"UnclesamwantyouGAC" by Alleycat80, under CC-BY-SA-4.0

We want you for the GAC!
“UnclesamwantyouGAC” by Alleycat80 (based on public domain image by J. M. Flagg), under CC BY-SA 4.0

How do $1 million in Wikimedia Foundation Project and Event grants get reviewed each year? By a collaboration between the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) and WMF staff. Project and Event Grants (PEG) fund organizations, groups, and individuals to undertake mission-aligned projects that benefit the Wikimedia movement. Grants typically fund offline organizing of events, community outreach, and partnerships in education and GLAM. From Wiki Loves Monuments to regional conferences to thematic editathons, the PEG program funded 55 projects across 25 countries in the last year. Some exciting projects we’ve funded in the last six months include:

"Praia market potatoes manioc" by Cayambe, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Submission for Wiki Loves Africa
“Praia market potatoes manioc” by Cayambe, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

The GAC plays a key role in the grantmaking process. The GAC is a group of volunteer advisors, who support WMF staff in achieving more impactful grantmaking by mentoring grantees to structure better grants and ultimately achieve better projects and outcomes. The committee reviews proposal requests that range in size from USD $500 to $100,000, providing suggestions and constructive criticism about proposals directly to grantees, actively engaging in a back-and-forth discussion. Eventually, GAC members submit their recommendation whether or not to fund the proposal before WMF staff make a final decision.

"Cropped group photo - Cairo 4th conference" by Samir I. Sharbaty, under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Cairo education conference
“Cropped group photo – Cairo 4th conference” by Samir I. Sharbaty, under CC BY-SA 3.0

The GAC encapsulates the Wikimedia movement’s spirit – it is volunteer-based, contains members from a multitude of countries, backgrounds and experience in wiki contributions, and is thus able to provide “outside the box” thinking to grantees. Their accumulated experience from reviewing grants across the movement allow them to transfer knowledge and best practices about good project planning, setting goals, and developing metrics.

Personally, being a GAC member enriches my wiki volunteering with a unique bird’s eye view of the many great things which happen across the movement, and provides me with great ideas and innovations that I can translate to my own chapter. Moreover, for every grant I support, I can also read the results in a report (it’s actually more interesting when you helped the initial set up!), which helps me understand what worked and what didn’t, and helps hone my planning and strategic thinking. Those lessons and skills development are invaluable.

"Wikimania 2014 Grant Committees Training (1)" by AWang (WMF), under CC BY-SA 4.0

Wikimania 2014 Grant Committees Training
“Wikimania 2014 Grant Committees Training (1)” by AWang (WMF), under CC BY-SA 4.0

Lastly, being a GAC member provides an understanding about the many challenges WMF faces as a charitable organization and a grant provider. It allows a deep appreciation of the dedicated staff that is tasked with helping us, the volunteers, do better in fulfilling the vision of making the sum of all human knowledge available to all.

The GAC is currently recruiting new members through December 30th. Visit the Grant Advisory Committee page on Meta to learn more and if you’re interested in joining, leave a message on the Candidates Page! Please join us!

Ido Ivri, Grant Advisory Committee Member and Board Member, Wikimedia Israel