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Fundraising 2010/Introduction

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About the 2010 Fundraiser[edit]

Like previous years, banner messages that run on top of Wikimedia websites drive the fundraiser. Banner messages must represent the spirit and mission of the Wikimedia projects. In the months prior, and now during, the fundraiser we have continued to test messages and appeals from Wikimedia readers, community members and outsiders who want to help. Together, we'll throw all our ideas into one big pot and see what rises to the top.

This year's fundraiser is a collaborative campaign. We recognize that messages that work in the United States don't always work worldwide, we're asking the community to get deeply involved with the messaging, planning, and execution of this year's fundraiser.

Core Principles:

  1. Messages will be reflective of who we are. They will represent the values and integrity of the projects and organization.
  2. Messages will be considered fairly, regardless of source - any messaging that's submitted will be weighed equally (messages suggested by professionals will be given the same consideration as messages submitted by the community), and tested fairly. The primary mechanism for deciding on messaging will be to get ideas from the broad community (including staff) and consultants and test them.
  3. Messaging decisions will be based in fact. Messages that are used will be tested rigorously and ones that don't work won't be used. There will be a well-defined testing methodology that provides us with appropriate and well-considered data for decision making.
  4. Messages will be optimized. If a local community (chapter, language community, project) finds that a particular (appropriate) message works better in that environment, we will support

Wikimedia Fundrasing Overview[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports the Wikimedia projects by providing servers, bandwidth, and professional staff. The foundation runs the world's fifth most viewed website on a budget of around $20 million dollars: an extremely lean operation, providing high value per donation. The Foundation believes that the "community giving" approach (many small donations) ensures the independence of Wikimedia projects, allows us to stay focused on our mission, and avoids exposure to interests of large funders.

The first Wikimedia fundraiser was a modest appeal to buy our first developer a new laptop. Over the years, our basic approach to fundraising has stayed the same: We're appealing to readers and contributors to support the Wikimedia projects they use.

Banner messages that run on top of Wikimedia websites drive the fundraiser. Here's the approach we're committed to following this year: Banner messages must represent the spirit and mission of the Wikimedia projects. And within that constraint, we will test different messages against each other that are suggested by Wikimedia readers, community members and outsiders who want to help. Together, we'll throw all our ideas into one big pot and see what rises to the top through testing. This year, we'd also like to experiment with some new things such as ads on Facebook and Google.

The Wikimedia Foundation is responsible for successfully raising the annual budget. In other words, Foundation staff are on the hook for running a fundraiser that reaches its goal. But we won't be able to do this without major participation from Wikimedia contributors. This year we've convened a Fundraising Committee (FRCOM) made up of volunteers and staff to guide the fundraiser. FRCOM has two jobs: drive the creative process of the fundraiser and speak for the fundraiser to the broader community.

About the committee[edit]

The Fundraising Committee is made up of community members (including members of the chapters and chapter fundraising contacts), experts, and staff members who choose to be deeply involved and committed to the fundraiser. It is a group of people who have agreed to spend significant amounts of time contributing to the success of the fundraiser. There are only a few requirements to join that committee: a sense of agreement with the vision of the fundraiser as data driven and community facing, a deep desire to see the fundraiser succeed, a commitment to working in good faith, and a time dedicated towards ensuring the success of the fundraiser. The fundraising committee will act as ambassadors for the fundraiser, and will be the people that represent the fundraiser to local communities or chapters. Because the fundraising committee is committed to the success of the fundraiser, they will have a very strong leadership role in its direction.


The fundraising committee will work with the community, Foundation staff, and consultants to create a series of messages for testing. We believe that the Wikimedia community is in the best position to know what messages drive donations from other Wikimedians. In addition to donations from Wikimedians, though, we're seeking out donations from millions of readers - non-Wikimedians who care about our projects, but may not even know that we're a non-profit - and will engage with some fundraising professionals to help us craft messages to speak to those people. Messages from all sources will be treated with the same process: they'll be evaluated to see if they match the core principles (above) of the fundraiser, and added to the testing plan. Messages will be proposed on a public wiki, and will be treated to "wiki-style" processes. We will iterate, adjust, and ruthlessly edit messages to see what works well. With the help of an expert in experimental design, we'll be sure that our tests make sense. Local communities will be allowed to adjust messages to fit local needs, provided the messages still meet the core principles and test well. Messages and practices will be tested frequently. We ran 'drill' fundraisers in the weeks prior to the launch of the campaign, and continue to constantly tweak and test our pages. This enables us to maximize our limited fundraising time. To find your Wikimedia staff support for the 2010 campaign, you can view the organizational chart.

Non-financial contributions[edit]

If a particular geography simply isn't effectively fundraising, we'll move towards a "contributions" campaign, to begin to build local capacity for later years. So, instead of asking for financial contributions, we'll advocate for editing contributions. Long term, it is believed that this focus on attracting new contributors will lead to the "virtuous" circle of Reach → Participation → Quality.


What does it mean to test messages? For the purposes of this fundraiser, we will be measuring actual performance of messages: how many people click the banner, continue on to contribute, and what's the average size of the contribution. We'll be targeting a holistic donor audience: attempting to reach a wide range of demographic targets. Obviously, because we're trying to raise a larger amount than ever before, we're going to need to optimize the messages and focus only on messages that perform exceptionally well. We've engaged an expert on experimental design to help us ensure that decisions we're making are data-driven, and that in addition to collecting a lot of data, we're actually interpreting it correctly. As the fundraiser progresses, we will continue to test and tweak banners, landing pages, and donation gateways.


We will engage most often here, on this wiki, and the dedicated IRC channel #wikimedia-fundraisingconnect to communicate. Fundraising staff is often available in that channel to collaborate with members of this committee or community members with ideas, suggestions, or questions. Check the Updates page for timely information about testing.


This calendar is tentative, not complete, and subject to change:

Target date What's happening? Comment
Ongoing Thursday fundraisers begin For a couple of hours, one day per week, we test the processes and messages to be sure that we're ready for full fundraising
15 November, 2010 Fundraiser begins Maximize fundraising efficiency to support the projects.
15 January, 2011 "Wikipedia X" - the 10th birthday of Wikipedia Fundraiser ending date

See also[edit]

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