Fundraising and Funds Dissemination/Goals

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I think it makes sense for us to have a page where we can say what our goals (hopes, dreams) are for this process. Please feel free to add yours to this page. You can participate here whether or not you intend to ever be involved in fund raising or receiving funds from the movement -- if you are reading this, your view is welcome. Please do say whether you're giving your personal/individual opinion, or representing a particular constituency. Thanks. Sue Gardner 09:37, 8 November 2011 (UTC)


  • Personally, my goal with this process is to figure out a system for fund-raising and funds dissemination that will work effectively for the Wikimedia movement. I believe that we want to be able to raise large amounts of money efficiently and in a way that fits with our values and our ethics, and we want to be able to move it freely around the world in order to pay for high-impact work that will advance the mission. I am hopeful that everybody participating in the process of figuring this out can engage open-heartedly and in good faith, and that we'll all try to set aside our own personal fears and biases and self-interest, to work towards something that makes sense for the movement as a whole. In a perfect world we'd be able to come to a consensus decision. But, if we can't do that, I hope that at the end of the process everybody will at least feel like they had an opportunity to participate and influence the outcome, and that the outcome, even if it's not exactly what they personally would have hoped for, seems sane and reasonable. Sue Gardner 09:37, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • For WM-UK, the trustees boiled down our mission to a very short and easy to communicate statement - "to help people and organisations build and preserve open knowledge, to share and use freely". Fund raising and dissemination introduces operational issues underneath this mission, particularly in consideration of the possibly complex end to end process for international or inter-group funding. As a member of the board of a chapter that must be governed as a charity, I must be able to provide a guarantee of timely reporting and appropriately detailed process transparency to ensure funds are seen to be managed in a way that reassures donors, volunteers and other stakeholders that outcomes not only meet the mission but that the outcomes are of high value and that funds can be seen by the public to be managed effectively and efficiently. -- 13:19, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • For a Wikipedian, heavily involved in the Strategic plan and movement roles, and generally a well-wisher for the chapters, I have these concerns-
    • Hopes
    • Decentralized model with redundancies, where a wikimedian can go to another organization to seek funding if one rejects.
    • Accountability- It brought us here, I do hope there is a long term solution.
    • Performance linked incentives- Responsible chapters who prove themselves should be given support to expand and taken on more projects if needed.
    • Decentralized chapter-based fundraising should be performance linked.
    • Model for chapter growth.
    • General avoidance of catch-22 of tax-deductibility. Needed to fund-raise, once achieved requires overhead from organizations to maintain.
    • Continued support for outreach, GLAM activities.
    • Independence for chapters to take a decision on what projects they want to pursue.
    • Fears
    • No more continued projects like the Toolservers.
    • No more annual programs like WLM.
    • One Funding Czar at WMF.
    • Grant dependent existence, no room to support projects that haven't been approved first by WMF.
Those are some that come to mind. Regards. Theo10011 14:10, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • My hopes and fears echo those of Theo10011, except one is exactly in reverse. I say this with deep respect for his position, but I want to flip some of this to show the corresponding fear, and flip fears into hopes.
Fear: Decentralized model with redundancies -> leading to irrational overlap and misallocation of funds due to no coherent guiding authority
Fear: Decentralized model with redundancies -> leading to ongoing lack of accountability, longterm rise in unjust "entitlement" attitude towards funding
Fear: No central authority at Wikimedia with a guiding vision -> leading to lower support for outreach in the developing world, complete lack of outreach for GLAM activities in the developing world
Hope: that we come up with a model that reduces potential problem of large chapters in wealthy countries feeling entitled to funds without measurable objectives and achievements
Hope: to empower both a centralized vision to eliminate irrational overlaps/gaps while still encouraging local decision making on details (i.e. grant model to chapters where, subject to coherent performance metrics and objectives, local chapters make decisions on how to spend)--Jimbo Wales 15:46, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Great page Sue. As the WMF's Board Treasurer for the past 3.5 years, and a CFO and manager in my day job, I've spent a lot of time thinking about these two issues. Let me try to articulate in terms of hopes and fears:
    • Fundraising hopes -- That we as a movement can raising all the funds needed to achieve our vision. That we build enough reserves so that the movement can rest assured that the next few years of outreach programs can be funded. That we can eventually build some kind of endowment to fund WIkipedia's core operations forever. That our increased financial resources will help us attract engineering talent that shares our vision and can help take our software to the next level. That we can leverage our incredible success engaging 500,000 donors a year into recruiting more editors (e.g. a spring "editing drive" to complement the fall fundraising drive). That we can raise enough money so that any good idea from within our movement can be funded. That we build decentralized capabilities to raise money with as few single points of failure as possible.
    • Fundraising fears -- That we'll attract fewer volunteers because we are more successful raising money. That some regulatory or PR mess forces us to miss an annual fundraiser. That having increased financial reserves will make us more of a target for litigation. That our fundraising capabilities grow so much faster than our funds management capabilities and we do something that alienates donors and editors. That we as a movement will somehow let all this money screw things up.
    • Funds dissemination hopes -- That we as a movement can really reach "every single human being," all 7 billion of them. That we can use our financial resources to seed new healthy volunteer communities in places they haven't yet developed on their own. That we can fill in the gaps of our volunteers' incredible efforts with paid resources. That we develop good funds dissemination processes so that any really good idea from within our movement gets funded quickly and efficiently. That we can help all organizations in the movement develop the right level of financial controls and leadership proceses to respect our donors contributions. That we eventually build decentralized capabilities to pursue the vision with as few single points of failure as possible. That we can start funding other like-minded organizations (e.g. Creative Commons) that are critical to our work but are less consumer-facing so might, relatively, have difficult raising money. That we succeed in building a software platform that can truly take our pursuit of vision to the next level, with native mobile capabilities and an editing interface that is as easy as contributing to Facebook. That we develop a movement-wide culture of performance/accountability to drive the highest-impact use of donor funds.
    • Funds dissemination fears -- That all of us in the movement somehow lose sight of the reality that there's plenty of money and instead let our egos and fears and suspicions lead us to spend our time fighting over money rather than inspiring new editors, doing things like WLM and GLAM, and otherwise pursuing the vision. That we let the same financial bickering which plagues the Olympic Committee, the U.N., FIFA, and other international organizations seep into our movement. That distraction over how funds get disseminated demotivates volunteers. That we won't scale the financial controls and financial management experience fast enough across our movement and have a financial crisis that hurts donor confidence and our global reputation.
Stu 15:43, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

My great hope for this process is obviously that we can come up with a funds distribution process that everybody can live with. My fears are:

  • That while financial accountability and transparency are extremely important, that it will be used as a stick to further centralise control or prevent discussion of what the real issues might be.
  • We will lose sight of the fact that nobody in the movement has an overwhelming moral right to funding. Our donors do not generally donate to "The Wikimedia Foundation" or "Wikimedia (country)", they donate to the amorphous 'movement', of which formally established organisations are only a small part. All funding decisions should be made in light of this reality.
  • The WMF, which holds most of the cards in the game, will use their financial and legal muscle to impose a "solution" upon other parties without their consent.
  • To follow on from the above, that controls and limitations will be imposed on chapters, without equivalent controls sitting on the WMF. If our budgets need to go through a review and approval process, then why not the WMF's budget and programmes? Chapter boards are generally democratically accountable somehow, and will get voted out if they do something dumb, but there is no real machinery for the community to call the WMF to account if poor decisions are made on how to spend the funds.
  • That if we put all of our eggs into the WMF basket, another financial scandal along the lines of the Carolyn Doran affair could tarnish the reputation of everybody.
  • That any arrangement does not allow for new or smaller chapters to receive money to professionalise, until they have professionalised. There must be a clear path for chapters to move from being penniless to having the capacity to handle large grants and programmes, without hoping that a volunteer accountant or lawyer turns up one day.
  • Much as Stu has outlined, that arguing about money becomes a preoccupation instead of doing programme work. Any future solution should be equitable, transparent, but also move quickly and be predictable in its operation. This way we can concentrate on the important stuff that we're all here for.

Craig Franklin 04:28, 13 November 2011 (UTC).

Those are my thoughts:

  • Fundraising hopes
I would like to extend fundraising activities to other models than banners in centralsitenotices. It would be great if one day we could get rid of banners. That vital expenses (maintenance of servers, bandwidth ...) be covered with a capitalization fund. That each year that fund be increased to cover for the future costs we are causing by growing the database. That the entities processing the payments (Chapters or not) offer to the donors the best possible treatment and conditions. That the donors if they want, they can choose where their money is spent and through whom is collected.
  • Fundraising fears
That the structure of the WMF and other groups grow generating fixed costs that are not guaranteed with recurring revenue. That the methods of fundraising we use make us to lose editors. That the efforts to raise funds divert time from editing. That there may appear negative feelings like envy selfish or greed among different organizations based on different fundraising capacity.
  • Funds dissemination hopes
To be able to share financial resources with the same generosity with which we share knowledge. To find mechanisms to align expenses with the priorities to invest the money where it is most needed, regardless of where it is collected. That we can find mechanisms allowing each one feel heard in defining priorities. That we be able to release the initiative and creativity of community members by providing them funding for innovative activities.
  • Funds dissemination fears
Not having enough transparency and control of funds. That in order to have transparency and control we impose too heavy a bureaucracy. That maintaining paid staff at WMF, chapters, and other groups this may generate negative dynamics between project editors and members of the groups that contribute for free.

--Gomà 13:33, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Fundraising Hopes
To be able to collect all the funds needed.
Fundraising fears
My fear is that while we discuss ourselves to death about fundraising and funds dissemination we loose the bigger picture of what is it that we collect the money for. We do not pursue new fundraising models. The fundraising itself becomes less and less Decentralized. So, the bottom line is that while we're able to collect more money we undermine the pillars that the movement is built upon.
Fund dissemination Hopes
I hope we can find a model that everyone can live with.
Fundraising fears
However, I'm afraid that we can't find such a model and we'll end up with a model that most players aren't happy with.

Tomer A. 15:23, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

  • There is one question in this discussion that to me seems to be the overriding concern. "What do we need the money for?'" As someone from a new chapter in the "Global South" (Mexico) with no funding of its own yet, I certainly see the benefit for us in some kind of set up where we receive some of the benefits that other chapters have. But on the other hand, pure "wealth distribution" will not equalize things between the have's and have nots and may foster a sense of entitlement or even dependency. e.g. Why do our own fundraising then? Besides, there are many things that local chapters can do that do not require much or any money that makes just as big an impact as those things which do... working to convince a museum to donate pictures does not require a lot of money, just a demonstration of Wikipedia's clout both as an organization/network and as a public relations tool. From my vantage point, the main difference is ability to participate in international events, such as GLAM meet ups and Wikimania. I can see the point of making funding more available so that poorer chapters can participate as fully in Wikipedia-wide discussions as richer chapters. As mentioned by others, the emphasis on money can skew priorities and give the impression that those without significant finances can not do valuable work. I think the current policy of funding in-country projects on a case-by-case basis is still a good one. Block grants will not produce transparency nor financial prudence.Thelmadatter 20:39, 17 January 2012 (UTC)