Wikimedia Endowment/nb

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About the Wikimedia Endowment

The Wikimedia Endowment is a permanent fund that generates income to support the Wikimedia Projects in perpetuity. The Endowment was launched in January 2016 on the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia as a Collective Action Fund with the Tides Foundation, with the initial goal of raising US$100 million by 2026 – a target that was reached in June 2021.

The Endowment has now entered the second phase of fundraising and is also providing financial support to technical innovation in the Wikimedia Projects. As of June 30, 2023, the Wikimedia Endowment was valued at US$119 million. It has been established as a 501(c)3 charity headquartered in the United States. See WikimediaEndowment.org for more information.

Mission statement

The Wikimedia Endowment mission statement reads:

"Access to knowledge is a fundamental human right. The Wikimedia Endowment is our enduring commitment to a world of freely shared knowledge, now and in perpetuity."

Wikimedia Endowment Board Members

The Wikimedia Endowment board consists of dedicated volunteers from a variety of industries including education, technology, and for-profit business, who are committed to the Wikimedia vision: a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. They provide insight and guidance to further the sustainability of Wikimedia through the Endowment.

You can also read about the Endowment Board of Directors on the Wikimedia Endowment website.

Current Members

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation board member, was appointed to the Endowment Board on 14 January 2016 (resolution).

Internet and technology entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, is founder of the online non-profit encyclopaedia Wikipedia and co-founder of the privately owned Wikia, Inc. including its entertainment media brand, Fandom powered by Wikia. Wales serves on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organisation he established to operate Wikipedia. In April 2017, Jimmy launched WikiTribune – a news website involving professional journalists working alongside volunteers to curate fact checked and reliable articles. In 2006 Jimmy was named in Time magazine's ‘100 Most Influential People in the World' for his role in creating Wikipedia.

Annette Campbell-White

Annette Campbell-White is a recognized pioneer for women in the world of venture capital investment and a longtime supporter of the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission to make knowledge free and accessible to everyone.

Prior to retiring in 2015, Annette served as Founder and Senior Managing Partner of MedVenture Associates, a biomedical venture capital firm that invests in life-improving medical devices. Before that, Annette was the first biotechnology analyst on Wall Street and the first female partner at Hambrecht & Quist, a leading international banking firm. Annette has received prominent recognition for her business achievements, including being named on Forbes Midas List from 2005–2007.

Annette has also served on the boards of several performing arts associations, including the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances, a major presenter of the performing arts at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1997, Annette established the Kia Ora Foundation to assist New Zealand students in postgraduate study in the fields of musical performance, science and engineering. In addition to scholarships, the Foundation funds special projects, which support activities involving New Zealand artists.

You can read more about Annette on the blog.

Peter Baldwin

Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University, and co-founder of the philanthropic Arcadia Foundation.

Baldwin has long been dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, the environment, and supporting open access resources. In 2002, he and his wife Lisbet Rausing, both long-time Wikimedia Foundation supporters, founded Arcadia to focus on these missions. Since then, Arcadia has made grant commitments of over US$363 million to charities and scholarly institutions globally that preserve cultural heritage and the environment, and promote open access.

Baldwin is also a renowned scholar who is interested in the historical development of the modern state. You can read more about Peter on the blog.

Michael Kim

Michael Kim was appointed on June 5 2017.

Michael Kim is the founder and Managing Partner of Cendana Capital, an investment firm focused on early stage venture capital, and former trustee of the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Employee Retirement System.

In addition to his expertise in investment strategy and venture capital, Michael is actively involved in arts and public service in San Francisco, where he and his family reside. In 2004, he was appointed by then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to a five year term as a Trustee of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System, a US$20 billion pension fund, and served as the President of the board and the Chairman of the Investment Committee.

For more on Michael, visit our blog.

Patricio Lorente

Patricio Lorente was appointed on 22 July 2021.

Patricio Lorente of City Bell, Argentina is a scholar devoted to outreach activities in education. He is currently the General Secretary of Administration of the National University of La Plata. Lorente joined Spanish Wikipedia as an editor in early 2005 and has been an administrator since 2006. He is a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina and served as president from 2007–2012. Lorente was selected as a Wikimedia Foundation Board Trustee in the years 2012, 2014, and 2016, and he served as chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board from July 2015 through June 2016.

Doron Weber

Doron Weber was appointed on 22 July 2021.

Doron Weber currently serves as Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Weber is a graduate of Brown University (B.A). and studied at the Sorbonne and Oxford University (M.A., 1981), where he was a Rhodes Scholar. At the Sloan Foundation, he runs the Public Understanding of Science and Technology Program, with national programs in science and the arts, and the Universal Access to Knowledge Program, which has supported the Wikimedia Foundation since 2008. A published author, Doron has been a Wikimedia Foundation Board Visitor since 2011, mentored by Jan-Bart de Vreede.

Phoebe Ayers

Phoebe Ayers was appointed on 7 August 2021.

Phoebe Ayers is a long-time editor in English Wikipedia, Commons, Wikidata, WikiVoyage, and elsewhere. A former Wikimedia Foundation trustee, she has been a long-time participant in Wikimedia Foundation governance, as well as community events, including many Wikimanias, and outreach to educators and librarians. Phoebe has been an academic reference librarian in the science and engineering library at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2015. Prior, she was a librarian in the Physical Sciences & Engineering Library at the University of California, Davis.

Alexander M. Farman-Farmaian

Alexander M. Farman-Farmaian was appointed to the Endowment Board and its Finance Committee on 26 August 2022.

Alexander M. Farman-Farmaian is Vice Chairman, Partner and Portfolio Manager at Edgewood Management. Prior to Edgewood, Alex was for 19 years a senior member of the Portfolio Management team at W.P. Stewart & Co., and chaired the Investment Oversight Committee.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR – NY), the World Presidents' Organization (WPO), Chief Executives Organization (CEO), and formerly of Tiger21. He served as a Trustee of the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC). This merged to create Fos Feminista in 2021, a large international organization for reproductive health, rights and justice. Alex is on the Board of CollegeSpring.

Alex received a BA in Economics from Princeton University in 1987. He speaks fluent French, Spanish, and conversational Farsi and Italian.

Lisa Lewin

Lisa Lewin was appointed to the Endowment Board and its Governance Committee on 26 October 2022.

Lisa Lewin is a strategist and operating executive with 25 years of experience leading and advising private, public, and nonprofit sector organizations. She is CEO of General Assembly, which has built transparent career pathways for over one million people and diverse talent pipelines for hundreds of the world's leading employers. Prior, she held various roles at Pearson and McGraw-Hill, and founded Ethical Ventures, a New York City-based management consulting firm advising some of the world's most ambitious social enterprises and mission-driven companies.

Lisa serves on the boards of Bank Street College of Education, Custom Ink, and the Leadership Now Project. She is the co-author of the Racial Equity Pledge and a member of Politico's Women Rule Collective. Lisa received a BS from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA with honors from Harvard Business School.

Former Members

Niels Christian Nielsen

Niels Christian Nielsen was appointed on 13 February 2017 and his term concluded on 21 July 2022. You can read more about Niels on the blog.

Annual Endowment Fundraising Reports

Funding

Wikimedia Endowment Investment Policy

The purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment is to serve as a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. The following investment policy is meant to guide the long-term investment strategy of the Wikimedia Endowment; this policy is reviewed by the Investment Committee annually.

Expected Returns & Risk

During this initial phase, the Wikimedia Endowment seeks to track the performance of a global passive investment market index with the goal of producing returns that match a recognized benchmark for institutional investors. This benchmark will be based on a 66% allocation to global equities, 20% allocation to sovereign and investment-grade US bonds, and 9% allocation to Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”). The Wikimedia Endowment is designed to take principal risk in pursuit of higher returns, but that also may require liquidity.

Liquidity

All investments in the Wikimedia Endowment will be highly liquid. Typical investments will include Exchange Traded Funds (“ETFs”) and mutual funds administered by industry leaders, such as Vanguard. Assets under management, bid-ask spreads, and other liquidity indicators will be considered in selecting appropriate securities. Typically, load funds will be avoided. Cash settlement on these instruments is typically one to three days after trade execution.

Investment Guidelines

The Wikimedia Endowment will target a 75% equity and 20% debt portfolio using low-cost passive index funds, both in mutual fund and ETF format as appropriate to meet liquidity needs.

Benchmark

The Wikimedia Endowment is beginning as a passive investment pool and performance will be measured against the benchmarks of the funds in which it is invested, in proportion to its target weights.

Asset Class Benchmark Target Allocation
US Equities CRSP US Total Market Index 31%
Non-US Developed Equities FTSE Developed All Cap ex US 27%
Emerging Market Equities FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap 8%
US Govt & Investment-Grade Debt Barclays US Aggregate 20%
US Real Estate Investment Trusts MSCI USREIT 9%
Cash Not applicable 5%

Target allocations updated as of 20. september 2021.

The Wikimedia Endowment will revisit this allocation periodically to make sure it delivers appropriate risk-adjusted returns.

Rebalancing Limits

The Wikimedia Endowment will rebalance as necessary to maintain an asset allocation that stays within 3% of target allocation (i.e. 33% target would stay between 30% and 36%).

-Adopted January 6, 2017

FAQs

1. What is the Wikimedia Endowment? The Wikimedia Endowment is a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. The Endowment was started in 2016 on the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia, and it formally acquired its 501(c)(3) status in 2022.

1.1. What is an endowment in general?
An endowment is a (usually) permanent fund used to support an organization or a cause in perpetuity, meaning for a long period with an undefined end. Organizations with endowments usually invest the endowment funds in financial holdings, and then they spend or use a portion of the interest or investment incomes produced each year. This allows the endowment to provide financial support for a long period of time.
1.2. What are the industry's best practices around endowments in the US nonprofit sector?
In the nonprofit sector, endowments are considered an important part of good financial planning for organizations that aspire to continue fulfilling their nonprofit mission for the long-term. While organizations look to annual fundraising and other revenue streams to support their day-to-day operations, they look to endowments to support their long-term goals. Knowing that there will be a steady stream of funds across multiple years helps organizations plan for more ambitious and long term projects.

2. What is the strategic purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment? How will the Endowment support Wikimedia projects?

The purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment is to support the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. During times of prosperity, the Wikimedia Endowment will serve as a springboard for growth and innovation. During tough economic times, the Endowment will help fund the most critical operations that keep the Wikimedia projects functioning. After we met the initial fundraising goal, the Endowment board made the decision to start providing project funding and adopted a spending policy. We conducted interviews with people who donated to the Wikimedia Endowment and asked them what the Endowment should support in the near future. The theme that emerged from these conversation was a focus on funding technical innovation, so that the Wikimedia Projects stay relevant in a time of rapid technological change. You can find a list of projects that the Wikimedia Endowment supported last year on Diff. This work is led by Endowment's Board Grantmaking and Community Committee.

3. How are the Wikimedia communities represented in the Wikimedia Endowment?

The Endowment Board is made of people who have supported Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects for a very long time. First, one seat is reserved for Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. It also includes people who have been significant donors to the Wikimedia Foundation for over a decade and are now also volunteering their time to help raise funds, provide governance, and offer investment guidance for the Wikimedia Endowment. Similar to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, there are seats for people from our volunteer editing community. Phoebe Ayers and Patricio Lorente currently fill those seats and bring deep experience in the Wikimedia communities and are both former community-elected board members of the Wikimedia Foundation. The full composition of the Board can be found in the "Wikimedia Endowment Board Members" section above.

4. How is the Wikimedia Endowment set up legally, and what is a 501(c)(3)?

A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. The 501(c)(3) status of the Wikimedia Endowment was approved in 2022. The Wikimedia Endowment Board has put all necessary policies and processes in place to ensure a functional and operational 501(c)(3). They can be found on Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki.
4.1. How will the Wikimedia Endowment report its activity?
Transparency is important to the Wikimedia Endowment Board, and the following documents and reporting will be provided:
  • Annually: Annual plan, audit, Form 990, Fundraising Report
  • Semi-annually: Board meeting agenda and minutes (once approved)
  • Ad hoc: Other updates, as needed

5. How are Wikimedia Endowment funds invested?

The Wikimedia Endowment has a Finance Committee that meets every quarter to review the portfolio's performance and composition according to its Investment Policy. Historically, the Endowment has invested in indexed mutual funds spanning the US Equity, US Fixed Income, US Real Estate, ex-US Developed Equity, and Emerging Markets Equity asset classes.

6. How much investment income do you anticipate the Endowment will generate?

We monitor and track the Endowment portfolio's income on an ongoing, annual basis. This depends on market changes during the year. The income is generally reinvested in the underlying indexed funds which comprise the portfolio.

7. What is the difference between Endowment fundraising and the annual fundraising campaigns led by the Wikimedia Foundation?

In the nonprofit sector, endowments are considered an important part of proactive financial planning for organizations that aspire to continue fulfilling their mission for the long-term. While organizations look to annual fundraising and other revenue streams to support their day-to-day operations, they look to endowments to provide more predictable multi-year funding to support their long-term goals and mission. While the Endowment does not replace our need to raise our annual fund to support day-to-day operations, it does give us more resiliency, and it is a testament to the value that so many people place on the need for knowledge.

8. How does planned giving support the Endowment?

Gifts in wills provide donors with an opportunity to continue making an impact for generations to come. Their planned, future gifts will provide another stream of donations to ensure the Endowment's growth and independence. The Endowment's first donation was a legacy gift from Jim Pacha, who generously donated much of his estate to seed its initial funding. Today, more than 2,300 members of the Wikipedia Legacy Society have committed to leave a portion of their estate to the Wikimedia Endowment.

9. Does the Endowment have its own employees and contractors?

No, the Wikimedia Endowment does not have any employees nor has it had its own contractors. Wikimedia Foundation staff work in support of the Endowment. Beginning in FY2022-23 (after the fund reached the initial US$100 million goal), the Endowment began reimbursing the Wikimedia Foundation for the cost of the time that the Wikimedia Foundation employees work on the Endowment as well as the other expenses that the Wikimedia Foundation incurs on its behalf. In FY22-23, the Endowment reimbursed the Wikimedia Foundation US$1,297,620 for expenses as well as US$420,177 in payment processing fees for the donations that the Wikimedia Foundation received on the endowment's behalf, which were deducted at the point of sale. In FY23-24, the Wikimedia Endowment is budgeting to reimburse the Wikimedia Foundation US$2.09 million.

Advisory Board Meetings

Updates and Articles

Financial Reports

Governance Documents

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