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birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 9, 2011, 12:47 PM

Post #26 of 147 (1723 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

----- Original Message -----
> From: Yaroslav M. Blanter <putevod [at] mccme>
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l [at] lists>
> Cc:
> Sent: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 10:48 AM
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Chapters
>
>> It is true however that many chapters do important work for the local
>> projects, and serve their local needs in the sense of activities, press
>> contacts and fundraising in a more effective way (less culturally
>> challanging, more sensitive to what works locally and better in touch
> with
>> other activities and situations). Not all chapters do this in the same
>> extent, and not all do it similarly good. But that is the idea of a
> chapter
>> - it is not a fanclub organizing beer events only to have fun.
>>
>> Best regards,
>> Lodewijk
>
> Right, I know that the Chapters are doing some very useful stuff (in fact,
> I even want to help the Dutch chapter with the project on taking pictures
> of State Monuments - it would be very helpful if someone mails me offlist
> or indicates on my Wiki page if there is any information on what is
> needed), but I believe that to say, as Brigitte does, that the Chapters
> should lead the movement is to stretch it way over the limits.
>
It is not so much that I believe chapters should lead the movement as that I am certain WMF cannot successfully lead the movement.

It seems to me that these changes are about making chapters more into franchises. Which I find to be exactly backwards. Chapters in my mind should be diverse entities. Embracing whatever is most effective in their little slice of the world. I think they should be ambitious in seeking out what inspires local population to embrace our movement. The way to encourage innovation is to push self-direction and refrain from being too judgmental so long as there is trending improvement. I believe that franchises will not be well received and will by and large fail. Maybe I am wrong about the direction people are pushing, maybe I am right about the direction but wrong about the poor outcome. I certainly can't have much of an effect on things.

I have really tried to share the underlying basis that leads me to think this is a poor idea so people can consider the information and comes to their own conclusions. Although I know some of it is hard for me to articulate clearly. If you think my conclusion is stretches way over the limits I would like to understand which underlying concept I have drawn on is the poorest foundation. I sincerely would like to correct my understanding if I have the wrong idea or placed a disproportionate amount of importance on something. Really I am open to changing my opinion if someone has convincing information.

BirgitteSB


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keegan.wiki at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 10:44 PM

Post #27 of 147 (1719 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 2:47 PM, Birgitte SB <birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
>
> It is not so much that I believe chapters should lead the movement as that
> I am certain WMF cannot successfully lead the movement.
>
> It seems to me that these changes are about making chapters more into
> franchises. Which I find to be exactly backwards. Chapters in my mind
> should be diverse entities. Embracing whatever is most effective in their
> little slice of the world. I think they should be ambitious in seeking out
> what inspires local population to embrace our movement. The way to encourage
> innovation is to push self-direction and refrain from being too judgmental
> so long as there is trending improvement. I believe that franchises will not
> be well received and will by and large fail. Maybe I am wrong about the
> direction people are pushing, maybe I am right about the direction but wrong
> about the poor outcome. I certainly can't have much of an effect on things.
>
> I have really tried to share the underlying basis that leads me to think
> this is a poor idea so people can consider the information and comes to
> their own conclusions. Although I know some of it is hard for me to
> articulate clearly. If you think my conclusion is stretches way over the
> limits I would like to understand which underlying concept I have drawn on
> is the poorest foundation. I sincerely would like to correct my
> understanding if I have the wrong idea or placed a disproportionate amount
> of importance on something. Really I am open to changing my opinion if
> someone has convincing information.
>
> BirgitteSB
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

I completely understood your point, BirgitteSB. The title of "chapters" has
always brought your ideal to my mind. I don't hold a personal opinion on
chapters since I don't participate in that aspect of Wikimedia, but it is
best expressed why chapters come to my mind: the American fraternity system
for Universities.

<pause to let a few that have met me in person and have had this
conversation roll their eyes>
</pause>

The idea is that a fraternity is started by a local group. They have
friends and equaintances that go to other schools and may want to start
their own chapter. If it is successful, now there is collective governance
needed by a Grand Chapter. Eventually the Grand Chapter, if the fraternity
is successful in expanding, falls into the roll of legal council, broad
policy development, copyrights, educational material, etc. The manner of
the finance model gets interesting.

Local chapters exist to serve the ideals locally, and also to promote the
grand cause. Most all financing comes from member dues, a fraction of which
go to the GC, and support operations. They develop local policy, file for
relevant incorporation and tax status, and respond with audits and reports
to the GC. Statistically, very very few chapters have substantial
endowments.

The Grand Chapter lives off of major gifts, endowments, and annual
fundraising. Similar to the WMF in the early days (neigh on two years ago),
you can name most of the office staff off the top of your head if you're in
a leadership position. The power behind the fundraising model is that most
of the serious, committed donors, would give to the GC instead of their
local chapter. Why? Because they probably know how the local chapter
spends its money relative to the principles of spreading the fraternity.
They still give to their chapter, but they're not going to toss it $25,000
USD.

Based on the model you desire, Birgitte, my ultimate question is how many
chapters can sell me how and why they should operate with, say, 80% of funds
raised in retention? It needs to be a central focus for chapters to be able
to answer this question if they wish to be the grassroots, autonomous
driving force that they have the potential to be.

--
~Keegan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan
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anthere9 at yahoo

Aug 10, 2011, 10:20 AM

Post #28 of 147 (1713 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/9/11 4:46 PM, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> 2011/8/9 Delphine Mnard<notafishz [at] gmail>
>
>> On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Kirill Lokshin<kirill.lokshin [at] gmail>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters "participating"
>> in
>>> the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The
>> underlying
>>> fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words
>> --
>>> is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level
>> of
>>> administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
>>> easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost.
>>
>> Wow, this is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.
>>
>> While Foundation staff has provided an invaluable support to make the
>> fundraiser a success, it probably wouldn't have been such a success
>> hadn't there been dozens of volunteers, among which _many_ chapter
>> board members and simple members who spent uncounted hours of
>> localizing and adapting messages, providing stories, refining landing
>> pages, answering donors questions etc.
>>
>> You may want to look at the fundraising pages on meta to see the level
>> of involvement of the community as a whole in making it a success, and
>> even that does not give a real idea of how much chapters' communities
>> have participated (much happens on their chapters' mailing lists for
>> example).
>
>
> I'm not suggesting that the success of the fundraiser isn't due in large
> part to broad community involvement; my assertion is that this community
> involvement would take place whether or not a formal chapter was involved.


I think that on this very point, even the WMF would disagree with you.
Actually, the very fact that WMF explicitely put in the fundraising
agreement that the Chapter *has to* provide translations of the
fundraising messages (which include as well stuff such as Jimbo's
letter) suggests that translations may not as magically appear as we
would hope. It rather suggests that chapters actually do have an
invaluable role in making sure that the fundraiser is not 100% in
English langage (even though members of the community who are not
members of the chapter clearly help in translation). In short,
community, both within and not within chapter realm, support the entire
system.

Aside from this, I am quite shocked when I read

<quote>in what sense are the chapters "participating" in
the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The underlying
fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words --
is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level of
administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost. The only real
advantage a chapter's involvement can provide over a fully WMF-operated
fundraiser is the availability of tax benefits in a particular jurisdiction;
and, given the small size of the average donation, it's unclear to what
extent such tax benefits are a significant consideration for the average
donor.
</quote>

But I'll forgive you because you obviously are not totally aware of
what's going in the various chapters. Having been involved in
fundraising for Wikimedia France, I can certainly assure you that the
chapter is not merely being a "beneficiary".

The actual sollicitation of donations is not only performed by WMF staff
(are you aware that chapters also provide a specific landing page for
sollicitation ? specific messages ? Localized press release ? payments
methods are adapted to local situation ? ). The one thing that chapters
can provide to donors in their geographical area that WMF will never
been able to provide (at least, not at any reasonable cost) is to talk
to them as citizens of the same country. Same langage. Same culture.
Local events happening HERE rather than on the other side of earth.
Local partnership with institutions they know about. It tells them about
THEM. It is about THEM. This proximity can only be provided by chapters.

Claiming that WMF would provide the same job for a lower cost is
actually quite laughable given that WMF is actually PAYING staff to do
this (it costs money) whilst the majority of that work is being done for
free by chapter members (it costs less money to work for free...).
And people have staff, in many (not all) countries, staff costs is
actually lower than in the USA.
So the "likely at lower cost" comes from nowhere and is unlikely to be
true.

There is only one point which I will grant you. Some chapters offer tax
deduction to their donors. This indeed require work to provide hence
expenses. If WMF was receiving those donations with no tax receipt to
provide, it would indeed require less work. Hence cost less.

This said, in France, over 90% of our donors ask for this receipt. I
expect that many would not give money to an US organization with no tax
receipt at all. I have no figure to support this, but I am willing to
give it a go for a few weeks. Get the money from French people and tell
them afterwards, SORRY GUYS, NO RECEIPT. And then ask them if they will
give again next year. Of course, all the complaints will have to be
dealt by WMF staff.

Seriously, when it comes to fundraising, the first important thing to
keep in mind is that trying to maximize the money collected in a given
year is thinking short term. Trying to create a good relationship with
happy donors is the way to think long term. An upset or disappointed
donor will only give once. And you will only know one year later.

Anthere


> I would assume that the volunteers who contributed to the effort presumably
> did so because they believed in the goals of the project and the need to
> raise funds to support them, not because their particular chapter stood to
> collect a large sum of money in the process?
>
> Kirill
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>



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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 10, 2011, 1:20 PM

Post #29 of 147 (1713 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/9/11 3:47 PM, Birgitte SB wrote:
> It seems to me that these changes are about making chapters more into
> franchises. Which I find to be exactly backwards.

It would be, if that's what it were about. But I can say with
confidence that at the board meeting, no one spoke about any ideas even
remotely similar to this, and I can't think of a single board member who
disagrees one bit with the idea that chapters should be directed or
controlled in a top-down fashion as "franchises" or anything similar.

No one wants that, and these changes should have no impact on that at all.

It is important not to confuse the very narrow (and yet very critically
risky if not done well) of "acting as a payment processor" with the much
more important and interesting and difficult questions about how much
funding chapters should get, under what conditions, etc.

> Chapters in my
> mind should be diverse entities. Embracing whatever is most effective
> in their little slice of the world. I think they should be ambitious
> in seeking out what inspires local population to embrace our
> movement. The way to encourage innovation is to push self-direction
> and refrain from being too judgmental so long as there is trending
> improvement. I believe that franchises will not be well received and
> will by and large fail. Maybe I am wrong about the direction people
> are pushing, maybe I am right about the direction but wrong about the
> poor outcome. I certainly can't have much of an effect on things.

I'm happy to report that you are mistaken about the direction in which
people are pushing. :-) No one on the board or staff has talked about a
"franchise" model to my knowledge, and no one on the board or staff to
my knowledge would disagree with your very perceptive remarks that
diverse entities acting with local knowledge is the right answer for us.

The key thing to understand here: there is no desire or agenda to take
away power and autonomy from chapters. But there is a strong moral duty
to note that financial controls, reporting requirements, transparency,
and evaluation of effectiveness are always at the top of our agenda.

--Jimbo

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 10, 2011, 1:30 PM

Post #30 of 147 (1699 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/9/11 1:46 PM, David Gerard wrote:
> (I don't think that is the intent - apparently WMF feels like it can
> mess people around and still get 100% from them. I do consider that
> the problems really haven't been considered.)

I don't think the WMF thinks that they can "mess people around" at all,
actually.

But it is necessary that we take a leadership role - all of us - in
doing the right things *globally*. What does that look like?

We should recognize that there is evidence before us that the previous
model wasn't working. The chapters - and no blame is being assigned
here, as I will explain in a minute - have not lived up to what we
should all hope to see in terms of reporting, financial controls, etc.
Nothing bad has happened yet - to my knowledge - but there are risks
that can be brought under control and must be brought under control.

Let me tell you what I mean about me not blaming anyone. Being on the
board of a small nonprofit organization is both incredibly fun and
rewarding and also totally not fun and thankless, in different respects.
That I was contacted by random accountants who were members of the
public during the last fundraiser, who told me that the UK chapter was
about to be stricken off the charity rolls for failure to comply with
government reporting requirements was incredibly alarming to me - and
yet totally understandable.

I strongly support that chapters should be innovative, creative, and
independent. I am not in favor of the Foundation attempting to direct
the work of chapters in a top-down fashion. One aspect of that is that
I think we should have a model in which chapters near-automatically
receive funds in a timely fashion.

But not automatically, not without accountability to themselves, to the
communities serve directly, and to the broader movement. The WMF has a
moral responsibility to be engaged with this.

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 10, 2011, 1:32 PM

Post #31 of 147 (1699 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

> Redefining the chapters
> who participated in a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment
> processors" is straight-up insulting.

Whoa, please slow down!

No one has said anything like that, and it isn't how the term is being
used. A chapter is a payment processor if it... processes payments.
For themselves.

> Writing about ethical concerns
> while at same time being blind to anything that does not maximize
> donations is laughable.

It certainly would be laughable, if anyone were doing that.

But let's try to have a productive conversation about the right way
forward. A lot of knee jerk assumptions are being made here that just
don't fit the facts.

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 10, 2011, 1:35 PM

Post #32 of 147 (1701 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/9/11 10:27 AM, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> A more typical arrangement would be that the WMF would give a chapter the
> right to use WMF trademarks, and in return a portion of the funds raised by
> the chapter would be funneled back to the WMF. But what chapters seem to
> want is for the WMF to sign over the trademarks they need to do their own
> fundraising, and then simply hand over a portion of the WMF's own revenue on
> top of that. It's a convenient arrangement for the chapters involved, to be
> sure, and apparently one that the WMF was not particularly unwilling to
> follow; but there's nothing particularly "normal" or "fair" about it.

Just to be clear, this is more or less the model that I personally
advocate: that the WMF turn over a portion of its revenue to chapters
every year, without question, based on a simple and non-controlling
framework of accountability and responsibility.

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 10, 2011, 1:39 PM

Post #33 of 147 (1698 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/9/11 10:27 AM, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> A more typical arrangement would be that the WMF would give a chapter the
> right to use WMF trademarks, and in return a portion of the funds raised by
> the chapter would be funneled back to the WMF. But what chapters seem to
> want is for the WMF to sign over the trademarks they need to do their own
> fundraising, and then simply hand over a portion of the WMF's own revenue on
> top of that. It's a convenient arrangement for the chapters involved, to be
> sure, and apparently one that the WMF was not particularly unwilling to
> follow; but there's nothing particularly "normal" or "fair" about it.

Just to be clear, this is more or less the model that I personally
advocate: that the WMF turn over a portion of its revenue to chapters
every year, without question, based on a simple and non-controlling
framework of accountability and responsibility.

Delphine has wise things to say about this. It is healthy all around if
the chapters have incentives to care about the fundraiser. They can and
will do a great deal of work as donor liaisons, local message
customization, getting positive press coverage in local papers (which
surely tends to positively affect donations), etc.

A model in which the Foundation simply makes grants solely based on
programmatic needs would be flawed if it completely removes chapters
interest in making sure that donors are well taken care of. (And, of
course, a model in which chapters are encouraged to care only about
maximizing donations would also be not healthy!)


--Jimbo

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gustavocarra at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 2:20 PM

Post #34 of 147 (1698 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

Just I have to say Amen to you, Anthere. I see your point.

In addition, chapters need some time to make his job, that is, to involve
relevant people, to create a local structure that engages people to the real
benefits for an enterprise, a council, an academic institution with free
knowledge. This is a very big challenge since some goverment or academic
institutions, or even relevant people in that institutions are unwilling to
adapt themselves to this new way of thinking budgets, programs... There's a
lot of thechnophobia overthere...

Fundraising must not be an obsession for chapters in the beggining. We're
idealist, we don't need money. Support in reaching academics, outreach,
educational are far more important to us.

Medicos Mundi Spain have more or less the same budget as the entire WMF.
This is a point to think about.

2011/8/10 Florence Devouard <anthere9 [at] yahoo>

> On 8/9/11 4:46 PM, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> > 2011/8/9 Delphine Mnard<notafishz [at] gmail>
> >
> >> On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Kirill Lokshin<kirill.lokshin [at] gmail
> >
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters
> "participating"
> >> in
> >>> the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The
> >> underlying
> >>> fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other
> words
> >> --
> >>> is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level
> >> of
> >>> administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just
> as
> >>> easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost.
> >>
> >> Wow, this is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.
> >>
> >> While Foundation staff has provided an invaluable support to make the
> >> fundraiser a success, it probably wouldn't have been such a success
> >> hadn't there been dozens of volunteers, among which _many_ chapter
> >> board members and simple members who spent uncounted hours of
> >> localizing and adapting messages, providing stories, refining landing
> >> pages, answering donors questions etc.
> >>
> >> You may want to look at the fundraising pages on meta to see the level
> >> of involvement of the community as a whole in making it a success, and
> >> even that does not give a real idea of how much chapters' communities
> >> have participated (much happens on their chapters' mailing lists for
> >> example).
> >
> >
> > I'm not suggesting that the success of the fundraiser isn't due in large
> > part to broad community involvement; my assertion is that this community
> > involvement would take place whether or not a formal chapter was
> involved.
>
>
> I think that on this very point, even the WMF would disagree with you.
> Actually, the very fact that WMF explicitely put in the fundraising
> agreement that the Chapter *has to* provide translations of the
> fundraising messages (which include as well stuff such as Jimbo's
> letter) suggests that translations may not as magically appear as we
> would hope. It rather suggests that chapters actually do have an
> invaluable role in making sure that the fundraiser is not 100% in
> English langage (even though members of the community who are not
> members of the chapter clearly help in translation). In short,
> community, both within and not within chapter realm, support the entire
> system.
>
> Aside from this, I am quite shocked when I read
>
> <quote>in what sense are the chapters "participating" in
> the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The underlying
> fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words --
> is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level of
> administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
> easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost. The only real
> advantage a chapter's involvement can provide over a fully WMF-operated
> fundraiser is the availability of tax benefits in a particular
> jurisdiction;
> and, given the small size of the average donation, it's unclear to what
> extent such tax benefits are a significant consideration for the average
> donor.
> </quote>
>
> But I'll forgive you because you obviously are not totally aware of
> what's going in the various chapters. Having been involved in
> fundraising for Wikimedia France, I can certainly assure you that the
> chapter is not merely being a "beneficiary".
>
> The actual sollicitation of donations is not only performed by WMF staff
> (are you aware that chapters also provide a specific landing page for
> sollicitation ? specific messages ? Localized press release ? payments
> methods are adapted to local situation ? ). The one thing that chapters
> can provide to donors in their geographical area that WMF will never
> been able to provide (at least, not at any reasonable cost) is to talk
> to them as citizens of the same country. Same langage. Same culture.
> Local events happening HERE rather than on the other side of earth.
> Local partnership with institutions they know about. It tells them about
> THEM. It is about THEM. This proximity can only be provided by chapters.
>
> Claiming that WMF would provide the same job for a lower cost is
> actually quite laughable given that WMF is actually PAYING staff to do
> this (it costs money) whilst the majority of that work is being done for
> free by chapter members (it costs less money to work for free...).
> And people have staff, in many (not all) countries, staff costs is
> actually lower than in the USA.
> So the "likely at lower cost" comes from nowhere and is unlikely to be
> true.
>
> There is only one point which I will grant you. Some chapters offer tax
> deduction to their donors. This indeed require work to provide hence
> expenses. If WMF was receiving those donations with no tax receipt to
> provide, it would indeed require less work. Hence cost less.
>
> This said, in France, over 90% of our donors ask for this receipt. I
> expect that many would not give money to an US organization with no tax
> receipt at all. I have no figure to support this, but I am willing to
> give it a go for a few weeks. Get the money from French people and tell
> them afterwards, SORRY GUYS, NO RECEIPT. And then ask them if they will
> give again next year. Of course, all the complaints will have to be
> dealt by WMF staff.
>
> Seriously, when it comes to fundraising, the first important thing to
> keep in mind is that trying to maximize the money collected in a given
> year is thinking short term. Trying to create a good relationship with
> happy donors is the way to think long term. An upset or disappointed
> donor will only give once. And you will only know one year later.
>
> Anthere
>
>
> > I would assume that the volunteers who contributed to the effort
> presumably
> > did so because they believed in the goals of the project and the need to
> > raise funds to support them, not because their particular chapter stood
> to
> > collect a large sum of money in the process?
> >
> > Kirill
> > _______________________________________________
> > foundation-l mailing list
> > foundation-l [at] lists
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> >
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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dgerard at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 2:33 PM

Post #35 of 147 (1707 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 10 August 2011 21:30, Jimmy Wales <jwales [at] wikia-inc> wrote:
> On 8/9/11 1:46 PM, David Gerard wrote:

>> (I don't think that is the intent - apparently WMF feels like it can
>> mess people around and still get 100% from them. I do consider that
>> the problems really haven't been considered.)

> I don't think the WMF thinks that they can "mess people around" at all,
> actually.


I think it's accurate to say they completely failed to predict that
people would feel messed around, with much justification being given
by said people. Certainly I don't think they actively intended to.


- d.

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notafishz at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 3:14 PM

Post #36 of 147 (1697 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 10:20 PM, Jimmy Wales <jwales [at] wikia-inc> wrote:
> It would be, if that's what it were about. But I can say with
> confidence that at the board meeting, no one spoke about any ideas even
> remotely similar to this, and I can't think of a single board member who
> disagrees one bit with the idea that chapters should be directed or
> controlled in a top-down fashion as "franchises" or anything similar.

OK, I've read this sentence five times now, and this is what I read:

"Board members agree that chapters should be directed or controlled in
a top-down fashion as franchises"

I think there is a double negative here that is saying the opposite of
what you meant to say.

Should not the sentence be:
"I can't think of a single board member who *agrees* one bit with the
idea that chapters should be directed or controlled in a top-down
fashion as "franchises" or anything similar?

Or has my English played a trick on me?

Thanks,

Delphine

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 10, 2011, 4:22 PM

Post #37 of 147 (1710 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 10, 2011, at 3:20 PM, Jimmy Wales <jwales [at] wikia-inc> wrote:

> On 8/9/11 3:47 PM, Birgitte SB wrote:
>> It seems to me that these changes are about making chapters more into
>> franchises. Which I find to be exactly backwards.
>
> It would be, if that's what it were about. But I can say with
> confidence that at the board meeting, no one spoke about any ideas even
> remotely similar to this, and I can't think of a single board member who
> disagrees one bit with the idea that chapters should be directed or
> controlled in a top-down fashion as "franchises" or anything similar.
>
> No one wants that, and these changes should have no impact on that at all.

> It is important not to confuse the very narrow (and yet very critically
> risky if not done well) of "acting as a payment processor" with the much
> more important and interesting and difficult questions about how much
> funding chapters should get, under what conditions, etc.
>
>> Chapters in my
>> mind should be diverse entities. Embracing whatever is most effective
>> in their little slice of the world. I think they should be ambitious
>> in seeking out what inspires local population to embrace our
>> movement. The way to encourage innovation is to push self-direction
>> and refrain from being too judgmental so long as there is trending
>> improvement. I believe that franchises will not be well received and
>> will by and large fail. Maybe I am wrong about the direction people
>> are pushing, maybe I am right about the direction but wrong about the
>> poor outcome. I certainly can't have much of an effect on things.
>
> I'm happy to report that you are mistaken about the direction in which
> people are pushing. :-) No one on the board or staff has talked about a
> "franchise" model to my knowledge, and no one on the board or staff to
> my knowledge would disagree with your very perceptive remarks that
> diverse entities acting with local knowledge is the right answer for us.
>
> The key thing to understand here: there is no desire or agenda to take
> away power and autonomy from chapters. But there is a strong moral duty
> to note that financial controls, reporting requirements, transparency,
> and evaluation of effectiveness are always at the top of our agenda.
>

I don't care what people spoke of, nor of what they desire, nor what their agenda is. I never supposed that people were conspiring to fail. I care what effect the actions people are proposing will result in. I am quite confident that the result of funding chapters though a WMF grant program pushes them towards being franchises. I might be wrong about this, as I said. But please share the underlying concepts that lead you to conclude that "these changes should have no impact on that at all", so that I might be convinced as well. Your good intentions, which I did not question, are irrelevant.

Perhaps I did not clarify a particular point very well in my first email. Donations pay for bandwidth, servers, etc. The WMF has no idea, and is doing nothing to develop a reliable accounting, on how effectively these donations are being used. WMF can only report some numbers as to the quanity of use in different areas, but no one @ WMF could tell me what is going on the Albanian Wikipedia. And if by some chance they could it would be an anomaly. An evaluation of the effectiveness of program work cannot be considered part of the near-term agenda. As for the rest I encourage you to exercise your moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate transparently. You have been through this all before. You were the chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?

BirgitteSB
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nawrich at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 4:33 PM

Post #38 of 147 (1704 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

2011/8/10 Delphine Ménard <notafishz [at] gmail>:
>
> OK, I've read this sentence five times now, and this is what I read:
>
> "Board members agree that chapters should be directed or controlled in
> a top-down fashion as franchises"
>
> I think there is a double negative here that is saying the opposite of
> what you meant to say.
>
> Should not the sentence be:
> "I can't think of a single board member who *agrees* one bit with the
> idea that chapters should be directed or controlled in a top-down
> fashion as "franchises" or anything similar?
>
> Or has my English played a trick on me?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Delphine
>

I'm sure he intended it to be "Board members agree that chapters
shouldn't be directed or controlled in a top-down fashion as
franchises"

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 10, 2011, 4:34 PM

Post #39 of 147 (1701 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 10, 2011, at 3:32 PM, Jimmy Wales <jwales [at] wikia-inc> wrote:

>> Redefining the chapters
>> who participated in a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment
>> processors" is straight-up insulting.
>
> Whoa, please slow down!
>
> No one has said anything like that, and it isn't how the term is being
> used. A chapter is a payment processor if it... processes payments.
> For themselves.
>
>> Writing about ethical concerns
>> while at same time being blind to anything that does not maximize
>> donations is laughable.
>
> It certainly would be laughable, if anyone were doing that.
>
> But let's try to have a productive conversation about the right way
> forward. A lot of knee jerk assumptions are being made here that just
> don't fit the facts.
>

I really can't understand the point snipping the substantive content which gave these lines context and then asking for a productive conversation. Do you really believe these two lines are a fair representation of my participation? If so please let me know so I can place you on my ignore list (and suggest you do the reverse), so we can avoid any further acrimony. If no,t stop unfairly representing me by your edits to my messages.

BirgitteSB
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nawrich at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 4:42 PM

Post #40 of 147 (1705 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 7:22 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

> I don't care what people spoke of, nor of what they desire, nor what their agenda is. I never supposed that people were conspiring to fail.  I care what effect the actions people are proposing will result in.  I am quite confident that the result of funding chapters though a WMF grant program pushes them towards being franchises.  I might be wrong about this, as I said. But please share the underlying concepts that lead you to conclude that "these changes should have no impact on that at all", so that I might be convinced as well. Your good intentions, which I did not question, are irrelevant.
>
> Perhaps I did not clarify a particular point very well in my first email. Donations pay for bandwidth, servers, etc. The WMF has no idea, and is doing nothing to develop a reliable accounting, on how effectively these donations are being used.  WMF can only report some numbers as to the quanity of use in different areas, but no one @ WMF could tell me what is going on the Albanian Wikipedia.  And if by some chance they could it would be an anomaly. An evaluation of the effectiveness of program work cannot be considered part of the near-term agenda. As for the rest I encourage you to exercise your moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate transparently. You have been through this all before.  You were the chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?
>
> BirgitteSB


Isn't that exactly what they are doing? It would have been better to
institute higher expectations for a year from now instead of several
months, but setting relatively clear expectations and offering
assistance (while not taking the drastic step of cutting off funding
completely) is exactly what the Foundation is doing. Your arguments
seem predicated on the perception that the Foundation is cutting off
chapters completely, or moving in that direction, but I see no
evidence for that. Since you don't appear to be against the concepts
of accountability or appropriate financial controls, what would you
prefer the Foundation do beyond offering aid, bridge funding and a
template for organization to chapters who need such assistance?

Nathan

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 10, 2011, 5:51 PM

Post #41 of 147 (1704 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 10, 2011, at 6:42 PM, Nathan <nawrich [at] gmail> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 7:22 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
>
>> I don't care what people spoke of, nor of what they desire, nor what their agenda is. I never supposed that people were conspiring to fail. I care what effect the actions people are proposing will result in. I am quite confident that the result of funding chapters though a WMF grant program pushes them towards being franchises. I might be wrong about this, as I said. But please share the underlying concepts that lead you to conclude that "these changes should have no impact on that at all", so that I might be convinced as well. Your good intentions, which I did not question, are irrelevant.
>>
>> Perhaps I did not clarify a particular point very well in my first email. Donations pay for bandwidth, servers, etc. The WMF has no idea, and is doing nothing to develop a reliable accounting, on how effectively these donations are being used. WMF can only report some numbers as to the quanity of use in different areas, but no one @ WMF could tell me what is going on the Albanian Wikipedia. And if by some chance they could it would be an anomaly. An evaluation of the effectiveness of program work cannot be considered part of the near-term agenda. As for the rest I encourage you to exercise your moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate transparently. You have been through this all before. You were the chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?
>>
>> BirgitteSB
>
>
> Isn't that exactly what they are doing? It would have been better to
> institute higher expectations for a year from now instead of several
> months, but setting relatively clear expectations and offering
> assistance (while not taking the drastic step of cutting off funding
> completely) is exactly what the Foundation is doing. Your arguments
> seem predicated on the perception that the Foundation is cutting off
> chapters completely, or moving in that direction, but I see no
> evidence for that. Since you don't appear to be against the concepts
> of accountability or appropriate financial controls, what would you
> prefer the Foundation do beyond offering aid, bridge funding and a
> template for organization to chapters who need such assistance?
>

I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe will make chapters ineffective. Frankly, I think cutting off their funding would be less detrimental (although still not a good thing) to the chapter's long-term effectiveness than centralizing them into a grant program. It would be worse for the near-term, but many would still recover from it as owner-led organizations funded locally outside of the WMF banner campaign.

I would prefer that aid be given to the chapters without drastically changing the structure from being organizations who most naturally feel accountable to their local populations who fund them to organizations who most naturally feel accountable to San Francisco. All other things being equal imagine which of those organizations will be more responsive and careful.

BirgitteSB
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kirill.lokshin at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 5:56 PM

Post #42 of 147 (1703 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

> I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being
> centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe will
> make chapters ineffective. Frankly, I think cutting off their funding would
> be less detrimental (although still not a good thing) to the chapter's
> long-term effectiveness than centralizing them into a grant program. It
> would be worse for the near-term, but many would still recover from it as
> owner-led organizations funded locally outside of the WMF banner campaign.
>

Perhaps I'm missing something, but where has it been suggested that chapters
would not remain free to raise funds independently of the WMF? My
impression was that the change being discussed here would merely remove
participation in the WMF fundraiser as a funding source and replace it with
direct WMF grants; presumably chapters could seek funding elsewhere?

Kirill
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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 10, 2011, 6:23 PM

Post #43 of 147 (1695 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 10, 2011, at 7:56 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
>
>> I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being
>> centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe will
>> make chapters ineffective. Frankly, I think cutting off their funding would
>> be less detrimental (although still not a good thing) to the chapter's
>> long-term effectiveness than centralizing them into a grant program. It
>> would be worse for the near-term, but many would still recover from it as
>> owner-led organizations funded locally outside of the WMF banner campaign.
>>
>
> Perhaps I'm missing something, but where has it been suggested that chapters
> would not remain free to raise funds independently of the WMF? My
> impression was that the change being discussed here would merely remove
> participation in the WMF fundraiser as a funding source and replace it with
> direct WMF grants; presumably chapters could seek funding elsewhere?
>
>

I don't see why such a thing wouldn't be possible, but I don't find it very likely. I am looking mostly at the incentives each structure produces. As the proposal seems to be funding the WMF approved operating budget of a chapter with a WMF grant, I don' t think the general rule will be an organization that is locally funded. Do you find it otherwise?

BirgitteSB
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kirill.lokshin at gmail

Aug 10, 2011, 6:34 PM

Post #44 of 147 (1700 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 9:23 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

> On Aug 10, 2011, at 7:56 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail>
> wrote:
>
> > On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
> >
> >> I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being
> >> centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe will
> >> make chapters ineffective. Frankly, I think cutting off their funding
> would
> >> be less detrimental (although still not a good thing) to the chapter's
> >> long-term effectiveness than centralizing them into a grant program. It
> >> would be worse for the near-term, but many would still recover from it
> as
> >> owner-led organizations funded locally outside of the WMF banner
> campaign.
> >>
> >
> > Perhaps I'm missing something, but where has it been suggested that
> chapters
> > would not remain free to raise funds independently of the WMF? My
> > impression was that the change being discussed here would merely remove
> > participation in the WMF fundraiser as a funding source and replace it
> with
> > direct WMF grants; presumably chapters could seek funding elsewhere?
> >
> >
>
> I don't see why such a thing wouldn't be possible, but I don't find it very
> likely. I am looking mostly at the incentives each structure produces. As
> the proposal seems to be funding the WMF approved operating budget of a
> chapter with a WMF grant, I don' t think the general rule will be an
> organization that is locally funded. Do you find it otherwise?


I would imagine that would depend on whether a chapter would like to do
things that the WMF is not willing to fund. Obviously, if the grants cover
everything a chapter desires, there will be little motivation to raise funds
elsewhere; but if a chapter asks for something and is refused, I imagine
there would be a great deal of interest in seeking additional funding.

Kirill
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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 11, 2011, 5:41 AM

Post #45 of 147 (1702 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

You are right! TYPO!

On 8/10/11 6:14 PM, Delphine Mnard wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 10:20 PM, Jimmy Wales<jwales [at] wikia-inc> wrote:
>> It would be, if that's what it were about. But I can say with
>> confidence that at the board meeting, no one spoke about any ideas even
>> remotely similar to this, and I can't think of a single board member who
>> disagrees one bit with the idea that chapters should be directed or
>> controlled in a top-down fashion as "franchises" or anything similar.
>
> OK, I've read this sentence five times now, and this is what I read:
>
> "Board members agree that chapters should be directed or controlled in
> a top-down fashion as franchises"
>
> I think there is a double negative here that is saying the opposite of
> what you meant to say.
>
> Should not the sentence be:
> "I can't think of a single board member who *agrees* one bit with the
> idea that chapters should be directed or controlled in a top-down
> fashion as "franchises" or anything similar?
>
> Or has my English played a trick on me?
>
> Thanks,
>
> Delphine
>
> _______________________________________________
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>


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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 11, 2011, 5:49 AM

Post #46 of 147 (1698 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/10/11 7:22 PM, Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo wrote:
> As for the rest I encourage you to exercise your
> moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting
> requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate
> transparently. You have been through this all before. You were the
> chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these
> items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out
> of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?

Of course. My past experiences are what allow me to approach these
difficult issues without blaming anyone, and I think that the chapters
should not feel blamed.

Growing from a barely functioning chapter - usually just a group of
people who made a proposal and did all the hard work to get through the
chapter approval process - into a successful, effective nonprofit
organization with strong financial controls, transparency, training,
oversight is really hard work. Delphine has spoken eloquently about it.

A model which dumps too much money/responsibility onto a chapter before
they are ready for it is not a valid service to anyone. A model which
allows chapters to go off the rails with little or no recourse other
than some kind of disastrous legal battle or something would also not be
a valid service to anyone.

When I look at the track record of many chapters to date, I see that
we've asked too much, too soon, and it's not causing happiness.

I think the new approach, if thoughtfully pursued with lots of
good-faith input and collaboration by all, can really make a huge
difference.

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 11, 2011, 5:51 AM

Post #47 of 147 (1701 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/10/11 8:51 PM, Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo wrote:
> I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being
> centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe
> will make chapters ineffective.

Chapters are not being centralized. I don't know how I can be more clear.

The idea that the only thing that can make chapters really decentralized
is the very narrow question of who actually processes the donation is
mistaken.

--Jimbo

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jwales at wikia-inc

Aug 11, 2011, 5:53 AM

Post #48 of 147 (1706 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 8/10/11 8:56 PM, Kirill Lokshin wrote:
> Perhaps I'm missing something, but where has it been suggested that chapters
> would not remain free to raise funds independently of the WMF? My
> impression was that the change being discussed here would merely remove
> participation in the WMF fundraiser as a funding source and replace it with
> direct WMF grants; presumably chapters could seek funding elsewhere?

That's right, but the reality is that using the website wikipedia.org is
the single overwhelming source of funds available to chapters, and very
little is likely to change about that anytime soon.




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renatawiki at gmail

Aug 11, 2011, 10:43 AM

Post #49 of 147 (1700 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

>
> I don't think chapters are being cut off I think they are being
> centralized. Centralization, not lack of funding, is what I believe will
> make chapters ineffective. Frankly, I think cutting off their funding would
> be less detrimental (although still not a good thing) to the chapter's
> long-term effectiveness than centralizing them into a grant program. It
> would be worse for the near-term, but many would still recover from it as
> owner-led organizations funded locally outside of the WMF banner campaign.
>
I would prefer that aid be given to the chapters without drastically
> changing the structure from being organizations who most naturally feel
> accountable to their local populations who fund them to organizations who
> most naturally feel accountable to San Francisco. All other things being
> equal imagine which of those organizations will be more responsive and
> careful.
>
> BirgitteSB
>


The only thing that this attempts to "centralize" (to use your words though
it's not right) is financial accounting and reporting so as to have greater
transparency and accountability. The chapters are free to do or not do
whatever programs they want or don't want. This administrative change will
have no effect on anything chapters do or don't do.

Renata
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birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 11, 2011, 12:09 PM

Post #50 of 147 (1701 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

>________________________________
>From: Jimmy Wales <jwales [at] wikia-inc>
>To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l [at] lists>
>Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 7:49 AM
>Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Chapters
>
>On 8/10/11 7:22 PM, Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo wrote:
>> As for the rest I encourage you to exercise your
>> moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting
>> requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate
>> transparently. You have been through this all before. You were the
>> chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these
>> items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out
>> of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?
>
>Of course. My past experiences are what allow me to approach these
>difficult issues without blaming anyone, and I think that the chapters
>should not feel blamed.
>
>Growing from a barely functioning chapter - usually just a group of
>people who made a proposal and did all the hard work to get through the
>chapter approval process - into a successful, effective nonprofit
>organization with strong financial controls, transparency, training,
>oversight is really hard work. Delphine has spoken eloquently about it.
>
>A model which dumps too much money/responsibility onto a chapter before
>they are ready for it is not a valid service to anyone. A model which
>allows chapters to go off the rails with little or no recourse other
>than some kind of disastrous legal battle or something would also not be
>a valid service to anyone.
>
>When I look at the track record of many chapters to date, I see that
>we've asked too much, too soon, and it's not causing happiness.
>
>I think the new approach, if thoughtfully pursued with lots of
>good-faith input and collaboration by all, can really make a huge
>difference.
>
I hope no one makes the mistake of thinking my position is that there should be no change at all in fundraising. I responded early on, I believe to Stu's message, that I found the existing incentives to perverse and think that they have harmed the ability of new chapters to form and become successful. I do believe changes are needed.

However, I have deep doubts about the chances of chapters succeeding under the specific proposal of funding a large majority of the chapter operations with a grant from WMF. I have been hoping that those supporting the proposal might respond to my sharing these doubts with some information about the model that inspired the proposal. That they might know of some organizations funded in a similar way and be able to consider my concerns by re-examining those organizations for any validity to them.

So far the response has simply been to try and reassure me that the proposed changes will have no unintended consequences on the simple basis no one wants anything to change except the accounting ledger. While I don't doubt the accuracy of such statements regarding people's desires, I can't find such assertions convincing. I don't wish to upset people further by my lack of faith that intentions matter very much.

I have raised all of the major considerations I would like people to think about. I really hope for a good outcome, whether anyone chooses to give credit to my concerns and advice or not. There no real need for any of you to convince me and I am as tired of repeating myself as am sure many of you are of hearing my repetitions. So lets just agree to disagree about the issue.

BirgitteSB
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