The WMF is not the only source of fundraising for Wikimedia chapters
or other movement partners. Many chapters have successfully partnered
with other organizations to accomplish great things in outreach and
programming. Every chapter has the opportunity to raise money to
achieve meaningful results in their area, even without a single penny
from the FDC or GAC.  It's clearly worthwhile to adjust the FDC
process to protect against misunderstandings, confusion and hurt
feelings. But we should acknowledge that such problems are both a
symptom of growing pains in the FDC allocation process and utterly
innate to any rationally devised method for selectively and
judiciously granting funds.

In the specific example of WMHK, it is beyond dispute that the FDC
reasonably criticized the plan to leap from zero to sixty in a single
budget cycle. The chapter understandably faces major obstacles in
engaging with institutions of civil society to further its goals;
China is not a free society, and the mission of Wikimedia does not
align well with the goals of government. It is, then, reasonable to
seek some support from the wider movement - particularly given the
importance of the chapters intended audience. But that support can and
should be one of gradually building the chapter on a slope that
parallels its activity and volunteer engagement.

It's not logical to assume that because the WMF has funds it should in
some way equitably distribute those funds around the world. Supporting
chapter operations, and funding offices and staff in dozens of
countries, is not the chief object of the money raised from donors. We
need to get away from the belief that chapters are unquestionably the
best use of movement resources. There is a place for outreach,
publicity, and targeted educational programs. But the WMF is best
situated to supplement the efforts begun by volunteers, in the same
way the WMF itself was created and has grown. It would be a poor use
of movement funds indeed if the WMF decided to pour money into infant
chapters with minimal development and fuzzy strategic goals. That's a
recipe for, at an absolute minimum, good-faith mismanagement and waste
of scarce donor resources. Avoiding this path was a very wise decision
by the trustees, and I only hope they remain resolute despite
criticism and Sue's impending departure.

Nathan

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