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Decentralized Fundraising, Centralized Distribution

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By Wikimedia Deutschland
Decentralized Fundraising, Centralized Distribution

The Wikimedia Deutschland Movement Strategy & Global Relations Team has published Paper #2 in the WMDE-authored series on Movement Strategy topics.

Titled Decentralized Fundraising, Centralized Distribution, this research report describes the fundraising and distribution practices of eight large international NGO confederations and networks, and puts them in the context of the changing Wikimedia Movement.

2030 Movement Strategy calls on us to change many things - among them how we generate and share funds among regions, affiliates and communities. Subsidiarity, equity, and participation are just some of the key values and principles to be incorporated.

The paper deliberately refrains from recommendations. In addition to the research, it does provide an overview of the history of Wikimedia resource development, discusses the elements of movement strategy related to funding, and finally poses a series of questions helpful to frame the further conversation.

Executive Summary

This paper, published in the context of the Wikimedia Movement’s deliberations around its Movement Charter and the implementation of 2030 Movement Strategy, provides an overview of financial practices of comparable large international nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) which are organized as confederations or networks.

Based on interviews and information sharing with staff of eight organizations, including Amnesty International, Oxfam International, CARE International, World YWCA, Greenpeace and the International Cooperative Alliance, the research asks about key practices in the areas of fundraising, decision-making about fund allocation, and in particular, about redistribution policies and mechanisms. This latter topic was given particular focus, because Movement Strategy emphasizes equity in funds distribution across an economically unequal international movement. Yet it leaves open how this should be structured.

The main findings of the research show that the Wikimedia Movement differs significantly in its practices from the screened organizations: All of the organizations are based on their affiliates fundraising independently, online and offline. In several cases the INGO specifically invests in the fundraising capacity of affiliates. Yet fundraising is highly strategic rather than diversified, in terms of markets, fundraising affiliates, and revenue sources.

With one exception, the international entity collects membership dues and is in part funded by them. The international entities have a diversity of roles, with acting as a secretariat and coordination being the most common ones. Only a minority of international entities engage in their own fundraising or fundraise for the movement. Notably, grantmaking from international entities to the affiliates is not a practice, and occurs only in few exceptions when there is third party program funding. Participation in funding decisions, which has been previously researched in a report commissioned by the MS 2030 Resource Allocation Working group, is practiced mostly through democratic and equitable governance and committee structures. While these structures vary greatly, both reports conclude that governance and funding systems are inseparably linked.

Finally, three of the organizations have distinct, policy-based, central funds redistribution mechanisms. These are discussed in some detail, in terms of their principles, formulas and review periods.

The results of this research can be summarized as follows: International NGO confederations practice decentralized fundraising, and those that redistribute funds for equity do so in a centralized manner, based on policies agreed upon by the democratic governance bodies of the confederation. The affiliates that fundraise in strong markets thus support the affiliates in smaller markets.

The research part concludes with a list of insights for the upcoming deliberations of the Wikimedia Movement. In the second part of the paper, readers can find a short history of Wikimedia revenues and resources, and an overview of the elements of 2030 Movement Strategy relevant to revenue generation and distribution. The appendices provide a list of guiding questions for the Movement deliberations to follow, and an overview of the structures of the INGOs in the sample.

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Money, Where is the Movement now?

The Wikimedia Movement operates under a system of mostly centralised fundraising, combined with central grantmaking. Over the years, the Wikimedia Foundation has added participatory features to the grantmaking processes. Still, there are large inequities in terms of how and where funds are spent. The Movement Strategy states:

In our current setting, the vast majority of funds and staff are located in the Global North, causing an inequitable distribution of resources. We are missing the potential that comes with a diversified global approach, technological advances, and various revenue possibilities related to the use of our platform and product. With almost all revenue streams passing through few Movement organisations, there are missed opportunities and continuation of inequity.

Movement Strategy recommendations on revenues and resources

What do the Movement Strategy recommendations say?

Distribute the responsibility of revenue generation across Movement entities and develop local fundraising skills to increase sustainability. Increase revenue and diversify revenue streams across the Movement, while ensuring funds are raised and spent in a transparent and accountable manner. (Recommendation 1) In the near future, the Movement should play a guiding role in resource allocation. The processes for allocation should be designed through consultation and described in the Movement Charter. This transition to Movement-led guidance should occur in a timely fashion. (Recommendation 4)

The following principles should guide the work along the way and have strong implications in how resources—not only financial—are obtained and allocated.

Where do we go from here?

Nikki mentioned some pathways explored by other Movements are doing that can offer guidance in implementing the recommendations in the Movement Strategy:

Learnings from a Wikimedia Deutschland research of how other similar global movements deal with revenues and resources indicate:

Some helpful concepts

The WMF's foreign-language fundraising banners on Wikipedia are often very ineptly done. Time and again they feature elementary grammar mistakes. Added to this comes a very pushy, very American writing style that does not go over well when translated literally (witness discussions at m:Talk:Fundraising and nl:Wikipedia:De_kroeg in recent months).
The precise look and feel of the banners ought to be a minor issue in the overall scheme of things. But because of the WMF's decade-long refusal to involve communities more in foreign-language messaging design before the start of a campaign, they're a frequent flashpoint. Andreas JN466 13:00, 1 October 2022 (UTC)[reply]


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