[Wikimediaindia-l] [WikiConference India 2020] Conference & Event Grant proposal to WMF

Hello everyone,

I am happy to inform you we have submitted the Conference & Event Grant proposal for WikiConference India 2020[1] to the Wikimedia Foundation. I kindly request all the community members to go through the proposal – including the community engagement survey report, program plan, venue and logistics, participation and scholarships, and the budget + FAQs[2], and provide us with your suggestions/comments on the talk page[3] (also do read the FAQs section before making any comments related to the budget). You can endorse the proposal at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020#Endorsements[4], please do add a rationale for endorsing this project.

According to the timeline of Conference and Event Grants program, community can review from 3 February to 14 February 2020, post that we will start integrating all the received feedback to make modifications to the proposal. Depending on the response of community members, an IRC may be hosted next week, especially if there are many questions/concerns that need to be addressed.

Let me know if you any questions.

Regards,

User:KCVelaga

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020

[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020#FAQs

[3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants_talk:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020

[4] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020#Endorsements

Hi

Great initiative. It’s been 4 years since we all met and shared experiences. This conference will also help us plan our future initiatives.

Best wishes!

Manav

Hello,
I think such initiative is a need at the moment. It will be definitely showcase our future initiatives. I wish you and everyone all the best.

Best wishes,

Rajeeb.

Hi Krishna,

Sorry to say, but as a volunteer, I can not find justification of spending 1 crore 60 lakhs rupees on just two conferences happening one after another. The amount is huge and beyond my imagination.

As a volunteer coming from West Bengal community which have always worked on optimal budget and respected donation money, and yet delivered consistent results through impactful projects each year, I find these expenditure out of proportion. This money could have been otherwise spent on several high impact projects for many years.

I cannot say on behalf of my entire community but, personally, from my part, I cannot endorse this. Also, I guess, endorsement or opposition doesn’t matter nowadays and these proposals will eventually get approved, in that case, I will not participate in the events in any capacity.

Sorry, if I sound too harsh, but that’s only because English is not my native language. I could have better expressed in my mother tongue.

Regards,

Bodhisattwa

(totally as a Wikimedia volunteer)

Hi Bodhi,

Firstly, speaking of “1 crore 60 lakhs rupees” together might not be the best way to look at it. I am not wrong, I am assuming that you are talking about WikiWomen Camp, which is also happening in India. But that is completely unrelated to WikiConference India, I mean in terns of budget, goals and objectives. You might want to separately comment on each of them, if you want to. To clarify the confusion for others, WikiConference India’s budget is ₹7,181,212.50 + additional fiscal sponsorship charge of ₹718,121.25 (10% of the budget). The former amount is that which goes into the spending of the conference.

An amount could be spent on several other smaller projects, but every type of program has its own importance. In terms of impact, a conference may not have tangible or numerical metrics to be considered, but it does have impact on communities and India as a whole. Even for this conference, we are trying to make the goals as objective as possible. Components of the conference such as content creation campaign beforehand, and a Mini-Hackathon, will try to ensure that. Also since Capacity development emerged out as the most required need of the hour from the Community Engagement Survey, we have specific evaluation measures to see if it really helped people.

You are most welcome to take your comments on regarding specific budget items or the plan on the talk page, and it can be taken forward from there.

Regards,

KC

Krishna,

Yes, I talked about both the conferences in my reply, knowing very well that they are not related, but have a common feature of asking huge amount of 80 lakhs rupees, which is also co-incidental. My point was not on the theme of the two conferences, it was on the question if we need to spend this amount of money on conferences.

As you and I had discussion in the private chat, I don’t want to repeat myself again. We discussed some points yesterday about where budgets can be cut down. May be we didn’t agree, but I made some of my points and you were kind enough to made yours. If we both agreed at some point, I would have discussed in the talk page, for sure.

Conferences are fine and one annual global community conference is needed for good, but when around 80 lakh rupees is spent on even national or thematic conferences in India, where commodities are still cheaper than many other countries, then we need to rethink, if we really need these conferences and re-analyze if there is really the need of hour to spend such huge amount of donation money. Maybe there will be a national conference next year and the same or more amount of money will be requested to spent, which might not be needed. Are we ready and mature enough to open the Pandora’s box? May be we are, I am not sure though.

As I said earlier, I find the amount of money overwhelming, when I look back into our community activities which so painstakingly focuses on cost-effectiveness as well as impact, but that’s my community perspective, which you don’t have to agree with.

For example, the amount of money you are asking for a 3-days conference can be utilized by West Bengal community for nearly 50 years, if we follow our current fund request procedure. I know the two kinds of activities are not comparable, but just saying.

Also, this is my personal decision not to participate in these events. So, nothing to worry about me from your end. I am just one volunteer.

I rest my case. Best wishes for the grant request.

Regards,

Bodhisattwa

(Again, totally as a Wikimedia volunteer)

Hi krishna

If my memory serves me right, Wikiconference India 2016 had a budget around 33lakh INR. I haven’t read the grant report yet, nor have I done a comparison with the 2016 event… But according to your previous email, is having an event more than twice the budget of 2016 one, to almost 71lakh Rs… Is it really justified…

If yes… What are you planning which is different from last times conference?

Regards,

Yohann

Dear Yohann,

Thanks for the mail. We created a sub-section in Grant page with Frequently asked questions (FAQs) which covers responses for your questions. However, during the last couple of days we improved the section further to make it more helpful. I am pasting FAQs below in this mail for easy reference. Also, Here are the links to FAQ section[1] and WCI 2020 grant proposal.[2]

You are welcome to make your comments on specific budget line items or/and plan in the Grant proposal talk page[3] and from there it will be easy to take any helpful suggestions/feedback forward towards improvement of grant proposal.

  1. Why is the conference’s total budget significantly high, and also quite varying the WCI 2016’s budget?

As one can observe form the budget table and specific budget items, there are a lot of factors that went into calculation of the budget as a whole. Also, there are several notable differences in the organisations of these two conferences – the ones which substantial affect on the budget are detailed below;

S.No.

Category

WCI 2016

WCI 2020

Remarks

1

Total number of people directly supported from the conference budget

100

153

Entire cost of participation for a person from this category will be from the conference budget. It includes full scholarship recipients, organisers and additional invitees.

2

Number of days of the event

Three

Four

The proposed conference will have one pre-conference day, which will include activities such as Learning Days, Hackathon, Thematic edit-a-thons etc. followed by a 3-day main conference.

3

Accommodation & Venue

Educational institute

Hotel

WCI 2016 was hosted in an educational organization, and several community members, including the first IRC conducted for WCI 2020, have mentioned that they had faced difficulties with accommodation and related logistics. To address this, WCI 2020 will be hosted in a hotel, however, we will have partners in other areas. Previous organisers have also strictly recommended against partnering with organisations for venue, as it created a lot strain on volunteer organising and also for a huge conference such as this, the on-ground needs are highly dynamic.

4

Event Management

partially paid

Outsource completely

Post-2016’s conference, several of the organsers had gone through a burn-out, which was caused by strain caused due to several aspects of organising such as huge amount of tedious tasks, low budget, complicated bureaucracy of the educational institute etc. To avoid such things, as one of the goals is to make WCI a sustainable practice, a professional event management personnel will be hired for a period of six months, who will take of travel and accommodation arrangements on ground, working with fiscal sponsor to complete necessary payments etc. This will let volunteers to invest more time in programmatic and planning aspects, and also get off any potential overload that this entire exercise poses.

5

Total number of participants

~200

~300

This includes all the participants mentioned for Serial 1; in addition to those, there are components such as subsidised registrations, expenditure on volunteers etc.

Apart from the above mentioned differences, other quite important points to note are;

  • ₹7,181,212.50 is the budget of the conference that goes into its actual organising expenditure from this grant. Since it is a huge sum of money, it can’t be taken into individual accounts, and also since it is a foreign fund, organisations handling the fund should be having FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) license, which is The Centre for Internet and Society in this case. As an organisation, for their administrative expenses and related tabs, they charge 10% of the budget, which is ₹718,121.25. It is referred to as Fiscal sponsorship is a general practice for grants from the Wikimedia Foundation.

  • In the report of WCI 2016, the organisers have explicitly stated that the budget they had was insufficient and caused strain on the organisers, leading to burn out of volunteers. So the amount of ₹33 lac may not be considered as a sufficient budget for the 2016’s conference as well. Finally and most obviously, there is inflation from 2016 to 2020, which makes certain budget items to have higher costs, irrespective of other factors.

  1. How much of the proposed budget will actually be spent?
  • Wikimedia movement thrives on donations – keeping in view of that fact, external sponsorship are being considered minimally spend the movement’s money. For many of the budget items, the maximum possible costs have been assumed. This purely to avoid last-minute strains and be on a safer side – securing funds at a later stage, even if the need be, will only complicate things for all stakeholders involved, including the organisers, WMF, and CIS-A2K. However, only modest amounts will be spent, which ensures that everyone participating in the conference has a smooth experience. The remainder will either be sent back to WMF or reallocated to other community activities, post-approval from WMF.
  1. How will the transparency of spending be maintained?
  • As transparency is one of the core values of the Wikimedia movement, especially when it comes to finances it is the key. In this regard, all bills worth valuing more than ₹30,000.00 will be publicly published (unless there is any confidential information) and linked to the final report on expenditure. In addition, with the help of the Centre for Internet & Society, the fiscal sponsor for the project, after all the transactions are over with respective bills/receipts received, an audit will be conducted by a registered auditor, who will certify the accounts. This report will be publicly published.

Best Regards,

Pavan Santhosh.

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020#FAQs

[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020

[3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants_talk:Conference/WikiConference_India_2020

I also do not think this kind of huge budget is necessary especially for event of Wiki Women Camp.

We should use the money received by donation to develop wiki projects online. This is the fundamental rule we should apply here.

Piyush Maurya,

Admin of Hindi Wikipedia and Contact person of Hindi Wikimedians User Group