Grants talk:Programs/Wikimedia Community Fund/General Support Fund/Sustaining Wikimedia LGBT+

Questions from regional committee


Hello @Bluerasberry and @Hexatekin,

Thank you for this thoughtful proposal. The US/Canada Regional Committee has initially reviewed the proposal, and wanted to ask a few questions about your plans:

1. How might Wikimedia LGBT+ both learn from and provide guidance to other minority population-based thematic organizations in the movement? Perhaps the grantee could elaborate on the "modeling" role they have previously served in order to more fully describe how they can leverage their learning and share it with other similar affiliates and/or user groups. 2. We found the funds allocated for staffing to be somewhat low for 2 FTEs. Can you clarify or explain this budget item?

Thanks! On behalf of the committee,

Matthewvetter (talk) 17:08, 24 October 2023 (UTC)Reply

Hello User:Matthewvetter - Thanks for reviewing our proposal and providing feedback.
  • Wikimedia LGBT+ has previously shared learning with affiliates and user groups in a number of forums. Members of our organization have presented learnings about Wikimedia LGBT+ organizing, including Wiki Loves Pride, at WikiConference North America, Wikimedia Summit Berlin, and Wikimania to share organizing knowledge with other affiliates and build a network of mutual support. Wikimedia LGBT+ also recruited representatives to send to all phases of the Universal Code of Conduct development process, then backed those volunteers by organizing community conversation and comment submission on the process. We have further shared insights and information about these activities through our social media accounts and documentation. Wikimedia LGBT+ has produced records of our collaboration with minority population-based organizations in the Wikimedia Movement since 2015. One starting place for exploring this are the annual reports archived at m:Category:Wikimedia LGBT+ annual reports.
  • Wikimedia LGBT+ leadership provided support to Art + Feminism during the first years of the campaign 2014/2015, including training on communication in the Wikimedia movement and connection to our networks. Wikimedia LGBT+ has provided feedback and support to Les sans pagEs, including by drafting an open letter in support of their trans-rights initiative, see: Open letter of support for Les sans pagEs. We provided event organizing and strategy support to conference volunteers and 12 Queering Wikipedia 2023 Nodes, including Wikimedia Colombia, Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedistas de Perú, Wikimedia Deutschland, Wikimedistas de Uruguay, and others. See: QW2023/Nodes and Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2023-05-22/WikiProject report. Through Wiki Loves Pride, we have collaborated with numerous Wikimedia organizations. With Wikimedia NYC, for example, we have co-organized more than 20 LGBT+ themed events since 2012 which collectively have recruited more than 1000 participants.
  • The best way that we can imagine scaling up the organization's capacity to both learn from and provide guidance to other organizations is to transition from a solely volunteer organization, to an organization with staffing who can manage strategic planning. We believe that we have reached limits and diminishing returns of what volunteers in our multinational, multicultural group can accomplish, but we are proud that those accomplishments include hundreds of events in many language communities, many program formats, and participation from thousands of editors since 2012.
  • Our budget includes 0.5 FTE or US $50,000 for an Executive Director in a wealthy country and an estimated 1.5 FTE or $US 27,500 to hire contractors in countries where annual GDP per capita is US $10,000. This amount is an underpaid salary for the United States, and above typical salary for lower/middle income countries. Our Wikimedia community values are to attempt collaboration across economic divides. We understand you are asking about this because of the unique financial practices of the Wikimedia Movement, including multinational staff, transparency of differing pay, and expecting staff on different payscales to collaborate as equals. In all of global organizational management, budgeting, or grantmaking, it would be exceptional to see this level of transparency anywhere that we can imagine except for the Wikimedia Movement. After much conversation among our members, the strategy that we identified as best for our group is appointing leadership who is familiar with the administrative practices of wealthy countries, and then whenever possible, hiring support staff from other economies. We would be enthusiastic to discuss more if anyone from Wikimedia Movement grants would join us to compare and contrast other ways of doing things, as we are innovating new approaches as we organize.
Hexatekin (talk) 22:56, 26 October 2023 (UTC)Reply

I also have a couple of (small) questions about the proposal:

  • you don't mention a fiscal sponsor in the Applicant Information section, but you do budget for one ($12,500). Can you explain?
  • In your response to Q.8 you mention working with Spanish translators "...with the possibility of additional language coordinators and accommodations necessary." I'm just curious to know whether you have any work planned with Quebecois, French translators?

Thanks! from Committee member Redwidgeon (talk) 18:24, 24 October 2023 (UTC)Reply

Hello User:Redwidgeon - Thanks for reviewing our proposal and we are happy to answer your questions.
  • Regarding the overhead: grantmaking organizations routinely have a published guideline about indirect costs. The Wikimedia Foundation might be the world's most prominent foundation to not have published guidance on this, and guidance would make this process feasible. For our sake and others, we request that the WMF either develop standing guidance or otherwise join us and the community in a public conversation about why such guidance is not available. The norm in the Wikimedia community is that grantees themselves negotiate financial costs per grant, and that the most usual outcome is that grantees get the default of 0%. In comparison, major US foundations typically offer 15%. We decided to ask for 12.5%, because we wanted a number lower than the regional norm, but also needed to take into account the amount of international payments that our organization is expected to make, and related international transaction costs. We would appreciate being able to join a public community conversation to develop a default Wikimedia Movement expectation for administrative costs.
  • Regarding the fiscal sponsor: the purpose of the fiscal sponsor is to reduce financial administrative costs, especially the up-front costs of charity incorporation and registration and bank account fees, by outsourcing some functions to professional organizations which routinely offer such services. It is our understanding that fiscal sponsors often request 7.5 to 15% overhead for grants management, so we provided this number (12.5%) to the best of our abilities. Various Wikimedia groups have used organizations with such fees in the past, and we are following their lead for much-discussed reasons which we could explain further. While we have potential options from organizations which would be our fiscal sponsor, we are still in the process of applying and deciding which we will partner with. Not all fiscal sponsors are the same. Fiscal sponsor relationships have at times been conflict-prone in the Wikimedia Movement, and we want to choose wisely.
  • We have been in communication with Chris Schilling about the fiscal sponsorship component of this proposal. In September, we sent in an application to a fiscal sponsor previously used by an affiliate, but did not receive a favorable response because we do not have a bank account or incorporation status, which they required. We are exploring additional options, with the plan of submitting a second fiscal sponsor application 1 November, 2023, and could benefit from guidance.
  • Regarding translators, Wikimedia LGBT+ is a user group that works globally, not just in North America; our work to provide Spanish language facilities is a reflection of the number of Spanish-language users engaged with the user group and the WikiProject LGBT studies on their Wikipedia edition. At the moment, we have substantially fewer French-language users engaged with the user group and fr:Projet:LGBT is about a third of the size of es:Wikiproyecto:LGBT, so we have not yet any demand for French language facilities and we do not have work planned with French translators at this time. We note that one of the grant managers listed (User: OwenBlacker, a member of our current governance team) is bilingual in French and we are collaborating with Natacha Rault of Les sans pagEs, so we hope to be able to encourage greater attendance from francophone editors but we have not yet been very successful in this regard. We would welcome any connections you may have to this network of contributors to expand our outreach efforts and we hope that some of the funding we have allocated for contractor support might allow us to improve our communications efforts both on-wiki and on social media.
Hexatekin (talk) 23:07, 26 October 2023 (UTC)Reply
@Hexatekin: Thank you for your responses to the committee. I want to narrowly respond to an assertion made here regarding indirect costs, that is, costs not directly tied to a specific organizational program or activity (such as office space, utilities, finance and accounting support, human resources, bank fees, board meetings, fundraising, fiscal sponsor fees, etc.):
The norm in the Wikimedia community is that grantees themselves negotiate financial costs per grant, and that the most usual outcome is that grantees get the default of 0%.
I am not certain how this conclusion was reached. There is no such default, and the claim that most General Support Fund grantees receive no funding for indirect costs is demonstrably false. This can be readily seen by looking at the available budgets of other organizations we have funded in the region. Organizations receiving General Support Funding nearly always request funding for some or all of these kinds of needs, which are eligible, and Regional Committees have generally supported funded these needs in this and other regions, and this amount of funding supported for these needs is nontrivial. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 09:47, 21 December 2023 (UTC)Reply

Wikimedia LGBT+ Statement on Withdrawing Our Wikimedia Community Fund, General Support Fund, Round 1, 2023-2024 Application


Wikimedia LGBT+ is delighted to confirm that we have now identified Kiwix as a fiscal sponsor as of 28 November, 2023. However, we are disappointed to have to withdraw this application for Round 1 of the North America, Wikimedia Community Fund, General Support Fund 2023-2024 timeline, in accordance with a request to withdraw from Wikimedia Foundation Grants staff. The reason we were given for WMF Grants’s request for us to withdraw is that we were unable to identify a fiscal sponsor by the 31 October, 2023 deadline.

Wikimedia LGBT+ communicated our need for assistance to identify a fiscal sponsor prior to applying and committed profound efforts to meet this requirement, updating the Grants team regularly. Wikimedia LGBT+ Governance is frustrated by the Wikimedia Foundation’s procedures and resources to assist community affiliates and volunteers/organizers with capacity building and professionalization support. WMF Grants staff disapproved of several of our initial fiscal sponsor options, and directed us to pursue a fiscal sponsor that we later learned has been the source of tax and fiscal management issues for another affiliate and grant recipient for several years prior. Applying to the fiscal sponsor recommended by WMF Grants also cost us over a month in calendar time, 80 hours of administrative time for a paid contractor, and 100 hours of volunteer labor, in addition to $250 USD in application fees to complete a 20-page application that turned out to be a dead-end. Sadly, we later learned that more feasible options were available that would have resulted in Wikimedia LGBT+ being able to meet the 31 October, 2023 deadline.

We strongly suggest that WMF Grants offer affiliates better support with finding fiscal sponsors and publicly document what they will provide to help affiliates with fiscal sponsorship and professionalization on Wikimedia pages. The process for securing a fiscal sponsor goes beyond the skills and knowledge affiliates should be expected to possess to receive funding for sustainability efforts. In many cases, funding is required to devote staff time to learn and oversee such complex procedures. We also suggest WMF Grants improve internal procedures for maintaining up-to-date information about past affiliate relationships with fiscal sponsors as affiliates seek sustainable fiscal sponsors. This change can help increase the optimization of WMF resources with greater care towards the extremely limited capacity of community-run organizations, such as Wikimedia LGBT+, seeking sustainability to continue to do key movement diversity work, through securing operational and program funding.

Wikimedia LGBT+ will be applying for Round 2 of the North America, Wikimedia Community Fund, General Support Fund 2023-2024 timeline, as we now have all our requirements in place, and we look forward to receiving constructive criticism of our proposal ahead of the funding deadline so that we might be better assured of a positive result. ---Hexatekin (talk) 17:35, 13 December 2023 (UTC)Reply

@Hexatekin: Thank you for these remarks and suggestions for the Community Resources team regarding your experience in this past round for the General Support Fund. I think we can make some improvements based on this feedback, but I also have some important concerns about your remarks and generally feel there is a mismatch between your expectations over what services our team provides around fiscal sponsors and what we are resourced to actually do. Please see my comments below:
  • I first want to acknowledge that the Community Resources team currently does not have a practice of reviewing fiscal sponsors, nor can we guarantee that we can help find fiscal sponsors for applicants. This is in part because our team does not possess relevant expertise or information by which to evaluate such organizations and make meaningful recommendations at this time. We have prepared this guidance, which was provided to you early on when you indicated a need around finding a fiscal sponsor. Based on your feedback however, I think the precise role of our team around fiscal sponsors is not especially clear, and I believe we can improve this page and our communications so that there are clearer expectations on what support the Community Resources team can provide.
  • WMF Grants staff disapproved of several of our initial fiscal sponsor options I'm not certain if you had met with other Foundation staff regarding a fiscal sponsor. Insofar as my communications with your organization are concerned, I disagree with this framing. At no time were several fiscal sponsor options presented to me for consideration, nor did I issue any broad rejections as described here. In an e-mail from your organization sent to me in Sept 2023, there was a single fiscal sponsor presented to me, and your organization had already expressed doubts about whether they were a good fit. I agreed with this perspective. Furthermore, as a matter of practice, our team does not formally evaluate or approve/disapprove of fiscal sponsors (unless there are more basic eligibility concerns, which did not arise in this situation). Applicants have agency over – and are also responsible for – these choices.
  • directed us to pursue a fiscal sponsor I take issue with this framing, because it suggests that I made a formal recommendation of this fiscal sponsor and that you were required to use them. Instead, because your organization communicated a need around finding potential fiscal sponsors, I tried finding other fiscal sponsors that grantees had previously used in the region. However, I did not make an explicit recommendation on the quality of the fiscal sponsor I provided – again, because we're not able to do that – nor did I require you to use them if other options became available. I am sorry that this fiscal sponsor had an onerous application process and had fiscal management issues that effectively wasted your time, but our team does not systematically collect or maintain information on fiscal sponsors to evaluate them or anticipate these risks.
  • I understand your perspective that the Foundation should provide more support around finding fiscal sponsors. However, considerations around fiscal sponsors are complex: What is their reputation? Does their mission fit with your organization? Do they provide the right financial services and other kinds of support for your organization? Are their fees reasonable? Does the fiscal sponsor communicate in a way that conveys trust and openness? Is the organization stable? On my mind is the following question: Is it a good idea for the Community Resources team to attempt to evaluate these and related questions on behalf of applicants? Even if we were equipped with some information to answer these questions and potentially make recommendations, our team's viewpoints on these questions shouldn't necessarily supersede an applicant's own perspectives. I have power dynamic-related concerns about situations where an applicant might want to choose a fiscal sponsor that wouldn't be explicitly recommended by the Foundation, for example. I believe there are ways for us to flag rare cases of fiscal sponsors that will never be a good fit for an affiliate's needs when these issues are brought to our attention (though, these issues are not always fully communicated to us), but I have reservations over providing broader fiscal sponsor recommendations related to more nuanced and complex kinds of considerations that should be more carefully determined by applicants themselves.
  • I appreciate the level of work that your user group put into seeking a fiscal sponsor as well as the related updates during the round. However, I want to acknowledge that an applicant choosing to apply for funding without a means to actually receive and manage those funds presents certain risks. Your user group purposefully does not maintain an organizational bank account, and therefore requires a fiscal sponsor to conduct funded work. In choosing to apply without a fiscal sponsor, there were clear risks about whether you could realistically begin your proposed work if this need was not fulfilled, and your organization communicated to me that you were aware of these risks before the round began. In my experience, most applicants do not apply unless they have confirmed a fiscal sponsor when required. In the future, it is very important that your organization take sufficient time to complete tasks related to eligibility requirements for funding and establishing fiscal management practices, even if that means delaying or not being able to pursue certain programmatic or operational opportunities.
As we previously communicated, I will be preparing a summary of Regional Committee feedback based on their individual review earlier in the round and will provide this to you via e-mail. Furthermore, I would like to provide updates here on when we have updated our fiscal sponsorship guidance so that the services and capacity of the Community Resources team around fiscal sponsorships is clearer and can be updated if those capacities change. Lastly, we look forward to your submission for the General Support Fund next round (with applications due on 8 March 2024), and I am available to meet if you would need any support in changing or revising the proposal for that time. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 09:22, 21 December 2023 (UTC)Reply

Feedback from the Regional Committee re: your 2024 proposal


Hello Hexatekin, Bluerasberry and OwenBlacker and thank you for WM LGBT+'s proposal for the current funding cycle. As a member of the US/Canada Regional Committee, I have reviewed your proposal & would like to offer some feedback for your consideration.

  • A general comment: Your proposed project is ambitious: you are aiming to reach a globally-distributed audience, engaging in a number of on-Wiki projects & partnerships, & hosting several unique activities & campaigns (e.g. Wiki loves Pride). It makes sense that Wikimedia LGBT+ should seek to improve sustainability by building operational support & reporting systems (for these and for future activities) -- and that is clearly what this project is attempting to do. It looks like a good plan to me.
  • A question: Your responses to Q8 ('Programs, Approaches & Strategies' section) sound very solid and reasonable; however, few of the metrics you propose directly reflect these. In the 'Other Metrics' section (Q15) I wonder if you might consider including some metrics specific to some of these programs? For example, for program #3 (Organizing Program Monitoring & Reporting), a potential metric could be something like 'Number of reporting and/or monitoring tools developed'; for #4 (Seeking External Funding), a metric could be 'Number of potential external funders engaged etc.

I look forward to further discussion. Redwidgeon (talk) 22:14, 4 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

@Redwidgeon: Thanks for your feedback; that's very helpful. Please bear with us while we give some thought to how we might better align our metrics to our proposed activities. — OwenBlacker (Talk; he/him), for the WMLGBT+ Board, 08:39, 7 May 2024 (UTC)Reply
Hi @Redwidgeon. Thank you for your feedback; this has prompted some very useful internal conversations about measurability of our proposed programmes of work.
We have tried to align these metrics more directly with each of the programmes, so here are some suggested metrics, on which we would welcome your thoughts and feedback.
  1. Building our administrative capacity
    1. Successfully hire an Exec Director and a Membership Coordinator.
    2. Increased detail and transparency on Exec Director’s scope of work, including:
      1. Number of reporting and/or monitoring tools developed
      2. Number of potential external funders engaged
    3. Hire a Membership Coordinator and have them take over the work of membership registration and elections
  2. Developing safe space support for LGBT+ Wikimedians
    1. Start collecting records of safe-space reports.
    2. Prepare a risk database and present it to the board.
    3. Prepare a first-draft of a harm reduction plan.
    4. Demonstrate that not all safe-space work is handled by volunteers or board members. [Metrics in future years should show a decrease in volunteer time spent on safe-space work by generalist volunteers.]
    5. Start working with user researchers (from academia, business and/or the Foundation) on privacy-centered survey methods.
    6. Hold monthly meetings, with both English and Spanish-language facilitation or translation, for at least 6 of the 12 months during the grant period.
  3. Organizing programme monitoring and reporting
    1. Develop (or start using) multilingual tracking of contributions across at least English, French and Spanish, across varying contribution types.
    2. Start tracking hostile Talk: discussions across at least English, French and Spanish.
    3. Discuss programme monitoring with other affiliates who focus on minoritized contributors and minoritized subject areas (such as Art+Feminism, Black Lunch Table, Les sans pagEs, Wikiesfera, Whose Knowledge?, for example) in order to encourage multidirectional knowledge-sharing.
  4. Seeking external funding
    1. Create a spreadsheet of potential funders (in collaboration with other “systematic bias” affiliates), categorized by funding type.
    2. Publish our annual report.
  5. Language accessibility and translation
    1. Provide simultaneous translation for at least 6 of our UG meetings and workshops
    2. (See language accessibility in UG meetings and programme monitoring goals: 2.6, 3.1 and 3.2 above.)
    3. (See annual report metric: 4.2 above)
  6. Wiki Loves Pride
    1. Organise or facilitate 4 Wiki Loves Pride events.
    2. Hire the 2 Programme Coordinator positions, in English and Spanish.
    3. Produce a summary report to document the outcomes of this campaign
Again, we would welcome your thoughts on these proposed metrics and look forward to the funding committee’s further feedback.
OwenBlacker (Talk; he/him), for the Board of WMLGBT+, 17:31, 15 May 2024 (UTC)Reply

General Support Fund proposal approved in the amount of 131,000 USD


@Hexatekin, BlueRasberry, and OwenBlacker: Congratulations! Your grant is approved in the amount of 131,000 USD with a grant term starting 1 July 2024 and ending 30 June 2025.

In our review, the Regional Committee was impressed with your overall planning and excited to see the anticipated growth that an ED will enable for the organization. Your evaluation strategies and metrics ideas, detailed on the talk page, appear especially robust. Your inclusion of both quantitative and qualitative indicators suggests a very solid and integrated evaluation plan.

The Committee had a number of recommendations and suggestions to consider as you move forward:

  • While the Committee supported the inclusion of a variety of metrics (e.g., program reporting tools, monitoring of safe space reports, external funding supports), the Committee agrees that not all of the proposed metrics need to be collected / reported this year. However, we would appreciate knowing which ones the User Group will be evaluating this year.
  • The Committee requests that the User Group more clearly differentiate between milestones (those metrics that relate more to organizational capacity), and outcomes that benefit the communities or projects they are supporting.
  • We recommend that you consult closely with communities and your ED when setting programmatic priorities.
  • For the future: think about how you will engage with and gather feedback from specific communities you work with.

Finally, a couple of questions:

  • The Committee noted that in many cases, financial sponsorship fees include the cost of accounting. Will the accounting expense as detailed in your budget be needed in future years, or will Kiwix support your accounting needs?
  • Considering the importance of having an ED in place for your planned activities: can you update us on your search / hiring progress? Have candidates been identified?

Once again, congratulations. We look forward to learning about your project outcomes.

On behalf of the Regional Committee, Redwidgeon (talk) 15:00, 5 June 2024 (UTC)Reply

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