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Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement/2023 Report

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Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement - 2023 Report

Illustration about the Movement Strategy recommendation "Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement"

Increase the Sustainability of our Movement is the first of the ten Movement Strategy recommendations. The Wikimedia movement as a whole is responsible for implementing the Movement Strategy 2030, and the Wikimedia Foundation plays an important role. This report contains a summary of strategic data and activities related to this recommendation, with a particular focus on projects led by the Foundation. We encourage others to add work they have done or are aware of. This mapping is an invitation to celebrate strategic achievements and focus on areas needing attention and collaboration to succeed.

This recommendation focuses on people and financial resources. The recommendation calls to invest in the satisfaction and productivity of newcomers and long-term contributors. It also advocates for long-term and equitable approaches to generating and distributing funding. Public awareness, software contributions, and environmentally sensitive practices are also considered essential for the long-term sustainability of Wikimedia.

Let's review the eight initiatives that form this recommendation.

1. Systematic approach to improve satisfaction and productivity


This initiative calls on the movement to assess contributors' needs and improve their support and recognition.

The Wikimedia Foundation and the broader Wikimedia movement have made significant progress toward implementing this recommendation, and the Foundation will continue prioritizing this area across multiple departments this year. According to the Community Insights Survey, between 2019 and 2022, there was a significant improvement in contributors' satisfaction:

  • 9% increase in contributors who would recommend Wikimedia as a great place to contribute (from 70% to 79%)
  • 9% increase in contributors who take pride in contributing to Wikimedia projects (77% to 86%)
  • 9% increase in contributors who say they feel like they belong in the Wikimedia movement (59% to 68%)
  • 5% increase in contributors who report being satisfied with Movement decision-making processes (32% to 37%).

An area for continued attention is the satisfaction of movement functionaries (admins, bureaucrats, stewards, etc…), who, according to the survey, have lower satisfaction rates. For instance, 42% say they have been harassed while carrying out their roles, 32% remain unsatisfied with the Movement's decision-making processes, and 27% are not confident that the Foundation can adequately support the Movement. To address these and other issues, in FY 2023-24, the Foundation is prioritizing improvements in the experience of volunteer editors with extended rights like functionaries (see Wiki Experiences).

Sentiment about Wikimedia projects from the Community Insights Survey 2019-2022

This initiative also calls for better recognition of volunteers, especially in activities less visible than editing. The Wikimedia Foundation has made a number of investments toward recognizing better volunteer contributors, including:

  • In 2019, the Technical Engagement team launched the Wikimedia Coolest Tool Award as an annual event, including several technical categories. Since then, 4 editions have been completed, and 50 projects have been recognized with awards or honorable mentions. The 2022 winners include Citation Hunt (in the Newbie Friendly category), Wiki99 (Diversity), and Scholia (Impact).
  • In 2020, the Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom program organized by the Community Programs team, started issuing certificates and virtual badges to the Certified Trainers who graduated from the Training of Trainers program (73 volunteers as of June 2023). These certifications and badges have helped volunteers to validate their expertise, demonstrate their efforts to grow their skillset, and forge partnerships with organizations like UNESCO, government agencies, and local teachers' networks. Volunteers have proudly featured their achievements – see some examples on Spotify, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • In 2021, the Movement Communications team expanded the Wikimedian of the Year awards to include new categories and increased the number of volunteers celebrated yearly. Following the recommendation of recognizing volunteers beyond editors, the awards now recognize media contributors, tech contributors, organizers, newcomers, and affiliate organizations. Starting in 2011 as Wikipedian of the Year, this award was created by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and organized around the Wikimania conference and became stronger during its 2020-2022 editions. The awards continued their annual schedule through the COVID pandemic with promotional videos and online ceremonies created by the Movement Communications team and led by Jimmy Wales.
  • In 2022, the Technical Engagement team launched the Wikimedia tech swag program to recognize technical contributors' active participation in outreach programs, events, and software projects. To date, 90 developers, mentors, and organizers have been rewarded for contributions in Google Summer of Code, Outreachy, Gerrit code review, and more.
  • In 2022, the Movement Communications team created the "Behind the Screen" video series, featuring Wikimedians speaking about their projects, their motivations, and their experiences. Examples include the revitalizing of Korean Wikisource through digitizing traditional Korean letters or the international expansion of the Wiki World Heritage User Group.
  • In 2023, the Movement Communications team launched the WikiCelebrate program to recognize Wikimedians worldwide monthly. Volunteers can nominate other volunteers and share first-hand anecdotes about the Wikimedians celebrated. The first volunteers featured include a prolific Commons and Wikidata newcomer from Serbia and a long-term editor and administrator of Malayalam Wikipedia.
  • Finally, the Diff blog, maintained by the Movement Communications team, has become a central platform in our Movement to recognize individual volunteers, projects, and affiliates. In 2021, the first full year of the platform, Wikimedia volunteers, including organizers, affiliate members and WMF staff, published 341 blog posts, nearly doubling that number (654 posts in 2022). These posts have been viewed more than 750,000 times by nearly 500,000 visitors.

Finally, this initiative urges the movement to assess the needs of Wikimedians in different contexts to support a diversity of contributors better. Here too, there are several initiatives contributing to this goal:

  • The Community Wishlist Survey, organized by the Community Tech team, is a collaborative mechanism to assess the software needs of volunteers. It started in 2015 with 107 proposals submitted, and in 2022 the number grew to 467, when 1439 volunteers cast 9554 votes. Features like the gadget Who is active or enabling Thanks Button by default have been prioritized thanks to this collaboration.
  • In 2020-21, the Movement Communications Insights project organized 10 focus groups with 113 participants. It produced six recommendations in a report about how the Foundation can communicate better with the different parts of the movement. This report has informed Wikimedia Foundation plans, like building a better front door for all the information about the Foundation and coordinating within Foundation teams before communicating with the larger movement.
  • In 2021, the Movement Strategy Implementation Grants program was launched, encouraging applicants to start their long-term programs by researching the needs of their audiences. Since then, 12 projects have been funded to build leadership and capacity skills as well as needs assessments.
  • In 2022, the Community Resources team launched Let's Connect, to support affiliates and individual grantees in assessing their needs and collaborating in a peer-to-peer environment. As of June 2023, 245 participants took part in 30 Learning Clinics. 60% of these participants were from the Middle East and Africa. Half of them had been two years or less in the movement.

2. Funding for underrepresented communities


This initiative calls on the Wikimedia Foundation to “Dedicate a significantly larger amount of Movement funding to support emerging and marginalized communities and groups.”

Wikimedia Foundation grants data 2015-2023

Although not specifically defined in the recommendation, emerging and marginalized groups in the movement have historically included affiliates outside of Northern and Western Europe (NWE) and the U.S. and Canada, as well as groups in those two regions representing traditionally marginalized voices (e.g., Black, Indigenous, and People of Color).

Between 2018 and 2022, Wikimedia Foundation-distributed grants to underrepresented regions increased by 300%, from $2,157,981 USD to $6,480,366. As a percentage of the overall grants budget, this proportion grew from 31% to 52% in the same time period. Within the NWE and the U.S. and Canada, we have also seen a growth in funding to groups representing marginalized communities. In NWE, for example, two newly funded groups focused on the gender gap.  

In 2021, the Foundation affirmed support for underrepresented communities as a top priority of its revised funding strategy. As part of the revised strategy:

  • The Community Resources team created the Wikimedia Alliances Fund to promote collaborations between organizations in underrepresented regions and communities and the rest of the movement.
  • In the first year of implementing this strategy, the total funding increased by 51%, and funds landed in 90 countries, 20 more than the previous year. Funding to emerging communities grew by 128%, and to middle and lower-income countries by 70%. The equality of regional distribution of funding improved, with increases of 149% in Middle East and Africa, and 139% in East and Sout-East Asia and Pacific. There was also a significant increase in new grantees (40%) and the percentage of funding going to new grantees (160%). There are more details in the Funding Report 2021-22.
  • The Movement Strategy Implementation Grants program distributed 53% of its funds to emerging regions.

In 2022, a survey of grantees and Regional Fund Committee members showed a perspective that the new strategy was achieving its goals as expressed in the Movement Strategy, making it clear that we are just beginning on this journey.

The trends above continued in FY2022-23 and will further shift towards emerging communities in FY2023-24 (see Foundation's Annual Plan for 2023-24), continuing the growth in overall funding to all regions (15%), with larger growth in underrepresented regions.

3. Increased awareness about the Wikimedia movement


Implementing this initiative requires promoting the Wikimedia movement to readers, volunteers, partners, and donors.

Wikipedia awareness according to the Brand Health Tracker 2022

According to the 2022 Wikimedia Brand Health Tracker maintained by the Communications team, global brand awareness for Wikipedia stands at 80%, behind internet giants like Google (93%), Facebook (92%), and Twitter (86%). Relative to other sites or apps, Wikipedia has a good presence in the world (71%), compared to Wikidata (13%) and Wikimedia Commons (11%).

There have been some large-scale activities to increase the awareness of our movement:

  • In 2022, the Communications team organized a Sound Logo contest to select the sound that will help identify Wikimedia content in increasingly popular audio formats like voice assistants. 3,235 sound logos were submitted by 2,094 participants in 135 countries. The winner was announced on March 2023.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report provides a review of activities and plans and it is used to increase the awareness of Wikimedia among the public, the media, and donors. The 2022 edition was sent to about 191,000 donors.
  • The Global Advocacy team, in collaboration with affiliates and volunteers, continued educating policymakers and other stakeholders about Wikimedia’s model of community-led governance and content moderation. This included work in the United Kingdom (with WMUK), the European Union (with WMEU, WMCZ, and WMUA), the United States (with WMDC),  Latin America (with WMCL and others), Asia (with WMID and WMTH), and Africa (with various affiliates and volunteers). A recent example is the call to action to amend the Online Safety Bill in the UK and avoid its threat to the future of Wikipedia. Other examples include the efforts to educate allies about the Wikimedia model of content moderation and governance at the Asia-Pacific Digital Rights Assembly in Chiang Mai (Thailand), at RightsCon 2023 in Costa Rica, and at the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum 2023 in Nairobi (Kenya).

4. Global revenue-generation policy & fundraising strategy


Implementing this initiative requires the creation of a revenue-generation policy, the diversification of revenue streams, and the development of local fundraising skills.

The drafting and discussion of the Movement Charter, a project supported by the Foundation, are expected to foster a coordinated effort to produce a revenue-generation policy for all Wikimedia entities during 2023. Alongside the work of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee, there are several activities done in the context of this MS initiative:

  • The Advancement department launched the Wikimedia Endowment in 2016 as a permanent safekeeping fund, and it reached its initial $100 million goal in 2021. In 2022-23, the Endowment started to offset its own costs with a payment of $1,8 million to the Foundation. It also distributed $3,2 million in grants to Wikimedia projects for the first time. A Planned Giving program has been developed as a way to collect pledges for future donations.
  • Since 2018, the Foundation has developed a revenue strategy to build a secure financial future for Wikimedia based on the diversification of revenue channels. Examples of the implementation of this strategy include the implementation of local payment methods in India and Latin America, the increase of monthly recurring donations, and the strengthening of email-based outreach to potential donors. For details, see the annual Fundraising Reports (i.e. FY2021-22)
  • An informal group of European fundraising specialists in the movement meets regularly, inviting Foundation staff and some affiliates' executive directors and fundraising staff. The group exchanges information and provides peer support on fundraising topics relevant to them.

5. Develop enterprise-level API


This initiative has been implemented.

  • The Foundation launched Wikimedia Enterprise in October 2021, fulfilling the goal of offering an API for commercial reusers with high availability, throughput, and usability standards.
  • Google and the Internet Archive were the first publicly-announced Enterprise customers, announced in 2022.
  • In 2022, Wikimedia Enterprise contracts amounted to $3.1M, comprising just under 2% of the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2022 total revenue – see the financial report. The Foundation plans to increase the Enterprise revenue from $3M in 2022-23 to $4M in 2023-24.

6. Engagement of third-party ecosystems


Implementing this initiative requires collaborating with software development organizations or projects outside of Wikimedia to make our platform more sustainable.

The Wikimedia technical infrastructure has always relied on many third-party software products and libraries developed by multiple open-source projects. These are some of the most notable collaborations in the past years:

The Technical Collaboration team continues coordinating Wikimedia's participation in these two international developer outreach programs:

GSoC and Outreachy have brought many new developers to Wikimedia, many of them repeating as mentors after completing their own internships, and some of them thriving as volunteer developers or staff at the Foundation. A recent example is Jay Prakash, former GSoC intern and awarded Wikimedian of the Year 2021 Tech Innovator winner.

7. Revenue generation for the movement


Implementing this initiative requires exploring new sources of revenue, for instance, through software consultancy services or selling merchandising.

Currently, the Foundation is not planning to offer professional consultancy on MediaWiki, as we do not believe it to be a significant enough source of potential revenue for the Foundation to merit investment. The market of third-party MediaWiki users is small and already served by a group of consultancy companies in dialog with the Foundation and the larger movement. These companies offer MediaWiki support as part of a wider portfolio. If the Foundation decides to offer consultancy services, significant investment and reprioritization would be required first to build this new capacity and to activate this market. The risk of not obtaining worthwhile revenue at the Foundation while negatively disrupting the current business of the small consultancies was deemed too high.

The Wikimedia Foundation has made small investments in the Wikipedia Store, which has increased its revenue from $116,320 USD in FY2020-21 to $134,358 in FY2021-22, and the predicted revenue for FY2022-23 is $147,793. Most customers are donors based in the United States and Canada and come around fundraising campaigns. The sales in other countries are significantly lower, connected with global distribution's logistical difficulties and costs. The Foundation believes that there is an opportunity for affiliates to increase their revenue by selling merchandise that includes local languages and themes sourced and distributed locally at a better cost.

8. Align our practices to support environmental sustainability


Implementing this initiative requires all Movement stakeholders to support the sustainability of our planet as we work on our sustainability as a movement.

Since 2018, the Wikimedia Foundation has published an annual Environmental Sustainability Report. According to the last edition, corresponding to 2022, the Wikimedia Foundation’s carbon emissions totaled 2,955 metric tons of CO2-equivalent – less than 1% of other top 10 website platforms like Google and Meta. For the first time, the 2022 report included the estimated emissions of the Foundation's remote workforce. This change in the calculation increased our estimated emissions compared with previous years' estimations.

The report also mentions that 74% of our total data center electricity usage is covered by renewable energy sources (up from 68% in 2021, and less than 10% in 2018). All but one of our data center vendors cover 100% of their energy usage with renewable energy sources, and the remaining vendor is progressing towards its goal of 100% renewable energy. In 2022, travel-related emissions were 25% below 2019 levels (our last full year of travel before the COVID-19 pandemic), even though the Foundation increased its staff from 445 to 711.

More comparative data between 2018 and 2022 is available on the Wikimedia Foundation Sustainability Metrics.

In 2022, an Internal Carbon Fund was established through a US$50/ton internal fee, or “tax”, on our annual emissions. In 2023, six community projects focusing on environmental sustainability were funded in the context of the first Organizer Lab (beta).

This concludes the first version of the first report about the first Movement Strategy recommendation's implementation. We welcome your feedback and contributions to improve and update this report and to inform you about the other recommendations.