Wikipedia is powered by the dedication and generosity of volunteers. They share their knowledge, language skills, photography, artwork, even their own voices and music, with the rest of the world, for free. This all happens online. But Wikipedians can often make additional progress toward our vision of free knowledge freely available for everyone in the world, by participating in physical meetings, events, or conferences. Such participation often entails travel costs, and sometimes accommodation, visa, and other costs too. These costs are often prohibitively expensive for a volunteer’s personal budget, who is already donating valuable time and effort.
Therefore, in the interest of enabling this potential impact by members of our editing communities around the world, the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland are announcing the new Wikimedia Participation Grants program (see also the German chapter’s blog post). Participation Grants are funds made available to Wikimedia community members to cover travel, accommodation, registration, and other costs associated with participating in an event or activity, in furtherance of the Wikimedia Mission.
Other Wikimedia chapters with individual revenue sources (i.e. those not themselves funded by grants from the Wikimedia Foundation) are welcome to commit some funds to the Participation Grants pool. We already consider this participation to be “made possible by the Wikimedia movement” rather than by any of the participating bodies, and this will become more obvious as other chapters chip in.
To receive a Participation Grant, community members are encouraged to apply, following the instructions, citing the event they wish to participate in, a little background about themselves, and the expected impact for our movement’s mission. We deliberately do not inquire into the applicant’s financial situation. By accepting a participation grant, the applicant commits to writing up a public report about the participation the grant enabled.
A committee composed of representatives of the funding organizations meets weekly to discuss open requests. The goal is to resolve all open requests each week, so often decisions would be made within days of making the request. However, some requests require additional information, or consultation with other organizations (e.g. the event organizers, or a local Wikimedia chapter), which may increase the turnaround time of the committee.
In the past month, we have been discussing, reviewing, and setting up the program, and have already awarded some participation grants. Like the general Wikimedia Grants program, all participation grants are requested and resolved in public, and may be perused, along with reports about past grants (as those come in), at the requests page.
We look forward to seeing all the inspiring work this program can now make possible!
Asaf Bartov, Head of Global South Relationships