Donations:Putting your money where your mouth is
At this moment in time: there are recurring arguments about what to do with our precious time and money. The point is there is only so much we can do and we are limited by time and funding.
Who is arguing
Basically there are four groups of people:
- Those who spend their time and effort in the projects, they may be editing, developping or organising all things wikimedia.
- Those who like to contibute to the projects and have little time, money or ability.
- The users of our projects; they may be not heard much but they are the ones we do it for.
What we could do with more funding
- We could throw more resources at problems (ie hardware)
- We could pay programmers to develop specific things that do not get programmed while there is a need.
- worth noting that a bounty for a task has been outstanding for many months now. No developer has pursued it.
- We could spend money at our presence on computer shows and other marketing related activities.
- .. I am sure other good wikimedia related causes can be added.
How do we get our money
- We get money by donations through funding drives.
- We get money through our chapters
- We get money through grants
- People can give us more money, if the money given is taxdeductable
There may be local restrictions as to how a chapter can spend money while maintaining tax-deductability.
How do we get time spend on our projects
- People program, edit because they love the wikimedia projects. They do it for free
- Organisations use mediawiki for their own use and contribute code, sometimes content, back to the community
- We can ask or pay people to do things that we think important. This could be programming a particular bit of missing functionality, it could be to record 50.000 pronunciations of words in Tumbuka for use in a Tumbuka wiktionary (you can replace this one for something to do with your pet-project).
How can we get funding for particular projects
There are several projects that do not get the same attention wikipedia does even though there is a stated need for this attention. The one that stands out most is Wikispecies, this project has the backing of the board but REALLY needs Wikidata in order to enable taxonomic content that adds what can be found elsewhere. We have received a $20.000 grant from an organisation that expressed their intrest in Wikispecies. Using this money given, we could program the missing functionality and give Wikispecies a big boost. Incidentally, Wikidata would benefit other projects as well.
The upshot of this is, that money does talk. In this way it is large donations that have the biggest impact because they can target the money that they give. Small donators do not have this possibility while they have so far been the biggest contributors to wikimedia.
Functionality programmed by organisations
When an organisation uses mediawiki, they may find that certain functionality is missing. They may have their own developers, they may hire contractors to do the work for them.
The result of this work is:
- The organisation keeps it to himself and in essence forks (this is legitimate)
- The organisation can contribute the code to the mediawiki project. This code can be incorporated or rejected.
This is in essence another way in which money talks; there is little we can do about it or want to do about it. It is basically yet an other argument why we should emancipate our small financial contributors and give them the power to spend their money where their mouth is.
How to target small contributions
When you become a "member" of the foundation, there will be two fixed parts of any donation. There is a minimal sum that goes to the foundation, there is a minimal sum that goes to the chapter. The rest is "make me happy" money.
My proposal is that the chapter, the foundation indicates projects that need funding in time and money. These will be projects that ARE board approved and that help the foundation achieve its stated aims. The need for approval has everything to do with legal and fiscal aspects.
Practically people that give say EUR 1000,- will find that their money is now in the "make me happy" category. This is money for the wikimedia chapter and foundation to spend. When we then have other categories, people can within a set period, earmark their money to specific projects. All contributions that are not earmarked within this timeframe will be deemed to be in the "make me happy" category. This will allow people to put their money where there heart is.
What to do with valued contributions
When there is a particular project that has money earmarked to it, and someone has done the biz, he is entitled to this money. For instance a programmer has developped some functionality that is thought to be worth EUR 5000,-. We have the money and he has programmed the functionality. The functionality is there, tested approved and taken into production.
So if someone is entitled to EUR 5000,-. It is then up to him what he does with this money. If he so chooses, he can have it payed to him. He may have to pay income tax on this money. He can also choose to use this money within the wikimedia organisation for a project that he favours.
What to do with project that do not qualify as tax-deductable
When we have a specific project that because of local laws does not qualify as tax-deductable, we state that the project is NOT tax deductable and, it is up to the person to decide to give it to this project anyway or keep his money in the "make me happy" category. It is up to him to spend his money and earmark it according to his intentions.
Why we need to be open to money issues
With the ever increasing need from the word wide web and the increasing content of our projects the amount of money needed to make our projects possible is steadily growing. This proposal aims to keep us in control; it is the foundation that specifies the categories people can earmark money to. It is the person who donates the money, effort that decides what it will be spend on.
When a category has dependencies, it seems obvious to me that money available for this category can be spend on the dependencies as well. When a category is oversubscribed in money, it will return to the "make me happy" category.