Recommendation A (principles): Set Common Framework of Principles for Resource Allocation
Summary: The movement will agree on a set of principles that will form a framework that steers the resource allocation based on the identified needs. The goals need to be flexible enough to work in a global and diverse movement and the impact will be evaluated through the lens of the strategic direction. These will apply both to those who allocate and receive resources.
Recommended set of principles
- All resources will be allocated through the lens of equity and will aim to establish equity. We understand equity to be about Opportunities (e.g. access to systems and resources), Power (e.g. ability to make decisions about resources, ability to change culture) and Outcomes.
- Anyone who joins the movement agrees to participate in the generation and allocation of resources.
- Resource allocation will be allocated to continue to generate movement resources and sustain our movement.
- All resources acquired, raised or accessed in the course of working for the movement are movement resources and can be allocated.
- Resources will be allocated in alignment with collectively decided global priorities and the Strategic direction. We are envisaging mid-term/5 year priorities for the global movement, centering on the people we want to gather, leading to a global understanding of how much resources are needed to deliver on this. This can have a strong focus on ‘service’ and global infrastructure needs.
- Resource allocation will be structured to allow for regional, local and thematic autonomy to implement global priorities.
- Our model will take into account the specific contexts of recipients and actors when allocating resources by engaging people from those contexts as decision makers. For example, countries may face issues like inflation when receiving funds, others will be challenged by shrinking civil society spaces, yet others may not be able to receive funds from entities from X countries, or the potential recipients are young and unfamiliar with the responsibilities. The particular context of a recipient, especially if they are not in a privileged position, must be taken into account and compensated for (and this support can take form in many ways) when allocating resources.
- All resources recipients will be held accountable against a set of criteria, these will include:
- A concrete plan to serve the ecosystem of free knowledge.
- Compliance and good standing with local laws and regulations.
- Some explicit dimensions and expectations around diversity/inclusion, for example striving demonstrably towards diversity and inclusion in their groups and leadership within a reasonable period of time.
- We want to look at accountability with context, making sure that mandatory criteria can’t be weaponised against groups which are currently out of power.
- Paid staff should be held to significantly higher accountability and inclusiveness standards than volunteers.
- Resource allocation actively seeks efficiency and outcomes while mitigating risk. Impact will be measured through a transparent, adaptive and flexible evaluation framework developed with the participation of stakeholders. This evaluation framework may vary depending on context, goals, geography, access and available resources.
- Resource allocation will be spread across and within projects, programs, geographies and other dimensions in order to cultivate a diverse set of opportunities for impact, to support innovative ideas, and to sustain diverse communities. Priority will always be given to those focused on underrepresented groups/knowledge, minorities and/or the Global South.
- Resources will be allocated to support not just the creation of free knowledge, but also the consumption and distribution of free knowledge, including by proactively engaging and exchanging with communities that have been left out of our projects.
- Resources will be allocated to preserve the conditions for free knowledge, improve them if we can, and control damages when we can’t, including advocating for policies and defending against actors that imperil open knowledge sharing and creation and preserving endangered knowledge. For example, we need to prioritise allocating resources to advocate and defend against hostile legislations and governments that imperil open knowledge sharing and creation, including censorship, privacy, copyright, and to preserve knowledge from groups whose rights are being called into question or rolled back (eg. the Dalit, native Americans, LGBT, women...).
Still to consider: how the structural decentralisation/ contextualisation plays with this central set of principles and global prioritisation.
[Central set of principles needs to be carefully worded and restrained to historical, core values of the Movement + key practical lore acquired by the participants in e.g. partner resource allocation. We must avoid mission creep, loss of focus, overcentralization, exclusion or schisms in the Movement]
- The movement is able (and willing) to reallocate resources as needed between movement goals and actors.
- There is a global analysis of where the gaps and inequities are.
- There is a structure and process for generating collective movement global priorities.
- There is a common understanding of what resources are, amongst those who distribute, and receive.
- There is clarity on who is assigning the resources, who is in charge of holding entities accountable for the use of resources, who is setting principles, goals and metrics, and who is evaluating and selecting these decision makers.
- We will be in a context of abundance of resources (this might need further focus and different principles in a world of scarcity). In scarcity, we may need stronger, explicit principles to prioritise the Global South, core goals/services and resource generation.
- There can be, and it’s useful to have, global priorities.
From the community conversations:
- Hindi community: “Everyone can access the funds, theoretically on paper, anyone can get a grant. But with that there is no special focus in which region we should expand the movement and allocate funds for its development.” Global prioritisation.
- Arabic community: “Allocation money without clear activities, goals or milestones, just to ensure that every community receives money is not useful.”
In our global movement, resource allocation decisions will be made across many people, levels, places, and domains. In order for us to leverage these resources to move toward our strategic direction, mission, and vision, the movement needs a common direction and shared understanding of how resources should be allocated, to whom, and for what purpose. A framework of principles will help guide decision making at all levels to help us as a movement work toward a common direction.
While the specific principles are up for discussion, our goal is to build an equitable resource allocation system that is designed to generate the largest possible impact on our mission, balance local autonomy with alignment of movement priorities, design to include and serve communities who have been left out of our projects, and create conditions where free knowledge will thrive in the world.
We recognize that our vision can be achieved in many different ways, and at very different levels. However, historically, we have approached the vision in a very unbalanced way, using the easiest paths, the most readily available resources. While all that has been done today actually brings us closer to attaining our vision, it does not do so in a balanced way. We could tackle each knowledge, each language at a time, but at no point would we then represent the world we are trying to serve. Resource allocation needs to work to fix this unbalance by redistributing our attention to integrate the broadest possible array of available knowledge. Equitable distribution according to needs has to be the key priority.
From Community conversations:
- Hindi community: “There should be a strategy for investment in the emerging community for equity.” - a need for global prioritisation.
- WMAT: “Spending money needs to follow a common understanding, signed by every affiliate, that should include values like financial prudence and acting in the common interest of the stakeholders involved in our projects. This common understanding can and should be expanded on on a regional and local level to accurately reflect views, laws and ethics that only exist in that region or country.”
- It will support more equitable decision making for resource allocation.
- It will support more considerate and outcome-oriented decision making for resource allocation.
- It will make priorities as it relates to resource allocation clearer for everyone.
- It will be clearer why resource allocation decisions are made.
- This will promote mutual accountability by all who receive resources within the movement.
- This will increase the resource pool of the movement.
- There will be equitable distribution of resources within the movement, killing the promotion of inequities.
What will change or shift:
- Understanding of different contexts need to take place.
- Reduce inequity.
- Increase and focus global impact.
User groups, chapters, WMF, external partners, people getting into the movement or interacting with the movement.
- If the principles framework is too limited it can stifle innovation.
- If the principles framework walks away from the core Movement principles and shared lessons too far it can weaken and divide the Movement.
- Attempts to game the system – reinterpret the principles.
- Poorly phrased goals can lead to people not organizing for impact but for goal fulfillment.
- Resource allocation would never happen along those lines if we do not have exact and clear priorities.
- Poorly phrased / overly limited dimensions of inclusivity will not deliver the expected global equity, ignore the local context and further marginalize some groups being left out.
- Poorly phrased and inelastic principles coming from one culture/perspective may lead to a further marginalization of other cultures/contexts and a harm to global diversity/equity.
- People disagreeing with the global goals and leaving the movement.
- Possibility to appeal (e.g. through an Ombudsman).
- Seek wide approval by allocating resources to educate what it is about.
- Allocate resources to be able to frequently revisit goals and evaluate the effect they have had.
- Community-wide and global workshops, debates and research on equity and inclusiveness in particular contexts.
- Principles coined, agreed, shared and supported by the stakeholders.
There isn’t currently a common framework of principles for resource allocation across the movement. This framework would be the first time, as well as we’d have to agree to this framework.
No, this does not depend on another one of our recommendations. Our recommendations could be implemented separately or together.
This is a core part of the answer to Q3, What is the purpose of a movement wide resource allocation system? What should be the values and principles governing the resource allocation system, so that they support a system for equitably allocating resources in the movement?
Through focus on principles, it also addresses the ‘how’ part of Q2, Who makes decisions about resource allocation within the movement? How should those decisions be made (in terms of structures, criteria, priorities, accountability)?
Through the accountability criteria section, it answers Q9 Who are we accountable to and how do we organize accountability?
It also touches on the question of impact, Q8 What impact should the allocated resources create within our communities and the world? - although that may need to be explored in more detail.
- Roles and Responsibilities: included as one of the potential principles, is a collectively defined set of global priorities. Roles and Responsibilities would need to design for a structure that can set these global priorities.
- Advocacy: we are including principles around allocating resources for advocacy activities, e.g. around shrinking civil society space and how that affects open knowledge activities.
This recommendation requires a further process to create a set of principles. The principles should be authored and promoted by the stakeholders.