Talk:What happens when the money tree stops growing?

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ways that some movements/efforts have grown significantly larger than ours:

  • Develop networks of supporters and donors. Connect with them via thoughtful, direct messaging. (Common)
  • Run blanket media campaigns, largely with donated media from supporting orgs. (Red Button)
  • Develop a(n additional) community based around giving. Show them how and where they are supporting work, make them active community members, through donation. Higher-frequency high-signal communication, rather than 'please (you) support (us)'. (STC, Political campaigns)
  • Develop a network of focused fundraising efforts in different countries, on top of any of the above. (Red Cross)
  • Explicit membership benefits (@ economies of scale) in an organization that helps you. Involves organizing parallel large-scale partnerships. (AARP)

SJ talk | translate   20:39, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

In my opinion each time we write a byte in Wikipedia we are generating a flow of future costs to keep this byte on-line for ever. I think we should go for an endowment fund to guarantee hosting costs will be covered for ever. All other activities can be increased or reduced according to our capability to raise funds to finance them but this one is vital.--Gomà (talk) 21:08, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Deceleration of growth[edit]

Thank you Chris for writing this essay. I actually intended to write a very similar one (my title was Does WMF need to stop growing?), which for some reason I never found the time to finish.

One very important point is that we're (probably) not going to see a drop in incoming donations. Rather, we'll see a deceleration of growth – from exponential growth to linear growth to logarithmic growth (at which point WMF will effectively stop growing). I suspect this will happen in the next years. We might even be already in the phase of linear growth.

"Insane growth" has been a good strategy for the past, but now it's time to look how we can stabilise and not rely on perpetual growth any more --Tobias talk · contrib 13:29, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

great question[edit]

Two quick thoughts on this:

  • i agree that asking this question has got to be a critical part of our decision-making as a movement. We are so incredibly resource constrained -- we have not enough contributors, not enough volunteers interested in movement wide issues, not enough software development resources, not enough other paid staff -- that we must constantly make tradeoffs and focus on the most important things. The fact we currently have lots of money shouldn't distract from the challenges of our resource constraints.
  • That being said, i feel like we've got plenty of room left to go on fundraising. Barring some kind of huge blow-up around misappropriation of donor funds somewhere in our movement, my instinct is that we can continue raising at current or higher levels for many years to come. With 500,000,000 visitors a month globally, there's plenty of opportunity for us to find a way to put our donation message in front of enough people to support that.

It would be interesting to do the following analysis:

  • calculation donations/internet user in each country
  • make some assumptions about internet usage growth in each country over time.
  • assume donations/interner user is consistent, so that overall donations grows consistently along with internet usage. so countries which currently have low internet usage should grow substantially in donations as their population of internet users increases

That might give some sense of one aspect of the potential for increased donations globally. That combined along with our general improvements in messaging, expansion of payment processing alternatives, etc. would give an interesting view on donation potential.Stu (talk) 17:46, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

I'm glad you think it's worth thinking about! I know that for the 2009-10 Movement Strategy discussion, Bridgespan came up with some kinds of financial projections which are referred to in the plan. I don't know whether the details of those projections was ever published, though, or how much detail they went into.
It would be great if the next round of strategy discussion could be informed by more detailed estimates of resources. I agree non-financial resources are more important, but money is the only resource we have that can be allocated - volunteers, obviously, cannot!
It would also be really helpful to have some financial projections when each entity is planning its future work. For instance, we don't really know how large Wikimedia UK is going to be in 5 years' time. I'm sure you have a similar issue for the Foundation's long-term planning.
And finally, my personal suspicion (as I set out) is that the annual fundraiser will probably tail off at some stage. This might be a second-order change where we just find increase in donations is limited to traffic growth. Should this happen, we will need to diversify fundraising a bit more. That would depend heavily on using the donor data we already gather in the fundraiser and the relationships we can build... things that payment-processing chapters are well placed to do! The Land (talk) 17:44, 1 March 2012 (UTC)