Fundraising 2010/Amir's thoughts

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I was Wikimedia Israel's liaison for Fundraising 2010 - localization, spreadsheet updates, exchanging emails with Moushira etc. This is a very messy draft outline of my thoughts about Fundraising 2010 and ideas for future fundraisers. I hope to have time to tidy it up in the near future.

Some paragraphs intentionally appear more than once under several headings. They are related to several topics and they may develop separately under every topic.

It's a wiki: Feel free to edit it, move it, link to it and comment on it. --Amir E. Aharoni 19:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Comment: As of 15:38, 30 March 2011 (UTC) this page already includes input from other people. This is OK. Feel free to add more; i'll revert if i won't like it :) --Amir E. Aharoni 15:38, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Localization[edit]

If there's one thing i would improve about Fundraising, it's localization. I have many more to write about it.

Translations should be in one place. No string should be translated more than once. This requires planning, but it's possible.

There must be only one translation interface. Translatewiki is mostly good: It clearly shows what needs to be translated in every language, it avoids repetition by remembering similar strings, and it pushes updates automatically. Possible caveat: it's impossible to edit anonymously and accounts must be created in advance.

Translations must be updated automatically, but they should be checked by people who are known to speak the language.

It must be possible to change the language after arriving to the landing page. A list of available languages can be shown. Consider using Accept-Language - maybe not to show the page in that language, but at least to emphasize it.

Talk with PayPal as early as possible about translations.

If you have landing pages in several languages, consider recording the language that the donor used and contacting him later in that language.

Not everything has to be translated. Some messages need to be translated only to several languages. I really appreciate the amazing efforts of the people who translated everything into Macedonian, but probably very few people read Tamar's letter in Macedonian.

Sometimes personal appeals, strings and forms are not translated, despite the efforts of the people who run Translators-l. Put a link somewhere on the page, inviting the readers to translate it.

Test the translations somehow before publishing. This time there were problems with spelling mistakes and wrong translation in German, Piedmontese, Japanese, Hebrew, Thai and maybe other languages. This is a wiki and we have to trust people, but fundraising messages are pushed to thousands of people asking for money, so we should be more careful.

Use data about different language version usage in every country. Have the messages translated to languages of the top projects.

For some geographical areas writing the banner in several languages at once should be considered. In many countries a Wikipedia in a major language - English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic or other - can be used more than the Wikipedia in the local language of the country, because the local-language Wikipedia is small and underdeveloped. The reader of the English Wikipedia doesn't necessarily know English well and it can be efficient to appeal to him in his language through en/fr/es/ru/ar.wp. Translating just a few messages is easy and a well-localized fundraising campaign may bring in more money with very little effort. Low-hanging fruit!

Think about ways to measure the efficiency of localization. Localization probably does bring in more money, but this must be measured, too.

Localization is not just translation.

Consider running the fundraiser not just in December. This may be good for USA and many other countries, but not necessarily for the whole world.

Combine linguistic descriptivism with linguistic idealism in a clever way: Research what languages are used online in particular countries. Maybe in a certain location English is very common online even though people don't speak it on the street. Think about a convenient message for every country. Maybe seeing a local language on a banner will be a very positive experience, because that language is not seen online elsewhere; but it also maybe confusing and negative. Wikimedia is a great movement for fostering local languages, but it has its limitations.

Prepare Thank-You letters for donors in advance. Consider writing them in all the languages that are relevant for your geo area. Consider adapting them for gender. Consider writing letters for donors who identify as companies.

Problems with wikimediafoundation.org[edit]

wikimediafoundation.org , which is used for landing pages, is a special wiki. To give just a couple of examples: not everyone gets an account there and it has somewhat different definitions (regarding nofollow, preview, raw HTML etc.). This made me, and probably some other liaisons tense - "What if i do something wrong here? I should be very careful and only do very simple things, so that James, Casey and Philippe won't get mad." This attitude caused us to build the landing pages in a very inefficient way - without proper use of templates, etc. This attitude may be exaggerated, but the fact is that it happened.

wikimediafoundation.org has a lot of information which is not directly related to fundraising. So maybe, a dedicated wiki should be created for fundraising landing. Or even a dedicated website, which is - horrors! - not a wiki at all, but rather a site which makes it easy to create fundraising forms. Maybe not every WMF-related website has to be a wiki. Just a thought.

Jimmy's "Thank-You" letter had a link to the WMF donation page. Translated letters from Jimmy and other Wikimedians are published on wikimediafoundation.org according to language, not chapter. This should have been parametrized - for the Israeli chapter i manually copied the letter and changed the link in Hebrew, English, Arabic and Russian. This is very inefficient and error-prone (see above about the general problem with wikimediafoundation.org ).

Hard to edit landing pages on wikimediafoundation.org - no edit button.

wikimediafoundation.org accounts must be created in advance for liaisons.

Codes like WMFLA002 and WMFJA1 are not obvious and have to be requested from the WMF tech people for every landing page.

PayPal[edit]

Talk with PayPal as early as possible about translations.

By July - know which countries and currencies PayPal supports. Ask PayPal where do they plan to open offices in the future.

PayPal is good in general, but it's good to have other options for people who don't want PayPal for whatever reason - bugs in PayPal (there are a few), fear of using a foreign service, being used to snail-mailing handwritten checks. WM Israel received several very large donations through other channels; if we would only offer PayPal, we could have missed them.

Talk with PayPal as early as possible about translations. Strangely, it is not available in Arabic, for example.

Try to find payment service in every country, even if there is no chapter in it. IN ADVANCE.

Press PayPal to have all currencies.

Suggest PayPal to have Wikimedia volunteers translate its interface and in return get a large discount.

Planning[edit]

Make sure that the landing page can handle the load of the busiest Fundraising day. In Israel it was the first fundraising day; in other countries it may be the 31st of December or any other day. The Israli chapter site almost crashed that day. If you aren't sure that your chapter's site can handle this traffic, ask the Foundation for help!

Announce changes in plan as early as possible. Surprises like disabling banners for logged-in users are not good; not the disabling - the surprise.

Publish detailed checklists with clear action items for everyone in the WMF and in the chapters. With early due dates. Doing everything in the last minute and not being sure about things sucks.

Currently fundraising tasks are randomly "shot in the dark". Sometimes it works, but without commitment you may end up with half-baked localization. One half-baked encyclopedic article is not a disaster, but it's quite bad when it happens with banners and landing pages which are strongly pushed into all visitors' faces. Maybe minimal piecemeal tasks can be created - so at least things won't look half-baked.

Communication with chapters[edit]

Tell the chapters clearly what are they free to do. Is sucks to realize that you have more freedom than you thought to put up or not to put up banners. Don't just say: "You're free to do anything". Say: "You are free to put any banners you like, as long as they are approved by X; You are free not to put any banners at all; You are free to raise money by newspaper ads; You are NOT free to use animated banners; etc.". (This list was just an example.)

If chapters are slow to cooperate, for whatever reason, run the same banners and landing pages as in the rest of the world. It probably won't hurt. Because of confusion about having to ask to enable the banners, i didn't ask to enable them in Israel on the first day. This probably didn't cause us to lose a lot of money, but it was a little bit unpleasant.

Help chapters become tax-deductible in some way. A few donors ask about it.

Have a policy about indicating whether the donation is tax-deductible. Consider making it obligatory to indicate that it is not. It may yield less money, but it shows honesty.

Measure clicks for everyone. Please. Measure for chapters everything that is measured for the WMF. The chapters also want to know every detail about the efficiency of banners, landing pages etc.

The WMF complained several times that the fundraising staff - James, Deniz etc. - are overloaded and cannot take every request from chapters. This is understandable. So use the chapters' staff: Give them at least some of the tools that the WMF staff has.

People who give their photographs for banners[edit]

If a person photographed in a banner is presented as an editor, his actual contribution may be checked. If it's small, it may send a wrong message. (People don't necessarily appreciate other contributions to the movement.)

How not to disappoint people who were photographed and whose banners weren't used much or at all? "Efficiency" is key, but give it a thought anyway - people may be depressed by the fact that their photo or letter wasn't good enough for raising money. Think about strategies for avoiding it in the first place.

Take pictures of people as early as possible. And with good photographers and good cameras: Portrait photos made with cheap sub-SLR cameras don't look so well on a banner shown to millions of people. Good photographers come to Wikimania :)

Interview the people who donated their photographs for the banners and ask them about their experiences. We should be extremely nice to them - they brought us a lot of money.

Measure the efficiency of local people in their local areas. Tamar's banner worked much better than Lilaroja in Israel.

Take pictures of potential appeal authors on Wikimania, Chapter meetings, Wiki meetups. Tell people that their photo may be used.

Be prepared for press backlash. Nothing serious happened yet, but it might. The photographed volunteers may get hurt, too, which will be very unpleasant. There must be an escape plan for that: A red button for a liaison to disable an unwanted banner quickly.

A couple of religious Israelis complained about "unmodest" photo of Lilaroja. They didn't complain any more after being told that the banner can be closed. Besides, there are many more photos on Wikipedia which are much less modest, not to mention other websites, Israeli and foreign. So it's probably not a major problem, but it should be remembered for Israel and many other conservative areas around the world.

The photographed people should be ready to become local or worldwide celebrities. And to be ready to be parodied. (XXX Ask Tamar, Lilaroja, Abbas etc. about their experiences. XXX)

Management[edit]

Prepare a spreadsheet for all the dates from advance. Formatting, custom currencies. Several columns for different donation sources - PayPal, other websites, cheques, wire transfers, bank transfers, post, phone.

Fundraising 2010/Updates had great content. It looked a lot like a blog - so it should be a blog! WordPress with RSS is much better than a wiki page for this. There should be a dedicated Fundraising blog - not combined with Wikimedia blog. And it should be updated throughout the year. All liaisons should read it.

Call a street after Philippe. He was great - patient, professional, quick, polite and positive. The same goes for Moushira, Deniz, James, Zack, Casey and a few more people i forgot (sorry!).

The WMF complained several times that the fundraising staff - James, Deniz etc. - are overloaded and cannot take every request from chapters. This is understandable. So use the chapters' staff: Give them at least some of the tools that the WMF staff has. This includes giving at least some non-WMF-staff access to the fundraising blog.

Testing[edit]

Test, test, test. Not just efficiency - appearance, too.

Translations must be updated automatically, but they should be checked by people who are known to speak the language.

Test the translations somehow before publishing. This time there were problems with Piedmontese, Japanese and Hebrew. This is a wiki and we should trust people, but fundraising messages are pushed to thousands of people asking for money, so we should be more careful.

Test throughout the year. Don't just start in September. This helps avoid surprises in the middle of the Fundraiser when everybody's tired, and besides, it brings in some money. Why not.

Test banners and landing pages on handheld devices.

RTL (Right to left language support). Please prepare and test RTL in advance. And make it easy to "build" RTL banners. It should be easy, we're in 2011.

Make sure that the landing page can handle the load of the busiest Fundraising day. In Israel it was the first fundraising day; in other countries it may be the 31st of December or any other day. The Israeli chapter site almost crashed that day. If you aren't sure that your chapter's site can handle this traffic, ask the Foundation for help!

Communication and community[edit]

Don't fight. Please, don't fight. And don't tell stingy jokes on the mailing lists. We're all friends, even when we deal with disgusting things like marketing and money. Especially then!

Everybody hated banners with the word "urgent". Don't post such banners and don't even test them unless there's a particularly good reason for it AND the community agrees. Note that your actions may impact the relationship to both readers and authors. Inaccurate banners (hypothetical example: saying that Sue is the Executive Director of Wikipedia) are often met with disapproval by contributors.

Don't test any banner without first showing it to the mailing list members. Mailing list flames are a Bad Thing.

Liaisons[edit]

Take liaisons to see the testing sessions in the Foundation offices. Worth the money. Or at least show them a movie of the testing team at work, taking notes of clicks and plotting conversion rate charts. It may look like a few people in a room with laptops and spreadsheets, but actually it's very eye-opening and inspiring. Without seeing it i wouldn't function as effectively and i wouldn't understand the emails from Philippe, Moushira & co. as well.

Teach liaisons what to reply to critics - about the foundation's efficiency and spending, about Wikipedia quality, about ugly banners. This doesn't sound nice, of course, but we must be prepared to everything.

Not to be dependent on the WMF techies in other timezones to correct spelling mistakes in banners. Give more people the permissions to do it.

There can be liaisons in all countries, not just countries with chapters. It's about fostering commitment. Currently fundraising tasks are randomly "shot in the dark". Sometimes it works, but without commitment you may end up with half-baked localization. One half-baked encyclopedic article is not a disaster, but it's quite bad when it happens with banners and landing pages which are strongly pushed into all visitors' faces. Maybe for countries without chapters minimal piecemeal tasks can be created - so at least things won't look half-baked.

Public relations[edit]

Be prepared for press backlash. Nothing serious happened yet, but it might. The photographed volunteers may get hurt, too, which will be very unpleasant. There must be an escape plan for that: A red button for a liaison to disable an unwanted banner quickly.

Not too much Jimmy. Even if his efficiency is magical, it is worth to give up some money for having more diversity in banners. Look for a well-balanced ratio of WMF people (Jimmy, Sue), Chapter people and ordinary Wikimedia contributors.

A contributor suggested putting a direct link to the Foundation's full financial reports on the donation page.

General banner ideas[edit]

Show the "thank you" banner to people who already donated. (XXX Link to bug. XXX)

Consider showing education-themed messages to people who access from schools and universities.

Consider showing work-themed messages to people who access from corporations. Example: "Does Wikipedia help you do your job? Click here to see whether your company has a donation matching plan with the WMF."

In the donation form have a field where the person will be able to agree to be included in a mailing list.

Fundraising-related bugs: