Grants:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round2/Wikimedia Foundation/Proposal form
Overview of grant request
- 1. In order to support community review please provide a brief summary description of your organization's upcoming annual plan, including focus areas and goals.
The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to participate in the FDC process, and we appreciate all input on this proposal. This submission does not represent the final 2014-15 Wikimedia Foundation plan, which will be completed over the next several months and approved by the WMF Board of Trustees in June. This is an in-progress early version of the plan, being published now as part of the FDC process so that the WMF can get community and FDC member input to inform the plan as it's revised and refined. The 2014-15 fiscal year is the fifth year of our five-year strategic plan, and it’s a year of great promise and transition as we expand Wikipedia in key directions. Four crucial initiatives: 1) Infrastructure: keeping Wikimedia’s sites and services operating at a high level and supporting Wikimedia’s developer community; 2) Mobile: growing contributions and readership on mobile devices; 3) Editor Engagement: growing and diversifying contributors to Wikimedia projects; and 4) Nontechnical Movement Support: emphasizing nontechnical movement support through grants, evaluation, legal support and communications. These initiatives are designed to expand the numbers of readers and contributors; to make it easier to contribute from any device, especially mobile; to ensure that our sites are robust enough to meet the additional traffic we expect; and to continue supporting innovation at both the Wikimedia Foundation and in the greater Wikimedia movement. We’re expanding projects that are already working well. We want them to work better still. We believe they will, and that WMF -- and the movement -- will be stronger because of what we’ll do in the year ahead.
- 2. What is your organization's proposed rate of growth in budget since last year? Please explain your organization's rationale if your proposed budget will increase this year.
At this point in the development of the plan, we are proposing to grow the annual budget from $50 million in FY 2013-14 to $60 million in FY 2014-15. This represents a growth rate of 20 percent. A portion of the proposed growth is in response to normal cost of living increases. We are also expanding our product and engineering teams to implement our mobile strategy, in response to the dramatic increase in mobile traffic we are seeing throughout the world. This is relatively consistent with how WMF has been growing over the last two years.
Note the FDC Framework funding guidelines on the rate of growth of year-over-year FDC allocations. These guidelines relate not to an organization's overall budget growth, but rather to movement resources (that is, what the organization received through Annual Plan Grants through the FDC process or what the organization retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle).
|Organization information||Legal name of organization||Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.|
|organization's fiscal year (mm/dd–mm/dd)||07/01-06/30|
|12 month timeframe* of funds currently requested (mm/dd/yy–mm/dd/yy)||07/01/14-06/30/15|
|Contact information (primary)||Primary contact name||Lisa Seitz Gruwell|
|Primary contact position in organization||Chief Revenue Officer|
|Primary contact username||User: lgruwell|
|Primary contact firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Contact information (secondary)||Secondary contact name||Jonathan Curiel|
|Secondary contact position in organization||Development Communications Manager|
|Secondary contact username||User: Jcuriel|
|Secondary contact email@example.com|
*Timeframe should ideally be for a 12 month period that begins after the FDC decision.
Currency requested: 1
- Currency requested is defined as the currency in which you wish to receive funds (e.g., EUR, GBP, INR). Note that the FDC makes grants in local currency when possible.
Exchange rate used (currency requested to $US): 2
- Please use Oanda.com on March 1 2014 to determine the exchange rate. Please use five decimal points.
|Total annual expenses of organization||$60,064,000||$60,064,000|
|Amount proposed to the FDC for the coming year's annual plan||n/a||n/a|
|Amount to be raised from non-FDC sources||n/a||n/a|
|If applicable, amount of FDC funds allocated to organization last year||$4,459,000||$4,459,000|
Table 2 details:
This section provides the FDC an overview of your organization's work with your members, with volunteers, with the communities you serve, and with Wikimedia's online projects.
- 1. How many members does your organization have, and what is the role of members (e.g., attendance at events, paying dues)?
The Wikimedia Foundation is not a membership organization. That said, millions of people around the world are involved with the Wikimedia movement, and they interact with the Wikimedia Foundation in a number of ways. The Wikimedia projects, which are hosted and supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, are read by more than half-a-billion people around the world every month. Last fiscal year, more than two million people around the world donated money to Wikimedia through the Wikimedia Foundation. About 80,000 people around the world edit the projects every month, and the Wikimedia Foundation supports them in a variety of ways. (More on these people below.)
The role of each reader and each contributor is paramount to the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to bring the sum of all human knowledge to everyone around the world in their own language. Each new reader brings us another step toward that goal. And each new donor does too, by ensuring that the Wikimedia Foundation has the resources to continue expanding Wikipedia to new audiences around the world.
- 2. How many volunteers are engaged with your organization’s work? And how are volunteers engaged with your organization’s work?
In January 2014, 81,821 volunteer contributors made five or more edits on Wikimedia’s projects, including 76,273 who made five or more edits on Wikipedia. Called “active Wikimedians” and “active Wikipedians,” these contributors are invaluable. They write and edit, add images, conduct various administrative tasks, and participate in a myriad of other ways. The Wikimedia Foundation supports these people by keeping the Wikimedia sites and services functioning, including developing and maintaining the infrastructure for participation. For example, in July 2013 we introduced the ability to edit Wikipedia from mobile phones and tablets.
Additionally, volunteers around the world regularly contribute code to MediaWiki, including at our hackathons and through structured programs such as Google Summer of Code. Our Global Education Program works with hundreds of professors and students around the world to add material to Wikipedia articles, improving their quality. Our Communications Department works with media volunteers around the world to handle media inquiries. Our Grantmaking Department works with volunteer bodies, including the FDC and the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC), to fund hundreds of volunteer-driven activities such as the staging of conferences and outreach events. The Wikimedia Foundation hosts multiple mailing lists for volunteers interested in discussing issues like advocacy and gender that are relevant to the Wikimedia movement.
- 3. How do you know what the members of the community/communities your organization serves (including chapter members and broader online volunteers) need and want? How does this influence your strategic planning and decision-making?
The Wikimedia Foundation employs multiple mechanisms to understand what the Wikimedia projects' readers and editors need and want. We use this information to inform our own work, and also share it publicly so it can be used by others. This is the core work of the Wikimedia Foundation's Analytics team, which uses quantitative and qualitative strategies, exploratory analyses, controlled experimentation, and statistical modeling to help the Wikimedia movement better understand editors and readers. (One example is the 2013 project that investigated newcomer survival models.) The Analytics team is also responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure, tools and datasets, including Wikistats, which provides metrics and data visualizations for the 800+ Wikimedia projects; Wikimetrics, which provides participation metrics for program leaders such as Wikimedia chapters; the Report Card, which sets out an easy-to-understand summary of key metrics; Wikipedia Zero dashboards, which provide usage information for our partnerships with mobile carriers; Limn, a general purpose dashboarding tool; and Logging Infrastructure, which is software to collect and aggregate readership and participation data. Additionally: beginning in 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation began conducting regular Editor Surveys that help us understand editor demographics, attitudes and behaviors worldwide. Our first was conducted in 22 languages and generated 5,073 responses from editors all over the world. A follow-up six months later was conducted in 20 languages and received 6,560 responses from editors in 20 countries. Our third, in November 2012, was conducted in 17 languages, with 17,000+ responses.
- 4. Does your organization's program work support a particular Wikimedia project or projects, and if so, which particular project or projects does your work support?
The Wikimedia Foundation's scope is global and multilingual. We support all Wikimedia movement projects and all language versions.
Reflection on past programs and activities
1. Please give at least three examples of successful programs or activities that your organization has completed, and explain why they were successful. You may also provide links to information about these programs and activities, when available.
Platform engineering and technical operations: The Wikimedia Foundation provides the essential infrastructure that keeps the fifth-largest website in the world running efficiently. We purchase, manage, and maintain the servers that respond to the tens of billions of page requests that the Wikimedia projects receive every month, and these servers are centralized at our data centers, including our new main data center in Ashburn, Virginia, which we opened in 2011. Our technology team, meanwhile, maintains and improves the software that makes Wikipedia function for our 500 million readers, no matter what platform readers are using. Our mobile platform, for example, has experienced a dramatic increase in pageviews since we upgraded it in 2011, with pageviews going from four percent of the total to about 20 percent.
Because we have a solid technical infrastructure, we can support the Wikimedia projects' continued growth in content and growth in readers. In 2013, for instance, we added a caching center on the West Coast to better distribute audience load, and we made improvements to our Varnish cache invalidation code, which increased the efficiency of our servers. These developments give the Wikimedia Foundation more safeguards and more capacity to serve our readers, and have increased the efficiency of our websites. For 99.8 percent of our readers, the uptime is about 99.9 percent. For editors, who comprise the remaining 0.2 percent of users, the uptime is about 99.73 percent. Detailed efficiency rates are noted at http://status.wikimedia.org/ . Each year, we outline a detailed list of projects to be completed for site operations, software upgrades, and other platform engineering and technical operations. The latest outline is at https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Engineering/2013-14_Goals .
Mobile: Internet users are increasingly experiencing the internet through their phones and tablets rather than desktops and laptops. That's why the Wikimedia Foundation has rolled out a series of projects that are increasing readership and interaction from mobile devices. In 2013, for example, we introduced mobile editing. For the first time, anyone who reads Wikipedia on a mobile phone can edit and thousands of people now contribute this way every month. In 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation started Wikipedia Zero to reach the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who have mobile phones but who cannot use them to read Wikipedia because data charges are too high. The Wikipedia Zero Program is a series of partnerships with mobile operators in developing countries, in which the operators agree to waive data charges for reading Wikipedia. Wikipedia Zero has been implemented so far in 23 countries (Uganda, Tunisia, Malaysia, Niger, Kenya, Cameroon, Montenegro, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Jordan, Bangladesh, and South Africa), and is now generating more than 40 million pageviews monthly. In October 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation launched our first USSD/SMS pilot project to give basic feature-phone users access to Wikipedia. The project in Nairobi, Kenya -- in association with Airtel Kenya and the Praekelt Foundation, a South African nonprofit with expertise in open source, scalable mobile technologies -- attracted more than 50,000 users, who were able to query Wikipedia via a realtime dialogue of free text and multiple choice answers. Additionally, our engineering team has created a series of Wikipedia apps. In 2012, for example, the Wikimedia Foundation released an app for Android and iOS that let photographers easily add images to Wikimedia Commons, the Wikimedia Foundation’s media repository. Through projects like the VisualEditor, mobile watchlists, Nearby, and Notifications, our mobile team is building new functionality for mobile and gaining parity with the desktop version where appropriate. All these projects are possible because we initiated a major upgrade of our mobile platform in 2011, changing it from a simple read-only gateway to a robust platform that enables straightforward development of new features. MobileFrontend is the piece of MediaWiki that controls reflow of HTML & CSS to make our web pages mobile appropriate. Since the introduction of MobileFrontend in September 2011, mobile page views have gone from 887 million to 4.81 billion -- a 442 percent increase. Mobile pageviews are now 20 percent of all pageviews, where in 2011 they were just four percent.
Global Education Project: What started as a small pilot in the United States in 2010 has turned into a worldwide movement with educational efforts underway in more than 60 countries.
Four years ago, when we saw educators experimenting with Wikipedia assignments in their classrooms, we created the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative, or PPI) as a way to encourage and support the use of Wikipedia in higher education. We collaborated with Wikipedians, non-Wikipedians, librarians, teaching and learning staff, and educators to successfully use Wikipedia as a tool for teaching. In the process, we learned that not only do students better their writing skills as contributors of quality content to Wikipedia articles, they also get a solid education in knowledge creation, collaboration, media literacy, critical thinking, research skills, and more.
To date, we've introduced more than 7,000 students to editing Wikipedia as part of their coursework, and we've had a significant, meaningful impact on the quantity and quality of Wikipedia articles, especially on the English and Arabic Wikipedias.
- English Wikipedia (7 terms): 12M words, 55M bytes, the equivalent of 36,600 printed pages and 73 reams of paper
- Arab World (4 terms): 2.6M words, 24M bytes, the equivalent of 8,000 printed pages and 16 reams of paper
- High quality content: research shows student articles improved 88 percent.
From the beginning, the Wikipedia Education Program showed great promise in significantly addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia. Sixty-one percent of the students participating in the U.S./Canada program are women and almost 88 percent of the contributors in the Arab world education program are women, including the first female administrator on the Arabic Wikipedia.
Additionally, we established educational program operations in university settings and developed a significant support structure for the program. We created brochures, software, online trainings, and other support materials that enable programs worldwide to start and scale quickly. Many of these materials have been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Armenian, Catalan, Valencian Catalan, British English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, and Swedish. We worked with the Technology Team to create the Education Program MediaWiki extension, which enables better tracking of student work, improved insight into student activities, and more transparency for the community. The extension is now enabled on English, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Macedonian, Spanish, Persian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Czech Wikipedias and the German Wikiversity. The WMF Growth Team adopted the Education Extension and will expand its capabilities over time to address the requests of other programs working to attract new contributors.
In 2013-14, we completed our transition away from running the U.S. & Canada program and are now focused on expanding the impact and reach of education programs and initiatives worldwide. In an effort to scale the Wikipedia Education Program, we laid the foundation for an education cooperative that will help to support and mentor programs worldwide. We’ll continue to leverage our significant program experience in facilitating worldwide education initiatives as well as seek opportunities to explore potential partnerships with education program leaders and organizations throughout the world. And we’ll continue to encourage program growth worldwide and share best practices.
- 2. What are the programs or activities that did not work for your organization in the past? What did you learn from those experiences? What changes were made after learning from these experiences?
Catalyst Projects: In 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation began what we called "catalyst projects" to grow Wikipedia readership in India, Brazil, and Arab countries -- all developing countries with growing numbers of people who are accessing the Internet. Our strategy was to invest in geographies, particularly India, Brazil, and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), where there was potential to recruit large numbers of new editors, by supporting editor recruitment teams in those geographies. However, as originally structured, the catalyst projects were administratively very burdensome on the Wikimedia Foundation, we were unable to support them as fully as we wish we could have, and it would never have been possible to support them at scale (meaning, dozens of countries). We came to believe that it would be more effective to partner with like-minded nonprofits that have a track record of accomplishment in the countries where we seek readership growth. We are now partnering in India with the Centre for Internet and Society, and in Brazil with Ação Educativa, both under two-year grants. In New Delhi, India, the Centre for Internet and Society officially began its Wikimedia Foundation grant in September 2012 -- one year after the Wikimedia Foundation ended its Education Program Pune Pilot Project in India (see below). And in Brazil, Ação Educativa began its grant in January 2014. The Centre for Internet and Society is initiating a cross-section of projects designed to increase Indic-language editors and Indic-language contributions, including outreach to university students through Education Program classes, holding workshops, holding community meetups, supporting hackathons, and other efforts. During the first year of our partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society, many Indic-language Wikipedias increased by number of editors and by number of readers. By readership growth, for example, Punjabi, Assamese and Odia Wikipedias increased by 82 percent, 59 percent, and 37 percent respectively, while Malayalam Wikipedia became the first Indian language Wikipedia to reach 100 active editors. The Centre for Internet and Society has developed a visualization project that makes it easier to see the progress in new articles and editors -- an example of innovation that is arising from our new partnerships.
Visual Editor Launch: The VisualEditor, intended to replace Wikipedia’s complex editing interface with a more intuitive and user-friendly experience, is the Wikimedia Foundation's most significant and ambitious technological undertaking to date. Multiple user tests by the Wikimedia Foundation have shown conclusively that wiki markup is considered pointlessly difficult by today's standards: the VisualEditor Project is designed to remove that barrier to new editors. We introduced the VisualEditor in the 2012-13 fiscal year as a prototype, and we planned for wide adoption by the movement when it launched in beta in July 2013. The roll-out went fine and achieved community acceptance on some language versions (by now, it is live in the default user interface on 165 Wikipedias), but on others we faced considerable community opposition, which we attribute to three factors specific to VisualEditor: 1) at launch, VisualEditor made extremely large pages unacceptably slow to load; 2) at launch, bugs in VisualEditor meant editors risked losing work or having pages perform in surprising ways; and 3) at launch, VisualEditor was missing some key functionality. From this experience, we learned that technological changes succeed best when they are rolled out slowly and incrementally. We should have rolled out VisualEditor over many months, gradually increasing performance, fixing bugs, and adding functionality as we got feedback from users. We also learned that major changes to the interface require significant communications and community liaison resources, and as a result we are planning to launch a Community Engagement team, which will be devoted to gathering end-user feedback on projects while they are being conceptualized and developed. The lessons we learned in the VisualEditor rollout also directly affected how we are developing and introducing our next major project, Flow, a discussion and collaboration system for all Wikimedia projects that will replace the talk page system. Instead of developing it to the greatest extent possible and then pushing it to wide release, we will be introducing Flow in a series of tiny but significant stages. We introduced Flow in an early test phase in April 2013, and in December 2013 and January 2014 we introduced it as a prototype on mediawiki.org, and in two small editing projects on the English Wikipedia: WikiProject Hampshire and WikiProject Breakfast. Flow won’t be fully introduced as an operational system for another year.
Wikipedia Education Program in India: In 2011, after the Wikipedia Education Program’s first year, we expanded it to three universities in Pune, India. Between February and November 2011, the Pune pilot involved 1,014 students spanning 24 courses. During the pilot, nearly half of the student participants posted material that violated copyright restrictions. So on November 3, 2011, after unsuccessful attempts to stem the flow of copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation shut down the program. Afterwards, we commissioned a veteran analyst to independently investigate, and she reported that the professors in the project had played a very small role: rather than guiding, tracking, evaluating, and grading their students' work as occurred, for example, in the parallel projects in other countries, most professors in Pune delegated those functions to volunteers. With lessons learned from the Pune pilot, in Spring 2012 the Wikimedia Foundation started two much smaller pilots, in Egypt and Brazil, where the Foundation worked much more closely with the professors. Neither the Egyptian nor the Brazilian pilot had significant problems and both resulted in substantial additions to their language version, Egypt particularly. By the end of the 2012-13 academic year, students in Egypt contributed 15 million bytes of material to the Arabic Wikipedia.
Completed fiscal year Current year Upcoming year Link to current mission statement of the organization Not required. Mission statement Not required. Link to annual plan, including a budget. Wikimedia Foundation plan 2012-13 Wikimedia Foundation plan 2013-14 Not yet available Links to community discussions around each annual plan. not yet available Link to annual report, including a financial report. Not required. Not required. Links to relevant strategic planning documents. 2012-13 Wikimedia Foundation plan 2013-2014 WMF plan as published Wikimedia movement strategic plan summary
Link table details, if necessary:
Upcoming year's annual plan: strengths, opportunities and threats
- 1. What organizational strengths enable your organization's plan (e.g., leadership, program planning and goal-setting, program expertise, experience with programs, governance structure)?
Our Board of Trustees is international in scope, with four members in Europe, three in North America, two in South America, and one in India. The majority of Board members are long-time members of the Wikimedia community, and half are selected through a community process. Our Board as a whole has significant experience in the free culture movement and other global community work, and individual Board members have deep subject-matter expertise in aspects of nonprofit governance, technology, education, finance, and movement development and advocacy.
On the staff side, we are led by a C-level team with deep knowledge of the Wikimedia projects and decades of experience in fields such as engineering and product development, community development, media and editorial leadership, law, advocacy, and nonprofit administration. Sue Gardner has been the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director for seven years and before that was a long-time public servant with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where in her last position she ran CBC.CA, Canada's most popular news site. Erik Möller, Wikimedia’s Deputy Director and Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, was instrumental in the founding of Wikimedia Commons, is a former member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, and is a longtime Wikipedian and MediaWiki code contributor -- the German-born Möller started editing Wikipedia shortly after the project was founded, and has since made over 30,000 edits on Wikimedia wikis and over 300 commits to the MediaWiki codebase. General Counsel Geoff Brigham joined the Wikimedia Foundation in 2011 with 25 years of experience practicing law, including as deputy general counsel and vice-president at eBay, as an appellate attorney for the Department of Justice, and as a liaison between the U.S. Department of Justice and the French Ministry of Justice with offices in the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the French Ministry of Justice. Chief of Finance and Administration Garfield Byrd has 24 years accounting and finance experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors, including 12 years as Chief Financial Officer for the New Teacher Center, the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and the Pacific School of Religion. Anasuya Sengupta, Wikimedia’s Senior Director of Grantmaking, originally from India, was formerly the regional program director for Asia and Oceania at the Global Fund for Women, one of the world's largest grant-making organizations exclusively for women's human rights. Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Seitz Gruwell has been working in civic-minded enterprises for over 14 years, and led a Silicon Valley grantmaking foundation and social technology incubator. Chief Talent and Culture Officer Gayle Karen Young has an extensive organizational consulting background with multiple nonprofit and corporate clients.
Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation sets clearly defined goals for our projects, outlined in an Annual Plan that looks ahead and also reviews exactly what happened in the previous year. The current Annual Plan is here: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/2013-2014_Annual_Plan_Questions_and_Answers . Besides this yearly guideline, each department and major project has a road map that lays out specific goals and deliverables, as in this road map for the foundation’s engineering department: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Engineering/2013-14_Goals . On the macro level, the Wikimedia Foundation released a five-year strategic plan in 2011 that set broad, definable priorities for the Foundation in the areas of infrastructure, readership reach, editor retention and recruitment, quality assessment, innovation, and revenue.
We consider our transparency one of our greatest strengths, because transparency enables open feedback loops that improve effectiveness. The Wikimedia Foundation prides itself on being one of the world’s most transparent nonprofits, and our commitment to transparency is embedded in everything we do. The majority of our work is conducted or documented on public wikis. Our monthly metrics meetings -- where the staff covers Wikimedia developments in engineering, fundraising, grantmaking, programs, legal, community advocacy, communications, and other areas -- are streamed live and permanently available online. On our site we publish our annual plans and annual reports, audited and unaudited financial statements, the Form 990, the minutes of all Board meetings, monthly activities and performance reports, as well as many other materials. Many are translated into multiple languages, and often they are accompanied by detailed FAQs. Our transparency has been lauded by The Global Journal, a Geneva publication that covers issues of global governance and ranked us the world’s top NGO in 2012, putting us atop a long list of distinguished NGOs that included Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee, and Care International. The Global Journal judged its list of top 100 NGOs, which it first narrowed down to 1,000, by such gauges as an NGO's transparency and accountability, innovation, impact, effectiveness, strategic and financial management, efficiency, sustainability, and peer review of its operations. The Wikimedia Foundation, said The Global Journal in January 2013, “represents a path-breaking example of what an NGO can achieve in the Internet era. . . . The organization continues, through an innovative application of new technologies, to have a deep and abiding impact on the lives of millions around the world.”
- 2. What external opportunities enable your organization's plan (e.g., socio-political contexts, community engagement, ability to raise external funds)?
The Wikimedia Foundation's biggest external opportunity is the goodwill of the hundreds of millions of people who use the Wikimedia projects, act as their advocates and supporters, and fund them. Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation has raised more money than the previous year, and from more individual donors. More than 2 million people donated money in the last fiscal year. We have fine-tuned what works -- fine-tuned the wording of the online banners that ask readers to contribute, fine-tuned the size and design of those banners -- and that has both increased the total amount of donations and decreased the time that readers see those banners. In 2013, Foundation banners raised approximately $32 million.
The phenomenal growth of mobile phones is allowing us to reach more people than ever, especially in the Global South, as we’ve broadened the ability to read and contribute to Wikipedia on mobile devices. About 28 percent of Wikipedia’s pageviews now come from the Global South, a seven-percent increase in three years.
We are also part of a global community of people who support and advocate for free knowledge, free culture, free software, and the free and open internet. We’re a presence at such conferences as FOSDEM, the annual open source convention in Brussels, Belgium; PyCon, the annual gathering for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language; RightsCon, the annual conference where leaders in technology, politics, and journalism brainstorm about rights issues related to information, expression, education, privacy and other key issues; and News Foo, where leaders from media, technology, and public policy address key issues related to news and information. We meet regularly with people from Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and other like-minded organizations, and we frequently serve on their boards or advisory committees. We also host meet-ups to strategize about efforts like the one to free imprisoned Syrian free culture activist Bassel Khartabil. We are connected around the world with organizations that share our values and our goals.
- 3. What are the risks or threats that could prevent your organization from achieving your proposed annual plan (e.g., socio-political contexts, staff or board transitions or turnover, lack of community engagement, extraordinary circumstances, lawsuits, lack of ability to raise funds)? How will you minimize these risks and threats?
Before every fiscal year begins on July 1, the Wikimedia Foundation publishes an Annual Plan that looks ahead to the coming year and analyzes the risks and opportunities we will face (last year's is here). We have identified the following series of potential risks that could impact our ability to carry out our Annual Plan, as well as a summary of the nature of the risks, and a strategic response for how to manage those risks. Identification of these potential risks is important to ensure proper annual planning and strategic thinking. That said, as we presently understand them, we believe these risks are manageable and properly considered in our plan.
The potential risks and responses are set out under three categories below:
Community/Product, Environmental, and Organizational
Community/Product Related Risks
Change aversion: We know that making Wikimedia projects a welcoming environment for new users requires radically overhauling the user experience on all levels. Doing so within a living, breathing community context is challenging and can cause projects to be delayed or derailed, especially when parts of communities become entrenched with status quo practices and products. As history shows, such entrenchment could result in an ossified platform that does not welcome new editors and contributors. Also, if WMF does not communicate effectively in advance of expected changes, their benefits, and the realistic expectations in rolling out complicated product, community reaction could be negative, further impeding or delaying beneficial innovation.
- Response: We have put increasing emphasis on the development of the community engagement function at WMF, such as embedding community liaisons into the lifecycle of product development. In 2014-15, all key initiatives will have liaison support. We have also built, and will continue to develop, frameworks such as BetaFeatures and GuidedTours to aid in the gentle introduction and ramp-up of new site functionality. We will continue to put a priority on work that is important but does not usually result in community resistance - such as mobile and improving the onboarding experience of new editors - in addition to areas that our existing community may have stronger opinions about. We expect that the liaisons will help ensure trust and allow most of our community to accept the need for change and innovation to ensure the best ways of creating and delivering free information in a highly dynamic online world. Yet there will be loud voices who disagree, and we will need to simply work with those points of view while moving forward to set us up better for the future.
Technical complexity: Building large-scale, high-performance features that cover the breadth of complexity found in our projects (content, user-created scripts, tools and templates, and community processes) is not an easy task. Such efforts may take more time than expected, and may force trade-off decisions that are unpopular with our community.
- Response: Operating in a context of high complexity necessitates understanding the potential impact of a change early. WMF has dramatically reduced the elapsed time between code being developed and code running on our production cluster, and we will continue to do so as part of continuous optimization of the development, deployment and testing processes, with significant focus on automation. In 2014-15, we will also likely need to begin engaging with the community regarding technical debt in community-created code such as templates and gadgets, especially insofar as it directly impacts our ability to modernize the user experience.
Wikimedia's ability to implement positive change could be constrained by lack or loss of community goodwill towards the Wikimedia Foundation. Our community has a large, diverse, and occasionally competing set of needs, so it can be difficult to respond to all of our community's expectations. When we release high-visibility products, policies, or other initiatives, we risk damaging our goodwill with the community if we do not build in notice and consultation processes or do not respond to their feedback. The growth of our projects depends on the community's willingness to support our work and partner with us.
Increased transparency and intensive interaction with the community may not always generate more goodwill and trust, and we continue to need to negotiate significant changes that affect our users. In some cases, the needs of different users may be irreconcilable. We also face a communication challenge, ensuring that we are responsive to the needs of our wider community, including those speaking our 287 languages, instead of only a small number of vocal users.
- Response: During 2013-14, the Wikimedia Foundation engaged in a number of successful initiatives to forge a close working relationship with the community and to increase transparency, goodwill and collaboration. Efforts in 2014-15 are expected to continue to build on these strategic responses. Past examples include:
- Transparency through the Wikimedia blog and regular reporting. The Foundation publishes detailed, monthly activity reports, hosts public metrics meetings with presentations on key initiatives, and publishes quarterly reviews of high priority WMF initiatives. These transparency initiatives allow our community to see the Foundation's current activities and plans. The Wikimedia blog includes regular updates on activities in the Wikimedia movement, totaling 207 posts in July 2013 - January 2014, including 45 posts in multiple languages.
- Site visits. The Chief of Finance and Administration and head of Grantmaking piloted site visits to Wikimedia organisations and communities around the world to assist on matters ranging from grantmaking, financial reviews, and discussion of best governance practices. We feel these visits helped build trust, strategic clarity, and improved communications.
- Legal protection of the community and our values. We continue to help facilitate the defense of users and functionaries when appropriate, and win matters that are properly perceived as protecting the community. For example, the Foundation is supporting a Greek Wikipedia user in an action brought by a Greek politician that we and the community believe is unjust.
- We continue to grow in our understanding of how to effectively collaborate with our community. To that end, in 2013-14 we built out our team of community advocates, in addition to the previously-existing headcount, inside the Legal and Community Advocacy department. In 2014-15, the Community Advocacy team will continue to support high-value strategic initiatives. Additionally, the planned Director of Community Engagement (Product) will work with the community on product roll-outs and related communications on an ongoing basis.
Mobile and shift to consumption: While the continuing rapid increase of mobile usage (smartphone and tablet) represents an opportunity for consumption and some forms of contribution (e.g., photos, location), it represents a potential threat for text-based contributions, particularly article writing, if users shift towards using mobile devices.
- Response: In 2013-14, the release of mobile editing on smartphones outperformed our expectations, suggesting that, despite our previous assumptions, users are interested in editing from mobile devices. We’ve improved and expanded our existing photo uploading applications and workflow on the mobile web. In 2014-15, we will offer editing in our Wikipedia Android and iOS apps, and port the VisualEditor to tablets. We will also explore different ways to use capabilities enabled by smartphones (touch interfaces, camera, and location) to encourage people to contribute (e.g., microcontributions).
Decline in desktop page views: We have observed a decline in desktop page views to our projects. Hypotheses explaining this decline include increased aggregation of Wikipedia-derived information in search engines, the shift to mobile, and a switch by users from search to social media. While we do not know whether this decline reflects a more sustained trend, there is a potential risk that fewer users will visit our projects in the coming years. A decline in readership could negatively impact our efforts to increase contributorship on our projects as well as our online fundraising efforts.
- Response: We are continuing to research readership trends (e.g., referral analysis, improved descriptive statistics). We are working with Google to better understand any impact changes may have on our page view traffic. We are improving our mobile app offerings to investigate if we can increase the contribution of apps to overall viewership on top of what we’re seeing on mobile web. Wikipedia Zero is not currently a major driver of page view growth, but it is positioned to help accelerate growth of readership and contributions in developing countries in the long term.
Recruiting: The shortage of Silicon Valley technical talent could hurt our ability to recruit and retain technical staff. The job market for engineers began heating up in 2010, and continues to be extremely competitive, particularly in the Silicon Valley area. The Wikimedia Foundation, as a nonprofit, does not offer equity or large cash bonuses that are often awarded by multi-billion-dollar tech companies. The organization therefore faces a potential risk of not being able to hire the key engineers, designers, product managers, and other staff needed to deliver on this plan.
- Response: In recognition of the challenging hiring environment, we have placed increased focus on developing internal recruiting expertise for technical staff, and on optimizing Wikimedia's value proposition. That proposition reflects a combination of a world-changing mission, open source values, reasonable salary near the midpoint of the tech sector, strong health and wellness benefits, and the opportunity to achieve huge impact as an individual. We have also augmented the ways in which we communicate that proposition to the world. We have created increased flexibility to hire opportunistically, as opposed to following a strict hiring calendar. The Wikimedia Foundation continues to hire internationally, and, to a significant degree, from the open source development community and the Wikimedia editor community. Our recruiting infrastructure has also become more fully fleshed-out to support engineering hiring, with a dedicated technical recruiter and a dedicated recruiting coordinator to improve the candidate experience.
Movement governance issues could detract from other priorities. Wikimedia organizations continue to operate with high visibility, which presents a potential risk that governance issues for a Wikimedia organization may have impact on the Foundation and other groups and organizations within the Wikimedia movement. Wikimedia organizations continue to grow rapidly and enjoy international attention based on the Wikipedia and Wikimedia brand. At the same time, Wikimedia movement organizations sometimes lack governance resources and models, especially resources tailored to our online-first, decentralized, and international community.
In the case of a governance scandal in a large chapter, for example, we would need substantial managerial, legal, governance, and communications resources to handle the situation. On the other hand, we risk imposing overly burdensome governance requirements and stifling the development of smaller organizations. Overall, the absence of a comprehensive movement roles strategy means that governance risks are addressed in an ad hoc fashion, which may risk damaging community goodwill and creating a suboptimal governance system.
- Response: This year, we published a new Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook, which provides details about the operation and procedure of the Foundation's Board. Although the exact needs of each movement organization will depend on the jurisdiction, the Board Handbook may serve as a general model for other larger movement organizations.
- Our grantmaking processes, reporting requirements, and agreements continue to be the main mechanisms for governance oversight. In 2013-14, the FDC process highlighted concern over how chapters were handling potential conflicts of interest and managing reserve funding. With the help of external governance experts and the community, we hope to provide targeted policies and training programs to address these governance needs identified by our community groups and grantmaking committees.
- Based on the Board's recent decision to encourage informal forms for new groups, we hope that our movement will place more focus on programmatic impact rather than corporate bureaucracy. However, less formal structures may potentially decrease the oversight on lower-profile risks. Without a comprehensive movement roles strategy, we will have difficulty properly calibrating the amount of formality and attention for governance within the Wikimedia movement.
The bulk of Grantmaking resources may not be effectively achieving programmatic impact or supporting our online communities as most needed. In 2013-14, the Wikimedia Foundation launched a Program Evaluation team designed to begin assessing the effectiveness of Wikimedia's programmatic activities. The work is in fairly early stages, but it's clear that we are not in a position where we can claim that our grantmaking consistently funds programmatic work with a strong, demonstrated impact on our mission.
At the movement level we are still trying to establish a solid understanding of programmatic impact and how to achieve it. Governance and leadership policies, systems, and strategies continue to be developed, and the nature of roles and relationships within the movement continue to be debated. Approximately 90 percent of our total grant spending is currently focused on formal organizations – incorporated, staffed entities, or those intending to staff-up in the near future – while only a little over 4 percent of our current spending supports individual contributors, with the remaining going to informal, emerging groups. Just 18 percent of our grants go to the Global South (marked this year by a large grant to our Brazil based partner) and only 0.8 percent of our grants directly go towards challenging the gender gap.
At the WMF and the Grantmaking department level, the recent departure of the Senior Director of Programs has meant a restructuring challenge as well as a loss of significant Wikimedia programmatic expertise. We have begun to develop programs and tools to analyse the effectiveness of movement-wide programs and our grants, but still lack a complete holistic framework that will help us understand impact at the many different levels of the movement. We also lack coordination across the movement on issues of diversity in our communities and how to support this through technology, grants and related efforts. Lastly, we need to use technology more effectively to reach new volunteers and let them know that resources are available to support them. Our work on diversity and individual volunteers may well offer us opportunities for significant programmatic impact in our online communities.
Expanding our work on impact: We will restructure the Program Evaluation and Design and Learning and Evaluation teams to create a more integrated impact and learning strategy for grantmaking and the movement as a whole, and we will keep facilitating conversations among movement leaders to identify and document best practices. The key challenge for the movement is to design, implement and assess successful programs, and the Learning and Evaluation Team will be deepening its work, including through further analysis and creating or collating self-assessment tools, toolkits, data sources and training. We will continue to document and analyze movement-wide activity and learning around Wikimedia programs (expanding our analysis from the seven program reports we’ve already created), and we will create toolkits and guidelines that will help the community design and evaluate its work better. We will also continue to facilitate work in growing leadership, governance and strategic planning skills alongside movement leaders and organizations, and with expertise from outside the movement.
- Examining impact through organizations: Informed by the work on programmatic and organizational effectiveness, we will facilitate and support conversations on the overall goals and objectives of the Wikimedia movement, and examine the levels of impact different types of formal and informal organizations can have through online and offline activities. We will continue research into other movements, and our own, including through site visits to Wikimedia organisations and communities, in an effort that helps us partner with community leaders to ask tough questions, discuss strategy, and share good practices.
- Enabling impact through individuals and diversity: We will increase resources to support individual volunteers and contributors, redesign the Travel and Participation Support program, and work with the Technology and Communications Teams to increase global awareness of grantmaking. We will aim to expand diversity, both through more coordinated efforts on the gender gap and through our proactive Global South focus strategy. In 2014-15 Grantmaking will aim once again to hit a 7 percent or greater target in grants and other resources to individuals, with the expectation that it will deepen our support of on-wiki engagement and activities, and improve editor retention and recruitment.
The onboardings of the Executive Director, VP of Engineering, and Chief Communications Officer will take organizational time and resources, which could hinder execution capability. The bulk of onboarding work for the new Executive Director will occur in Q4 of 2013-14, extending into 2014-15. This is occurring at the same time as that of the VP of Engineering and the Chief Communications Officer. A new Executive Director and the split in Engineering into two different departments, as well as the need to build out the Communications function as its own department with its own resources and mandate, will mean change regarding how the Wikimedia Foundation does its work, which may result in a temporary hit to the organization’s productivity.
- Response: The major mitigating factor here is that the groundwork for a successful transition process has been laid. The WMF has prepared well for the arrival of its next ED, including the development of an orientation manual (the "Leadership Guide") and a detailed on-boarding plan. The outgoing ED will be actively supporting the new ED in on-boarding and getting oriented to the role. The ED selection process was thoughtful and extensive, and included members of the Board (including the Chair and Vice Chair) and members of the staff, as well as strong community representation and international representation. The Chief Communications Officer was hired via a similar process, and we have put in place an onboarding plan for that role as well, which includes full support by our outside consultants experienced with our Wikimedia communications issues. Our new VP of Engineering will receive the full support of our Deputy Director, who is fully familiar with the task and challenges of the position.
The international legal context could shift in ways that threaten the Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia projects’ ability to achieve the Wikimedia mission can be thwarted by legal changes around the world. The past year has seen an increasingly diverse set of challenges in this area:
- Free and open internet. The free and open internet remains under attack, which threatens the projects. We have watched as governments, ISPs, and other parties around the world continue to inhibit people’s ability to read and/or contribute to sites like Wikipedia. Some countries – such as Bahrain, Belarus, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Vietnam – attempt to inhibit people's participation in online activities in a systematic fashion using such methods as filtering or removing content, imprisoning people who create or share certain types of material online, or shutting down or slowing down people’s Internet access.
- Other countries and their citizens – including those that are not traditionally known for censorship, such as France, India, Greece, and Italy – have attempted to use local legislation, litigation, or police action against the Foundation or our users in ways that could quelch free speech and set precedent leading to civil or criminal penalties against the Wikimedia Foundation, movement organizations, and users.
- Copyright. Copyright laws continue to evolve around the world in ways that could impact Wikimedians. Most notably, the European Union appears to be moving towards comprehensive copyright reform. If implemented correctly, this could resolve existing problems and make more existing content available for Wikimedians to reuse and build on. If implemented poorly, it could increase barriers to sharing and creation of information, or increase risk for the Foundation by potentially eroding safeguards that protect us as an intermediary. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement, could also have implications for copyright law in almost a dozen Pacific Rim countries with similar risks.
- Net Neutrality. The Net Neutrality principle aims to prevent Internet providers from charging websites for high speed delivery of their content while downgrading non-commercial sites that cannot afford to be in the fast lane, like the Wikimedia projects. But the principle has sometimes been implemented in ways that could interfere with access to knowledge projects that pose no threat to the open Internet. One example can be found in the Dutch Telecommunications Act, which prohibits Internet providers from charging subscribers differently based on the services they are accessing. If such a law were to be adopted in a country in the Global South, it could prohibit mobile carriers from giving people, who cannot otherwise afford it, free access to read and edit Wikipedia through Wikipedia Zero. There is currently a movement to adopt similar regulation in South America and to harmonize laws across the European Union, where some carriers that operate in developing countries are headquartered. Given the potential impact of overbroad Net Neutrality laws, it's important that the principle be implemented narrowly.
- Response: The Wikimedia Foundation does not participate in, or condone, efforts to inhibit people's access to knowledge online; we provide the same, uncensored service for everyone in the world. In 2013-14, we have acted to defend this position in a variety of ways, including defense against legal threats from around the world demanding removal or alteration of content on Wikimedia projects and against defamation lawsuits initiated in Germany, Italy, and India. Most importantly, we have continued to find help to defend contributors (both publicly and privately) from baseless legal threats, through our Legal Fees Assistance Program and Defense of Contributors Policy. We have sought to address reader concerns about surveillance, and participated in broader advocacy around that issue where appropriate. On copyright, we have continued to monitor the situation and look for opportunities for partnerships, such as our cooperation with the Free Knowledge Advisory Group (EU) on a recent EU consultation. More broadly, we have continued to work with Wikimedia volunteers interested in advocacy issues through the advocacy-advisors project, which we believe will continue to drive engagement on a variety of policy issues in 2014-15 (while staying within our non-profit legal constraints).
Revenue targets could not be met. The 2014-15 revenue target for WMF is an increase from our prior year projections. It is possible we cannot meet that target. Potential risk factors include the possible decline in readership in high-income countries (where most of our revenue is raised), possible reduced effectiveness of last year’s banners, and possible failure to discover a new kind of banner that works as well. Alongside the potential risk identified above regarding recent movement of page views from desktop to mobile, desktop readers donate three times more often than mobile readers. Additionally, the average donation on mobile is half that of the average desktop donation. In the near-term this trend towards increased mobile and decreased desktop traffic could further impact the Foundation’s online fundraising efforts.
A common misconception of the WMF revenue mechanism is that we can simply run banners longer to raise more money. In reality, the marginal gain from each additional day of fundraising drops rapidly after just the first week of fundraising, as the maximum pool of donors is exhausted.
- Response: We are working to expand and improve mobile giving, so that a higher percentage of mobile readers donate. Additionally, we are working to grow our capacity to effectively fundraise to more countries. Still, the increased revenue target may require us to run more intrusive banners than last year, although we would still try to minimize the impact on readers. We are fundraising more consistently throughout the year now, so we are able to adjust our tactics in response to current trends. This reduces the potential risk of a critical failure during a few crucial weeks of a short annual fundraiser. Overall, we are confident we can meet this target. In case reserves vary materially from plan, the Board Treasurer will notify the Chair of the Audit Committee and the Executive Director and propose corrective action.
An unforeseen major expense or inability to raise revenues could use up the reserve and cripple the WMF financially.
- Response: The likelihood of this happening is extremely small. Our fundraising team has always met its goal and has the flexibility to shift its tactics if current strategies become ineffective. The Wikimedia Foundation's costs are predictable and we have a track record of conservative planning. We have never in our major history faced a major unplanned expense. Our operating reserve is not expected to fall below six months of total expenses. In addition, we have made significant improvements to our insurance to protect against a variety of financial risks.
You may also include illustrations such as charts, graphs, and timelines when answering these questions about each of your organization's programs.
Division of programs:
- Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia's sites and services operational and support Wikimedia’s developer community
- Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices
- Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects
- Nontechnical Movement Support: Grants, Evaluation, Legal Support and Communications
Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia’s sites and services operating reliably and efficiently, and support Wikimedia’s developer community
Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices
Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects
Nontechnical Movement Support: Grants, Evaluation, Legal Support and Communications
Financials: year-to-date progress
"Year-to-date" refers to the period between the start of your organization's current fiscal year and the date your organization submits this proposal. Please provide the most recent year-to-date financials available, whenever possible.
- 1. Please identify the start date (month/year) and end date (month/year) of the 12-month period you define as "year-to-date" in this section.
Current fiscal year planned budget Year-to-date actuals Projected final amount In currency requested In $US In currency requested In $US In currency requested In $US Revenues (from all sources) $50.1 M USD $34.7 M USD $50.1 M USD Spending $50.1 M USD $18.7 M USD $48.0 M USD
Table 3 details, if necessary:
Financials: upcoming year's annual plan
- 1. Please link to your organization's detailed budget on this Wiki or in a publicly available spreadsheet file.
|Non Technical Movement Support|
|Administration and Fundraising|
- 2. Beyond the Wikimedia movement, does your organization currently receive or expect to receive financial support from external donors?
If so, the FDC staff will request contact information and your permission to contact the donors.
- 3. How much total funding does your organization plan to spend on travel (including staff travel, board travel, other volunteer travel, travel grants, and travel reimbursements)?
- Travel expenditures for the Wikimedia Foundation will total: $1,341,800.
- 4. Excluding these travel expenses, how much total funding does your organization plan to re-grant (as reimbursements, grants, or microgrants to individuals, groups, or organizations)?
- $8.95M (see chart below for breakdown).
|Individual Engagement Grants|
|Partnership and Alliance Grants|
|Program and Event Grants|
- 5. Overall, please estimate the percentage of total staff time spent on program work, as distinct from the total staff time spent on operational work (such as administration, fundraising, governance, legal, etc.)
- Our estimate is that 74 percent of total staff time is spent on program work, and 26 percent of total staff time is spent on administration and fundraising.
Please list anticipated revenues, by source (e.g., Annual Plan Grants through the FDC process, WMF Project and Event Grants, other grants from Wikimedia organizations, grants from institutional donors, public funding, membership fees, donations, event fees or other revenue)
Revenue source Anticipated (in currency requested) Anticipated (In $US)
Online Campaigns $54 million $54 million Foundations and Major Gifts $6 million $6 million
Table 4 notes, if necessary:
- Online Campaigns includes transfers from payment processing chapters. We will determine what portion of the funds will come from the chapters during meetings with the chapters at Wikimania.
(Table 5 not used)
Please include both part-time and full-time staff and long-term contractors. Current staff should include both staff that are currently hired and staff that your organization plans to hire during the current year. Please provide a link to a detailed staffing plan or organogram, if your organization has one.
Department (e.g. Programs, Communications) Number of current staff Percentage of current staff time* Number of upcoming staff Percentage of upcoming staff time* Rationale for hiring new staff Executive 2 100% 0 100% Product and Strategy 36 100% 12 100%  Engineering 84 100% 22 100%  Grantmaking 16 100% 6 100%  Fundraising 10 100% 2 100%  Legal and Community Advocacy 12 100% 0 100% Finance and Administration 17 100% 4 100%  Human Resources 8 100% 0 100% Communications 5 100% 2 100%  Totals 190 48 100%
*Please include estimates of the percentage allocation of staff members and long-term contractors. For example, for full-time staff, you would put 100% in this column. For half-time staff, you would put 50% in this column.
Table 6 Notes: These are based on anticipated staffing by end of FY 13-14, and requested headcount for FY 14-15.
*Please include estimates of the percentage allocation of staff members and long-term contractors. For example, for full-time staff, you would put 100 percent in this column. For half-time staff, you would put 50 percent in this column.
- 4 Community Liaisons to support engineering rollouts, 1 Senior Analyst, 1 Sr. UX Designer or Researcher, 1 UX Researcher, 1 Sr. Designer, 1 Product Manager, 1 Community Facilitator, 1 Data Analyst, and 1 Data Engineer
- 14 Software Engineers, 3 Ops Engineers, 2 QA Testers, 2 Scrum Masters, and 1 Event Coordinator
- 3 Evaluation Officers for Program Evaluation, 2 Program Officers for Grantmaking, 1 Global Education Officer
- 1 International Campaign Manager and 1 Product Manager to coordinate and support FR-tech
- 1 Payroll Specialist in Finance, 2 Project Coordinators in Administration, 1 Senior Office IT position in OIT
- 1 Media Relations Manager and 1 Wikipedia Zero Communications Manager
Summary of staff and long-term contractor expenses
In currency requested In $US Percent increase Current staff expenses $23.6 M USD $23.6 M USD Proposed increase for current staff expenses $1.2 M USD $1.2 M USD 5.1% Proposed increase for new staff expenses $3.1 M USD $3.1 M USD 12.5% Total staff expenses $27.9 M USD $27.9 M USD
Table 7 Notes: The Wikimedia Foundation has current staff expenditures of $23.6 million. We plan on increasing current staff cost by $1.2 million to cover cost of living adjustments and salary increases for merit. We are planning on adding new staff totaling $3.1 million in expenditures for a total staff expense of $27.9 million.
Program expenses are the costs associated with your organization's programs. These costs do not include operating costs or staff salaries, which will be described in separate tables. For example, program costs may be the costs of an event, the costs of outreach materials specific to a program, budgets for microgrants and reimbursements, or technical costs associated with specific programs.
Program / initiative In currency requested In $US Infrastructure $15,255,059 USD Mobile $3,759,000 USD Editor Engagement $6,719,941 USD Non Technical Movement Support $19,254,000 USD Total program expenses (should equal the sum of the rows) $44,988,000 USD
Table 8a Notes: These tables include staffing costs, which are an integral part of the program activities.
Operating costs are the costs associated with running your organization, and include administrative expenses such as office rent and maintenance, legal services and insurance costs, fees, financial services, board costs, internal IT costs, and fundraising costs. These should not include the program-specific costs described above, or staff costs described above.
Operating resource In currency requested In $US Administration $10,389,000 USD Fundraising $4,687,000 USD Total program expenses (should equal the sum of the rows) $15,076,000 USD
Table 8b Notes: Operations includes the budgets for the Executive Director, Board of Trustees, Business Office, Office Information Technology, Office Administration and Human Resources. This category also includes rent, insurance, taxes on the WMF servers. It also includes computers, facilities improvements, and furniture to accommodate the increase in staff.
Fundraising includes the cost of payment processing for a variety of payment methods and in multiple currencies.
All financial data presented include staffing costs, which are an integral part of the cost of operations.
In currency requested In $US Total cash balance as of proposal submission $38.0 M USD Total revenues $34.7 M USD Total spending $18.7 M USD Net (revenues less expenses) $15.9 M USD Operating reserves,* if applicable $17.3 M USD
Table 9 Notes: All cash, revenue, expense, net, and reserve data is as of December 31, 2013.
Cash balances are held primarily in USD, Euros and Pounds Sterling. Reserves are held in an investment fund consisting of a variety of short term investments.
*Operating reserves are liquid, unrestricted assets available for an organization to use as a cushion, and to cover the costs of operations in case of unanticipated expenses or loss of revenue. Operating reserves are not meant to be considered a solution to everyday cash flow issues; in most cases, they are meant to be held over from year to year, accumulating interest and growing based on each individual organization’s operating reserves policy.
Additional budget questions
Verification that this proposal requests no funds from the Wikimedia Foundation for political or legislative activities
Enter "yes" or "no" for the verification below.
- The term “political or legislative activities” includes any activities relating to political campaigns or candidates (including the contribution of funds and the publication of position statements relating to political campaigns or candidates); voter registration activities; meetings with or submissions and petitions to government executives, ministers, officers or agencies on political or policy issues; and any other activities seeking government intervention or policy implementation (like “lobbying”), whether directed toward the government or the community or public at large. Grants for such activities (when permitted under U.S. law and IRS regulations) should be sought from the Wikimedia Foundation Project and Event Grants Program.
I verify that this proposal requests no funds from the Wikimedia Foundation for political or legislative activities JonathanCinSF (talk) 19:00, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Once this proposal is complete, please sign below with the usual four tildes. No changes should be made to the documents after the the deadline for proposal submission for this round passes without written permission from FDC staff. Proposals will be considered submitted once the deadline for proposal submission for this round passes, unless a proposal is withdrawn by the organization submitting the proposal.
Q: What is this proposal? Is it the final version of the WMF's 2014-15 Annual Plan or a draft?
A: This is a draft version. The WMF develops its plan in six stages: 1. In January, the WMF Executive Director and C-team give the Board an update on what's happened in the year to date and what's expected for the remainder of the year. 2. Based on that update and its internal deliberations, the Board issues planning guidance to the Executive Director. 3. Based on the guidance, the Executive Director and C-team develop a draft version of the plan. We call this v1. 4. The Board provides feedback on the draft. 5. Based on the feedback, the Executive Director and C-team iterate a final version of the plan and submit it to the Board. 6. The Board votes to approve the final version. What you are reading in this proposal is the v1 draft.
Q: How do the FDC process and the WMF annual planning process fit together?
A: The WMF is happy to participate in the FDC process, because it will enable the WMF to get review and feedback from the FDC and from Wikimedia community members, as our plan is in development. We consider participation in the FDC process to be part of our commitment to the movement’s principles of transparency and accountability through participatory review. Therefore, we're participating in the FDC process by asking for community and FDC review of the v1 of our plan, before we move on to revising it and creating v2, which will go to the WMF Board for its review and approval. We appreciate the opportunity to have the plan reviewed, and look forward to receiving questions, comments, and feedback.
Q: How will the FDC input influence the WMF plan?
A: The FDC input is expected to be given to the WMF on May 8. This is the main formal opportunity for the FDC to influence the planning process. (It's not the only opportunity, because the WMF will already have been influenced by questions and comments from community members and FDC members during the community review period.) The WMF will be reworking its v1 plan into v2 throughout April and May. Revisions will be made based on feedback from Sue to her direct reports, input from C-level colleagues to each other (particularly about interdependencies), the input from the FDC and community members, the feedback given to the WMF by its Board of Trustees, and any constraints imposed by fundraising limitations and/or unavoidable spending requirements. We expect the FDC input will be important in the refinement process, but it will not be the only input the WMF is considering.
Q: Why is the WMF not requesting a specific dollar amount from the FDC?
A: When we synched up the WMF annual planning process with the FDC process, we did it in such a way that the FDC review period happened at the same time as the WMF Board review period -- because that's the point at which, by design and in actual practice, input has the most ability to influence how the plan develops. But the WMF needs to incorporate input and develop the final version of its plan more quickly than the FDC process allows. The FDC publishes its dollar amount recommendations 1 June, but the WMF timeline requires its plan to be finalized 6 June so it can be discussed and voted upon by the WMF Board of Trustees in time for 1 July. It's not possible (nor would it lead to the best possible outcome) to tear apart and rebuild the WMF plan in five days. That means it's not possible for the WMF timeline to incorporate both the FDC/community review period, and also a dollar amount recommendation. Therefore, after considerable discussion and reflection, the WMF has decided to synch up with the FDC review period, since that's the point at which FDC and community input can have the greatest influence on the WMF plan.
Q: Why has the WMF answered n/a to the questions of what funds it will raise from non-FDC sources.
A: Other Wikimedia movement entities fundraise outside of the FDC process and keep those funds for their own use. That's why the FDC proposal form asks about those funds; so it can see the full picture of what that entity is spending. The question isn't applicable to the Wikimedia Foundation, because the WMF is unique in that it raises funds for the entire global Wikimedia movement, including the allocation for the FDC.
Note: This next portion of the FAQ represents the document shared with the WMF Board of Directors as a part of the annual planning process:
Background and context
Every year between February and June, the Wikimedia Foundation develops its Annual Plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. This year as part of the Annual Plan process, the Wikimedia Foundation is participating in the FDC (Funds Dissemination Committee) process, the proposal for which is due April 1. The FDC proposal represents a high-level view of the 2014-15 Wikimedia Foundation Plan as it exists today and as it will be submitted to the FDC. At this point the work of developing the plan is well underway, but we are still mid-process. Assumptions underpinning the numbers will be refined, and we are still making decisions about what we want to achieve, and how much money we will need to spend to do it. The purpose of sharing the Annual Plan v1 with the Board, the FDC and the community is to give these groups an opportunity to influence the substance of the plan while it is mid-process.
|January 31||Year to date report and first consultation with Board.|
|March 26||v1 of the Annual Plan to Board for feedback.|
|March 31||WMF FDC proposal submitted on the wiki to the FDC.|
|April 1||Community comment period on all FDC proposals including WMF. << we are here.|
|April 17||Board feedback due to Sue on v1 of the Annual Plan.|
(Board members are asked to offer their comments as part of the consensus Board feedback on April 17, instead of individually posting on the wiki.)
|April 18||Sue delivers Board feedback to C-Level team.|
|April 30||Community comment period ends.|
|May 8||FDC publishes its formal comments on the WMF Annual Plan v1.|
|May 30||v2 of the plan is finalized, following input from Stu.|
|June 6||Final version of the Annual Plan goes to Board.|
|June 20||Board vote opens.|
|June 27||Board vote closes.|
|July 1||Annual Plan is published and budgets released.|
Questions and answers
Q: What is the purpose of this portion of the FAQ?
A: This Q & A is part of a package of materials for the Board which in total represent v1 (first draft) of the 2014-15 plan. Its purpose is to help explain and support the other materials.
Q: What documents are the Board receiving as part of this package?
A: The Board will be receiving the WMF FDC proposal, this FAQ, and the "summary document" which has a more detailed cost breakdown than is provided in the FDC proposal.
Q: What documents will the FDC be receiving?
A: The FDC will be receiving the WMF FDC proposal input and this FAQ. The proposal input includes everything requested by the FDC as part of its process. We considered giving the FDC the summary document as well, but we're not going to do that this year because it contains staffing costs from which individual salaries could be deduced. We're not necessarily opposed to sharing that information, but we haven't checked with anybody who might be affected, and so we're not going to do it this year.
Q: How has participating in the FDC process affected the development of the plan?
A: Participating in the FDC process this year has added complexity and duplication, including by increasing coordination and communication overhead. We've tried to synthesize the Board and FDC processes as much as possible, but there is quite a bit of unavoidable extra work posed by adding in FDC participation. Upshot: the cost of participation in the FDC process is not insignificant. We are hopeful, though, that the benefits (useful feedback/input from community members including the formal feedback from the FDC) will exceed the costs.
Q: What is the upshot of the plan at this point?
A: At this point, the C-Level team is still refining what it hopes to accomplish next year, which will of course have implications for the financials and the final version of the annual plan.
That said, the high-level picture is the following:
- The bulk of the Wikimedia Foundation’s proposed programmatic spending in 2014-15 is in the areas of infrastructure (including support for the open source community), mobile technology and programs, editor engagement, and non-technical support to the Wikimedia movement.
- We are increasing the priority of mobile and multi-device development for the organization. This primarily means establishing mobile development practices across the organization and reducing the monolithic nature of our technology stack by providing more functionality in the form of stand-alone services that can be used in the context of different applications and implementations. We’ve also begun integrating Wikipedia Zero with engineering and product in 2013-14, and will continue to deepen that relationship.
- We intend to continue our efforts to improve the user experience for new and experienced Wikimedia contributors alike and to increase the retention rate of new users in particular. We’re fully establishing community engagement as a new organizational function partnering with product management, and we’re deepening our commitment to data-informed development with strong support by user experience design and user experience research.
To do this, we are provisionally aiming to raise $60 million in 2014-15, with no funding designated for the reserve. Per our agreement with the Board, this proposed budget will not allow the total cash and reserves of the Wikimedia Foundation to drop below six months of operations or $30 million.
Currently, the v1 2014-15 plan calls for $9.9 million in increased spending from the FY 2013-14 budget, which results in a balanced budget with a revenue goal of $60 million. We will need to further assess our ability to raise $60 million and, if necessary, lower both the planned revenues and expenditures. The plan currently calls for adding as many as 48 FTEs as well as converting eight people from contractors to staff (currently the WMF has 190 FTEs): as we work through the planning cycle we'll be assessing the extent to which those additional FTEs are necessary, feasible and desirable for the work we're trying to get done.
*** Note to the WMF Board: You are not being asked to approve these numbers as the plan is not finished. At this point in the plan’s development, it’s normal for us to have spending plans that are larger than what we will eventually submit in the final version of the plan. Normally the planning process starts with a large number that revises downward as we refine our priorities, figure out interdependencies, and work through what's realistically possible for us to accomplish. ***
Q: What are the main proposed goals of the Wikimedia Foundation for 2014-15?
A: Please see the section “Key programs in the upcoming year's annual plan” in the Annual Plan.
Q: What are the main increases in spending in the draft plan, and what will they make possible?
|FY 14-15 Budget||FY 13-14 Budget||Variance from FY 13-14 Budget||% Increase||Notes|
|Non Technical Movement Support||$19,254,000||$15,627,000||23%||4|
1: Budget increases due to an increase of 12 staff.
2: Increases in the budget due to increase of 11 staff.
3: Increases in the budget due to increase of 5 staff.
4: Budget increases due to an additional funding for legal costs associated with the defense of community members, the protection of trademarks, additional funding for Communications, and additional funding for non-FDC grantmaking of $887,000, including Wikimania Scholarships and the addition of 8 staff.
5: Budget increases are due to higher donation processing costs, the expansion to the 5th floor of our current building, and the addition of 6 staff.
6: One significant increase that affects all budgets with staff, is a $1.3 million or 5.1 percent increase to fund cost of living increases and merit pay increases.
Q: What is contained in Infrastructure?
A: Infrastructure is solely technical spending. It contains all product and engineering spending that is not contained in Mobile, and Editor Engagement (below). It includes hosting costs, and all staffing costs associated with site performance and architecture, Wikimedia Labs, the data dumps, code review, site security and privacy, deployment, APIs, release management, and so forth. The main costs in this line item are staff and hosting.
Q: What is contained in Mobile?
A: The Mobile line item contains the costs for all staff who work solely on mobile web development and mobile app development, as well as the Wikipedia Zero Team. It does not contain any costs for staff who don't work solely on mobile. For example, no costs associated with interface analytics, research, and QA are captured in this line item; they are contained in Infrastructure.
Q: What is contained in Editor Engagement?
A: The Editor Engagement line item contains the costs for all staff who work solely on editor-engagement-related web and app development, including VisualEditor, Flow, Growth, multimedia and content translation. No costs associated with, for example, analytics, research, and QA are captured in this line item; they are contained in Infrastructure.
Q: What is contained in Non-Technical Movement Support?
A: The Non-Technical Movement Support (NTMS) line item contains all the direct costs for supporting the Wikimedia movement, with the exception of all product and engineering costs. It includes all grant money and costs of grantmaking, as well as all costs related to Legal, Community Advocacy and Communications, and direct funding for Wikimania. The largest dollar amount contained in NTMS is grant money, followed by staffing, followed by allocations for commissioned work on trademarks, domain names, litigation, and the legal defense of community members. (NTMS does not include any costs associated with the Board, the Office of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration including Office IT, or Human Resources; those are captured in Other. This breakdown could be criticized as imprecise: for example, some legal work is purely administrative. However, we believe the dollar amount of administrative (Other) costs being classed as NTMS is likely offset by the dollar amount of NTMS costs being classed as Other, such as some costs associated with the Executive Director and Board.)
Q: What is contained in Other?
A: The Other line item is essentially all administrative costs, and contains all spending by the Wikimedia Foundation with the exception of spending included in the Infrastructure, Mobile, and Editor Engagement line items. It contains all costs associated with the Board, Office of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration including Office IT, Human Resources, and Fundraising. It includes, for example, the salaries of all administrative and fundraising staff, the office rent and other facilities expenditures such as internet and telephones costs, payment processing fees, all costs associated with large meetings such as the all-staff meeting, all costs of staff equipment, audit firm and recruiter fees, and costs of insurance.
Q: What does the proposed new spending consist of?
The majority of new spending is direct staffing costs (salaries and benefits), and indirect staffing costs (office rent, laptops and desks, etc.) Roughly 57% of the new spending proposed here is direct staffing costs. That's fairly consistent with past practice: for example, currently about 45% of total WMF expenses is salaries and benefits.
Consistent with Narrowing Focus, increased spending on staffing would be intended to strengthen primarily Product & Engineering. In Engineering, we propose to add 14 software engineers, three Ops engineers, two QA testers, two scrum masters and an events coordinator. There will be a secondary emphasis on Product, where we propose to create five positions dedicated to supporting engineering roll-outs with community liaison work, as well as adding three positions to user experience/design, three to Analytics, and one additional Product Manager role. Lack of these resources has been identified as blocking or impeding progress during the quarterly reviews, by teams charged with responsibility for executing priority initiatives such as Mobile, Growth, VisualEditor and Flow.
We also propose to add five positions in Grantmaking: three learning and evaluation officers, two new program officers, and one Global Education officer. And, we propose to add two new fundraising positions, four administrative positions, and two positions in Communications.
Our major non-staffing expenses are proposed to include the following: $1.3 million for expanding the office space to take over the 5th floor to accommodate staff growth. (This includes both the increased rent costs and one-time costs for furniture and space build out.) An additional allocation of about $1.3 million to cover various legal fees (such as maintenance of our global trademark portfolio and community defense initiatives), insurance and professional services. Payment processing costs will increase by only $10K, because although we expect to increase payment processing revenues significantly, we have been able to negotiate lower percentage fees. Costs of grants are proposed to increase $887K, including increased grant money allocations for the Individual Engagement Grants (up $250K), Wikimania and Wikimania scholarships (up $250K), Partnership and Alliance Grants (up $300K), and Project and Event Grants (up $100K).
Hosting costs and cap-ex expenditures, traditionally a significant proportion of WMF spending, are budgeted to be lower than in previous years, with hosting down $800K and capex down $225K.
The current plan proposes spending growth in Infrastructure of 3 percent, Mobile of 44 percent, Editor Engagement of 44 percent, NonTechnical Movement Support of 19 percent and growth of “everything else” of 28 percent. This will give the Wikimedia Foundation an overall growth rate of 20 percent.
Q: The FDC proposal represents the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan as it exists right now. How did it get to this point?
- Everybody on the staff understands and is committed to the strategic priorities laid out in the 2010-15 strategic plan. This plan also builds on the WMF’s Annual Plans to date, on the Board’s decision to create the FDC, and on the two key focus areas of Engineering and Grantmaking.
- In January, the staff gave a presentation on 2013-14 activities thus far to the Board, and the Board discussed its initial views on priorities for 2014-15. Sue shared the Board’s feedback with the C-team, and talked with each C-person about priorities and expectations for his or her area.
- This plan sets a revenue target for the Wikimedia Foundation and the two payment processing chapters (Wikimedia Deutschland and Wikimedia Switzerland) of $60 million. (To be clear, this includes all donations that come in via the Wikimedia sites, as well as grants and major gifts to the WMF. It doesn’t include money raised by chapters outside of the Wikimedia sites.) As we move towards the annual campaign, we’ll set expectations with payment-processing chapters about how much money we hope they can raise, but whether they fall short or exceed expectations, the WMF will fundraise to hit the target.
- Throughout February and March, the C-level team worked with Gayle, Garfield, Tony, and their own direct reports to develop their budget and staffing requests. Their requests were submitted in March and compiled by Tony. This plan is preliminary and will need to be reduced. That is happening now, while you review this version of the plan.
Q: What remains to be done before the plan is finalized?
- We are gathering Board, FDC and community input via this process, and it will be incorporated into our thinking and the thinking of the management team.
- On April 1, the FDC application of the Wikimedia Foundation will be submitted on wiki. This kicks off the period of Wikimedia community questions and commenting.
- On April 17, the Board sends feedback to Sue on v1 of the plan.
- April 1 - April 30 is the comment period from the FDC and the community on the Wikimedia Foundation proposal.
- Throughout April, the annual planning team will work with the C-level staff to iterate the plan (including goals and targets) into a v2 which will be delivered in early May. This version will incorporate input from the Board, FDC, and community as appropriate.
- On May 8th, the comments from FDC on the Wikimedia Foundation plan will be published. This is the main formal opportunity for the FDC to influence the plan.
- At the end of May, Stu, Sue, and Garfield will meet to discuss the near-final version of the plan.
- On June 6, Stu will send the Board the final plan and Stu will post the resolution, triggering a two-week mailing list discussion period. Normally we have an IRC meeting at some point in this period, and we plan to do that this year as well.
- On June 20 or thereabouts, Stu will move to open the vote, triggering a seven-day voting period that will close before June 27.
- On June 27 or thereabouts, voting will close so the Wikimedia Foundation can publish the plan on time.
- On July 1, the Board decision on the FDC recommendations will be published by the Board and a revised version of the Wikimedia Foundation FDC plan will be published, as approved by the Board.
Q: What caveats do you have for us, as we read the draft plan?
A: At this point in the process, there are still lots of assumptions underpinning the numbers that are being validated and refined. There may be errors -- e.g., double-countings, missed items, bad timing assumptions-- and there are many refinements to be made. To a degree the mistakes will cancel each other out as we work through the process, but it's still possible that we’ll discover that our financial picture is better or worse than what we think today, without us having made any decisions that affect the substance of the activities we are planning. So, the picture as described here may change as we refine the plan.
The substance of the plan is still very much a work-in-progress. Sue is giving her direct reports input on their first drafts, and we will also be considering the feedback we get from the Board, the FDC, and the community.
Q: What are the goals that would be tied to this plan?
A: The goals and targets are preliminary -- they are mid-process and not yet fully articulated. The basic activities are laid out below, and further articulated with goals and targets in the FDC proposal. Below, though, is a snapshot of where we are right now. The C-level people are currently working with their teams to flesh these out.
The key programs for the Wikimedia Foundation for 2014-15 as presented to the FDC will be the following:
- Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia's sites and services operational and support Wikimedia’s developer community.
- Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices.
- Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects.
- Nontechnical Movement Support: Grants, Evaluation, Legal Support and Communications.
Q: This feels like a fair amount of proposed growth for the organization, particularly from a staffing perspective. Can you give more context for the staffing increase?
A: At this point, the WMF proposes to increase staffing by 40 FTE hires and 8 FTE conversions over the course of 2014-15, to a planned staff of 238, an increase of 25 percent over 2013-14. The FDC proposal contains the details of departmental-level breakdowns.
For purposes of comparison with previous years:
|Total FTEs at EOY||Increase (#)||Increase (%)|
Here's how that breaks down by activity area:
|Activity Area||Total FTEs at BOY (projected)||Total FTEs at EOY (plan)||Increase (#)||Increase (%)|
|Editor Engagement||37||42 (48 with conversions)||5 (+6 conversions)||14%|
|Non-Technical Movement Support||33||41||8||24%|
Over 2013-14, attrition is projected to be 23 FTEs, or 12 percent of the total staff. Over 2014-15, we expect attrition to be 24 FTEs, or 10 percent of the total staff. Our typical turnover is about 9-10% (low by industry standards): this past spring, we experienced higher attrition than planned partly due to departmental and organizational leadership changes in Operations and Programs.
Going in 2014-15, we are reasonably well-staffed for hiring. In 2013 we hired an engineering recruiter and during the last quarter of 2013-14 we intend to hire a senior recruiting manager and a recruiting coordinator to oversee special projects, as well as to launch an improved applicant tracking system. The draft plan as laid out here outlines a maximum ceiling for our staffing -- that is, the positions we would ideally like to fill to make sure our teams can get their work done. We know we cannot hire rashly because people who aren’t culture fits don’t work within the complexity of our operating environment, so quality of hiring cannot be sacrificed for speed. We need to continue to hire high quality staff and take the time to integrate and onboard them.
Overall, we also continue to look at diversity as a component of hiring. We are doing well in terms of diversity of staffing, particularly at the executive level. We will continue to work on gender diversity, adding Wikipedians especially in roles where community history and experience is a necessity (i.e. Grantmaking and Program Evaluation), and hiring people with global experience to reflect the global nature of our mission. We are a small enough organization that attrition of one or two people affects the overall percentage of staff in a given category (hence the percent differences between FY 2012-13 and March 2014). Part of the challenge of increasing gender diversity has to do with with the fact that most of our staff are in Engineering, and the broader challenges of diversity within that field. This is something our recruiting team is aware of and the FY 2014-15 recruiting plans include greater outreach in this area.
|FY 2011-12||FY 2012-13||March 2014|
|Lived Outside Home Country||51%||79%||72%|
When does this initial discussion period end?
The Board's feedback and guidance are useful throughout the process. You should feel free to continue discussions until early May. But your input will be most useful if we can receive it before April 17. After that, it will be more difficult for it to have influence on the substance of the plan. We are also planning on reviewing any feedback from the FDC and the community during the FDC comment period - April 1 to April 30 - and from the FDC assessment - May 8 - for its impact on the final annual plan.