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Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2023-2024/Foundation Details

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Overview: Wikimedia Foundation by the numbers[edit]

How does the Wikimedia Foundation support the Wikimedia projects? In this section, we present a breakdown of the Foundation's work and how we allocate resources, including budgeting and staffing, for our core functions. The Foundation's work can be split across five distinctive categories:

  1. Evolving the features and functionality of the Wikimedia projects
  2. Building analytics and machine learning services to assess impact and success of technical improvements, understand metadata, and scale technical capabilities
  3. Supporting the affiliates and volunteer communities that make the Wikimedia projects possible
  4. Protecting access to the Wikimedia projects and improving the understanding and awareness of the Wikimedia Movement
  5. Non-programmatic work to support the performance and effectiveness of the Foundation.

Each of these five categories represents a core function of the Wikimedia Foundation's work, spanning departments across the organization. A more detailed breakdown of each category follows:

  1. Evolving the features and functionality of the Wikimedia projects. Develop new software, adapt the sites to new form functions (e.g. mobile, voice), maintain our servers and the tech stack, invest in site security.
    • 23% of our budget = $39.7 million
    • 26% of staff (All of the staff that support Wiki Experiences bucket and Future Audiences bucket)
  2. Building analytics and machine learning services to assess impact and success of technical improvements, understand metadata, and scale technical capabilities. Develop tools and machine learning services to support contributors, create and deliver analytics, APIs and metadata that enable data-driven decision making for Foundation technical staff and volunteer contributors. Explore uses of Wikimedia content that will benefit the mission. Support continuous systems analysis and improvement.
    • 26% of our budget = $46.4 million
    • 30% of staff (All of the staff that support Signals & Data Services bucket, Product and Engineering Support, and Infrastructure Foundations. Wikimedia Enterprise and other teams exploring content reuse strategies.)
  3. Supporting the affiliates and volunteer communities that make the Wikimedia projects possible. Fund our affiliates, communicate with the Movement, support creation of Movement bodies and structures, provide Movement infrastructure, fund & organize convenings and events, protect and defend volunteers.
    • 20% of our budget = $35.1 million
    • 12% of staff (Community Programs, Community Resources, Partnerships, Community Development, Movement Communications, Movement Strategy & Governance, Trust & Safety, and Human Rights, Board support)
  4. Protecting access to the Wikimedia projects and improving the understanding and awareness of the Wikimedia Movement. Advocate for laws and regulation that protect Wikimedia's people, model, and values, fight censorship and threats to free knowledge, defend our trademarks, educate and build public trust, safeguard the Movement's reputation, comply with laws and regulations.
    • 9% of our budget = $16.6 million
    • 10% of staff (Brand, Marketing, External Communications, Global Advocacy, Legal Affairs)
  5. Non-programmatic work to support the performance and effectiveness of the Foundation. This category is split into two areas.
    • Sustaining the future of Wikipedia and the Movement through fundraising. Ensuring financial support through online fundraising, major gifts, and building and administering the Wikimedia Endowment.
      • 10% of our budget = $17.9 million (industry standard is 20%)
      • 9% of staff (Online Fundraising, Fundraising Operations, Fundraising Tech, Major Gifts, and Endowment)
    • Supporting the Foundation's administrative and governance needs. Financial and legal support, and ensuring the Foundation is a world class employer
      • 12% of our budget = $21.3 million
      • 13% of staff (Finance & Administration, Internal Communications, T&C, General and administrative legal support)

2023−2024 Budget Overview

How does this budget breakdown reflect our resources across the four goals?

The above breakdown describes how our budget is allocated across work the Foundation does in support of the Wikimedia projects. This is similar, although slightly different than how our budget is allocated to the four goals of this annual plan, which is described in the section above.

When we look across the four goals of this year's Annual Plan, we see some clear areas of alignment and overlap. For example, the Goal of Infrastructure: Advancing Knowledge as a Service directly maps to the categories about "#1: Evolving Features and Functionality" and "#2: Machine Learning and Analytics." The Goal of Effectiveness directly maps to the category about "#5: Non-programmatic expenses: Fundraising and General & Admin."

Where we see some discrepancy is when we look at the Goal of Safety & Inclusion and Knowledge Equity. These do not map directly to the remaining categories about "#3: Supporting affiliates and volunteers," and "#4: Protecting access and improving understanding." This is because Safety and Inclusion has a wider lens than the category of "Protecting access and improving understanding." Several teams within the Foundation that are represented within the budget for Safety and Inclusion - such as Trust & Safety, Community Resilience & Sustainability, and Human Rights - are also accurately captured in the category "#3 Supporting affiliates and volunteers," since their work is directly Movement-facing. This is the reason for the difference of two percentage points between these two breakdowns of the Foundation's budget.

Department overviews[edit]

In this section we share an overview of each department, including department objectives and a breakdown of teams within each department.

Product & Technology objectives[edit]

The Product & Technology departments include the following teams: Site Reliability Engineering, Product Management, Platform Engineering, Feature Engineering, Data Analytics, Data Engineering, Design, Program Management.

The Product and Technology Objectives were shared for community feedback in two stages:

  • Part 1 contained the work portfolios (called "buckets") and some potential objectives for them.
  • Part 2 of this documentation covers the departments' finalised Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

The final "buckets" are Wiki Experiences, Signals and Data Services, and Future Audiences representing approximately 50%, 30%, and 5% of the department's budget and focus respectively. There are two further "sub-buckets" of areas of critical function, Infrastructure Foundations and Product and Engineering Services representing the final 15% of the budget.

Advancement objectives[edit]

The Advancement department includes the following teams: Fundraising; Enterprise; and Community Resources, Community Programs, Community Development, and Partnerships.

  • Developing a culture of philanthropy to improve our metrics, our accountability, and our storytelling on the impact of our work.
  • Fundraising: Continual optimization of our annual reader supported fundraising initiatives, including bringing in new donors to support Wikimedia in current and new countries, and testing new fundraising channels to diversify the ways we acquire and retain supporters.
  • Increasing support from major giving: With Wikipedia page views flat or declining in some of our largest fundraising markets and thus reduced projections for small dollar donations, we will focus on increasing our support from major donors.
  • Endowment: In its first year of full operation as an independent 501(c)(3), we will explore and plan for the Endowment's next multi-year fundraising campaign. We will further develop the Endowment as a charity, including building out all required financial and reporting processes. We will continue to evolve the planned giving program to increase revenue and prepare to accept more complex gifts.
  • Enterprise: Close additional sales with companies in the search engine/voice assistant market. Expand our account management services to new and existing customers to ensure they renew and expand current contracts. Identify and pilot sales and/or commercial partnership opportunities in at least one new market.

Communications objectives[edit]

The Communications department includes the following teams: Brand Studio; External Communications; Movement Communications; Internal Communications; and Program Management.

  • Growing and protecting Wikimedia's reputation, so that the value of Wikimedia work to spread free knowledge is understood. We will invite in new audiences, ensure we are enabling product and tech efforts to distribute free knowledge, and better track and transparently share our progress as an organization.
  • Forging equitable connections within the Movement, to build understanding across the Movement on how we work with volunteers on shared goals. We will continue convening, celebrating and connecting the Movement. We will create two way dialogue on everything from product & tech work to the Movement Charter based on insights & regional priorities.
  • Increasing a sense of belonging among staff, to create spaces for staff to connect and build ideas, strategy, and practice together, and to shape and create best practices that advance a more informed staff community.

Legal objectives[edit]

The Legal department includes the following teams: Legal Affairs; Community Resilience & Sustainability; and Global Advocacy.

  • Support community-organizing and capacity-building efforts. Communities will be informed and empowered to participate in governance through elections and policy evolution. We will strengthen Movement structures and processes, empowering key committees to hit their goals and supporting the MCDC in their task of completing the Movement Charter.
  • Defend and protect our model, people, projects, and values. Wikimedia must co-create (with the Movement and key partners) a clear positive vision for laws and policies necessary for free knowledge, in keeping with international human rights standards. Regulators must be educated about how the Wikimedia model works and the social value it creates. Individuals who are targeted because of their Wikimedia work need guidance and defense.
  • Legal defense and regulatory response. We will defend the Foundation and project content, and oppose demands for personal data in court. We will prepare our operations to respond to the changing regulatory environment and legal obligations, and we will ensure compliance with applicable laws and our commitment to human rights.
  • Efficient, effective, inclusive infrastructure. We will support the creation, operation, and continuous improvement of processes that allow us to sign contracts, identify and manage risk, give grants, and hire and support our staff.
  • Advice, counsel, and legal advocacy projects for achieving the mission. We will evaluate risk and counsel teams on a variety of matters, from building new products and features to streamlining our grantmaking programs, to increasing awareness of the Wikimedia projects. We will help the communities and the public learn about cases where the law should protect free knowledge and culture.

Talent & Culture objectives[edit]

The Talent & Culture department includes the following teams: Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; People Experience; People Operations; and Recruitment.

  • Improve the global experience of Foundation staff around the world: Define and harmonize our ways of working to create more equitable and seamless employee experiences across 50+ countries.
  • Invest in the full people life cycle: Deliver tangible improvements to every stage of the employee life cycle (across recruitment, onboarding, learning, growth, reward, performance management and attrition) to drive purpose, performance, and impact.
  • Build essential infrastructure: Implement systems, processes and HR capabilities that better support our complex, globally-distributed, remote-first organization.

Finance & Administration objectives[edit]

The Finance & Administration department includes the following teams: Accounting, Procurement, Payroll, Grants Administration, Travel and Convening, Continuous Process Improvement, Financial Planning & Analysis, IT Services, Facilities & Working Environments.

  • Business Operations Improvement: Improve the efficiency and efficacy of our business and operational workflows so that they are streamlined, automated, user-centered, and have appropriate controls.
  • Financial Planning, Management & Compliance: Build plans, and manage our financial resources & operations to enable the Foundation to achieve our programmatic objectives in compliance with all regulatory filing requirements to satisfy our tax exempt charitable status.
  • Enterprise Risk Management: Deliver effective organizational risk oversight and management programs to recognize and respond to threats and opportunities.
  • Enterprise Systems: Provide internal technical infrastructure and tools for the business operations of a globally distributed workforce.
  • Working Environments: Develop working environments that are productive, inclusive and sustainable. The support team in F&A will deliver office and virtual support services that integrate the needs of our users with clear performance expectations.
  • Investment & Treasury management: Efficiently manage cash, investments, and related business processes. The team develops and executes a cash flow strategy along with organizational banking and investment policies. Safekeep endowed assets and optimize surplus to aid operational needs.

Global Guidelines & Compensation Principles[edit]

Global Guidelines[edit]

As a global employer supporting hundreds of staff around the world, the Wikimedia Foundation manages significant operational complexity for a non-profit of its size. We recently introduced global guidelines to harmonize work practices and support for our staff across the world in all people-related processes from recruitment to exit. These guidelines will continue to change and evolve as needed to best support our staff.

The Global Guidelines provide for a baseline standard of employee benefits and policies that can be adjusted depending on specific country requirements. These guidelines came into effect in January 2023.

All Foundation staff receive a set of core benefits, irrespective of their geography. These benefits include comprehensive health insurance coverage, vacation and sick time, as well as access to a retirement plan. Additionally, staff receive benefits provided for in their local context like additional public holidays. The global guidelines have introduced more standardization around many common experiences and needs of our staff. This includes experiences like new parent leave, major life events, or voting in local elections.

The guidelines have also provided an opportunity to better align our processes globally when staff leave the Foundation. This includes a new standardized severance policy for staff at all levels of one month of severance pay for every year of their employment, up to nine months (unless local laws require otherwise) – any exceptions require a joint recommendation by the Head of Talent & Culture and the General Counsel, with final approval from the CEO. The guidelines have allowed us to make these and other policies more transparent to staff irrespective of where they live and work.

For Foundation staff, please note that these are a snapshot of our policies and may change from time to time. The latest version of our guidelines is always available on OfficeWiki or through contacting the Talent & Culture department.

Compensation Principles[edit]

Over the past two years, the Wikimedia Foundation has standardized its compensation principles for all employees. The table below illustrates how the Foundation's compensation approach has evolved over the past decade, including the most recent steps we have taken this year.

The Wikimedia Foundation's approach to compensation is designed to enable a diverse hiring and staffing strategy that mirrors the global Movement of free knowledge that we support; create equivalent pay conditions internationally so that talent is attracted to and remains with Wikimedia across countries with different wage ranges and varying economic landscapes; and provide staff with a salary that reflects our non-profit status while keeping them meaningfully engaged with the work. The Foundation's compensation principles take into account several factors in order to determine appropriate compensation for each role:

  1. External salary benchmarks. The Foundation uses an established third party compensation survey to benchmark salaries with the median base salary of similar roles across different industries in the location we are hiring. The survey includes data aggregated from international companies that operate within that specific location/country.
  2. Cost of living data. Cost of living calculations, which can include comparisons for housing, food, transportation, and other necessities are also factored into compensation ranges for roles at the Foundation, pulling from multiple established data sources.
  3. Job families. The Foundation hires across a wide range of roles and skill sets (more on this below) which are grouped into job families. Compensation principles also take into account job families and levels within each job family.
  4. Available budget. Finally, compensation is also based on the Foundation's available budget at the time.

Job Families and Progressions. One of the complexities that distinguishes the Foundation from other similarly-sized nonprofit organizations is the wide range of roles we hire for – spanning from highly technical to non-technical roles, across so many different geographies. This extends from software developers, engineers, designers, product managers, data scientists to people who specialize in communications, grantmaking, information technology, human resources, financial management, legal affairs, and fundraising. The Foundation currently has 17 job families across all of its teams. These job families include categories such as "Talent and Culture (HR)," "Product Management," "Quality," and "Administrative Services and Facilities." Within each job family are nine job levels - five individual contributor levels ranging from "Associate" to "Principal," and four manager levels ranging from "Manager" to "Vice President." The nine job levels within the 17 job families provide progression for staff at each level. These details will periodically be reviewed and updated as needed.

Staff overview. Staff at the Foundation are a group of over 700 people who collectively speak over 75 languages (and counting!) and span almost every timezone, across all eight Wikimedia regions. The Foundation will share this snapshot of total headcount, geographic distribution, and growth analytics on a yearly basis in the Annual Plan.

At a Glance on 31 December 2022
Our total headcount 711 We had 711 total Foundation staff on 31 December 2022.
Countries 57 Our people are located across 57 countries and all continents except Antarctica.
Growth in headcount 10% The headcount has grown by 10% in the past 12 months (Dec 2021 – Dec 2022). This is down from 15% in the last quarter, and is down from 30% in the prior fiscal year.
Non-US Workers 49% 49% of our workers are located outside of the USA.
Tenure in years 3.8 Staff members are staying on the average for about 3.8 years.

Increased visibility of pay and executive compensation. In response to changing regulations in the US, as well as our increased commitment to pay visibility, the Foundation recently announced a practice of including salary ranges for US salaries in job postings. This is in addition to the compensation details published for top executives in our Form 990 financial disclosures annually.

Over the last year, two new executives joined the Wikimedia Foundation. Their executive compensation will not be reported in this year's Form 990 (which will be published next month) because these salaries will technically require disclosure in a future reporting cycle. To provide more visibility into the Foundation's executive pay levels, their base salary is being provided proactively below. As mentioned above, these salaries were set using an established third party compensation survey that benchmarks to median base salaries (e.g. 50th percentile) of similar roles across different industries in a specific geography, in this case the United States. This means that these salaries are in the middle of the range for executive salaries for similar positions.

  • Maryana Iskander, Chief Executive Officer base compensation (joined January 2022): USD $453,000
  • Selena Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer base compensation (joined August 2022): USD $420,000