Microgrants/Policy Framework

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

The following information will guide the first microgrant project. We want to start small and fund a maximum of 10 projects. This will be a learning experience. After this run, the project will be refined. Continuation is of course subject to a positive overall evaluation and availability of funds. Be bold in your application! The eligibility criteria are limited and exclude the obvious. The list below is just to give an idea of what we would like or not like to see. But do not let yourself be limited by this list.

For the first phase, we will spend a maximum of 50.000 euro. Depending on projects received, we will not necessarily spend it all. Further stages of the project will be decided on later on.

Note: The text below is a copy of the official policy document. As the project evolves, content below can evolve.

Examples of good ideas

  • Creating documentation/courses.
  • Design work (e.g. leaflets, stock image creation) & updating such digital files.
  • Funding for a school or university to integrate mapping in their curriculum, run projects mapping their local area and working with local stakeholders to use their data.
  • Funding for shared mapping equipment.
  • Merchandise (swag) to recognize exceptional volunteer contributions, or low-cost swag.
  • One-off costs related to hosting.
  • Outreach to local schools.
  • Several small events (e.g. mapping party).
  • Software projects that are part of a larger program but have use by themselves.
  • Software projects that can be fully completed during the grant period.
  • Temporary working space.
  • Training programs with a local tech meetup.
  • Translation work.

Examples of ideas unlikely to be accepted

  • Academic scholarships.
  • Merchandise giveaways for all participants in an event or for general outreach, including t-shirts.
  • A single large event.
  • Prizes for mapping.
  • Recurring hosting, rent and other costs.
  • Server hardware.
  • Traditional paid mapping.
  • Travel to a conference / event.
  • Any purchase or activity that would be budgeted by the OSMF in the normal course of business, such as improvements to general OSMF infrastructure and support for Working Groups

Recurrent hosting and buying server hardware could become acceptable in a further iteration of the project.

Decision process

Who will decide

The applications for microgrants will be accepted or declined by the Microgrants Committee.

  • The Board will do a call for participants.
  • The Board will appoint five people from this group to the Committee. In selecting committee members, board will give preference to applicants with a history of volunteer engagement in OSM, but may also consider external applicants if they are deemed to bring valuable expertise.
  • The Committee is assembled on a temporary basis for the duration of the first round of funding.
  • The Committee decides on which projects to fund. However, the Board can decide to block the approval of selected projects.

Committee members are expected to encourage community involvement in the selection process. They are expected to follow discussions about the proposed projects and factor them into their decision. The Board expects the Committee to be open by default.

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants must be OSMF member (but can apply for membership at the same time as the grant application).
  • Applicants and beneficiaries must have a history of volunteer OSM activity (at least comparable in scope to the grant project).
  • Max 5000 EUR.
  • Project length max 12 months.
  • Any individual, group, or organization is allowed a maximum of three open grants at any one time.
  • Funds for offline activities are typically for direct expenses and not used to pay for people’s time. We strongly prefer enabling volunteers over paying for work. However paid work is not excluded as such, and can be acceptable if the impact is big enough. Funds can be used to pay for people’s time in certain cases, for example on software projects and tools development.
  • You must agree to the reporting requirements, be willing to sign a grant agreement, and provide the OpenStreetMap Foundation with information needed to process your funding.
  • You must consult with your Local Chapter if applicable.
  • Projects that have a local impact, should discuss with the relevant local communities
  • Personal benefit should be small compared to benefit of outcome. The application should describe potential personal benefit.
  • The initiative you plan to do should be open to a general audience by all means. That is, an event attendance should be free of charge, software must be open-sourced, media must be freely downloadable and published under open licenses (see the definition at https://opensource.org/osd).
  • The project or the initiative should be directly related to OpenStreetMap, which should be justifiably stated in its goals.
  • Number of people involved in the project or the initiative is not limited (but it would not affect the grant size).
  • Project must be shared and discussed widely during the application process, at least on OSMF-talk and with the wider OSM community.
  • The project isn’t paying someone to do something that could have easily been done by a volunteer.
  • Project participants must adhere to Community guidelines and should be in good community standing.
  • Projects can be recipients of other funds of any form, but need to disclose this during the application process. Candidates should have tried to find other possible sources of funding for their project.

There is no language criterion, but applications will need to be translated to English before the final application. The OSMF can use its network to try to help find translators if needed.

How to apply

There will be a template wiki page that you can clone and fill in. Your application form will be a public wiki page. Send a message to microgrants@osmfoundation.org and osmf-talk when it’s ready. Practical issues with sending applications to osmf-talk are not disqualifying.

Following up accepted projects

The Committee will follow up accepted projects. They can call for further volunteers to help with the practical issues, and can count on our administrative assistant’s help.

In particular, the Committee will:

  • Ensure that the accepted projects will receive funds.

If it is possible to make payments through organizations, rather than personal accounts, this is preferred. It is not required. For projects with a budget on the large side, payment in installments can be considered.

  • Respond to practical issues a project may face, as well as questions from grant recipients.

The project should communicate any known possible practical issues that might arise during the execution of the project. To help with this task, the Committee shall be provided with a checklist of typical causes of issues. In turn, the Committee should share any lessons learned with their successors.

  • Keep tabs on projects' reporting requirements.

Every project is different, so projects need to come up with their own planning and reporting schedule. A first version of this should be part of the microgrant application. Once accepted, the content of that plan can be refined in agreement between the Committee and the project. The project is expected to follow their planning or actively communicate issues as they arise. The Committee can take measures if the planning is not being respected. Reporting can be hosted on the OSM diaries or other places, but all public reporting should be findable from the main wiki page for the project.

  • Assist projects with community interaction, and make sure that the community learns of each project's conclusion.

The community can ask questions during any phase of the projects, and will be kept informed through public reporting. Additionally, at the end of the project, the project operators are expected to start a thread on OSMF-talk about their project, inviting the community to help evaluate the project.

If the Committee has larger issues with certain projects, it can ask the Board for assistance.