Grants talk:PEG/UG US-CWUG/2015 Annual Plan

Active discussions

GAC members who support this requestEdit

  1. I do not agree with the costs for background checks: we are running a volunteer organization where board and others should be presented by active contributors to Wikimedia projects and that's the main reason for them to be a part of the User Group. If the user is active and brings new and positive contribution, people already trust him and that's why, assuming good faith, we don't need to check his history and perform investigations. I am also not convinced by explanations for insurance but maybe it's explained by different cultures - in Russia insurance itself isn't popular and we mainly have obligatory insurance for cars and other things but don't usually use voluntary insurance. Anyway, proportion of admin overhead to project expenses seems reasonable, payments to management seem reasonable too, let's see, how they will handle this grant request rubin16 (talk) 10:50, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
  1. abstain--DerekvG (talk) 22:29, 14 April 2015 (UTC) I wish to support your project and the events you organise, I have problems with the way you handle liabilities (isnurance, director responsibilites), the way you use the paid staff ( I -for instance- would never want to work for you as an employer because you don assume your own responsibility as an organsaition and as directors of that same organisation) you request funding for, and how you put your volunteers to work in your events. --DerekvG (talk) 14:09, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
  2. I've read your comments, Pine, I thnak you for them and the clarification they brought and I wish to support the actions the Cascaidans are about to take, and I wish the Cascadian WUGs succes in their endeavours --DerekvG (talk) 17:43, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
  1. Agree with Rubin. --Hasivetalk • 05:37, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

GAC members who oppose this requestEdit

GAC members who abstain from voting/commentEdit

--DerekvG (talk) 22:29, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

GAC commentsEdit

3BRBS CommentsEdit

Hi, this seems like a solid proposal to me. Congrats for your work! The first thing I must tell you, is that I think that the measures of success must be incorporated in the grant request and not in an external document. I belive that an online spreadsheet is usefull as a working document, but you are presenting your grant request in meta, and linking it to a external document, leaves no track of your measures of sucess in the grant page. Also, it is hard to read from one document to the other, even between the spreadsheet tabs. I believe also that a table should be constructed in meta, since it resulted difficult to cross the information presented in the spreadsheet with the information on meta, being this last one more incomplete than the prior. Using the meta page as the primary page for your application seems to me the right thing to do :].
I also have some Q's I would like to make:

  1. Why are General Liability and Officers & Directors Liability insurance needed?
  2. Are the background checks for board members and staff required by law or other reason?
  3. What does "Event expenses for caretaking of dependents" stands for?

And also some questions/comments:

  1. How many activities are going to be covered by "Food, snacks, beverages, and event expenses budget"? Also, how many activities are going to be convered in general (Wiki Loves Pride/Wicnic and Edit-a-thons and editing workshops, including themed events, and Summer of Monuments)? I think for this is important to use the regular table, which allows also to add comments by the grantee to better understand the proposal, also so we can see how many activities are planned, and which is the cost per activity as an average :]
  2. For the "GLAM event expenses for museum passes", shouldn't be granted for free as part of a GLAM partnership? I read that at lest two are planned. Or is it another activity planned separate from the GLAM partnerships? How many people is participating, which is the estimated fee for entering a museum? Which museum(s)? Where? Also the regular table would help on this.
  3. The point "Donation to the UW Community Data Science Workshops" called my attention also. Should I understand that you are asking resources to donate them to another group? This does not seem right to me, I believe that the resources granted should be for projects and activities, and not for re-donating it to another group. Could you explain what this stands up for if I understood it wrong?
  4. Also, there is a high administration, management and support expenses total, associated with social security and medicare. Shouldn't this adminsitration be kept by volunteers, speacially in the begining? Since the number of activities seems limited (Legal incorporation, Wiki Loves Pride, Wicnic, WikiConference USA and Wikimania, plus Edit-a-thons and editing workshops, including themed events such as Summer of Monuments), is seems reasonable to think that the board of the group would be able to undertake them on their volunteer time and no administration would be required.

I must state again that crossing the info between the spreadsheet and the meta page was not easy, and that I believe that providing a table will strongly help to better understand what is the group planning to do as a whole. Cheers :]--3BRBS (talk) 18:00, 5 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I also would like to move all required information from Google Doc to this grant page: we are not able to track changes in Google Docs and there is a risk that we will be reviewing something different from the final version... rubin16 (talk) 19:38, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
  • 3BRBS I replied to your first three questions below. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:55, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
I also replied to your #4 question in the second set. Blue Rasberry (talk) 02:19, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

History of planningEdit

This annual plans follows a history of discussion. People in Seattle have been meeting approximately monthly since 2012, as documented at en:WP:MEETUP/Seattle. In Portland regular meetups have happened since 2013, as documented at en:WP:Meetup/Portland. Planning and discussions to manage projects which might include grant funding began in 2012 at Cascadia Wikimedians. The projects here have been discussed at Wikimania and other Wikimedia conferences since 2012. It is my opinion that what is proposed here is a consensus of the wishes of many people who have given input and imagined this group and its projects for years.

If I were to summarize the goal of this grant, it would be to document and quantify the projects which already happen from the efforts of Wikimedia project participants in the region, and to create a precedent for discussing, documenting, and coordinating future Wikimedia projects which anyone may wish to start in the region.

In my opinion, this group has surpassed the level of readiness which has historically been expected of community groups which seek project funding from the WMF. There is room for discussion about this grant, but especially with recent discussions by multiple stakeholders, I feel that the projects proposed in this grant reflect the consensus of all people who wished to speak up to organize. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:05, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

There is also information for 2015 for upcoming events at our main page on the Cascadia Wikimedians User Group site & past events at our Calendar (2015) archive. At present, our membership is primarily in Oregon & Washington, so while we do not claim credit for the British Columbia events, we do publicize them as part of our ecoregion. Peaceray (talk) 22:56, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

About insuranceEdit

3BRBS asked "Why are General Liability and Officers & Directors Liability insurance needed?" The reason is that if the group incorporates as a nonprofit, then any volunteer organizers gain the following benefit described in the Revised Code of Washington 4.24.670

a volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall not be personally liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity if...

The nonprofit organization carries public liability insurance covering the organization's liability for harm caused to others for which it is directly or vicariously liable of not less than the following amounts:

(i) For organizations with gross revenues of less than twenty-five thousand dollars, at least fifty thousand dollars due to the bodily injury or death of one person or at least one hundred thousand dollars due to the bodily injury or death of two or more persons;

Without this insurance, and without incorporation as a nonprofit, organizers of community events could be liable for harm that comes to people attending those events. The presumption is that this group already does enough outreach to be at significant risk, and the most common way to prevent this risk is incorporating and getting nonprofit insurance.

I wonder about the circumstances in which nonprofit insurance is not needed, and what would happen if someone were physically harmed by some accident at a Wikimedia community event as a result of participation in that event. Without insurance, it seems that the volunteer organizers would be personally responsible. To avoid personal responsibility and to comply with the law above, insurance seems necessary.

I am learning about this myself and have emailed 3 insurers in the area. They all offered nonprofit insurance and gave price quotes. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:35, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi Blue Rasberry, thanks for your thorough response. If I understand correctly then, the insurance is not compulsory and moreover, not needed. Regarding the link you provided, a volunteer shall not be personally liable as long as he/she was acting within the scope of the volunteer's, was authorized, harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, and harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle (etc.), then there is (or shouldn't be) no need for it. Nevertheless, an insurance of this kind covers the non-profit organization or it's legal representative? If so, shouldn't just then cover either one of them? Is this the case?--3BRBS (talk) 21:04, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
3BRBS I think that it is necessary, and would expect that any nonprofit organization with a small budget would choose insurance as one of its first administrative expenses if it regularly convened public meetings where anyone was invited. I could explain this abstractly, but perhaps it would be better to give context with any example. I think you are not in the United States and maybe you do not know about the strange lawsuits here or the strange healthcare system.
Suppose that there is a Wikipedia meeting at a university. The university provides an empty room for cheap or free, and about 25 Wikipedians meet in this room. At the meeting, one of the organizers of the meeting is using a laptop, and the electrical cord is plugged into the wall. A visitor who is attending for the first time trips on this cord, falls, and they break the bone in their wrist. Falls are a common accident and health problem; these kinds of things happen. Suppose that person with the broken wrist complains that the space was unsafe, and maybe that is true. Wikipedia meetups tend to have computers everywhere and not be completely organized. A medical bill for this kind of accident will be about USD $3000 (compare one year insurance for $1000) - what happens with the medical bill?
One possibility is that the Wikipedians deny responsibility, and tell the person who fell to pay their own medical bill. In that case maybe the person would be angry and complain that the Wikimedia community hosts unsafe events, which is bad and could result in media which harms the international Wikimedia community, or perhaps the person would agree. It is sad if the person has to pay a bill as a result of coming to a Wikimedia community event, and it is difficult to blame someone for an accident anyway. Even if they did personally agree to pay the bill, if they had health insurance then their health insurance may not agree to pay, and after their insurance covered the bill it is likely that an insurance agent would deliver the bill to the Wikipedians and ask them to pay it anyway.
So now suppose that the insurer for the person who had the accident wants Wikipedians to pay, or suppose that the Wikipedians agreed in the beginning that they made a mistake and will take responsibility for the bill. If Wikipedians pay then maybe the person owning the computer would pay alone, or maybe all the Wikipedians would share the bill and pay out of their own pockets, or maybe the group as a legal organization would pay. In any case at this point it is better to pay, because if no one pays there is tension, it is not right, and maybe even that reflects badly on the international Wikimedia community. If Wikipedians pay out of their own pockets then that is not fair, because they volunteered to promote Wikipedia and not because they wanted to take legal responsibility and liability for strangers and guests. It would be best in this situation that the local Wikimedia organization take liability.
Suppose that the Wikimedia organization takes responsibility. Options for managing the bill are that the local chapter somehow uses its own funds to pay the bill, or maybe it has insurance, or maybe it tries to pass the bill on to the WMF. It would be sad if the organization had to cut its programs to pay the bill. If the organization had its own insurance then the insurance would pay the bill. The WMF could theoretically be a sort of insurance for local chapters, and it would be great if they would offer to stand by and promise to pay for accidents which happen at local Wikimedia chapters. I expect they will not do this. In the United States, at least, if they wished, they could say that any of the community groups in the United States were covered by their own insurance, but the WMF does not want that kind of affiliation, and also they are unlikely to be at hand to manage liability for problems which happen at the local community level. They are rather clear that community groups are not part of the WMF.
Given all of these possibilities, having insurance seems to me to be most prudent. This is a Wikimedia community group which will be hosting at least 150 attendees at all events throughout the year, and likely more. Especially if the general public is invited and not only known people within a social circle, and especially if there is a push for more diversity and inclusion of all kinds of people who might not be accustomed to the kind of less organized community meetups which Wikipedians tend to host, then I think there should be some plan in place to respond to accidents before they happen. Having insurance raises the level of professionalism for the organization and increases the ease with which new people could agree to be volunteers at meetings, because if insurance is in place then volunteers have less personal liability. Also, considering costs, that annual insurance for about 3 years is about the same as the cost of a bill at the small end of serious accidents, it seems prudent to consider insurance.
For anyone who questions the need for insurance, I would then ask, "Who should pay the medical bill if there is an accident at a Wikimedia community event?" And suppose in the worst case, that there is a serious accident. With insurance, the limit to liability according to the law above is the 50,000 which is required for insurance protection. Without insurance, there is no limit to liability, and I am not sure who would pay it. Honestly I do not know much about insurance, so I only look to laws like this, and what other nonprofits are doing, then get price quotes from multiple insurers to see what is normal. Thoughts? Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:58, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi Blue Rasberry, from your example the non-profit could not be held liable, since they were authorized by the university owner of a room, and totally acting within the scope of the volunteer's activities. If there isn't good faith between participants, any example could be turned into a conflict. I presume that regularly people in the States have their own general health insurances, and if not there should be a public system to cover the issue. Other option is just get an insurance for the particular event (this could be explained in the table in meta). And trying to answer your question "Who should pay the medical bill if there is an accident at a Wikimedia community event?", it completely depends on which is the accident and the circumstances in which happened. I believe the question cannot be answered in general. And according to the rules presented by you, if things are organized correctly, the non-profit cannot be held liable. Cheers :]--3BRBS (talk) 14:29, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
An aditional thought is that every participant could sign a document under notary, refraining to establish or engage in legal actions due to accidents produced during the event, that are not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.--3BRBS (talk) 16:42, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
I think this called a waiver in English.--3BRBS (talk) 06:04, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
3BRBS Yes, "waiver" is the correct word. Suppose that Wikipedians would meet in a library or university. The location would always as the Wikimedia organizers to sign a waiver just like you described, and this would say that the university etc is not responsible, and ask that the Wikimedia organizers take responsibility. In this region, it is customary for the organizers to take responsibility at this point, and also in this region, it is most customary for the nonprofit organization to have insurance so that the organization can manage the liability rather than the individual organizers.
The situation to avoid is that some Wikipedian organizes an event as a typical volunteer then somehow becomes liable personally in case of an accident.
About who should be liable in case of an event - there must be some cultural difference here, because I was not expecting that you would say "it completely depends on which is the accident and the circumstances in which happened". There is an idea here that if an organization is hosting an event then it is presumed to have some liability for the safety of the people welcomed at the event, even if there is an accident.
Insurance could be purchased for individual events. There probably would be no difference in price between insuring one event versus insuring all events for a year, especially considering the small scale of the events planned.
The most compelling argument for insurance in this case is that it is described as being expected in the law. This Wikimedia group fits as a group with income of less than 25,000, which obviously would be a small nonprofit organization with no staff considering that the local minimum wage is $15/hour. If this part of the grant were not funded, and if the Wikimedia community still encouraged this group to host regular events as it has about monthly for the past two years, then I would expect the Wikimedia Foundation to say something about the assignment of liability. I feel that volunteers who organize events should not have to worry about lawsuits related to accidents beyond their control, especially when local law directs people to get a reasonable amount of insurance to address this potential problem. In my opinion, insurance would not be necessary if somehow the Wikimedia Foundation would promise to pay legal bills if there were a problem. If the WMF does not want to pay such bills, then I would want clarification about who should have liability for these kinds of things, and what kinds of risks the WMF wants people to take when it encourages them to do Wikimedia outreach. Insurance is not supposed to seem like a luxury and is supposed to be a fair exchange of a little money to relieve the burden of risk.
There is room for discussion here. If there is no insurance, then I would like for someone to say more about who should bear the risk of accidents. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:55, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
3BRBS & Blue Rasberry , my reading of the the Washington law is a whole lot different. At the risk of redundancy, I am going to post a bit more of the statute:

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall not be personally liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity if:

(a) ...; (b) ...; (c) ...; (d) ...; and (my emphasis)

(e) The nonprofit organization carries public liability insurance covering the organization's liability for harm caused to others for which it is directly or vicariously liable of not less than the following amounts:

(i) For organizations with gross revenues of less than twenty-five thousand dollars, at least fifty thousand dollars due to the bodily injury or death of one person or at least one hundred thousand dollars due to the bodily injury or death of two or more persons;

[...]

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any civil action brought by any nonprofit organization or any governmental entity against any volunteer of the organization or entity.
  • It seems crystal clear to me that, as a volunteer of a nonprofit organization already incorporated in Washington, I can be personally liable unless CWUG carries insurance. If you know a qualified lawyer in Washington who has a different legal interpretation, please get her or him to comment.
  • Many Americans are a litigious lot, perhaps because we lack of universal health coverage. To ask all attendees to sign a waiver is is simply impractical. Consider this scenario. I bring a shade canopy & erect it on a nice day at a Wicnic. A family not connected with the event wanders over to the event because it has piqued their interest. They have a baby & are uninsured. An unexpected wind catches the canopy at exactly the wrong time & blows it over. It hits the baby in the head, injuring it. Unlikely? Yes. Does it happen. Yes, & I might be sued for failing to take "reasonable precautions" by not anchoring the canopy, even though I had no expectation of the wind event. We simply cannot prepare for or predict every possible mishap.
It is our responsibility as board members to make sure that CWUG is a good corporate citizen, to follow laws, to serve the CWUG membership, to ensure fiduciary safeguards, to perpetuate CHUG's mission to further all things Wikimedia. Following the State of Washington's mandate to carry liability insurance is part of that duty.
Peaceray (talk) 23:55, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
I read this exactly the same way. As an American, I expected that every chapter and Wikimedia user group would consider insurance mandatory even at the beginning levels. I am not sure why insurance is not expected everywhere for Wikimedia groups. Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:07, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi Peaceray, so far I understand from the example provided by you, you could not be held responsable since: (c) The harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.--3BRBS (talk) 23:18, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
To paraphrase Leonard McCoy, the character from the original Star Trek, I'm an IT guy, not a lawyer! It does seem very clear to me though that the State of Washington requires nonprofits to carry liability insurance to absolve volunteers of any personal liability "for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity." Peaceray (talk) 04:51, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
I am not a lawyer myself, but the one you picked is just one of all the options when a volunteer is not held personally liable, not the only one.--3BRBS (talk) 14:44, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Others may also find this article to be interesting reading. It says that the board of directors of a nonprofit may be held personally liable in a lawsuit against the nonprofit in some circumstances, and that "One of the most important ways to protect the nonprofit is with appropriate insurance coverage". So not only does the liability coverage that we are discussing protect individual volunteers, it also protects the organization as a whole and it protects the board members from being personally liable for wrongful conduct done by a volunteer. I wouldn't volunteer as a board member for an organization for any significant length of time without adequate insurance coverage, and I think most other volunteers who have business or legal knowledge applicable to nonprofits would take a similar position. I am already getting uncomfortable with the delays in insurance coverage that are associated with the delays getting our funding. --Pine 20:23, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
  • i tried to follow the comments above, taking into account that I don't know US/CAN law and feel nod pressing need to study the reponsability and insurance matters, I feel that things got slightly muddeld here :
  • 1st I would like to ask a question about what part of the insurance premium covers personal liability of directors of an NPO for their functional responsibilities , what part covers the incorporated NPO liability for consequences of accidents towards volunteers / general public attending CWUG-events, and what parts covers personal liability of voluntueers. I do assume that the premium is on an annual basis and independant of thenumber of events
  • 2nd question is about the use of waivers and the effect on the priumium has thsi been negotiated woth the insurance company, asking a token entry fee with a 1$ or 50c ticket or a 2$ ticket entiteling the attendee to a free drink woudl allow you to hand a ticket to the attendee saying he agreed to the waiver without amking everybody signing a bit of paper.
  • I think the amount of 1500$ for the US + later an amount for canada just for insurance should be reconsidered and looked at in a different manner , lika a cost per member of the CWUG --DerekvG (talk) 11:25, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi DerekvG, let's see if I can answer your questions. There are two types of insurance premiums involved here, and the additional factor of what Washington law provides regarding volunteers.
  1. There is liability protection for the nonprofit itself.
  2. The liability protection for the nonprofit itself, if it meets minimums specified in Washington State law that were noted by Peaceray above, has the beneficial effect of also protecting volunteers to a certain extent.
  3. A second kind of insurance premium is for directors and officers liability insurance. This is different from the general liability insurance that may protect volunteers and the organization as a whole. Directors and officers can be personally liable in certain circumstances. The Wikimedia Foundation itself maintain this kinds of insurance for its own officers and directors, as you can see from the WMF bylaws and the WMF Board Manual.
  • You also asked about liability waivers. I don't believe that those would be adequate, because an attorney told me that the actual effect of those waivers is far less than the language of the waivers might lead someone to believe, since according to the attorney some kinds of waivers like waivers for personal injury will not be enforced by a court. Also, our concern is not just about event insurance, it's also about what our volunteers and other people who are associated with us may do from their computers, such as uploading copyrighted content in a way that might lead to the organization becoming a defendant in a legal case.
  • Does that answer your question? I am not a lawyer, but I have good general familiarity with insurance. I hope that we will be able to obtain volunteer legal counsel through the network of attorneys that we can connect to, via our membership at Impact HUB, so we may ask one of those attorneys for more specific advice for our situation when we shop for insurance. --Pine 03:29, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

About background checksEdit

3BRBS asked "Are the background checks for board members and staff required by law or other reason?" They are not required by law. The background checks are proposed as a way to establish a minimum standard for background research in choosing board members and staff. In Washington state it is common for organizations which use volunteers, like museums, libraries, and zoos, to get background checks for those volunteers, and to ask some volunteers to leave the group if their background check reports certain past behaviors that could signal an increased likelihood of problems in community events. Internationally harassment of women who participate in Wikimedia community events has been a problem reported with regularity, and reducing the risk of harassment is one of the motivations for doing background checks.

The background checks were proposed mostly as a way to raise discussion points between applicants and the leadership of this organization if it happens that an applicant for a staff or board position has had a criminal complaint in their past. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:46, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Blue Rasberry, thanks again. So trying to understand this better. The board of a non-profit is elected not by and from the members that compose the non profit through an election process, but from outside people? To cover the concerns shouldn't be enough a legal statement under notary that a staff or board position hasn't had a criminal complaint in their past, as a good enough document, is this wasn't the case, to ask someone to step down? If a backroung check is runned, this would be for everybody that forms part of the non-profit or just for the candidates already elected for the positions, before they can assume their roles? On the other hand, seems to me that problems that you have pointed out (about harassment) seem more realted to the police and other government authorities, than the responsability of a non-profit. I am still dubious, but if it is customary within the cultural scope of the region I believe it could be considered :]--3BRBS (talk) 14:14, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
The nonprofit organization has members, then a few of those members are the board, and maybe one person will be staff now and maybe more staff later. The proposal is for board and staff to have background checks, and not for typical members of the nonprofit organization. Doing background checks is customary in this area in situations which meet the following:
  1. The person is engaged enough to be a representative of the organization
  2. The person regularly has personal conversations and social exchanges with the public
  3. Youth are among the targeted outreach populations
As I said, think of libraries as an example of nonprofit organizations which do this. The two main things to look for here is whether the person has a sexual offense or financial offense in their history. The group is still discussing its policies, but probably there will be discrimination in hiring or putting on the board anyone with either of those offenses. Felonies would probably exclude someone but maybe not.
Mostly this is in place as a precaution to media attention. If it happens that the organization ever has a representative with a criminal background, then there is another problem, then it would be bad in the media. Other Wikimedia community groups have banning policies for people with criminal backgrounds.
You are correct that just asking people ought to be good enough in most cases, and could be free if there were a notary around or if we made one of the members a notary. The problem with that is that it works if things go right, but if things go wrong, then people will blame the organization for not doing more. Having background checks would be the customary thing to do.
Personally, I think the background checks are security theatre and that many problems would not be detected by this system, especially if someone causes trouble but has no police record. It is more important for this group to ask for the funding that it is to actually get it. If the WMF denies this funding, and nothing goes wrong, then it was good to save the money. If the WMF gives the funding, and some Wikipedia affiliate harms someone, then the organization will report that it regularly has conversations to prevent harm, and that it discusses the background checks, and that it did everything it could. If the WMF denies the funding, and some Wikipedia affiliate harms someone, then this organization will still have its own review processes in place, but no one should expect the volunteers in the organization to take responsibility for a tragedy and not having the background checks also means that it is harder to pass the blame to an outside process.
This funding for background checks are requested because of problems seen at other Wikimedia community groups, and wanting to prevent similar problems. If this funding is awarded then it is likely to be the start of regular requests for additional funding to have professionals talk to the entire local Wikimedia community about diversity, inclusion, and protecting vulnerable populations. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:54, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
I recall discussing this with Pine. My recollection was that he had researched what other Washington non-profits have implemented, & that background checks for at least some board positions are consider a best practice; thus, this is part of our local culture. Also among the considerations that drove this are the desire both to be able to trust those handling our funds & to ensure that the board was specifically held to the same safe space policy as we generally expect from our members & at our events (inspired by the Safe Space Policy of Wikimedia District of Columbia & codified here). Peaceray (talk) 01:00, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I concur with the comments above here. While background checks are not legally required, and background checks will certainly not prevent all problems, I consider them to be a prudent precaution. Imagine the damage that would be done if, for example, one of our board members misused the organization's funds, and then we discovered only after the incident that this person had a felony conviction for check fraud from last year. This would lead to blame on the organization for being too trusting or being negligent in its screening of its personnel. I also would note that the Wikimedia Foundation conducts background checks on its employees, probably for similar reasons. --Pine 03:31, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
This measure seems reasonable to me.3BRBS (talk) 16:04, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
  • If backgroudn checks are not mandatory, it would suffice to have volunteers and collaborators provide a declaration, which would incur civil/criminal charges if they fail to mention relevant facts, convictions etc. If checks are mandatory like they are in belgium then they should be performed by a publci authority but then they are also free of charge. eg when we registerd as an NPO we have to provide a list of NAI-data of all directors, this list is checked and we cvannot register if a director is in place who has been convicted and a judge stipulated that he doesn have the right to be a director. Unitl that person is delisted the reisgistration cannot be terminated. Futhermore as an NPO that (co-)organizes/executes educational events involving minors or otherwise socially fragile groups we need to provide data to the police on our volunteers, these data are relatively simple (NAI-data + social security number) to collect and the tasks involved are just a submission to the police. We do not get necessarily any feedback from the police but the volunteer is requested to retract him/her self from the project by the police and when he/she does so we report that fact back to the police. In some cases a social worker will show up and inform the responsible person (a director or project leader) within our organisation in the presence of the volunteer what limitaitons apply to the individual partaking in the events ( eg no contact with alcohol or drugs, not being alone with minors etc). As per privacy regulations we as an organisation are not allowed to know about the trigger, nor take any action beyond this unless teh person involved provides the information on a voluntary basis. Very strict regualtions apply on respect of the privacy of the person involved, on duty to silence and on a duty to report. In a NPO where I have access to personal information such a s medical, judicial or financial records you need trainign and certificate that you are aware of teh legislation, and ethics regarding privacy. Therefore I, m not conviced that you need anything beyond the volunteer's perosnal declaration in which you could list relevant facts, and that should not cost $ 500 becasue it woudl mean a recurring cost for any changes in personnel of the CWUG.--DerekvG (talk) 12:39, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi DerekvG, what you are describing is a system that is different than the system typically used in the United States. In the US, background checks are common for volunteers, employees and board members. The Wikimedia Foundation conducts background checks on its staff. We believe that it is prudent to do the same for our officers and directors. Also, Washington State requires that charities certify "that neither the organization nor any of its officers, directors, and principals have been convicted of a crime involving charitable solicitations, nor been subject to a permanent injunction or administrative order under the Washington Consumer Protection Act (Chapter 19.86 RCW) in the past 10 years." In order for us to make that certification so that we can register as a charity (which has a higher standard in Washington State than registering as a nonprofit), it is necessary for us to perform at least some level of background checks. --Pine 03:40, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Caretaking of dependentsEdit

3BRBS asked, "What does "Event expenses for caretaking of dependents" stands for?" This stands for hiring someone to take care of the pets and children of Wikimedia volunteers while they attend Wikimedia community events.

Asking for this is a response to calls that some parents would like to attend Wikimedia community events, but are unable to do so because they have to care for their children, and they do not have money to hire someone to tend to their children while they are participating in the Wikimedia community event. It has been discussed in various places in Wikimedia community forums, particularly in places discusses the needs of women, that offering childcare is useful.

The word "dependents" is used because part of the culture in the Cascadia region is saying "pets are family". There have already been reports by some volunteers that they would attend Wikimedia events, but they cannot, because someone has to take their dog for a walk. The situation with house dogs is that they need someone to let them outside to have their toilet after a certain number of hours. Some Wikimedia volunteers could stay for Wikimedia community events after work or school, but knowing that the dog wants to go outside, they have to return home. In the region, it is common that a fee-for-service worker will let a dog outside, and there are trusted workers and businesses that arrange this service. It has to be trusted, because the dog walker needs a key to one's home to open the door when no one but the dog is at home. Rates for dog walkers are about the same as rates for children watchers.

For the sake of the people who request caretaking, the funding is requested. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:54, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi Blue Rasberry. Thanks for taking time on explaining this. I understand, but I think that the budget should be specifically tailored to whom may need this help, and for which reasons. At least in my country, this is arranged mostly taking your kids to the activitiy and leaving your pets (and not so commonly your kids) to relatives and close friends. I understand it would be neccesary if not an alternative solution might be found.--3BRBS (talk) 14:36, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
3BRBS These things are also customary in the United States, and it is unusual here to offer childcare or pet care. Especially in the case of parents, it is more common that the man should take a break and go out and the woman should take care of the kids, because the stereotype is that the man works and the woman takes care of the kids so the man should be able relax by attending social events without the kids. I was born in a rural area and these ideas are especially common where I am from. There is talk in the United States of changing this model and offering that especially if it would increase participation by women and mothers then care for their children should be funded on the premise that paying a little for childcare is a good value if it really increases women's participation.
For childcare, probably the way this would happen is that the childcare is provided at the Wikipedia event so that people can bring their children. When people arrive at the event, the children are nearby and if the children need something then the childcare provider tends to them or comes to collect the parent.
For dogs, the usual situation is that the dog needs to use the toilet something like once every 6-10 hours. If a dog is alone at home, and the dog's human is working, then after work the human has to go directly home to let the dog outside. If a Wikipedia event is scheduled after work, then the person cannot attend unless someone walks the dog. By providing dog walking, the person who would need to walk the dog can instead go to the Wikipedia meetup. This website says USD $17 buys a 15 minute walk, which seems typical for me.
It is expected that these services are more likely to be used by women than men, but also these things would be provided to anyone of any gender. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:28, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
I think for this it is important to know, who will actually use this, and in which event(s). This is why it is very important, to sumarize the information of the request in a single ordered table, so the request can be analysed as a whole.--3BRBS (talk) 06:38, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
3BRBS The money for caretaking of dependents would be offered on demand at any Wikimedia community event. If it is not demanded then it would not be spent. For this reason, it is not possible to which events would consume the funds.
Probably if someone asked for a dog walk, they would be given $20-25 at the Wikimedia community event and be asked to return a receipt to prove that the expense is paid. In case of caretaking children, it might happen that a parent is given $20-50 at the Wikimedia community event and be expected to return a receipt, or for larger events, the event organizer may plan outreach to pay a childcare worker at the event who could support 2-3 children simultaneously in anticipation of anyone bringing a child. In that case the worker might be paid $100-150 depending on the duration of the event.
The budget for caretaking of dependents is intended to be a budget from which funds are exchanged for receipts, so whenever any part of this were used, there would be a receipt for the bill accounting for the funds. What more might be said about this that you would expect? Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:37, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Just to note that by "dependents" I was mainly thinking of "human dependents", like children, step-children, nieces, nephews, or disabled persons who require at least occasional caretaking. The intent of making an allowance for dependent care is that this will expand the number and diversity of people who can attend our events. Also, it is important that the caretakers have appropriate insurance and other qualifications, and not be just anyone who says that they have passed a CPR test. --Pine 03:38, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Some of us also feel that this is one way of addressing Gender gap. Mothers, especially single mothers, more often than not are the ones who take care of children. Let's not forget the single fathers, either. All too frequently in this society, not having childcare becomes an impediment to editing. Peaceray (talk) 05:17, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
So you do not have a specific list of people that might need this service (or at least an estimate), and for which event(s) they will need this service?--3BRBS (talk) 14:14, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
  • We have one Cascadian who has made use of a similar service in the past and has advocated for making similar services available in the future. We are likely to use this funding carefully, in situations where we feel that we are most likely to see increased attendance if we offer the service. If we don't use the full amount requested then the funds will remain with us and will either be reimbursed to WMF the normal way, or be used for some other beneficial purpose in accordance with agreements with WMF about budget changes. --Pine 20:16, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Pine, as reasonable as this line item stands, I think, the budget should be tailored to the example presented and a reasonable projection based on your experience and directly linked to the projects and events planned. If this is the case in terms of resources, I think that this should be easily understood in the table presented.--3BRBS (talk) 16:00, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi @3BRBS: If I'm understanding you correctly, you're asking for the specific events which will have dependent care to be specified. This is already noted on the calendar, with the words "childcare offered" attached to specific events. Does that address your request? --Pine 06:39, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes it does, but I would have liked to see it clearly linked to the budget (i.e.: 4 units, price per unit, and total). Cheers :] 3BRBS (talk) 15:32, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
  • IMHO and despite, your ascertion to the contrary Iḿ not convinced you need professional staff for this. I do support that you provide the service to attendees, I welcoma an dapplaude it. I could imagine that you might need a professional driver to drive a van equipped with a wheelchair elevator to make sure that handicapped people coudl attend your, however you might get a professional service to provide you with a this facility cheaper rather then paying for a van , a driver , insurance etc... Dog walking, and children and todler care is soemthing for volunteers, not subcontracting professionals. --DerekvG (talk) 12:46, 25 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, I think it is prudent to use professional contractors because they have certifications and insurance that individual volunteers usually do not have. If something were to go wrong, for example if a child choked on a toy while under the supervision of a Cascadia Wikimedians volunteer, both the volunteer and the organization might be held legally responsible. By contracting dependent care to those with appropriate certifications and insurance, we are taking prudent steps to protect the organization and to ensure appropriate care for any dependents. Regarding dog walking, I personally would oppose using the funds for that purpose and ask that someone who wants to attend one of our events but owns a dog find other ways of caring for their pet. --Pine 03:46, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Why administration is neededEdit

3BRBS asked why paid administration is needed. Many people ask this. Here is a summary of what paid administration should and should not do:

  • Volunteers, and not paid administration, do these things:
    • Event planning
    • Presenting at events
    • Outreach planning
    • Share Wikimedia expertise
    • Things that are directly related to Wikimedia movement participation
  • Paid administrators do these things, and volunteers join only if they wish:
    • Accounting and reporting finances
    • Keeping legal documents, doing boring legal review
    • Maintaining up to date legal registration, insurance, bank account information, and other contractual obligations
    • Documenting and managing complaints about the volunteer group, especially complaints about harassment
    • Managing communication, including the email list, events page, notices on other websites including social media. This is not participating in conversation, but rather helping the public and especially non-Wikimedia users to access communication channels about the Wikimedia group
    • Collecting and compiling event metrics, analyzing them, posting reports of them online
    • Provide services which are standard in nonprofit administration, but not done regularly online in Wikimedia projects

Administration is necessary because Wikimedia volunteers like to plan and have events, but volunteers rarely like to tally finances, check legal issues, take note of complaints at those events, consistently give notice about those events in communication channels that everyone can access, or report metrics. Most friction between the WMF and community groups is due to administrative problems, and not because of the actual planning and hosting of events. Over the past few years this group has hosted events almost every month and there is hardly any record of any outcomes. The same is true with most Wikimedia community groups - good or bad, there is no record of what they are doing, and too often good things fail to get the attention they deserve and bad things get much more media attention than they merit. Having a little administration is necessary to keep a group from going into chaos when little problems occur that a manager could resolve, and it is common in the region of this group that volunteer organizations with this level of activity have funded administration.

In my opinion, and others may disagree, the most important reason for having administration is to keep a steady communication channel for managing complaints, especially harassment, and especially harassment related to sexuality or gender. In five locations that I know of in the United States there have been serious reports of sexual harassment. None of the same people were involved in any of these cases. Obviously this is an issue which seems to arise in Wikimedia community events with significant frequency. It probably is not avoidable, but when it happens, I want it to be handled in such a way to make things better and not worse, and I trust paid staff to do this more than I trust a crowdsourced effort to publicly discuss and resolve harassment issues. Blue Rasberry (talk) 02:17, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Blue Rasberry. Thanks also for adding your thought about this issue. I see the list your provided, but most of the activities proposed, would not need the help of paid administration, this would be: Wiki Loves Pride, Wicnic, WikiConference USA and Wikimania, plus Edit-a-thons and editing workshops and themed events such as Summer of Monuments, which are covered by the first five points in the list of tasks from volunteers. Even the legal incorporation would not fit under paid administration, since, according to the grant, is going to be done by lawyers payed by the grant, it is done only once, and it the process has been generaly studied. It seems that there wouldn't be a need for paid administration at this stage of the group.--3BRBS (talk) 14:49, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, you understand all of those things correctly. All of the events you mention would happen without an administrator assuming that nothing went wrong. Also an administrator probably would not make them better if everything goes right, with the exception of helping with the communication before the event. The administrator is not to be someone who makes things happen, but rather someone who fixes the things that goes wrong, and who documents and reports what happens at the events. Yes, legal incorporation is not part of paid staff duty because this is a routine process, so you understand that correctly also.
The things that you mention seem to me to be actions that are started, and as you say, paid administration is not needed for these things. In my opinion, the main purpose of paid administration is like the purpose of insurance - to make things less bad in case of problem, and to limit liability if something goes wrong. Additionally staff do boring tasks like increase accessibility, provide support services with event documentation to satisfy existing funders and impress new potential ones, and otherwise do things too tedious for a volunteer to want to do. Paid administration is not completely necessary, but based on past outcomes in the United States, there is a high likelihood that the low cost of administration here would outweigh the high cost of the consequences of not having administration. Just the harassment cases alone in the United States must have created damage equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars at least considering the funds that are now being spent to change the public image of Wikipedia as an unsafe project especially for women. I know of several highly active Wikipedians in the United States who report attending Wikipedia meetups less as a result of the harassment they have encountered at meetups, and in my opinion, having paid staff will reduce the risk of this happening. I worry that the expectation of discrimination against women is becoming a characteristic of Wikipedia's brand image in the media, and although local groups have limited ability to improve the image, they have great international power to make it worse in a single day if a meetup goes unexpectedly wrong, and I want staff to reduce the risk of things going wrong. Other stunting effects of harassment are also troublesome even if it does not make the news or affect highly active Wikipedians. Administration in this case is less about benefits and more about raising the profile of the organization to "competent", "customary", and "like a typical nonprofit". Here are some examples of how paid administration can help. Note that administration is optional, but having it creates a lot of foundation to get more leverage from what is already being done.
Situations which benefit from paid staff
problem situation volunteers paid staff if no paid staff
1 project expenses should be reported WMF funds some project - time for a report! do no accounting, or do bad accounting late do reasonable accounting on time problem with accounting persists
2 poor people have trouble attending Wiki-events WMF gives $5 per person for bus fare, which is cheapest public transit Wikipedians are great at delivering bus fare to who needs it paid staff store the bus tickets and account how and when it is distributed bus fare distributed; but no one does accounting
3 no metrics or outcomes reported for events Metrics are requested by the community, partner orgs, grant providers, the WMF, etc Wikipedians do not do project reporting Paid staff take attendance, run metrics, report outcomes meetups happen, but are not reported so there are no metrics
4 Wikipedians are hungry someone should use group funds to order cheap food volunteers eat the pizza or cheap food scan the food receipt and do accounting with it money is spent, but no record of the expense is kept
5 public likes event notices on Facebook, Meetup.com, Twitter, by email it is time to announce the monthly meetup or a special event Wikipedians like to post events only on Wikipedia paid staff gives consistent notice of the event in all communication channels inconsistent event notices; uncertainty of who is told; accessibility concerns
6 sexual harassment happens at a Wiki-event someone has to take responsibility for managing it Wikipedians are not equipped to manage this stuff paid staff takes responsibility to seek resolution victim harm increases, reputation of Wikimedia community decreases, WMF denies responsibility but gets blame
7 someone wants to attend a wiki-event, but has to take care of a child or pet funds are available to give, but no one wants to do accounting Wikipedians are happy to provide the funds paid staff accounts how much is paid, when, and to whom either funds are given without accounting, or funds are withheld because accounting is too complicated
8 Wikipedians want to meetup in a library, university, or community space someone has to sign a liability waiver to take responsibility for attendee safety Wikipedians are not fit to crowdsource the signing of legal contracts paid staff are supposed to read, sign, and archive these things without paid staff this process will put volunteers and Wikimedia movement at liability
9 an organization wants to partner with the local Wikimedia community not certain who should manage the relationship Wikipedians can stay in touch in a decentralized way staff keeps records of long term collaboration and contact even as group membership changes crowdsourcing partnership management persists; Wikimedia community reputation is harmed
10 a media organization wants to interview local Wikipedians someone needs to put an interviewee in front of the interviewer Wikipedians are happy to talk and will be interviewed paid staff will help coordinate that the interviewers meet the right Wikipedians the crazy angry sexist banned user gets the interview because they are the loudmouth
11 meeting requests from big important organizations are hard to coordinate a potential partner organization contacts organization for a meeting Wikipedians want to meet out of office hours; need more information; cannot put the meeting together office staff exist to coordinate the schedules of many people and be a central point of contact meetings with high profile partners will likely fail to happen
12 one of the meetup participants is acting weird or creepy and others are freaking out someone needs to tell the guy to chill people who are not paid are likely to pass responsibility getting paid to keep peace gives staff the social authority to tell people to change behave or leave Wikipedians, especially women, are likely to quit coming to meetups
13 routine bills and contracts need to be paid or managed, like for mailbox, annual legal registration renewal, web hosting, insurance, accounting software etc someone has to take organization funds, pay the bills, do the accounting Wikipedians cannot crowdsource all of these things and document them in a consistent way one person paid to do all of this can do it with less confusion than a group either the tasks are done chaotically and poorly, or they are not done at all come what may
14 someone threatens to sue this local Wikimedia org Wikimedia organizations in the United States get lawsuit threats with regularity Wikipedians mostly ignore these, or blame the Wikimedia Foundation paid staff really should document how these things are handled crowdsourced legal response, which puts the board of the organization at personal risk

Already this group is quite active and has been for some years. In my opinion, this group is already trusted and authorized to risk the Wikimedia movement's reputation, and regardless of administration funding it will continue to take those risks. I want this group to have administration funding so that it can start to establish a model and standards for how to make problems less bad. Like you, I prefer that administration not do anything that volunteers have a history of doing. Thoughts? Sorry for so much text. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:16, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Blue Rasberry, so far I understand, paid administration is not commonly funded through PEG, and if there is strong community engagement, which seems to be the case, they should probably take care of this tasks.--3BRBS (talk) 06:36, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
  • In addition to the points made by Bluerasberry above, I will add a few:
  • I declined dozens of hours of my paid work in order to get us to the point where we are at now. This is not fair or sustainable.
  • I would not have started to organize this group and go forward with outreach-oriented projects if there was not some reasonable prospect that I would eventually be paid for the financial sacrifices that I am making in the short term. In other words, if I did not anticipate that I would be compensated for my sacrifices, then this group would not exist in its present form, and its future would likely be dim or nonexistent instead of the very promising outlook that we now have for outreach to the University of Washington and other potential partners who already have resources and operate at medium to large scale.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation pays its employees salary and benefits, at high San Francisco rates, to accomplish work of the same kind that I am doing here. Would anyone expect that the Wikimedia Foundation's Finance, Legal, Human Resources, and Communications departments should be run by volunteers? I think we would agree that this is unrealistic, so I hope we will agree that if affiliates are expected to have a similar continuity of operations, level of expertise, and availability for events and communications on a continuous basis, then it's also reasonable for the people at affiliates who fulfill these functions to be compensated.
  • It is relatively straightforward to get someone to volunteer for a one-time or occasional events; we do have some excellent dedicated volunteers. However, their level of commitment may only be a few hours each month, and they can usually decline to attend events and delay responding to communications without creating reputational, legal, or other negative impacts for the organization. It is important that there be continuity and reliability of operations, and that level of continuity and reliability is realistic only with at least part time paid staffing.
  • Let me quote the PEG guidelines: "Generally, Project and Event Grants do not compensate volunteers for their time. In some cases, Project and Event Grants may fund part-time or full-time contract positions with a limited focus and scope of work related specifically to the activities of the funded project. Requests for part-time staff should be accompanied by an assessment of the applicant's ability to effectively manage staff, and may require necessary infrastructure to support staff (such as policies around travel reimbursements and hiring)." In this case, I would be part-time staff; there is nothing in the guidelines that prohibits staffing for administrative and outreach work. My work would support multiple projects and events as described in our Annual Plan.
  • I hope that I have addressed the concerns raised here and also explained why it is reasonable and equitable to pay for part-time staffing. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks! --Pine 04:00, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
It seems that according to your additions, this proposal would be a bit out of scope for a PEG request, and would be more suitable for an APG one.--3BRBS (talk) 23:48, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Hm. We might request an APG in a few years, but at the moment that process is far too cumbersome for a small group like ours. Even this process of requesting a PEG has now taken almost four months from the time that we started work, and consumed countless hours of volunteer time, so I feel that even this process could use some streamlining and acceleration. I realize that sometimes you get much larger grant requests, greater than $100,000, and that the level of scrutiny should be proportionate for those large grants. However, for a small affiliate like ours, the process to date is quite burdensome, and I wouldn't want to contemplate applying for an APG for another few years. Note that we are not applying for permanent full time staff, which is one of the major differences between a PEG request and an APG request. Thanks, --Pine 07:22, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't agree to your comment about administration and paid staff. As a matter of fact in Belgium different local gouvernments that subsidize NPO like this will not subsidize paid staff for standar administrative duties, tehy will allow for a external administration fee for an accountant to do the formalities regadring annual account, tax returns for any NPO with an annual budget (income revenue) exceeding 250.000 € and wage adiminstrtaion fo those having at lesat one paid staff member. Those fees woudl amount in the range of 250-350 € anually.
  • I don't agree to your table . i've inserte my comments
Situations which benefit from paid staff
problem situation volunteers paid staff if no paid staff
1 project expenses should be reported WMF funds some project - time for a report! do no accounting, or do bad accounting late ,

a) for event accounting event project managers shoudl make financial reports
b) for grant reporting an annual account reporting anybody capable of making the budgets in teh google sheets is capable of compling the basic accounts of teh CWUG
c) for tax returns filinf a cahretered accountatnt will charge a token amount for a prepared account"
d) for individual refund of expences or money volunteers spend for the association/event organising, unless they file adequately filled and ticket supported disbursement-statements they wil not get refunded, is a motivator to file adequately and quickly any refund claims

do reasonable accounting on time, which is a waste of paid staff time if problem with accounting persists then that is a question of volunteer enthusiams and carefuleness
2 poor people have trouble attending Wiki-events WMF gives $5 per person for bus fare, which is cheapest public transit CWUg buy the bus tickets in advance (and get an invoice for it) then use the Wikipedians that are great at delivering bus fare to those who need it, to distribute it no paid staff required bus fare distributed; the invoice is paid directly to the bus company, reporting issue solved
3 no metrics or outcomes reported for events Metrics are requested by the community, partner orgs, grant providers, the WMF, etc Wikipedians do not do project reporting, unless you appoint one or more Wikipedians to do the data collection and do the report writing wikipedaisn Paid staff take attendance, run metrics, report outcomes meetups happen, but are not reported so there are no metrics problem solved
4 Wikipedians are hungry someone should use group funds to order pizza and cheap food, or appoint a volunteer team to buy ingredients, drinks cups napkins etc and make healthy food and get refunded upon delivery of a properly filled and documentend refund claim volunteers eat the pizza or cheap food see point 1, no paid satff required money is spent, but no record of the expense is kept, unless the volunteeers want to be refunded
5 public likes event notices on Facebook, Meetup.com, Twitter, by email it is time to announce the monthly meetup or a special event Wikipedians like to post events only on Wikipedia paid staff train and appoint one or more wikipedians 'to provide consistent notice of the event in all communication channels for a year build experience (which might be useful in volunteers CV or job applications inconsistent event notices; uncertainty of who is told; accessibility concerns unless someone/team is appointed for that responsibility
6 sexual harassment happens at a Wiki-event someone has to take responsibility for managing it Wikipedians are not equipped to manage this stuff , directors of na NPO should train and assume their responsibility, ´´ paid staff takes responsibility to seek resolution don't need to hide behind trained security guards, who are not equipped/trained for this either victim harm increases, reputation of Wikimedia community decreases, WMF denies responsibility but gets blame bigotry, racisme, xenophobia, sexual or other harassment is unaccptable. let the bystander-effect go and grow some balls, INTERVENE and the Individual as a person, Wikimedia CWUG and WMF only gain
7 someone wants to attend a wiki-event, but has to take care of a child or pet funds are available to give, but no one wants to do accounting (as per item 1) Wikipedians are happy to provide the funds paid staff accounts how much is paid, when, and to whom (as per item 1) either funds are given without accounting, or funds are withheld because accounting is too complicated ( its not complicated , just a little care and attention, and one wikimedia cvolunteer appointed as responisble)
8 Wikipedians want to meetup in a library, university, or community space someone has to sign a liability waiver to take responsibility for attendee safety ( what are your directors for ? its their responasibility) Wikipedians are not fit to crowdsource the signing of legal contracts ( crowd source legal contracts ??? who invented this ) paid staff are supposed to read, sign, and archive these things ( paid staff don assume responsibility for your organsaitions, that is director responsibility) without paid staff this process will put volunteers and Wikimedia movement at liability ( the padi staff is the CWUG responsibility, not their own, I woudl never sing anything in my perosnal name only in that of my employers)
9 an organization wants to partner with the local Wikimedia community not certain who should manage the relationship ( the incoprorated CWUG, thats what incorparation is about, an anybody appointed tto do so , a director no paid staff needed) Wikipedians can stay in touch in a decentralized way staff keeps records of long term collaboration and contact even as group membership changes crowdsourcing partnership management persists; Wikimedia community reputation is harmed
10 a media organization wants to interview local Wikipedians someone needs to put an interviewee in front of the interviewer ( 2 of the directors of our association trained for press contacts, directors responsibility) Wikipedians are happy to talk and will be interviewed paid staff will help coordinate that the interviewers meet the right Wikipedians the crazy angry sexist banned user gets the interview because they are the loudmouth (no because the directors didn ssume their responsibility)
11 meeting requests from big important organizations are hard to coordinate a potential partner organization contacts organization for a meeting Wikipedians want to meet out of office hours; need more information; cannot put the meeting together ( not if thd board appoint an event / glam (project)manager, heś spoc , heś in charge of teh evnt(s), handles partners, directs volunteers, reports financials and outcome metrics) office staff exist to coordinate the schedules of many people and be a central point of contact meetings with high profile partners will likely fail to happen (We meet regualrly with partners official institutions, Glams during office hours)
12 one of the meetup participants is acting weird or creepy and others are freaking out someone needs to tell the guy to chill people who are not paid are likely to pass responsibility ( see sexual harassment comments, assume your responsibility ) getting paid to keep peace gives staff the social authority to tell people to change behave or leave Wikipedians, especially women, are likely to quit coming to meetups ( how much women are part of the directing roup of the CWUG, tehy will tell you what to do or if you support tehm they will handle it much more effectively than you can )
13 routine bills and contracts need to be paid or managed, like for mailbox, annual legal registration renewal, web hosting, insurance, accounting software etc someone has to take organization funds, pay the bills, do the accounting Wikipedians cannot crowdsource all of these things and document them in a consistent way one person paid to do all of this can do it with less confusion than a group either the tasks are done chaotically and poorly, or they are not done at all come what may Director sresponsibilit as per 1)
14 someone threatens to sue this local Wikimedia org Wikimedia organizations in the United States get lawsuit threats with regularity Wikipedians mostly ignore these, or blame the Wikimedia Foundation paid staff really should document how these things are handled ( thsi is not waht pasi staff is about , this si what directors are about) crowdsourced legal response, which puts the board of the organization at personal risk (grow balls, work out legal action shoudl be met with counter financial claims for unnecesary legal action )
  • Iḿ sorry but that is imho not what paid staff is about, and itś not what leading an incorporated association is about, if covering your responsibility is your main problem you shoudl seriously reconsider if its worth your while to form / incorporate CWUG and save all the money in teh process
  • My comments have no personal intention, do not take them personally, its just a (bad) figure of speech, I do assume that you will be trying to do your best ( AGF ) , what you described here are normal functions which imho are to be executed by directors of an incorporated association, at least they are in my book. AS director(treasurer) of the association my resPOnsibility is to oversee all financial aspects of teh association. That means that I look at every projectś budget and i oversee the project managers spending. Some invoices come straigth to me (and get paid, by bank trasnfer) or I get a dsibursement statement with appended tickets (purchases, hotels) paid by the project manager which I check according to the budget and i then refund by direct banktrasnfer. This means I have automatically 2 documents tracing what happend with the money. If I run a project myslef I have (at least) my president overseeing and controlling what iḿ doing, and i will only apy mayelf if my disbursement was approved. At the end of the year I make my annual account, have it approved by the board and I give it to the accoutnant who sumbits it through the appropraite authorities and to the tax-service, if everything is OK we don't get taxed, if soemthings wrong teh taxman will invite me to come to his office and bring my invoices bank statements, the tax man will check it and thatś it, if something shoudl be fundamentally worng the accoutnant may have to help me do some explanation but that would be based on written correspondence, allowing 1,2 or soemtimes 6 months responsetimes.
  • i fail to see why you shoudl need at this stage 180 hours of paid staff for the last 9 months of the year, beacuse standard administration of the association wouldn't be (imho) a grantable expense, staff shoudl be measured in "contribution to the objectives of teh association. The only thing that comes near is item 11 coordinating meetings and working out/ maintaining partnerships with important partners, but not as you described it, but to support your directors. Being an associationś director requires time and requires also you can free up time within the 9-17 time slot, not everybody can, but a team of directors shoudl distribute worklaod among themselves and shoudl not push its responsibilities onto paid staff.

--DerekvG (talk) 13:58, 25 April 2015 (UTC) --DerekvG (talk) 15:55, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

DerekvG While I appreciate your wish to have all of these tasks done by volunteers, that is simply unrealistic if we are to operate in a prudent way that fulfills the countless small but important tasks for the group such as handling funds, completing programmatic and financial reports, researching and obtaining appropriate insurance policies, hopefully finding a volunteer lawyer to handle our 501(c)(3) registration, completing local and state tax paperwork in addition to federal paperwork, responding to emails and other inquiries from the public and other Wikimedia affiliates, following through to investigate any claims of harassment and taking appropriate steps in response to the findings, organize and recruit for events, arrange venues and other logistics, and reach out to diverse organizations. Some of these individual tasks could be taken on by volunteers, but the coordination of them is really beyond the ability of any volunteer other than a retiree to be able to cope with them, if we are to develop ourselves in a thoughtful, deliberate, consistent, and growth oriented way. (Two of the biggest downsides of using volunteers are that they are more likely to disappear at any moment, and that they frequently lack the kinds of expertise that are extremely useful to have when operating in a complicated social and legal environment.) WMF has professional finance, legal, HR, and communications staff with good reason, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me that affiliates which are expected to fulfill the same functions should be funded by WMF for the purpose of delivering similar standards of consistency and professionalism. Also, it seems quite inappropriate, risky and burdensome for WMF to expect volunteers to fulfill all of these tasks for an organization that is as complex and growth-oriented as we are (an organization that is small, works in a simple regulatory environment, and has a relatively static size might be able to handle these roles internally), especially when volunteers should not be expected to have expertise in these areas for what they believe is the simple purpose of forming an association of Wikimedians that gets some funding from the Foundation, runs programs, and produces content. Volunteers who are crushed with paperwork and researching laws are not spending their time creating content. In general, it is appropriate for the administrative and financial work to be done with a (very limited) use of paid time, while volunteers focus on content development and growing the organization, with the support of staff resources. This is how the WMF works, and it is reasonable for affiliates to work in the same way. --Pine 04:26, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Hi 3BRBS & DerekvG! I have served on two YMCA boards & boards of natural food cooperatives in two different US states. I can tell you that one of the most important roles as a board member is to ensure the perpetuity of an organization & its purpose. To have perpetuity requires continuity.
If you check out our Calendar 2015 of our past events, you will see a lot of activity this year. I can block out time to go to & assist edit-a-thons (including traveling to Portland & Vancouver from Seattle) & attend meetings, but as a volunteer, my time ebbs & flows. For instance, I recently had to devote time to do complicated US taxes & to find a few roommates for my rental house, & consequently had to postpone some of my board responsibilities.
Hiring someone to take care of day-to-day & week-to-week matters is just simply practical. It commits an individual to a certain amount of hours to keep the tasks that need to be attended to going. Since we are a non-profit in the State of Washington, well, I think that involves more work than many folks who don't have to deal with such things can imagine. Given our activity level, I personally believe what we have asked for is very modest & will help ensure that we meet our reporting responsibilities to the WMF. Hiring someone for a small amount of hours will be an effective means to get in the paperwork due the State of Washington & WMF, to make sure the insurance is paid, that our fiduciary duties are kept current, & etc.
Peaceray (talk) 06:52, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Google spreadsheetEdit

Please provide information from Google spreadsheet to the grant request page in this sections:

  • Goal
  • Activities
  • Measures of success
  • Project budget table as it is required

If you consider yourself as a respectable organization with annual plan, please take this page serious and provide information as it requested. Linking a Google spreadsheet as source of information looks frivolous. --Violetova (talk) 00:36, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

I do agree with Violetova, you gave an explanation higher to user 3BRBS about why things are in separate files. I would send the request of Violetova to provide final data from the external files and google spreadsheets, we cannot ascertain that the googel sheet we are looking at is the final version of your project, In your current state it makes it impossible to evaluate your current project. Helping us with correct and final figures and data will make us more confident to reconsieder our vote. In its current state iḿ not convinced, and I would hate to see a valuable project go to waste, valuable effort lost , the end result would be resentment and demotivation of valuable volunteers, simply because the gac members failed to understand --DerekvG (talk) 22:42, 14 April 2015 (UTC)


  • Pinging Violetova, DerekvG, 3BRBS and AWang (WMF): In response to your requests, I have attempted to copy more information from the Google spreadsheet onto Meta. Please note that some formatting is lost in the process. MediaWiki's table capabilities are poor, and I encourage you to look at the Google spreadsheet whenever possible because you will get more detailed information that way; our Board is using the Google Sheet so it should be considered the official version. I have been told that many grantees describe much less detail than we did in our budget tables, and perhaps MediaWiki would be suitable for these simpler budgets, but MediaWiki's table capabilities and usability are poor for the level of detail that we invested into our plans and budget. In my time as a member of the Individual Engagement Grants Committee, we used Google spreadsheets repeatedly, and I strongly encourage GAC to do the same. Please ping me if you have further questions. Thanks, --Pine 06:00, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
I must state that I think that the request should be transfered properly to Meta, as using the template for requests, everyone else has done that before, with much more complex requests as well. Also, the official place to make the request is here, so far I understand. I think it is a valid request to ask to follow the guidelines and templates created for this purpose.--3BRBS (talk) 23:35, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
I have an email out to Alex asking about this issue. Can I ask, what is attractive having full data available on Meta (which consumes everyone's time attempting to write and/or move the data here, due to MediaWiki's limited table features, and will almost inevitably result in transcription errors and/or loss of useful formatting information), when Google Sheets and LibreOffice Calc, among others, are much more sophisticated and easy to use tools for working with financial data? I would also like to note that when I was on the Individual Engagement Grants Committee, we used Google Sheets for scoring proposals. If it would help, I can ask WMF Finance which tool it uses for budget tables; my guess is that they use LibreOffice Calc but I am happy to ask. The point is that there are much more suitable tools for sharing and working with financial data than MediaWiki. As a compromise, I could propose creating a PDF of our budget data and uploading it to Commons, then linking it here. --Pine 07:26, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
It is hard for me to understand why there is so much resistance to follow the structure everybodyelse does. At this point I think the common structure of a PEG request should be respected, I see no reason to do otherwise.--3BRBS (talk) 14:25, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps I should list the faults of MediaWiki table handling. Formatting tables is hard and time-consuming. Formatting data inside of tables is hard and time-consuming. Transferring data from a spreadsheet to MediaWiki for all but simple tables is hard and time consuming, redundant with data in the spreadsheets, and quite likely to result in data or formatting errors during the transcription phase. Moving the information to Meta adds no benefit, but it does add significant costs in terms of time, and adds risk of data errors when attempting to copy complex spreadsheets. Having data presented in a PDF, LibreOffice or Google Sheet would be reasonable. --Pine 20:10, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Pine, using meta is the formal channel to submit your grant request, and everyone else follows that procedure. The biggest advantage of the MediaWiki software is that every modification is saved, it is absolutely public -with no restrictions whatsoever- and, so far the servers are up, it will always be available. I think I must concur with the comments made by Violetova and DerekvG.3BRBS (talk) 15:55, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi @3BRBS: both Google Docs and LibreOffice allow the edit history to be recorded. Alternatively, I could upload PDFs of the budget to Commons, and it would be easy to see that something in the document has changed because a new version would be uploaded. The comments section on Commons allows for explanations of differences between revisions. Any of those three options would be reasonable from the perspectives of accuracy and time management, and I believe that they would address your concerns. --Pine 07:01, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
You are requesting this grant to the WMF in meta, and I think you should follow the normal structure of a grant request, like everyone else does.--3BRBS (talk) 15:40, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi @3BRBS:, I hope that the information provided on the request page is sufficient. I think it would be good to separate the discussion about the form of data presentation from discussion about the substance of the grant. If any content is missing that you feel would be good to have on the current Meta page, please let me know. Regarding the issue of the form of presenting data, I plan to discuss this with other affiliates at the Wikimedia Conference. Perhaps some of them have better ways of moving this data into Meta than I am aware of, or perhaps the best solution is to improve the ability of MediaWiki to import data from spreadsheets. I think that the VisualEditor team is already moving to improve table handling, and perhaps they could be encouraged to focus their efforts on importing spreadsheet data. I hope that will make this easy in future rounds. --Pine 21:32, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Pinging @Bluerasberry: to ask if WM NYC has an easy way to move spreadsheet data into MediaWiki. --Pine 21:33, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
I belive that the discussion about the form of data presentation and the substance of the grant, in this particular case, cannot be separated, there were many reasons given before. A normal/regular table where you put line items, as I mentioned before several times, would be extremely usefull and clear, and at the same time, it would follow the procedure every one else follows.--3BRBS (talk) 22:09, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi Pine. The budget data in the grant request is adequate, although it would be helpful to know how many events are being supported by the more general line items in Programmatic and travel expenses (food, childcare, etc.). For the many reasons explained by the GAC members above, we will not be moving to use Google spreadsheets or any other off-meta format for grant applications. All the pertinent details of a grant request, both programmatic and financial, should be available on Meta. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 16:30, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Alex here, that "it would be helpful to know how many events are being supported by the more general line items".--3BRBS (talk) 15:51, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Wiki-fied table presented See it at Grants:PEG/UG_US-CWUG/2015_Annual_Plan#Project_budget_table. Pine, there is no easy way to move spreadsheet data into MediaWiki. Doing accounting in a way that others can understand remains a problem in the movement because every group does it in their own way and there is no standard process. 3BRBS DerekvG, Violetova, as you suggest, all other Wikimedia projects present their budgets in this way and to follow the precedent which has always been practiced I am doing the same here. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:23, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Bluerasberry thanks a lot for that table. Hopefully GAC is ok with that. Regarding the more general case of budget tables on MediaWiki, it turns out that the FDC Ombudsperson has also brought a difficulty with tables and the suggestion of spreadsheets or Google Docs. I plan to discuss the table situation at the Wikimedia Conference in the hopes that perhaps affiliates as a group, working in collaboration with the WMF VisualEditor team, can come up with improved ways to import data from spreadsheets onto MediaWiki. --Pine 22:03, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Donation to a partner organizationEdit

Hi, @3BRBS:, regarding Donation to the UW Community Data Science Workshops, we just wish to have a reciprocal relationship with one of the organizations with which we partner. One of the ways that this Community Data Workshop teaches Python by using Wikipedia APIs & data sets.

  • Building a Dataset using the Wikipedia API, offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, & Spring 2015
  • One of the final day projects was More advanced data munging and visualization using Python and Google Docs — "This talk will continue directly from lecture and we will use the same dataset of the metadata from all the Wikipedia articles about Harry Potter." also offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2014, & Spring 2015
  • Building a Wikipedia dataset using MySQL, offered in Fall 2014

The workshops are free & lunch is provided by donations from various organizations. We would like to be one of those organizations that could provide lunch in appreciation of the encouragement that Community Data Workshop gives to Python neophytes to use Wikipedia APIs & data sets. It is our hope that we may eventually get some wmflabs scripts out of this! Peaceray (talk) 06:28, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

@Peaceray:, Thanks for the explanation. I think then that you should re-phrase the participation of CWUG and propose it as a project, that: you are involved in and that you will help to coorganize. Otherwise, if the participation is limited to provide "lunch in appreciation of the encouragement" I believe it should not be funded through this grant.--3BRBS (talk) 15:48, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Community commentsEdit

Conflict of interest questionsEdit

A couple of questions:

  1. Has the Cascadia Wikimedians User Group adopted a conflict of interest policy substantially similar to the IRS model policy for tax-exempt organizations? If not, what mechanism does the group use to identify and address conflicts of interest?
  2. Have any disclosures of financial interest been made in connection with this grant application? If so, has the CWUG board determined whether a conflict of interest exists, whether the proposed arrangements are fair and reasonable, and whether non-conflicted alternatives can reasonably be obtained?

Kirill Lokshin [talk] 13:48, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

  • Hi Kirill, our draft bylaws state, "The conflict of interest guidelines of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., which as of December 2014 are published at https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Guidelines on potential conflicts of interest, are incorporated by reference into these bylaws."
  • We did have a potential conflict of interest with regard to our web hosting. One of our board members is an employee of the organization that offered to provide us our domain and web hosting for free. The other board members discussed this arrangement and we unanimously agreed to move forward with the domain and hosting from this organization, after ensuring that we could move the domain away from this host in the future if for some reason we want a different host. Also, I recused myself from participating in one discussion at an in-person meeting regarding my role in the organization. --Pine 22:11, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
  • @Pine: Could you please clarify what you mean by "[your] role in the organization"? In particular, does it include the proposed compensation arrangement under discussion here?
  • To provide some context for my questions: any compensation offered to board members or officers of a 501(c)(3) charity is complicated by the IRS prohibitions on private inurement, and the consequent need to demonstrate that such compensation is not excessive. The IRS allows a rebuttable presumption that such compensation is not excessive if (a) the board uses appropriate data to determine that the compensation is fair and reasonable, (b) no one with an actual or potential conflict of interest participates in the determination, and (c) the board adequately documents the basis for the determination (see [1] for a more detailed explanation). It's not immediately clear to me (in part because there don't appear to be any published minutes of the CWUG board meetings in question) whether the CWUG board has followed this process correctly. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 00:21, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Hi Kirill Lokshin,
  • Yes, there was a discussion of my paid role without me being present in the room.
  • I am familiar with the requirement that compensation for nonprofits should not exceed thresholds set by US tax regulations. I am quite certain that $25 an hour with no benefits, is well below the threshold that would be considered excessive. Notably, it is below the lowest compensation rate that I have found for WMF employees, and far below their median rate. Also, in Seattle, the median salary for an executive director of a nonprofit appears to be in the range of $74,000 to $93,000 annually, probably excluding benefits; the salary alone would work out to an hourly rate of approximately $35 to $44 per hour if the person worked 40 hours per week for every week of the year (meaning that they got no vacation or sick leave). So, I am confident that my rate of $25 per hour is well below thresholds that the IRS would consider to be excessive.
  • Please note that WMF indicated below that they are not willing to compensate me for my time for this project. Our board is currently discussing this situation, and how it affects the viability and sustainability of our organization.
  • Please let me know if you have other questions! Thanks, --Pine 01:22, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Tony1—comments and questionsEdit

Thanks for making this application. I've quickly read through it, but have not tackled everything on this enormous review page; although the enthusiasm and commitment of a core group of volunteers is laudable, there are significant causes for concern.

I endorse Alex Wang's comments below, particularly her points about:

  • funding such an ambitious program without much of a track-record;
  • the reluctance to fund the costs of incorporation (the enormous bureacratic legal and administrative costs of incorporating not be taken on without special justification—the operational leanness and small overheads are central to the raison d'etre of user groups);
  • the refusal to fund office space rental and part-time staff (see previous bullet) ... centralising resources geographically rather than relying primarily on online contact/discourse seems like a better way to go than bricks and mortar, especially given your coverage of three states and one province (great to see the cross-national grouping, BTW) ... if you really need hired labour for specific and temporary tasks, please make specific cases for this;
  • background checks—weird, and antithetical to the notion of trust among community volunteers (in the highly unlikely event that someone turned out to be a child molester, meth cook, or arsonist, well that's the risk of social interaction in modern society).
  • insurance, etc: I echo Rubin's, 3BRBS's, and Derek's concerns above.

A few further specific comments, but not exhaustive ones:

  1. I would normally ask that the start-date be fixed to clarify that retrospective funding is not being requested.
  2. I find the fourth goal's "support civil liberties" too widely scoped for a Wikimedia affiliate.
  3. Fit with strategy: increasing participation and diversity is just too vague to be credible in this context. How? Who? What kind of diversity?
  4. I like that some of your "goals" are more specific (but why two bullets, not one, for GLAM, edu and research partnerships?).
  5. I want more information about the editathons to judge whether they will have impact (the default, as Asaf Bartov has implied, is little or no impact unless certain issues are satisfied).
  6. 20 new articles doesn't sound like a lot, and are there no thematic priorities (like articles on women, photography of women's sport, etc) ... so we can get an idea of the likely gaps and weaknesses in content that we're paying to address?
  7. I'd be comfortable with a more ambitious benchmark for female participation than one in five.

Cascadia UG, I believe, should not be basing its ambitions on the two US-based chapters (DC and NYC). At this stage it seems better to exploit the cost advantages and flexibility of not having cumbersome overheads. I'm keen to support the right kind of significantly reduced budget and program, and suggest that your board work on producing a re-conceived application. At a lazy guess, something in the realm of $5,000–7,000 would seem more reasonable, if the outcomes can be better justified. Then next year we might be able to judge how effectively the hardworking core group has marshalled community enthusiasm and activity.

Tony (talk) 09:46, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Hi Tony1,

Cascadia's Board is discussing Alex's comments internally and formulating a response. I will respond to a few of your points here:

  1. The rumor that incorporation is always a time-consuming and expensive task is false, at least in Washington State. Here, incorporation for small organizations is straightforward, and far less time consuming than developing our budget and coming to an agreement with WMF about it. Also, incorporation provides important benefits such as some liability protections.
  2. We are getting criticized by some people for a plan that is too ambitious, and by others for a plan that is not ambitious enough. I suggest that the divergent views suggest that we hit the midpoint about right.
  3. We are not requesting funding for a full-time office. Our request is for coworking space, which also gives us the benefit of networking with other small organizations in the Seattle area. For example, we are in the early stages of using a legal resource that they have to ask for pro bono legal services so that there will be no attorney fees for our 501(c)(3) application. Ironically, the cost of those legal fees could far exceed the cost of the coworking space if we are required to pay the full fees.
  4. We are discussing the background checks. There is a problem in that the State of Washington requires certain information about directors of an organization that is applying for charitable status. Without background checks, we may be prohibited from becoming a charity.
  5. Insurance: we have discussed this at some length, and it seems to me that Alex and GAC are satisfied with our explanations. They are welcome to ask further questions if they have them.
  6. The start date for which this grant would apply keeps moving because of the repeated delays in getting funding.
  7. Regarding "support civil liberties", please note the Wikimedia Foundation's recent legal actions regarding mass surveillance by US intelligence services. Open source and individual privacy are values which we want to support. Interestingly, Microsoft, which is headquartered here and is known for its for-profit motives, has taken a similarly vocal stance against government intrusiveness.
  8. Regarding diversity, we have already worked on an event that focused on increasing female participation in Wikipedia editing, and we have discussed outreach to people of a variety of languages and races in the Seattle area.
  9. The one in five benchmark is slightly higher than WMF's highest end estimate for female participation shown on this Wikimedia Blog entry. I think this is an adequate goal for now.
  10. Regarding this application, I think it is nothing short of remarkable that we have persisted for so long; we are now into our 5th month of work just to apply for a single round of WMF funding, and we're doing all of this without paid staff. We will have further comments about this grantmaking process when our Board finishes drafting comments. --Pine 05:09, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Pine: thanks for the reply. A few brief rejoinders:

  • (1) I fail to see a case made for the advantages of incorporation. I do, however, see disadvantages (i.e your point 4, inter alia.)
  • (2) I suggest that the extensiveness of the plan be based not on a simple model of cutting equal slices of a birthday cake ("midpoint"), but on careful consideration of both details and totality in relation to likely WMF-related impact. Part of this involves trust, both external and internal, which is why the WMF prefers a longer track-record before committing to a large sum to underwrite relatively sudden expansion.
  • (3) With the growth in the sophistication of online communicative resources, I fail to see why a physical location is significant. Whoever is liaising presumably has a physical location at home, with internet (if they don't, that's a real problem for their participation in a UG). Spending donors' money on a rented office seems redundant given the necessary goodwill and cooperation among key members, and the irrelevance of physical location for internet discourse. Indeed, the coverage of the UG over three states and one province—an enormous geographical area with isolated population centres—raises the question of why resources should be centralised physically rather than organised online, with physical meetups at selected locations throughout where helpful and cost-efficient; if anything, such centralisation would be exclusionary for all but those in one urban concentration. This seems to go against the notion of such a quintessentially online outfit as ours. At the very least, special justification would be required to convince the WMF that at such an early stage it would be a wise move.

    Labour: again, the question is why a continuing position would provide more impact on the sites or the community per dollar than employing on a casual, temporary, task-specific basis. Substantial employment also brings issues of the motivational relationship between the employed and the volunteers.

  • (7) "Civil liberties" is a very widely scoped term. Does it include employment rights, freedom of assembly, freedom from racial discrimination in housing, and access to natural justice? My point is that the type of civil liberties should be specified in your charter (at the very least, "in particular concerning X and Y"), or you risk being seen as a catch-all lobby group.
  • (9) The WMF is a huge international organisation spread over many jurisdictions, cultures, and languages. A UG such as yours has advantages in these respects, and I expect a more ambitious benchmark than 20%, even if you don't quite achieve it. When governments establish benchmarks for female representation in parliaments and on corporate boards, it's more typically 40% over a specified period. The WMF has much more limited systemic control over this matter.
  • (10) The personal determination is essential and much appreciated. I don't agree with the premise that "paid staff" should be the norm. Tony (talk) 04:43, 10 May 2015 (UTC)

Hi Tony1,

  1. Charitable status is different from incorporation. One is not dependent upon the other in Washington State.
  2. The WMF has funded grants in excess of $20,000 to new grantees in the past, for example they agreed to fund $27,000 for an Inspire grant for a new Wikimedian-in-Residence position. Also, WMF's 2014-2015 Annual Plan called for WMF to have $42.2 million in reserves in the current quarter, meaning that our request amounts to approximately 0.0004% of the Foundation's reserve budget; the actual percentage, I believe, is even smaller because WMF Fundraising intentionally overshot their stated goals for the most recent online fundraiser. I think that our grant request is within WMF's means and that the risk-reward ratio is highly favorable.
  3. As stated above, we are not planning to have a full-time office. At this point in time, the physical space is less important than the network resources that the facility makes available to us, specifically, the legal services program that we mentioned above. Cutting off our access to resources that are designed to nurture small organizations would be a questionable decision. That said, we are working on seeing if we can retain access to the legal services network even if we leave the office space.
  4. The way that we framed the civil liberties goal is, "Support civil liberties, privacy, information security, and well-informed civic engagement." We aren't planning to emphasize the support of this objective with our funding this year; however we may want to align ourselves with civil liberties interests that seem compatible with the goals of the larger movement, such as freedom of panorama or the rights of individuals to keep their information private from excessive government intrusions. I think that our board will exercise good judgment in deciding which specific causes we may want to support, and in deciding how we will support those causes.
  5. I think in future years it would be reasonable to aim for higher targets, hopefully 50% eventually.
  6. As you may have noticed, there is a general trend toward professionalization and the wise use of grant resources in our movement as a whole. This is true at the WMF, and it is true for smaller affiliates such as CWUG. There are good reasons to have paid grantees or staff in certain roles, and judging by its extensive hiring, it appears to me that WMF agrees with that assessment. I would hope that WMF would apply a similar standard to affiliates as it does to itself when assessing whether hiring contract, part time, or full time staff is appropriate. We will have a fuller response to Alex's comments about staffing after our board has time to consider our response thoughtfully. --Pine 23:11, 14 May 2015 (UTC)

WMF commentsEdit

Hi Pine and team. Thank you for the time and effort put into this request and for engaging with the GAC and community thus far in the discussion. We realize that the user group has been discussing this plan for some time and we appreciate your patience with the review process. We do however have a number of significant concerns about the proposal. As raised by several members of the GAC and in a number of our past conversations, we are concerned about the level of administrative and operational overhead for such a new user group. There is no precedent for user groups professionalizing before showing significantly more impact or evidence of a sizeable active offline community.


The feedback we gave back in February is similar to what we give all user groups or groups seeking start-up grants -- we are happy to fund expenses for activities aimed at recruiting new volunteers, targeted outreach, and supporting existing active editors. We will not fund staff or ongoing part-time administrative staff, or office space for these groups. You can see some example of the type of start-up grants we typically fund: Wikimedia project in Egypt, Edit Ghana, Wikimedia Ireland 2015 Outreach. Another example, is the new user group from Tunisia, who has successfully requested two grants in the last year on an event basis: Wiki Loves Earth Tunisia and Wiki Arabia 2015.


We understand the user group sees a lot of potential for cultural partnerships and growth in the Cascadia area. However, with only ~10 regular offline volunteers in the region and challenges in organizing the group, we encourage you to consider more realistically what can be done with the limited capacity and without paid staff. What are the priorities? What activities do volunteers want to take on and manage? Can you focus on a couple of activities in the next 6 months and really see impact? Currently, the content metrics provided are quite low for all the activities proposed (a total of 20 new articles and 200 photos).

Programmatic activitiesEdit

We do want to support activities that provide regular support for editor engagement. While we typically fund events that have already been confirmed, have a detailed plan, and event-specific measures of success, we see that the group has planned for the possibility of a number of activities in the coming year. We are excited to support your programmatic activities, but again, would encourage the group to re-think about what is manageable considering volunteer capacity and what will really show results in this first year in terms of adding content or recruiting new or activating existing editors. The activities we are ready to support include the following:

  1. Wiknic
  2. Regular meetups
  3. Seattle underground tour
  4. Editathons and photo events (we are especially supportive of themed editathons or series of editing workshops for new editors. It is unclear from the proposal how many events are actually planned.)
  5. Child-care for events
  6. Wiki Loves Pride
  7. Art+Feminism
  8. Museum passes (outside of any GLAM partnerships)
  9. Transportation expenses (bus fares, toll/parking reimbursements, inter-Cascadia trips)

Regarding the remaining “special programs”, we have the following questions:

  1. Community Data Science Workshops -- Please provide more detail on what the expected outcome and impact of contributing funds to this event are.
  2. Membership scholarships for overnight accommodations at long distance events -- Please remove these. Scholarships for WikiConference USA and Wikimania should be applied for through the specific event scholarship process.

Startup costsEdit

We do not encourage user groups to incorporate, as it adds an unusually high burden for new groups. We hope that user groups remain flexible and with time to focus on organizing activities instead of managing paperwork and administrative duties that incorporation demands on an ongoing basis. However, we realize you have already started down this path. We do hope the user group continues to carefully consider the efficiency and cost/benefit of having an incorporated nonprofit in the future. According to the your grant report submitted to Wikimedia US-DC, a number of the items in the PEG request have already been paid for. Please update the start-up costs in the budget accordingly.

Annual expensesEdit

In terms of annual expenses, we have the following comments:

  1. Based on the monthly payments under the grant from WMUS-DC, the software is ~$16/month. You already have paid 2 months. For an additional 10 months, it would be ~160. Please let us know why the budget in the request is for $360.
  2. We will not fund ongoing office space rental for the group, but can support expenses for event space if none can be found as an in-kind donation.
  3. We will not fund background checks for board members.

AdministrationEdit

As explained above, we will not support funds for part-time staff.


There is a lot of potential for great work in Cascadia and we want to be sure you are planning in a way that is sustainable for your current volunteers. We look forward to continued discussions and supporting the activities you decide to prioritize. Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 02:46, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

  • Just noting here that Cascadia's Board is discussing these comments and developing a response. --Pine 01:13, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Not fundedEdit

Our understanding from communications with Cascadia is that they do not plan to pursue this grant request. We have updated the status to not funded since the board has not agreed to withdraw and it has been over two months since there has been any development on the proposal. The proposal can always be revised and submitted in the future. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 19:39, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

Return to "PEG/UG US-CWUG/2015 Annual Plan" page.