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Wikimedia Foundation Report, January 2008

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ED Report to the Board of Trustees, January 2008

  • Weeks of: December 23 - January 29, 2008
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Board of Trustees

Current Priorities

1. Establishing the new SF headquarters, including orientation of new staff
2. Planning major donor dinner & Wikimedia welcome party (both early March)
3. Financial reporting and audit wrap-up
4. Bits and pieces (Kennisnet, further hires, partnerships, etc.)

Starting soon:

1. Davos follow-up

Recent Weeks


New San Francisco headquarters:

Although it is still very much a work in progress, the San Francisco office has been up and running since Wednesday, January 23. Most furniture has been delivered and set up, and the new VOIP phone system is working, with calls now going to San Francisco rather than St. Petersburg.

Our mailing address: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 78350, San Francisco, CA 94107-8350

Our phone number: 415 839 6885

We are planning a welcome-to-San Francisco party for ourselves, likely at the beginning of March. (The date is not yet locked down.) Invitations will be sent to board and advisory board members, in case anyone happens to be in the Bay Area, as well as to the Wikimedia San Francisco mailing list, our friends at like-minded organizations, etc. If you have people you would like to see invited, please e-mail me or add them here http://office.wikimedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Welcome_Party.


  • Veronique Kessler will be our new CFOO, starting February 4. Veronique joins us from the non-profit Jewish Community Center of San Francisco,where she was Director of Finance and, before that, Controller. Prior to JCCSF, she has 15 years of managerial/financial experience with a wide variety of organizations, including Stanford University, brokerage firm Charles Schwab, the venture capital and investment firm Berkeley International Capital Corporation, the Walden International Investment Group, The Fremont Group, Wells Fargo bank, and Deloitte & Touche. She is a CPA (certified public accountant) with lots of international experience, who speaks and writes French. Veronique is just returning from maternity leave and is spending this week wrapping up some work at the JCCSF: for most of February, she will be with us only three days per week. Her top priorities, in the beginning, will likely include:
1. Hiring the fundraiser and the accountant
2. Ensuring the relocation basics are okay (e.g., payroll is undisrupted, bank accounts set up, etc.)
3. Getting to know her direct reports, Kul, Cheryl, Erica and Oleta, and the areas they are responsible for.
  • We plan to announce the head of development in February, and the new accountant in March. For the time being, the position of head of partnerships is on hold. (You may recall: this is partly a financial decision and partly a letting the team shake out before filling the final position decision.)
  • Recapping the rest of us: Mike Godwin begins work in the San Francisco office January 30. Jay Walsh, the new head of communications, started January 10. Kul Takanao Wadhwa, the new head of business development, started January 3. Erik Moeller, deputy director, started December 31. Erica Ortega and Cheryl Owens (formerly Steffen) have been on the job as, respectively, office manager and PA, since December 10. Brion Vibber (CTO) and Cary Bass (Volunteer Coordinator) arrived from St Petersburg in December. Delphine Menard, Mark Bergsma and Tim Starling continue to work normally from, respectively, Frankfurt, Eindhoven and Sydney. We expect to be fully staffed by the end of March.



We've created a postmortem/summary report covering the 2007 fundraiser, which ran from October 23 to January 3. In total, the fundraiser brought the Wikimedia Foundation more than 45,000 donations totaling USD 2,112,251.73 (unaudited figures). This includes a contribution of USD 500,000, stock valued at USD 49,768, and a donation of USD 10,000.

The amount raised in the 07-08 fundraiser, compared with 06-07 which raised just over USD 1 million, overperforms the traffic increase of that same period. This is likely because the 07-08 fundraiser ran significantly longer, initially picking up more slowly, but sustaining donation growth better than the 06-07 fundraiser.

In addition, this fundraiser saw the most significant participation thus far from the Wikimedia chapters, with active participation from Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Poland. Wikimedia Germany's participation enabled it to purchase 15 servers for the Amsterdam cluster: in the end, the German chapter will contribute to the Foundation a total of approximately EUR 70K worth of goods and services (the chapter will retain ownership of any purchased equipment). Also, the Swiss chapter has made a contribution of CHF 5K. Many thanks to the chapters :-)

The report makes a series of recommendations for the next fundraiser, including:

1. Change the sitenotice regularly to avoid 'banner blindness'
2. Continue to refine the Media-Wiki-based landing page
3. Improve donor thanking
4. Improve reporting and data capture
5. Enable recurring donations
6. Encourage community fundraising efforts with network effects
7. Begin planning earlier. The full report is here http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_2007/Notes.

Major donor dinner


As you know, we've been on a tour of potential major donors. We continue to follow up individually, and are also beginning to plan a dinner, which will likely take place in early March. It won't be extravagant ? we just want to bring together ten or so interesting philanthropists to the San Francisco office, to talk about Wikimedia's goals and plans.



The audited 2006-07 financial statements have been released by the audit committee to the board. Once they are approved, we will release them publicly. We owe a huge debt of thanks to the staff, particularly Oleta McHenry, who worked long hours to get the audit completed.

Other News

  • We announced a partnership with the Collaborative Creativity Group at UNU-MERIT to conduct the first-ever comprehensive Wikimedia survey.
  • We announced a beta program with Kaltura and WikiEducator to allow users to collaboratively edit video and other forms of rich media.
  • We signed the contract launching the PediaPress wiki-to-print project.
  • We deployed new parser code that makes wiki syntax more consistent and scalable.
  • We established peering arrangements with several new networks to reduce the cost of traffic.

In coming weeks

  • The audited 2006-07 financial statements will be released publicly once approved by the board.
  • The board is also expected to approve the credit card usage policy January 31. The final two ?check cards? were retired last week, and Foundation credit cards have arrived and are in use by a few staffers.
  • As planned, 2007-08 financial statements will be released to the board February 1. This will include a statement of cash flow, balance sheet, income statement, overall comparison of budget-to-actuals plus some

detail, and a cash flow projection for the remainder of FY 2007-08. This package will also include a text summary of the year so far.

  • The head of development will be announced in February, and the accountant in March. We will also soon begin interviewing software developers.
  • There will be a two-day staff orientation February 11 and 12.
  • We continue to explore consortium options in Amsterdam and have rescheduled our meeting with Kennisnet for end of February.
  • There will be a welcome-to-SF party, and a major donor dinner, in early March.

The St Petersburg office will shut down Thursday, January 31, and at that point, we will say goodbye to Barbara Brown (office manager), Sandy Ordonez (head of communications) and Vishal Patel (business development). Our accountant Oleta McHenry will be with us until the end of March, and Rob Halsell will remain as server tech out of Tampa. I want to convey the organization's deep gratitude to the entire staff who worked for us in St. Petersburg: Barbara, Sandy, Vishal, Oleta, Rob, Cary and Brion. It was not an easy year: thank you for sticking it out. We owe you, and we know it :-)