The issue of funding for the Wikimedia Foundation sparked controversy again earlier this month. Funding for the foundation comes mainly from donations. The latest controversy has to do with the Knowledge Equality Fund, a $4.5 million grant created in 2020 to provide grants to outside organizations to address racial inequities that hinder access to and participation in free knowledge and support knowledge equality. The grant was transferred to Tides Advocacy that year, and the wiki community was not informed about it until it was revealed in an audit report in December 2020. In 2021, more than $1 million was awarded to 6 assignees in the United States, West Africa, Brazil and Jordan, and the remaining millions of dollars remain with Tides Advocacy and have not been given away to date. In response to inquiries from community members, Nadee Gunasena, the director of the foundation’s office, said that this is a pilot project and there is no dedicated staff assigned, so progress is slow. Discussion of the matter prompted a monthly giving member to announce the withdrawal of the donation. The Wiki Foundation’s response to this has again been controversial, with the foundation saying it distributes grants in more than 90 countries around the world. According to the latest 990 tax returns, more than 95% of the Wiki Foundation’s spending is in North America and Europe, and only 1.2% in other parts of Africa, Latin America and most of Asia. The community is at the heart of what makes Wikipedia great, and foundation grants are rarely given to the community.
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