaking projects? English Wikipedia? (Because it seems that there is a very significant group of people from .nl working on enwiki for example). And how approve? Vote on it, not object to it too hardly? The strategy plan was already vague to most people in the community when it was about the WMF, I can only imagine how it must be for an organization that still has to hire its first employee! I think this requirementcould use some rethinking/rewording :) Effeietsanders 00:36, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Take for example the Spanish Wikipedia. You'd have Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia Chile and Wikimedia España presenting their plans there (in time, Wikimedia Bolivia, Wikimedia Colombia, Wikimedia México, Wikimedia Uruguay and Wikimedia Venezuela too - I'm mentioning serious proposals of chapters seen at Iberocoop last month). Do you realise how fast the community of would grow sick of having these plans constantly thrusted upon them for their approval? This is a major imposition, especially on people who do not want anything to do with chapters. But there's another thing. In the case of Wikimedia España, for example, it wouldn't be just the Spanish Wikipedia. It'd also be the Galician Wikipedia, the Euskera Wikipedia, etc. And not just Wikipedias, obviously, but Wikisource, Wikiquote, etc in the different languages spoken in Spain. +20 different communities. +20 different presentations of the plan in each and everyone of them, plus respective votes? And what happens if one community gives approval and another one doesn't? Oh, the nightmare. xD And poor Wikimedia UK, which'd have to get approval on about what they do in the UK, even if most people on aren't from the UK. The part of that is accepted by their local community might be applied to some chapters that have the one community (I imagine some must exist), but certainly not to all. It's not realistic. I suggest removal due to practical reasons. Raystorm 20:53, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
See my comment above about using Geonotice to appeal to your local community, on any relevant language. That said, how would you propose to rethink/reword this requirement? Or do you think it is entirely unnecessary? Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

not replacing volunteersEdit

What I am currently missing a bit - but I don't know either how to make it measurable - is that staff positions should never (at a chapter but also at the WMF of course) replace/reduce volunteer effort. The idea should be that through staff involvement, more volunteers can be enabled to help in Wikimedia. Any ideas how to incorporate that? Effeietsanders 09:30, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

... especially when "programme" time is very frequently what the volunteers do (reaching out to cultural institutions, educating people about wikis, etc.), whereas "administration" time is what we can't get them to do very easily. :-)
(And yes, I know I'm repeating points made above.) James F. (talk) 19:46, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
staff positions should never (at a chapter but also at the WMF of course) replace/reduce volunteer effort - I'm not sure I agree with that statement in these absolute terms. In fact, whenever chapters start hiring people, it's precisely to replace some effort the chapter board (all volunteers) has previously covered. To give an example, when Wikimedia Germany hired its first employee, part of the job description was to run an office and take care of all the typical secretarial work which, before then, was handled by board members. Now, that was a good thing because it freed up the board's time so it could focus on other tasks. But it did indeed replace volunteer effort - namely in the area of administrative work for the chapter. My recommendation would be an emphasis that hiring of staff should not reduce overall volunteer effort, but rather enable/strengthen it in areas where it makes good sense. sebmol ? 13:22, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
+1, I'm with Sebastian on this. Actually, one of the biggest problem I see with this statement (not replacing volunteer work) is that the work that volunteers are ready to do shifts with whoever decides to be active at any given moment. At a given time, you might have a board and/or active members that all love administration and finances, at another, you might have people who are all GLAM, at another again, everyone loves to focus on say, increasing editorship by organizing cool workshops. Of course, it's never this black and white, but the idea about having staff at all, in my opinion, is to ensure a certain form of sustainability and continuity across the board, ie. in all domains needed by the chapter. So having staff to enable volunteer effort seems to me to be the right thing to look for. notafish }<';> 19:13, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I too agree with Sebastian. I think this is covered in the Restrictions section of the policy page. Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Just an observationEdit

Some of the points mentioned are independent of who pays for the staff, and therefor should not be part of this discussion. For example, wether payed staff drive away volunteers or not has nothing to do with the source of the staffs salary.--Pavel Richter (WMDE) 07:08, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

The specific concern was that WMF funding of a staff member may turn out to be harmful to a chapter's ability to mobilize a core of volunteers in the first place, i.e. to prevent it from ever growing its volunteer base; not the more general concern of paid staff vs. volunteers in a given organization. But anyway, I put "citation needed" after it (originally), because it's unclear how much of a concern it actually is, and whether it is anywhere near grave enough to affect a decision to fund staff for chapters. Ijon 14:02, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Definition of "administration"Edit

After talking with some chapter folks about the admin/project split, it seemed apparent that a definition for what constitutes administrative expenses as opposed to project expenses is needed. Does the Foundation have any readily available guidelines for that? WMDE uses something published locally but it's only been posted in German. sebmol ? 11:14, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

I would like to see such guidelines as used by the WMF, WMDE, and any other groups that have considered such details. Can you link to the German guidelines? SJ talk | translate   01:08, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
we don't have any official definition. Would WMDE share its definition so we can adapt/refine it? Ijon 19:19, 26 August 2011 (UTC)


Hi, wondering when this will be turned into more than "a sketch". Tony (talk) 04:04, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

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