Grants talk:Project/MSIG/Stronger CEE Hub

Latest comment: 3 months ago by YPam (WMF) in topic Approved budget CEE Hub year 2

Overall Positive Feedback edit

Overall, the outlined plan and proposed activities are clear, making the proposal constructive and detailed. The application not only highlights the achievements of the past year but also presents a forward-looking strategy that builds upon the successes of the CEE Hub while addressing the evolving needs of the community. The plan set forward is commendable given the demonstrated need for such a hub and the positive outcomes observed in the year of piloting.

Over the past year, the CEE Hub has proven to be purposeful in the implementation of a support structure for the CEE communities. This has set a commendable example for what an effective hub could achieve. In doing this, the movement has not only learned from what is possible from this practical example, thus setting a benchmark for other hub promoters within Wikimedia communities.

Furthermore, this proposal is seen to align seamlessly with the established work of the CEE Hub, extending its regional support approach into defined areas. This alignment with both global conversations and internal CEE needs assessments reflects a thorough understanding of the broader context and expectations surrounding hub projects.

Reviewers are impressed with the comprehensive plan that includes a wide range of support services, with a particular emphasis on addressing the needs of traditionally underrepresented communities. The inclusion of an optional activity targeting youth communities demonstrates a keen awareness of ongoing multigenerational Wikimedia conversations and aligns well with current trends and priorities.

YPam (WMF) (talk) 14:02, 8 December 2023 (UTC)Reply

Feedback for improvement edit


  • More clarity is needed regarding several budget line items. For instance, concerning "Staff and volunteer travel," which amounts to over $22,000 in one line. It is important that the team considers proving a more detailed breakdown of these travels as well as the rationale. Additionally, consider providing more information regarding the inclusion of 10 Wikimania scholarships in the 2024 budget. Are these scholarships intended to be in addition to the existing ones or part of the overall allocation for the region. Keeping in mind that the organisers have been clear about including hubs on the scholarships lists. Providing clear information would enable everyone to proactively make informed decisions.
    • Here you can find our budget breakdown with some corrections based on your feedback.

The idea about Wikimania merit scholarships came up before we knew that hubs would have a chance to allocate 2-3 additional regional merit scholarships. Even though the Wikimania core organising team will give us this option, we believe that it would be good to have the option to allocate 7 more merit Wikimania scholarships (3 out of these 7 are for youth). While we expect most people will be able to attend Wikimania via regular Wikimania scholarships and/or some other means, we'd like to have a fallback option if that turns out not to be the case. Scholarships attributed by the main organisers are very competitive and we are keeping those merit scholarships in case the scholarship committee turns down people from CEE that should really attend Wikimania or to right some potential unbalance (for example people we know to be very active but don't fulfil yet some of the criteria, new active volunteers emerging between now and Wikimania, gender unbalance etc.). Especially this year, since Wikimania is happening in our region, we think it's important for us to make sure that the region is well represented.

Apart from this, what we forgot to point out was that we would like to have 5 CEE meeting merit scholarships (out of which 2 for youth). The CEE meeting scholarships are based on involvement in affiliates and local communities, while the hub ones are based on involvement in the regional hub. While we expect that these groups largely overlap, there might be some differences which is why this process can enable corrections.

Remark: Merit Wikimania (7) and CEE Meeting (5) scholarships in the budget are divided on two different budget lines.

  • More clarity and details are also needed for various items with consecutive numbers, such as $4,000 for meeting facilitation and $12,000 for VAT and taxes. To enhance transparency, the team needs to elaborate on the budget items. It would be beneficial to break down all expenses that exceed $500. For instance, why is a micro grant program needed when the hub can support communities to utilize the existing rapid grant funds for community assistance they might need.

    a) The diversity of the Steering Committee and the fact that we are all using a language that is not ours is sometimes a source for misunderstanding and requires a lot of iterations to get to the point. Facilitation is proposed to have more efficient meetings, make sure that everyone has a voice, and ensure concrete outcomes. Having professional facilitation is a more efficient (and cost-efficient) measure than translations, because our meetings are attended by 10-12 people who speak 10 different native languages.

    b) Apart from what was explained in the grant: ‘Development of the CEE Hub Micro Grants (MG) programme: Based on our experience of working with smaller communities, especially those where affiliates do not exist, we would like to develop a microgrant programme which would enable communities to apply for microgrants. These microgrants will have a lower barrier than Rapid Funds provided by the WMF: a minimum 50 USD can be requested, and applications will not be done in Fluxx but in a less demanding manner.

    c) We would like to add this additional information: ‘Microgrants are proposed as an even less demanding and less time-consuming mechanism (compared to rapid grants) to support micro projects and individuals who need a small budget. What we would like to accomplish is to provide fast feedback to grantees which is not the same as taking part in one of rapid grants rounds. As we are in direct communication with communities and we are informed about their work and plans, there is less need for lengthy explanations and our decision-making process about Microgrants (50-700 EUR) should be very quick – we are aiming for a process of 2-3 weeks from applying to receiving grants.’

  • Compared to the pilot, this budget is considerably higher and appears extensive. It is especially concerning that the administrative overhead in taxes and fiscal sponsorship fees is so high. The team should provide further clarification for those costs. What alternatives were considered to ensure that such costs are reduced?

As far as the fiscal sponsorship fee is concerned, 10% of the project budget is quite a common fee in Europe when projects are being implemented. Apart from WMPL, during our assessment of potential (new) FS we approached several other WM affiliates too. WMPL asked for the smallest fee (5%). If you take into consideration that our FS is handling the contracting of 2-3 people, booking of many travel itineraries, accommodation, reimbursements and having to oversee the compliance with Polish Accounting Practices as well as following up on reporting requirements – this makes 10% a fair and realistic fee.

As far as VAT is concerned, there is no way around the EU reverse charge tax system. We have considered other ways of contracting/employing staff, and we are still looking into alternative options e.g. employing our Hub Coordinator via WMPL or opening an NGO in Croatia. Our focus during year 1 was piloting activities, building bridges and work processes in/for the region and we choose to focus on the content rather than on form as discussions and making decisions about formalisation (or incorporation) take a lot of time and effort.

We also looked into finding ‘Employer of Record services’ (the same system that the Wikimedia Foundation uses), but the contracting fees for such an organisation also entail VAT all the same, and these services cost 10% on top of basic contracting fees.

Hiring people and providing them with the right amount of safety around their employment has always been the most expensive part of the work we do at Wikimedia and especially in Europe, it always makes the overall charges around salaries seem very high - in this case the VAT is tied to compensation. But those charges are easily attributed (80% for the Hub Coordinator and 95-100% for all other employees) to direct programmatic work. At this point, we are using the best option to ensure local administrative compliance (EU reverse charges), and the administrative safety of our employees. And even with that, it is unfortunately not ideal, as we have to place some of the burden on the employees themselves in asking them to be contractors. During the year 2 of the CEE hub project implementation we will continue exploring other/more efficient options. If we find a more efficient option earlier, we will switch to it.


  • It will be good to understand better how the team is thinking about governance and collaboration strategies within the Hub. It is recommended that the hub promoters ensure the inclusion of robust collaboration strategies or, at the very least, an explanation regarding those that have not been included in this current plan.
  • How feasible will it be, in practice, to establish the Hub's governance by May 2024. The proposal introduces a research component not originally outlined in the activities plan, which makes it difficult to understand how prioritization is being done. Considering that defining a governance model might actually be this project’s biggest risk, it should be recognised for the risk it poses and take precedence in the planning.
    • There might have been a misunderstanding about our governance related plan which we explained in the section ‘Project activities’ under number 4.

We have already advanced quite far on defining our governance model, and have found an interim way of selecting the members of the Steering Committee with direct consultation of members at the CEE meeting. However, we need to strengthen the practice into a clear and established process. The use of the word research might have been confusing but the state of things is as follows:

In year 1 of the CEE Hub project implementation, we discussed with the CEE communities and interested individuals two possible CEE Hub governance models (CEE Hub governance model): language and affiliate based governance models. Our next steps include proposing and testing a model based on which the CEE communities would approve/reject yearly CEE hub implementation plan (for 2025) and a finalised voting model for new steering committee (SC) members. The mandate of the current SC members lasts till the next CEE meeting which will take place in autumn 2024.

  • In relation to the governance piece, more clarity is needed on the research process. This includes clarity regarding the hiring of a researcher and the availability of data on governance models. A comprehensive overview of the research component is essential to ensure it aligns with project objectives.
    • There will be no researcher hired to work on the potential governance models. All other governance research is taken care of in item "Legal costs" of our budget (Research/advising on Hub incorporation, other possible legal costs related to staffing and contracting).


  • The list of "optional" activities is lengthy and raises concerns on clarity regarding the nature and criteria for implementing each activity. The team should provide more details regarding what constitutes an optional activity and establish clear criteria for deciding which activities will be pursued, or not. In determining, consider and assess the potential impact of each activity, what the region might learn from the Hub’s process and the fact that there are limited staff resources.
    • In our grant proposal we explained which work packages (WP)/activities are the continuation of the current work (WP 1-4) and which are the newly proposed and ‘optional’ ones (WP 5-8: youth group support, microgrants, community building, project incubator). With the current two staff members and budget based on their salaries, we can implement the project and WPs 1-4.

If we cannot hire a third staff member, implementing community building WP cannot be part of the program. This staff member would also support communication and youth related activities to some extent, so without this person we would still follow the plan, but we might need to reduce some activities (e.g. Catch Up sessions would not take place on bimonthly basis but quarterly).

Newly proposed WPs: the microgrant pilot programme (up to 10000 Eur) and the CEE Hub incubator programme (for regional projects) can be implemented with the current staff (2 people).

  • It is recommended that the team carefully evaluates the feasibility of implementing all proposed activities with three full-time staff members and a budget of less than $200,000. If the team considers this achievable, then more details are required and the team could elaborate on the strategy for successful execution.
    • Currently proposed budget of 233,576.77 $ is based on implementation of all what we proposed with 3 staff members.

If we have less than 200,000 $, it would be important to know how much we will receive so we can adjust both the content and the budget.

  • The broad scope of the program, dispersed across various areas, may pose challenges given the limited team size. It is suggested to consider prioritizing one or more optional experiments for implementation, ensuring a more focused and effective approach.
    • The CEE Hub is a coordinating body. Because of that, the real work often lies with the communities, who may even have grants of their own for some of the things. This is why the budget is/seems high (most of our budget really is in people).

The optional experiments are less work intensive than the current work packages, because in some of them we act as intermediary (micro grants, incubator) or as facilitators (CEE Youth). Also, the program is not only run by the staff itself, but the Steering Committee Members are involved in several areas based on their expertise and experience.

As we’ve seen in Year 1, in our view it would be more important to be flexible and start with a wider scope and narrow it down once it’s clear what works and which experiments do not work. The addition of a third staff member would also spread out the work more evenly.

  • While the proposal aligns well with administrative and communication support, there is an opportunity to strengthen connection with Movement Strategy recommendations by exploring at least one innovative area marked as optional.
    • If the advice is, to strengthen the connection of one newly proposed arias with the MSR, then we would suggest that we can strengthen Microgrant work package by increasing its budget as MG really support ‘Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement’ and one of recommendations listed there is: ‘Dedicate a significantly larger amount of Movement funding to support emerging and marginalized communities and groups based on their needs, including reimbursement for staffing, operational costs, and other activities not directly related to adding, curating or editing content.’

  • The major external challenge highlighted in the proposal pertains to communities in the CEE region lacking formed groups and sufficient connectivity. The plan acknowledges progress made in this area but emphasizes the need for additional work in communication, community connection, and conflict resolution skills. It is encouraging that the proposal aims to address these challenges, and it would be constructive to provide more detailed strategies on how these goals will be achieved within the proposed plan. YPam (WMF) (talk) 14:05, 8 December 2023 (UTC)Reply
    • Our plan indeed acknowledged the progress made (work done with Albanian UG, with Cypriot community…) but we have not emphasised the need for additional work on communication, community connection, and conflict resolution skills specifically or only for those communities that lack formed groups.

We plan to focus on improving communication/conflict resolution/enable connections for everyone. We will do this by developing and implementing learning sessions for board members, staff and volunteers. These trainings will contribute to developing communication skills in the region. By creating knowledge exchange groups for board members and affiliate staff (separate groups) we will enable better connections between various Wikimedians active in the region that hold the same functions (e.g. board members from Czechia, Georgia, Serbia). Also, we will support communities in implementing the UCoC by helping them to create concrete UCoC implementation guidelines for their communities and for their local context which should enable smoother conflict resolution.

The CEE Hub acknowledges and understands the difficult situation that communities in the CEE region lacking formed groups and sufficient connectivity are facing therefore we proposed the new/optional work package number 7: Piloting community building process. If we were able to hire additional staff member who would specifically focus on community building we would test how organised and supported (not organic and based exclusively on volunteers) community building in the region looks like and what its pros and cons are, as well as the outcomes.--TRistovski-CEEhub (talk) 17:46, 11 December 2023 (UTC) (on behalf of the CEE Hub)Reply

Approved budget CEE Hub year 2 edit

Dear @YPam (WMF), We are sharing the final budget based on the feedback provided and the guidance that was given regarding that:

If you have any questions, please let me know. BKlen-CEEhub (talk) 09:43, 22 January 2024 (UTC)Reply

Hello @BKlen-CEEhub, Thank you for sharing the final budget, it is good to see the focus of the work. Looking forward to the learnings over the next 12months. Best, YPam (WMF) (talk) 00:05, 23 January 2024 (UTC)Reply
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