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Wikimedia Foundation Medium-term plan 2019/Annual Plan 2020-2021

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Wikimedia Foundation Medium-term plan 2019


Below you will find the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2020-2021 Annual Plan. This year’s plan is more than an expression of the projects and commitments we have planned for the current fiscal year (which runs from July 2020 through June 2021). It is a milestone, an accounting of the path and the progress that the Foundation will make towards our 2030 strategic direction to secure and support the future of our projects and our communities.

Implementing the Movement Strategy Recommendations[edit]

In 2017, we developed a strategic direction to guide our future as a movement: “We will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision [can] join us.” Building upon this direction, we needed to develop a strategy by making deliberate choices together alongside our communities, laying out the specifics of what our movement would do, change, discard, and develop in order to get there.

The movement strategy process was an opportunity to engage many stakeholders, to interpret the direction together, and recommend critical next steps for our global communities. The process itself was unlike anything ever attempted before - a sprawling global dialogue across the Wikimedia ecosystem, involving community stakeholders, affiliates and volunteers to define and develop the future of our movement.  We reimagined the process of a consultation, with numerous iterative discussions where we practiced the art of convening, dispute resolution, negotiation, and leadership.

In May 2020, the movement strategy working groups distilled all of the feedback they had received into a final set of recommendations. These recommendations span the breadth of our projects, from improving platform architecture to promoting more equitable participation and protection across communities. Now we move into a new phase, as we begin the exciting work of implementation. This is where we must begin to make choices, decisions, trade resources from one side to another in order to realize our potential.

The movement strategy process has highlighted the long-term impact we can have when we come together as a movement. In that same spirit, implementing these recommendations will be a collaborative effort. It will require continued and improved engagement between the Wikimedia Foundation and the communities, in order to work together to achieve our goals.

The projects outlined in this year’s Annual Plan represent the Foundation’s commitment towards the recommendations, and the areas in which we will drive progress over the remainder of the year. They include work as varied and adventurous as exploring new knowledge formats through our newest Wikimedia project, Abstract Wikipedia; improving our capacity to support the global communities and ensuring that, together, we have resources we need for implementation of the movement strategy recommendations; and introducing new improvements to our tech stack and new tools for editors.

Planning for the Continued Impact of the Pandemic[edit]

At the same time, we recognize that things are different this year. We’re delivering the Annual Plan several months further into the fiscal year than we normally would, and into a world full of uncertainty: the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic uncertainty, and a changing political landscape marked both by inspiring civic protests for justice, and by rising threats to freedom of information. In light of these circumstances, we want to focus our investments and our work in three key areas that we believe are fundamental to our mission:

  1. Reliability - We have a responsibility to ensure the reliability and stability of our projects, to make sure that free knowledge is available and accessible anywhere. We want to prioritize investing in infrastructure, in increasing redundancies and reducing single points of failure.
  2. Readership - In addition, we want to maintain and grow readership to our projects. This encompassses our work to improve the reader experience, as well as how we continue to grow readership in our target markets and communities.
  3. Revenue - Despite the continued global economic fluctuation, the Wikimedia Foundation and movement are currently in a good financial position, and we have strong reserves in order to continue our work. We have a responsibility to protect our revenue and secure resources to steward free knowledge and to serve our global communities.

Our approach to this fiscal year is one of conservative, but steady growth. It accounts for the economic picture we find ourselves in -- increasing unemployment in many countries around the world, the potential for continued pandemic shutdowns, and a lack of certainty about the path to recovery from our current global recession.

As a Foundation, we decreased our own growth projections, in order to mitigate the impact of an economic slowdown. However, one area of Annual Planning that we prioritized protecting was financial support for our communities. This is a moment where our mission is more urgent than ever. We wanted to empower communities to continue their work, especially given these challenging circumstances.

In this year’s Annual Plan, we increased community funding through the grants program, safeguarded APG funds through a fiscal set-aside, developed new resources for community events, including a new COVID-19 risk assessment protocol to help community organizers adapt to their changing local restrictions for gathering, and a Community Events engagement plan to help volunteers create more accessible events and develop more skills and capacity for organizing events. We will also improve our capacity to support our community more systematically, ensuring communities have the resources for the implementation phase.

Finally, we are excited to share the creation of a new, pilot program fund for Knowledge Equity to invest in new opportunities that increase the availability of free knowledge and counteract structural inequalities that directly impact knowledge equity. More details about this pilot fund will be available in the second half of the year.

This scaled back approach is not set in stone. Every month, we will be analyzing our expenses and economic projections to see if we need to change our plans.

Aligning to our Medium Term Plan[edit]

We’ve grouped our work for the coming year under the Medium Term Plan priority it supports. The MTP is the Foundation’s three-year roadmap of work to help move our movement toward the overall strategic direction. The MTP is focused around two main goals:

  1. Growing participation in the movement globally to expand our movement in regions and languages where our projects are not widely known, and
  2. Modernizing the Wikimedia product experience to improve the user experience for contributors and readers.

There are five priority investment areas for these two goals:

  1. Expanding Brand Awareness in more locations will allow us to grow the movement by bringing in new readers and clarifying our mission, values, and purpose.
  2. Sustaining and growing Worldwide Readership through enhancements to the reading experience, the addition of new content formats, and more regionally relevant content.
  3. Supporting a Thriving Movement with programs and policies that foster a more welcoming, diverse, and healthy community.
  4. Investing in Platform Evolution will make it easier to keep our sites updated, secure, and safe, and for communities to create and share richer and more locally relevant content.
  5. Protecting  the movement’s ability to participate around the world through Global Advocacy, to become a more proactive and powerful voice on behalf of the value of free knowledge to society.

This year’s Annual Plan represents our second year of progress towards the milestones of the MTP. Each priority includes objectives that we’re supporting for this fiscal year. We will measure our impact on these objectives over the course of the year, and share more details about the work behind each objective and our progress on a quarterly basis through our quarterly Tuning Sessions.

These objectives represent a significant amount of work that we plan to achieve over the course of the year. We have all seen how our mission is more relevant, more necessary, more critical now than ever before. I am excited to share this plan with you, and to move towards the future that we are building as a movement, together.


What are ‘objectives’ and why do we use them?[edit]

Objectives are the “what” we want to achieve with this work and “why” we are taking action. These represent our guiding star for this body of work and help us link to our strategic goals.

Progress on objectives and key results (OKRs) will be shared quarterly on Meta via department Tuning Session presentations. Those quarterly progress report presentations can be found on Meta-Wiki.

Medium Term Plan (MTP)[edit]

What is the Medium Term Plan and why does it exist?[edit]

The “Medium Term Plan” (MTP) describes a medium-term perspective on major institutional and technical goals under the responsibility and mission of the Wikimedia Foundation to support and fulfill the vision laid out by Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy.

This plan is the result of collaboration across the Wikimedia Foundation’s various areas of expertise, and a representation of how the Foundation intends to lead, build, design, and serve the world and the mission of free knowledge. It establishes clear goals, areas of priority work, as well as metrics to measure accountability to the movement, our donors, and ourselves. The Wikimedia Foundation plays a unique role within the Wikimedia movement, and the Medium Term Plan reflects our interpretation of the activities the Foundation can undertake to support the broader movement in becoming the essential infrastructure of free knowledge.

Budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 by Medium Term Plan Priority[edit]

Worldwide Readership
Platform Evolution
Global Advocacy
Brand Awareness
Thriving Movement

Priority Area Objectives[edit]

Brand awareness[edit]

Brand awareness objectives[edit]
  1. 20th Birthday: January 15, 2021 marks 20 years of Wikipedia and our free knowledge projects. Using this milestone as a communication opportunity, the Foundation will partner with affiliates, partners, and volunteers to expand the public’s  perception of Wikipedia. Success will be showing how Wikipedia has been made by human collaboration and is part of a global knowledge movement.
  2. Brand: People join and support the movements that move them. With this objective, we improve how our global, free knowledge movement is identified with branding elements so that people can quickly understand who we are, what we do, what we stand for, and how they can get involved. Changes to organization naming and consistent visual elements across movement touchpoints (from the Foundation to Affiliates to Projects) will enable visitors to any of our individual movement parts to perceive the whole interconnected system. On 24 September 2020, the Board of Trustees resolved to pause the Movement Brand Project until March 2021. An ad-hoc committee will be formed to review the project and determine next steps.
  3. Elevate Wikimedia Foundation Brand: This objective is core to raising brand awareness so that the Wikimedia work is more fully understood, both in terms of how our projects work and their deeper connection to the free knowledge movement. Pushing this understanding will elevate the issues we care about, from gaining more supporters for our legal, advocacy and public policy work, to reaching new and consistent donors, to helping to attract potential volunteers with our message of knowledge equity and conveying how important it is to fill representation gaps.

Worldwide readership[edit]

Worldwide readership objectives[edit]
  1. Readership: Protect: This objective is designed to protect Wikipedia's high traffic levels in 5 of fundraising's big English markets which provide significant donations.
  2. Desktop Improvement Project: The world primarily experiences Wikipedia via our website.  Our desktop website experience has not been significantly updated in almost 10 years and no longer matches the quality of the content that our volunteers create. The desktop refresh project is a modernization of our desktop website user interface so that its quality more closely matches the expectations of the modern internet user and the quality of our living and breathing content.
  3. Growing readership: This deliverable is about growing our readership through several initiatives to address users' barriers to Wikipedia usage.  Specifically we are addressing that, in order to find value, readers require:
    1. locally relevant content
    2. to find the content
    3. an accessible format to digest it
  4. New knowledge formats (Wikidata + Abstract Wikipedia): Language agnostic content is used to make Wikimedia content more accessible, with broader participation, especially in emerging communities.
  5. Increase impact of knowledge with data: Our aim is to remove barriers to contribution and increase access to content in   Wikidata and across the Wikimedia projects through better content interconnectivity and machine recognition.

Thriving movement[edit]

Thriving movement objectives[edit]
  1. Movement Consultation: To create more consistency in collaborating with our communities we are developing and maintaining guidelines for movement consultations from the Foundation.
  2. Community Leadership and Capacity Building: Support the growth of community-led capacity building by training volunteers on how to develop and facilitate training experiences.
  3. Grantmaking: Maintain our current grantmaking programs over the next year, with increasing support to emerging communities. Develop a new grants strategy in line with movement strategy recommendations, supporting Knowledge Equity, and in consultation with communities, Wikimedia Foundation, Staff, and external experts. Begin to pilot new models of grantmaking that support a Thriving Movement.
  4. Address Knowledge Gaps: Decision makers have access to sufficient directional data about the state of knowledge gaps to be able to make informed decisions about which areas of the gaps to prioritize work towards.
  5. Safe and Secure Spaces: A key Foundation Board priority, this multi-departmental investment program aims to make our movement more welcoming and safer for more diverse participants. It is a key part of the organization’s efforts to help the movement become more reflective of the world it creates and provides free knowledge for.
  6. Movement Communications: Promote positive relationships, constructive discussion and understanding between the foundation, volunteers and affiliates by building a strategy for movement communications, focused on supporting a strong narrative about the foundation and the movement’s work.
  7. Movement Strategy Integration: Collaborate across movement stakeholders to prioritize, sequence, integrate and resource Movement Strategy initiatives into fully-developed project plans that can be incorporated in organizational and community strategies and planning over a multiyear period. As a result, the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendations will be fully developed and integrated across all aspects of the movement, to ensure we meet the goals of the Strategic Direction.
  8. Community Programs: Collectively, these programs aim to lower barriers to high impact content contribution by knowledge ecosystem partners through establishing clearer batch upload workflows for GLAMs, developing a Wikimedia Foundation-facilitated model for working with UN-level partners to address strategic content gaps, and piloting models for large-scale adoption of Wikimedia as an educational resource.
  9. IP Masking: In an era of stricter data privacy and security practices, this project balances our need to protect users' personal data while continuing to give moderators the tools that they need to protect the projects from vandalism, spam, harassment and paid editing.
  10. ARMDEB (Microcons/onboarding): Attracting and retaining new editors is essential for our projects to continue to thrive, and expanding our editor base brings new perspectives that make our content more accurate and representative of the world's knowledge.

Platform evolution[edit]

Platform evolution objectives[edit]
  1. Evolutionary architecture: Evolve the Wikimedia systems architecture to use more modern patterns. This allows engineering teams to work more independently and build software features more reliably and predictably.
  2. Content integrity: The Wikimedia movement has the tools and knowledge to identify and respond to abuse, misinformation, and disinformation campaigns, in order to more efficiently and effectively improve the quality of content, defend the projects and retain the public’s trust.

Global advocacy[edit]

Global advocacy objectives[edit]
  1. Position statement: The Free Knowledge Advocacy Agenda process will move to its next stage, establishing position statements for the Foundation to enable effective and coordinated policy action.
  2. Policy advocacy: Our advocacy strategy will influence policy makers to further Wikimedia's advocacy agenda.

Efficacy and Resilience Framework (ERF)[edit]

What is the efficacy and resilience framework (ERF) and why did we create it?[edit]

The organizational efficacy and resilience framework (ERF) describes the work we do that is outside of the scope of the five MTP Priorities. It is intended to standardize the work we do now and in the future, regardless of our strategic priorities, and is the foundation upon which we approach our strategic priorities and strive toward our vision. In order to better match the language in the MTP and increase the specificity of the language we use for planning, we are no longer using the term "Core" and now call this work "Organizational Efficacy and Resilience."

Budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 by Efficacy and Resilience Framework Domain[edit]

Mission Support
Technical Infrastructure
Risk Management
Shared Services

Mission Support[edit]

This work is the backbone of our mission, “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” Regardless of our strategic priorities, we will always support the Wikimedia movement with grants, partnership development, legal support, and community outreach.

  1. Values (Legal) - Our legal strategy will defend and advance the organization and our values through litigation and other actions. We aim to ensure we uphold high standards for conducting all business according to human rights principles.
  2. Privacy Mission Support - We will uphold our commitment to protecting user privacy, maintaining and improving internal data governance in line with applicable law and the advancement of the Wikimedia mission.
  3. Community Events - Develop a thriving ecosystem of movement events to advance community building, collaboration and capacity development.
  4. Research Collaboration - Our research collaboration program enables outside researchers to support the Wikimedia Foundation's mission and work.
  5. Partnerships - Maintain and grow Wikimedia Foundation's relationships with external entities (including UN agencies, technology companies, academic institutions, government agencies, open knowledge players, and other relevant stakeholders) while testing and seeding new partnership models in support of the annual and mid-term plans, in line with the Movement Strategy.

Technical Infrastructure[edit]

This work includes all the engineering and technology needed to build and maintain our projects, platform, and internal infrastructure.

  1. Code Health - Improve code health in codebases that Product teams work on (1) by making visible and addressing technical debt and (2) by adopting appropriate code health processes, tools, and metrics; so that feature development is faster and more robust.
  2. Infrastructure Maintenance - Ensure user experience does not degrade due to code maintenance gaps or unresolved infrastructure issues.
  3. Trust and Safety Software - To increase safety and security on the platform, we will update privacy and security tools.
  4. Product and Tech team collaboration - In order to ship great software more easily, the Technology and Product groups will collaborate closely on high priority projects.
  5. Front-line defenses - Our infrastructure and data are staffed, secured and provisioned appropriately in each area to successfully prevent or handle malicious attacks, the unavailability of one system component, or the unavailability of a staff member.
  6. Technical Community Building - Our technical community is thriving and has a clear, consistent means to discover, build, and deploy applications that support community workflows, invent new forms of content creation and consumption, and leverage Wikimedia's APIs and data beyond the core wiki experience.
  7. Production Quality - Engineering teams at Wikimedia Foundation have a shared understanding of development velocity, production health, and code quality, and they develop commitments for improving overall code health.

Risk Management[edit]

Work related to our systematic monitoring, reporting, and management of specified enterprise risks.

  1. Security and Privacy Awareness - Inform and educate staff and community on security and privacy risks. Provide tooling and support to promote privacy best practices throughout the Foundation and community.
  2. Risk Management (Legal) - Improve operational effectiveness of Foundation Trust & Safety staff to address threats effectively and efficiently across the globe.
  3. Operationalizing the ERM - Complete the rollout of workflows and systems necessary to monitor and treat foundation-wide financial, strategic and operational risk.

Fundraising and Revenue[edit]

Ensures the Wikimedia movement has the relationships and resources it needs to thrive.

  1. Fundraising - Engage readers to become donors and deepen our relationship with existing donors to ensure the Wikimedia movement has the resources it needs to thrive.
  2. Enterprise-scale commercial reuse - Begin implementation of Movement Strategy recommendations to support long-term sustainability of the movement by developing an API/product for enterprise-scale commercial reusers of our content.

Shared Services[edit]

Services provided internally to support the day to day functioning of the organization.

  1. Sustainability - Delivery of initiatives that align with the Foundation’s sustainability framework and seek to reduce our carbon footprint.
  2. Foundation data and insights - Collect, collate, and report on data that helps us evaluate the effectiveness of foundation-led programs so that leaders have easy access to insights to shape planning and funding decisions that support equity.
  3. Movement data and insights - Collect, analyze, and share data on the demographics, needs, and experiences of movement participants to inform ongoing decision making and determine whether we are meeting Foundation goals related to a thriving movement and so that ultimately, we can create a more equitable movement.
  4. Better Use of Data - This objective promotes continuous learning and better decision-making in the Foundation as we advance Wikimedia’s strategic direction toward service and equity. Our goals are to make it easier to surface and find relevant data & research and clarify how analysis applies to decisions & actions, while fulfilling our commitment to ethically sourced and applied data.
  5. Equity - Pending; more information will be provided.
  6. Annual Plan -  Facilitate the Foundation to develop an impactful Annual Plan that moves us toward our Medium-term Plan and Strategic Direction.
  7. Financial Management and Compliance - Ensure that the foundation effectively manages our resources in support of our medium-term plan, follows best practices in finance and accounting standards, and meets all compliance requirements.
  8. Business Operations - Build a business and operational processes and practices in the Foundation that supports our organization to effectively meet our goals.
  9. Working Environments - To maintain and improve the productivity of the foundation's internal IT systems and physical offices facilities ("working environment") in service to the Wikimedia Foundation mission and annual plan.
  10. Internal Enterprise System Improvement - Strengthen enterprise systems to better manage, support and enhance a globally distributed workforce.
  11. Business Continuity/Data Destruction Project - Ensure our business operations to be compliant and resilient in the event of a security breach or a disaster.
  12. Legal Operations - Our legal services will be available to every team in the Foundation. We will provide focused legal support on identified high priority initiatives, and improve routine services based on client surveys.
  13. Executive Director Leadership of Leadership Team and Board - Create a high-performing Office of the Executive Director, that drives engagement, velocity, and growth, including an efficient and effective Leadership Team and an engaged and performant Board of Trustees.
  14. Organization Efficacy & Rigor - Establish and implement organizational best practices to improve the effectiveness and discipline of how the Foundation achieves its targeted outcomes.
  15. Centralized Ticketing System - Implementation of a centralized ticketing system to drive standardized workflows for issue resolution, reduced response times, improved communication and automatic routing to ensure correct teams are engaged.
  16. All-Hands - Create space to unite distributed staff, collaborate face-to-face on work deliverables, sync on major initiatives, improve relationships, and celebrate successes.
  17. Talent Development - The Talent & Culture team continues to establish the processes, systems, and practices to facilitate organizational talent decisions for a 500-person+ workforce, while elevating the skills of our staff to support professional growth in line with organizational needs. We will provide senior leadership, people managers, and individual contributors the frameworks and support to cultivate a prepared and capable pipeline of functional and people leaders who can succeed at meeting the challenges of our mission.
  18. Hiring / Diversity & Inclusion - Promote an inclusive recruitment process & proactive pipeline that values experiences, opinions, and ideas from different backgrounds and challenges our current practices in hiring Foundation staff.
  19. Talent & Culture (HR) Partnership and Support - Enhance the Talent and Culture team's capabilities, efficiencies and service excellence in order to establish the department as a trusted partner and reliable support to leaders and to staff.

Budget summary[edit]

Budget fiscal year (2020-2021) versus Prior fiscal year (2019-2020)[edit]

Actuals Fiscal Year 2019-2020
(million US$)
Budget Fiscal Year 2020-2021
(million US$)
Financials (US$M)
Total Revenue 124.8 110.5
Programmatic 85.2 79.8
Personnel Expenses
45.3 56.5
Services & Travel
9.4 8.0
Grants (see note)
12.7 4.8
Endowment Contribution
5.0 0
Data Center Expenses
3.7 4.3
Other Expenses
9.1 6.2
Fundraising 12.0 12.7
General and Administration 15.0 15.5
Total Expense 112.2 108.0
Change in Net Assets 2.5

Programmatic ratio - Budget fiscal year 2020-2021 versus Actuals fiscal year 2019-2020[edit]

Actuals fiscal year 2019-2020[edit]

Budget fiscal year 2020-2021[edit]

Note on grants[edit]

We will be providing for more grants in fiscal year 2020-2021 than last year, although it may appear that our grants budget is smaller than the prior year if you look at our financial statements alone. This is because in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019-2020 we were able to use our budget underrun to "pay forward" the year ahead in order to provide funding certainty for our grants programs in an uncertain time. As a result this amount was expensed in our fiscal year 2019-2020 budget rather than in our fiscal year 2020-2021 budget. We set aside US$10M in grant funding for future grants that will be in addition to the US$4.8M that is shown in our fiscal year 2020-2021 budget. Included in this US$10M is US$5.5M to enable increases to  our fiscal year 2020-2021 Annual Plan Grants as well as US$4.5M to expand equity driven grantmaking for our mission.

In addition, we made a US$5M contribution as a grant to the Endowment in fiscal year 2019-2020 but we have not budgeted for an Endowment contribution from the Wikimedia Foundation in fiscal year 2020-2021, although we will still be fundraising for the Endowment from other sources.