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Wikimedia Foundation Report, April 2008

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ED Report to the Board of Trustees, April 2008

  • Weeks of: April 1 to April 30, 2008
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Board of Trustees

My Current Priorities[edit]

1. Beginning preparations for 2008-09 budget and planning for 2008-09 goals;
2. Finalization of major donor strategy and development of "community gifts" strategy;
3. Recruitment of fundraising staff;
4. Launch of preliminary foundation investigations;
5. Bits and pieces (further establishment of new SF headquarters, development of potential partnerships, etc.)

Recent Weeks[edit]

Board Meeting[edit]

The Board met in the San Francisco office from April 5-7. Florence and other Board members have reported about the key outcomes of this meeting on the foundation-l mailing list:

Initial report by Florence: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-April/041168.html

New Board Treasurer, Stu West, announcement by Florence: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-April/041768.html

Volunteer council decision explanation by Michael: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-April/041917.html

Restructuring announcement by Jan-Bart: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-April/041936.html

Thanks to Mike for his support during the meeting and after it, drafting amendments to the bylaws and creating other materials for the Board. Thanks also to Wikimedia's administrative staff for creating an enjoyable and productive environment for the Board to do its work.


We received the first USD 1 million of the USD 3 million/three years grant by the Sloan Foundation. We'll be updating Sloan regularly on our progress, in addition to a report at the end of each funding period.

We've made initial contact with additional foundations, including the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Hewlett Foundation. These conversations are still in the early, exploratory stages. We're also meeting with leaders & thinkers from like-minded non-profit organizations to share experiences. For example, we met with Creative Commons to discuss their fundraising efforts and technology and with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to discuss fundraising.

We've built a standard pipeline of donor prospect review and “move management” which we go through every week, thanking people for past gifts and reaching out to new prospects. We're getting the first small responses to these efforts. We are also exploring fundraising potentials in the Arab world, in connection with Wikimania.

We've announced three job openings related to fundraising: a Head of Major Gifts, a Head of Community Giving, and a Development Specialist. In addition to normal job ad posting, we've reached out to a number of people to help us surface candidates for these roles. The jobs are posted here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings. They are set to expire May 31.

We also developed a boilerplate fundraising “messaging platform” - basically, a standard pitch to potential donors, that can be adapted and used as required.

We continue the process of registering as a charity with each state in the United States. (The law is unclear on whether this is a requirement for 501(c)3s in order to fundraise online, but it is recommended as a general good practice.) We also continued explorations of the status of our ability -in conjunction with the chapters- to offer tax-deductibility outside the United States. We have developed a list of the top-10 countries that have donated to Wikimedia in the past, with the goal of developing tax-deductibility in priority countries where we do not currently offer it. In order of total financial contribution, and not including contributions made directly to the chapters, those countries are: the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.


In April, we issued one press release, announcing Stuart West as the Foundation's new treasurer: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Stuart_West.

We also participated in media interviews including with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Globe and Mail, the major Korean daily newspaper, Bloomberg, the BBC, Wired magazine, the Economist, Canadian Business magazine, CNN, Slashdot, Pakistan's internet magazine SPIDER, the San Francisco Chronicle, El Mundo, the Washington Post, El Pais, KGO TV, the LA Times, and the Daily Telegraph (UK).


[At this time, the monthly report only covers work done by paid staff, and a lot of technology work is done by volunteers. A good way to track key technical changes is to read the Wikipedia Signpost's weekly “B.R.I.O.N.” report: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost ]

Single User Login implementation is going forward. At this point, the SUL system is still restricted to admins. Users of the secure gateway now only have to login once to use the wikis they have accounts on. The intention is to deploy this "login once" functionality within domain names like wikipedia.org, and hopefully also across domains.

We've done further testing and provided additional feedback to PediaPress on the PDF server implementation. We've discussed the long term development strategy for the project and set preliminary timelines for deployment.

The FlaggedRevs ("stable version") extension is almost ready to go for the German Wikipedia and is expected to go live in May.

Mark has negotiated additional peering agreements in Amsterdam, reducing our hosting costs there.

Rob has completed an upgrade of our open source VoIP phone system which offers a number of critical features, including conference rooms and directory services. He also visited the San Francisco office and offered staff training in the upgraded phone system, and how to use the file server, MediaWiki and the mailing lists.

Finance and Administration[edit]

We finalized arrangements with our new audit firm, KPMG, and began preliminary conversations regarding internal control procedures and testing in advance of the 07-08 audit. Véronique and Mary Lou have now begun some self-testing of amounts on the financial statements to get a handle on the state of backup documentation.

The audit committee met for the first time with Véronique, with Stu and with KPMG.

Véronique began planning for the 08-09 budget. The 08-09 fiscal year begins July 1, 2008.

Personnel files have been set up for all staff. Vacation balances for all staff in the United States have been finalized. A policy covering office absences, working from home, sick and vacation time was developed and released. A policy covering purchasing and payment procedures is in development, as is a performance appraisal system. New letterhead and envelope templates have been created.

Cary arranged for an intern to provide office help. User:Sfmammamia, a regular enwiki user, has been helping us out every Thursday afternoon in the San Francisco office since the end of March. She's been sending out thank you letters for donors as well as filing and copying for various departments in the office.


Wikimania planning continues. Mike released an Alexandria Security FAQ to foundation-l, developed with the help of Delphine, Kul, and the local team in Alexandria, and a country profile of Egypt, prepared for attendees by Clayton Associates.

Discussions are ongoing with the Free Software Foundation about the GFDL 1.3, and we put new project creation on hold until April 30 due to the implications of the proposed license. We hope the new license can be released next month.

Development of the Wikimedia Reader/Contributor survey continued, with lots of internal reworking of the survey-in-progress before a round of feedback from community members.

Sue and Erik spoke about the Wikimedia Foundation at Rockefeller University in New York.

While the board was in town, we hosted a small meet-up in the San Francisco office, with a dozen Wikimedia community members attending. Wikimedians continue to drop by the office on an ongoing basis, probably two or three each week.

We were also visited by representatives of the UK San Francisco consul and representatives from the UK office for governmental change and technology. They are Wikipedia fans :-)

In Coming Weeks[edit]

Delphine will visit Alexandria in May to work with the local planning team and with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina team.

The chapters meeting will take place in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, from May 22-25. Sue, Erik, Delphine and Kul will attend from the Foundation, as well as representatives from the chapters, and Florence, Jan-Bart and Frieda from the Board of Trustees.

PediaPress will be test-deployed.

FlaggedRevs will be deployed on the German Wikipedia and possibly also English Wikipedia.

We expect to be announcing the hiring of new software developers, and new fundraising staff, within the next month or so.

We are planning to have an all-staff meeting in San Francisco on June 26 and 27. Its purpose will be to deliver people's 08-09 budgets, and to develop 08-09 goals. It will be the first time that all non-San Francisco-based employees (Delphine, Mark, Tim and Rob) have a chance to meet with their new San Francisco colleagues.