Grants talk:PEG/WM AR/Professionalization

Latest comment: 11 years ago by Patricio.lorente in topic WMF Position

Thank you Isha for the detailed information in this application, and I must say that Wikimedia Argentina is heading very well. Hiring professionals to work in the chapter is a huge step forward, but comprises high expenditures as well. So my question here is how you plan to manage these expenditures in the long-run? If you have realized some sources to fund it or if you expect some of your projects to be to earn the sufficient sum, it's nice to see it in the application. Best regards.--Kiril Simeonovski 12:11, 21 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have a keyword to answer that question: Fundraising. According to the figures published by Moushira Elamrawy on Internal-I, Argentina provided the last fundraising campaign with about 30'000 USD. We'll work to increase the collected amount this year, under our first fundraising campaign, by implementing adapted, localized payment facilities. Right now, it is very difficult to donate money from Argentina because you have to do it from an international credit card, which most people don’t have. If we manage to resolve that issue by providing alternate means, like donations from local credit or debit cards to our local bank account or donations via printable tickets that can be paid at any corner store (PagoFácil), we’ll be able to increase significantly the amount raised in Argentina and we’d then easily cover our running expenditures.
Yet, putting everything in order to be able to participate in the fundraising campaign demands some heavy paperwork that can’t be done on a volunteer basis. That is (just) one of the reasons why we needed to count with paid staff. --Isha 20:20, 2 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Is the ED going to be employed full time? If so, how does the proposed compensation measure in comparison to the average wage in Argentina? Harel 06:39, 22 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, Harel, Its a full time position, at least during the first six months that are being considered here. The average wage in Argentina is 4'050 ARS (about 1000 USD), but if that is considered as a household income it corresponds to the "lower middle class" statistical category. --Isha 20:26, 2 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think that employing ED is precisely the type of grant we would like to avoid: paying a high salary to support short term activities, which are sucessfully done by volunteers. I recognize that accountant support is almost inevitably will be professionalised (there was a talk about it in WM Russia, for example), however, I don't see what a full-time ED on a salary would be able to do to justify the expenditure. The 10 year celebrations were very well organised in the UK, including PR, Jimbo visit and interviews, parties etc. and it's all been done by volunteers. The finatial situation in Russia is comparable to Brasil but the ED is unpaid. While the local chapters have flexibility with funds they collect I don't think we want to create a culture of dependency on the WM foundation itself, when more monety spend than collected. I guess the question would be what is so unique about the Argentina that requires a completely different model e.g. high-salaried ED, which is not required in all other chapters?--Victoria 15:26, 22 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Not all work is successfully done by volunteers or on a volunteer basis. If organizing events can be considered “simple” or "doable", dealing with state bureaucracy certainly isn’t. Paperwork and meetings consume lots of time and it is really difficult to count on someone who is at the same tame capable, willing and with enough time to do it.
We organized Wikimania 2009 on our own and counting entirely on volunteers, we were a team of about 60 people (take a look here). And we were left burnt out for a year afterwards. So, Victoria, believe me we know what we are talking about. We aren’t a newborn chapter, we have done many activities so far and we know what can and what can’t be done with volunteers.
I wouldn't call our ED "high salaried". Having an unpaid ED sounds great, but people need to live. Otherwise, the ED title is just that, a title, because said Executive Director would never be able to commit himself full-time. People from the board of Wikimedia Argentina spend on the Association many hours every week. And they work for about 40 hours a week, and have families too. There you have our unpaid EDs, but they are not enough.
We don’t want to depend of WMF funds. Not at all. We want the Foundation to help us with a portion of the donations collected from Argentina for us to be able to help the Foundation improve the local found collection. And Wikimedia Argentina is not unique, but it's an old chapter willing to grow even more. We don’t want to be a fan club organizing a few talks a year, but an organization capable of running long-term projects, and we need both some staff and some money for that.
Because of high bureaucracy, we weren’t able to join the fundraising campaign up to now nor to adapt payment methods to local customs and realities. Our ED is right know working on that, precisely to avoid depending on Foundation grants on the future. --Isha 20:34, 2 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A suggestion: I would say that all things organized by they should be part of the measures of success.
I also have the same question Kiril have: And if you don't raise money enough in fundraising? what would you do?
And Victoria has a point here: I need to agree that is a dangerous precedent start to create grants in order to pay chapter staff. I do know Beatriz work, and it is wonderful - no doubt about that. But if all chapters find someone as great as she is, what we will do?
After saw this (~175,000 USD) and that ($1000) (with more $1000 in an expansion) I need to say that WMAR is quite reasonable.
BTW: Brasil? You mean Argentina, right Victoria? ;) Béria Lima msg 12:29, 25 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If we cant afford to have an ED in the future, and the Foundation does not support us in that sense, then we simply wouldn’t be able to have one. And we wouldn’t be able to grow as an organization. Of course, this scenario is not impossible. That is why we hired our ED with an initial contract of six months and a clear series of goals to satisfy: If she is unable to do so, we won’t be able to continue paying an ED because there won’t be the necessary funds to do so, and we don’t expect to rely on WMF grants for this. But, if we didn’t hire an employee -let aside the ED vs executive assistant discussion-, we wouldn’t be able to fundraise, so it is sort of a vicious circle we are tempting to transform into a virtuous one. If Argentina right now is contributing with ca. 30’000 USD to the global fundraising campaign, we believe that amount can be easily increased by providing appropriate payment methods, as mentioned above. --Isha 23:02, 2 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If I'm not mistaken one of your defined goals is to raise the amount of funds provided within the fundraiser, and to delegate a sufficient portion of the responsibility on the ED you've hired. So if something is missing or does not work, the guilt would be mainly addressed to the ED?--Kiril Simeonovski 00:06, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If something goes wrong, the ultimate and unshakeable responsibility does always correspond to the Comisión Directiva (Board). It has always been like that. However, our ED has of course the responsibility to successfully fulfill the tasks she has been requested to develop, and her work will be evaluated by our next General Assembly, which will take place next September (i.e. when the initial six-month period ends). --Isha 21:42, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(Re)Bootstrapping Edit

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the only valid category under which this grant can be considered is a stretching of the concept of bootstrapping a chapter. Therefore, I feel that you're misdirecting your efforts. I strongly suggest placing grants for specific projects that have direct impact on the movement's mission instead, as you have done before, and use your internal resources to maintain your house functional and move on with bureaucracy.

If that is not possible and you choose to proceed with this grant request, from my part I would ask for the following:

1. Explain why it is not viable to adopt the alternative I suggest. This is by far the most important item. (note: WMAR answers in Blue)

Because we CAN pursue projects on a volunteer basis, and we have some experience to share if you mind. We have organized a Wikimedia Academy, Wikimania 2009, the Wikimedia 10 celebration and the first Wikimedia Ibero-American Summit on a volunteer basis. We did GLAM activities such as "invading" museums, an agreement with the Argentine public broadcaster that enabled us to free lots of audiovisual material that is now in Commons and enhaces many Wikipedia articles, a collaboration agreement with the Ministry of Education of the Province of Buenos Aires, a partnership with the national (federal) Ministry of Education to develop "Wikipedia en el aula", many activities regarding educational outreach, etc. We are an experienced chapter, and a serious one WMF and other chapters have long been working with.
From that experience, we know that the part that can’t be adequately dealt with relying only on volunteers is precisely legal paperwork: obtaining tax-deductible status, obtaining the official authorization to wire transfer to WMF potential fundraising revenue, establishing alternate donation methods, reporting all financial activities to the relevant federal agencies, and so forth. You may want to contact Beatriz if you want to know what is she working on. Without Beatriz, none of us would have the necessary competence nor time to do all of those tasks correctly and on time. Without Beatriz, thus, we would never be able to effectively raise funds. Last year we did everything possible to get things ready to join the fundraising campaign, and even our Vice-President designed a well-detailed roadmap, but we weren't able to comply with it because of the aforementioned difficulties.
We need no bootstrapping, we’ve done great things without an employee, but we've come to know our limits, too. We know what we are doing. We have always been reluctant to ask WMF for money/grants, and you can go and start reviewing and comparing past grant requests by WMAR and other chapters if you want. But, sadly, we know what kind of things need paid staff to get done if you intend to grow as an organization. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

2. List and describe the activities you have in mind for the following 6 months, not just the ones you already accomplished. (By the way, why is the "target start date" is in the past?)

The target start date is in the past because we had no more time to loose and the mentioned date is the one our ED was effectively hired using the limited resources we have. This was opportunely announced on internal-l.
As for the activities in mind for the following four months, even if we don’t understand what does this have to do with the requested grant or with your role in the GAC (feel free to ask this directly if you are interested in what WMAR is doing):
  • Launching a coordinated press campaign with other free culture organizations against the proposal to establish a “canon digital”. Continuing our efforts to propose a change in lay 11,723 that would allow freedom of panorama.
  • Developing promotional videos. We got a grant to do it, but we are still on pre-production stages due to different (i.e. disparate) offers we got. It must be noted that past grants by WMAR did never include overhead expenditures, like all sorts of administrative costs, so we always ended up taking out money from our (not WMAR's) pockets. We only learnt this lesson from our ED.
  • Produce regular reports to both the Foundation and our members (remember that chapters, as formal organizations they are, have members they are accountable to)
  • Inquire and negotiate with different possible providers alternate donation methods for the next fundraiser: local credit cards, debit cards, PagoFácil and RapiPago options, Dinero Mail (sort of a local PayPal, because PayPal doesn’t work correctly in SA), donations via SMS, etc.
  • Finish all of the administrative and legal paperwork that was behind time (this is almost ready), because it was impossible to deal with the relevant agencies in days and times when volunteers work to earn a living.
  • Launching of the "Bicentenario" book, a project for which a WMF grant was denied, so we ultimately funded it by ourselves.
  • Putting in practice the agreement between WMAR and the Ministry of Education of the Province of Buenos Aires, by working on different approaches to effectively use Wikimedia projects in a universe of more than 3 million schoolchildren.
  • Implementing offline copies of Wikipedia en español within the government-funded Conectar Igualdad program, which is providing every secondary schoolchildren in the country with Classmate PCs, in collaboration with Python Argentina’s CDPedia project.
  • Continue strenghtening the Ibero-American Cooperation Initiative (Iberocoop) by providing al possible documentation of the first Ibero-American Summit, and by developing a joint GLAM project focused on our common cultural heritage.
  • Fostering ties with the Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina towards a cooperation agreement that would enable to digitize further historical materials to enrich Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource, such as their newspaper library.
  • Developing a poll among all WMAR members to learn about new projects and initiatives they are willing to engage on, and to ultimately develop a 2-year-plan that will enable us to work according to a pre-established roadmap instead of having our tasks depending on punctual projects. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

3. Give evidence that you have made considerable effort to seek both volunteers within the movement and pro-bono work from other organizations, before choosing to rely on paid work, for each item in the ==Project scope==.

We believe this question to be already answered. And we don't understand what kind of "evidence" are you requesting. Beatriz, in fact, did collaborate with us on a pro-bono basis from her long-term experience on Vía Libre, an organization focused on promoting free culture. We've had legal advise from members of WMAR who happen to be lawyers or accountants, but who don't have enough time to guarantee that all of the pending administrative and legal procedures were fulfilled on time. It is not that we have chosen to rely on paid work. It is that we found full-time dedication was needed. The relation goes the inverse way. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

4. Provide an estimate of WMAR's projected income from participating in the global fundraiser, for comparison with current request.

This has already been replied. Last year’s fundraiser revenue from Argentina made up to ca. USD 30’000 without local promotion nor adequate donation methods. We insist on the fact that very few people have access to international credit cards, so the potential behind alternate payment methods is not to be misunderstood. We’re not making futurology, we’re saying that right now quite few people were actually able to donate if they wanted to. The most popular payment method in Argentina is PagoFácil/RapiPago, which works with printable bar codes that can be paid at almost any shop, pharmacies being the most typical. If any of you came to WM2009 and registered on site, you may remember having to go to the corner store to pay your conference fee. Once we are able to offer potential donors that option (and WMAR is already able to offer this, only that we weren’t part of the fundraiser), revenue can increase significantly. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

5. Provide examples of at least 2 other local organizations with similar ambitions in the period whose Executive Directors have compatible wages.

Our ED’s wage is above the national average (see my reply to Harel above), but it can be considered in the low end for a position implying such a dose of expertise and responsibility, especially if you consider that Beatriz is a Social Communications professional, bilingual university scholar. We don’t believe “local organizations with similar ambitions” to be necessarily comparable: Vía Libre has no permanent staff, but per-project agreements; Creative Commons is represented in Argentina by both WMAR and Vía Libre, so it is not a separate organization; most free software organizations work on a volunteer bases, though their dealing with the public sector is far more limited than ours. A project leader in the private sector (i.e. management consulting) can be expected to earn around USD 3000, while senior posts in the public sector have comparable wages.
Frankly, we can’t understand the general tone of this comment/request. In any case, should you distrust any of these figures, you are kindly invited to use your Spanish to review the different “convenios colectivos de trabajo” (CCT) that are signed every year between the different working sectors and the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security. Our ED's wage is decent for a office worker, but it is by no means high. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

6. Make publicly available the related records and finances of WMAR so anyone can verify these explanations. To ease the steps above, as I and others can read Spanish, we can waive the translation of all records.

We'll make our financial records available as soon as the Inspección General de Justicia (IGJ) and the Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos (AFIP) approve them. The 2009 and 2010 balances weren't delivered on time because nobody was available to collect all of the corresponding receipts, bills and invoices, and to join our accountant in interminable office hours to shape an official report that must follow a long series of formal and legal conventions. Beatriz, in only two months, had this issue almost entirely resolved, and hopefully we’ll be able to publish this information soon. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the side, I would note that the item "Complete pending grant reports" in ==Project scope== is a violation of previous grant agreements and should be removed from this grant, as each grant already provides for completion of its own report.

A grant provides that the corresponding report will be done, but what happens when nobody is available to complete them until there is some paid staff to deal with such procedures? Beatriz is working on that and is effectively delivering all grant reports that were missing. In fact, we are up to date with that. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Saludos :)

--Solstag 07:51, 26 June 2011 (UTC) Reply[reply]

Que tengas un buen día. --Isha 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I can provide an answer at least to the question about estimated income from the fundraiser -- last year's fundraiser yielded $29,739 in Argentina. Note that according to the fundraiser agreement, the local chapter, if participating, is sharing the revenue with the WMF, so even if we raise this amount (or more) next year, only part of that revenue will remain with the chapter.
I also second Solstag's point about the pending grant reports -- those should be completed in a timely manner regardless of the availability of paid staff. Ijon 19:08, 27 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps they should, but reality is they weren't because we hadn't enough time for such activities (we don't even use to have time to announce our initiatives or activities to the rest of the Wikimedia movement, and we are no inactive chapter), and Beatriz has already completed them. We can take off from the list the grants issue, of course, but Beatriz will continue to be the person working on them as long as we can afford it.
Regarding the fundraiser, we are perfectly conscious that it supposes a revenue sharing agreement with WMF. We are sure, though, that by providing adequate donation methods the total amount can grow significantly, as explained above. --Isha 21:49, 3 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Till now I had not taken part in this grant, but I have something that to say respect of Solstag's response.
I am going to formulate an axiom: In view of a certain growth of a Chapter, this one will meet doomed to the professionalization.
If a Chapter reaches a certain degree of growth, the volunteers who up to this moment had composed it will meet compelled to carry out bureaucratic works, but that are not the works for that none of these volunteers did part of the chapter to themselves. These works (iabsolutely neccesary for the maintenance and the good march of the Chapter), can be of two ways:
  • 1.-Doing them by the volunteers; or
  • 2.-Employing someone who does them.
In case 1, the volunteers will see as the time that before they were dedicating to the promotion of the purposes of the Chapter will be drastically limited and they will finish getting bored and leaving well the bureaucratic aspect (with what the Chapter will end up by disappearing), well the projects (with what the Chapter will end up by disappearing); please, note that without projects there is no chapter, but without bureaucracy there are no projects and, for this reason, there is no chapter ... on the other hand, you cannot demand responsibility from a volunteer, but yes from an employee. The majority of the volunteers have their works and their lives: the demand to use their time and efforts in bureaucratic works drives inexorably to the abandon of the volunteer.
In case 2, one contracted person liberates the volunteers of the work that they cannot (and they do not want) to do, allowing that they should dedicate with more attention to the projects, which redounds to benefit the chapter ... but, of course the Chapter should pay them.
Any Chapter, (well, almost none, ;-) is rich ... ithey cannot be asking grants constant to finance their projects.... they cannot also be asking for them constant to pay their employees. But Argentina does not do it: they asks for a grant - as I deal - to help to start their professionalization, not to support it per saecula saeculorum.
2.-I do not believe that WM-AR has to give here to the detail htheir planning for the year that comes, we are not discussing it.
3.-What does more try that have done the effort that they of which they go in the mood for years and have refused to ask for it? ... but as I explained before, you cannot asks always for the work pro bond... neither we are judges that we are analyzing lawsuits: if WMAR says that they needs it, I apply good faith and think that they have done all the efforts not to need it.
4.-Well ... there are chapters asking for grants very much major than their participation in the fundraising and others who asking for very much minor .... if we are going to establish this policy, we might not advise grants in favour of places as the India, for example...
5.-It is unjust ... why 2 and not 3, or 6, or 1, or 19? ... if there are two is it good give the grant and if only there is one, not? We are going to give the grants concentrating on the needs of other groups? Do we go to demand this condition to all the rest who asking for grants?
6.-Uff ... do we forget the laws?... WMAR is a civil association under the Argentinian law and (as far as i know) their accounts are public ... you claim that WMAR does what does not do any other chapter and it publishes their accounts in Meta, for example ...? Are we going to demand this condition from all those who asking for grants? Because if we do not do it, we will be partial and unjust....
IMHO, if WMAR (a chapter that distinguishes for their activity) needs a help to start their professionalization, I believe that WMF must give it because they will make better the work of their volunteers and it will help to enlarge the Wikimedia movement. Probably they might be asked to write a report before the six months...--Marctaltor 00:16, 3 July 2011 (UTC)GAC memberReply[reply]

Now that time has passed and people have settled down, I shall write a paragraph of clarification. First, as I mentioned on the first paragraph of my comment, while explicitly admitting I could be wrong, in my review I was going to assume that WMF was not keen of giving grants to pay for staff, permanently or not. Second, remember that the GAC has no deliberative powers. We're not here to be the judges, just counselors. We're here to help you guys make your grant request too good to deny. Now, although perhaps well justified, your request was - and still is (although with your replies to comments, which should be incorporated into the grant request, not as much) - superficial in its specification. What I tried to accomplish was to point out important improvements to what I was explicitly assuming to be a quite exceptional grant under the rules. From my experience, I asked nothing that you wouldn't be able to answer with a little bit of effort, and enough that WMF would find it very hard to deny the grant given reasonable answers. So I'm sorry if I sounded too imposing, I thought you had it clear that we the GAC are just Santa's little helpers. Finally, I'm happy that, from Asaf's message below, WMF is considering this grant positively. I hope your replies were useful for their evaluation. I'm also happy that they seem to understand my point of view in their conditions. (As I sidenote, I disagree, from knowledge and experience, with Marctaltor's theorem - not an axiom by the way, - but that is of no consequence.) Cheers and happy editing! :D --Solstag 00:59, 29 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMF Position Edit

The WMF would approve this grant based on a more detailed annual (or semi-annual) plan. The focus must be program work -- that is the goal; hiring an ED is only a means. We await a rewriting of this request to reflect this and provide a plan. Ijon 18:03, 23 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fair enough. We've upload our anual plan. Thank you, Patricio.lorente 11:44, 2 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
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