Assumptions for the recommendations
In 2019, the Wikimedia movement is facing external challenges to its current revenue model, which primarily relies on a large number of donors giving small amounts through banners on Wikipedia. Simultaneously, the ambitious strategic direction for 2030 is calling for an increase in revenue for the movement beyond incremental growth. The convergence of these events requires us to look into revenue opportunities across the movement, and learn from different models that have been explored by Wikimedia organizations.
- Revenue Streams has more externalities than possibly other areas or working groups.
- The current funding is not enough now to achieve our vision. The working group is assuming we will need significantly more revenue for 2030.
- The necessary increase in revenue requires an expansion and diversification of revenue streams, and associated safeguards are needed to ensure the novel revenue streams are aligned with Wikimedia principles.
- Not prescribing a structure of roles but describe the features necessary for revenue generation
- The recommendations are areas for further in-depth research
Principles For Movement Organizations
- Movement organizations will be free from undue influence, including a clear separation between financial support and website content
- Movement organizations will not allow advertising on the websites
- Movement organizations will make conscientious decisions regarding anonymous donations
- Movement organizations will carefully consider relationships that might endanger future revenue and reputation of the movement
Principles For Donors
Donors are essential stakeholders in movement organizations, and as such movement organizations will adopt a set of principles from the Donor's Bill of Rights:
Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:
- To be informed of the organization's mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization's governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
- To have access to the organization's most recent financial statements.
- To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
- To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.
(1) Turn the Wikimedia API into a revenue source
The APIs of Wikipedia and Wikidata are among the most widely used on the planet.
While keeping the APIs free for everyone, we can offer “tiered” premium service for large users of our API such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others. The tiered may cost between thousands of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on usage amount, and will enable the Movement to provide dedicated development time for the APIs, as well as services like dedicated API gateways or better provisioning of API regions, if those are requested by clients.
Inspiration for this can be the GNIP / Twitter service, which has tiered support - the basic API is free for everyone, but access to the Twitter “firehose” (tweets generated in real-time) costs up to $100,000 / month.
The Movement can create professional and consultancy services around technologies (e.g. MediaWiki and Wikibase) aimed at organizations seeking to implement those internally.
(3) Monetize merchandise
Research merchandising and leveraging the Wikimedia brand as a new revenue opportunity. (license trademark, partner with other companies, etc. Research examples such as National Geographic and NASA).
(4) Expand global fundraising
Most of the Movement work with charitable foundations and individual major donors is focused in the United States. There is a large opportunity to develop fundraising worldwide in major gifts, foundations, legacy giving, corporate giving, and events. The Movement will need to develop the skills to fundraise effectively in different countries and cultures while always remaining consistent with the Wikimedia values and brand.
(5) Develop non-fundraising revenue streams for affiliates
Affiliates should develop in-kind donations and partnerships, EU and government grants, and earned income (consulting services e.g. with GLAMs)
(6) Set a goal of financial sustainability for all movement actors
All movement actors should strive to be financially self-sustaining and self-sufficient given the methods at their disposal, and to fuel the rest of the movement to the extent of their capacity
(7) Diversification of revenue channels
Expand payment methods available to readers worldwide and continually update methods with changing technologies to provide an optimized, localized, and convenient donation experience. (Examples: mobile payment methods, cash, local country methods.)