Wikimedia Foundation Report, March 2008

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ED Report to the Board of Trustees, March 2008

  • Weeks of: March 1 to March 31, 2008
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Board of Trustees

My Current Priorities[edit]

last updated April 13

1. Finalization of fundraising strategy
2. Launch of preliminary foundation investigations
3. Establishment of the new SF headquarters, including set-up of meeting schedules, etc.
4. Bits and pieces (990 wrap-up, further hires, potential partnerships, etc.)
5. Goal setting for final two quarters of FY 07-08
6. Continuation of major donor initiatives already underway

Recent Weeks[edit]


On March 4, we invited a group of friends and potential supporters to visit the San Francisco office. This event was professionally planned and executed, including lighting, real-time data displays, catering, music (courtesy of Pandora), a wiki-guestbook, etc.

On March 25, 2008, the Sloan Foundation announced it would award USD 3 million of support to the Wikimedia Foundation. The funding will be received over three years, at one million dollars per year. It is ?institutional funding? - and will go towards the Wikimedia Foundation's key goals, including its continued organizational development. One specific initiative it will support is the FlaggedRevs revision-tagging technology, which we hope to deploy across projects in order to allow project communities to systematically assess the quality of specific article revisions. It will also help support the expansion of outreach initiatives such as Wikipedia Academy, and the distribution of educational content from Wikipedia and its sister projects in non-web-based formats such as DVDs and books, to reach people who are not online.

On March 27, 2008, we announced that we have received a $500,000 unrestricted donation from philanthropists Vinod and Neeru Khosla.

During March, we developed our new fundraising strategy. It focuses on targeting multiple revenue streams to achieve stability and sustainability, including a balance of major donors, ?smaller? donations, grants from foundations, and earned income. Work is ongoing developing a list of major donor prospects, implementing standardized fundraising procedures, and acknowledging both past and current gifts. And, several staff members have received fundraising training.

Board Meeting Preparation[edit]

A Board meeting is scheduled for April 5-7, the first to take place in San Francisco. Preparation for the Board meeting included development of the agenda, making arrangements for Board travel and accommodation, the scheduling of meetings with candidates for the position of board treasurer, and the development and presentation of the following documents:

  • A presentation summarizing key achievements since the last face-to-face Board meeting in October 2007; describing revenue and hiring plans, and summarizing the Wikimedia Foundation staff goals development process and the 2008 goals.
  • A postmortem document analyzing the organization's response to recent media events and making recommendations for the future
  • An update on the Wikimania security situation
  • The IRS form 990 for FY 06-07
  • The FY 06-07 audit firm ?management letter?
  • A draft non-disparagement agreement and pledge of personal commitment
  • A draft resolution on data retention
  • Update on progress towards revamping the privacy policy.

Thanks to everyone who participated in preparations for the meeting.

Accounting Transitions to San Francisco[edit]

On March 7, we announced the hiring of Mary Lou Secoquian, our new accountant in the San Francisco office. Mary Lou has a degree in accounting, and more than 20 years experience with financial recordkeeping, management reporting, partnership reporting, payroll, audit and tax work. Mary Lou replaces Oleta McHenry, our St. Petersburg accountant. We are enormously grateful to Oleta for her dedication and hard work on behalf of the Foundation.


In mid-March, we announced that Frank Schulenburg has agreed to lead the Wikimedia Foundation's public outreach initiatives. Frank is well-known as the founder of Wikipedia Academy and vice chair of Wikimedia Deutschland. In his role as public outreach coordinator, Frank will stage more Wikipedia Academies, and will develop and implement other strategies designed to encourage contributions from targeted underrepresented groups ? which may include, for example, small-language speakers, people in developing nations, and older people. (Our general survey, in development with UNU-Merit, will help us solidify the demographics we want to target.) Frank will also design other outreach events, templates and support materials aimed at raising public awareness and understanding of Wikimedia projects. In all of this, he will work closely with the chapters.

We've identified a candidate for a software developer position, and will re-advertise the junior developer / IT support position.

We've also developed draft job descriptions for all fundraising positions, and hope to begin hiring for these in April.


Significant staff energy was spent developing responses to various media and blog coverage (Marsden/Wool/Merkey). The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times covered Wikimedia's fundraising plans, resulting in a brief spike of public support. We identified and announced the 10 millionth Wikipedia article, a biography of English painter Nicholas Hilliard from the Hungarian Wikipedia. Preparations were made for the launch of an official Wikimedia Foundation blog.

Business Development[edit]

All existing deals are being reassessed, and some contracts cancelled because they have been under-valued. The live feed service in particular has been evaluated in some detail, with review of documentation and quality of service, and initial planning regarding the future nature of the service. The business development strategy is being developed, and will be finalized in June.


[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:]

Erik and Mark met with Kennisnet in the Netherlands to discuss the future of the Kennisnet/Wikimedia partnership. Mark continues to explore additional sponsorship options in Europe. Erik also met with Erik Zachte to discuss Wikistats and other data analysis and visualization projects.

Test wikis for the FlaggedRevs extension have been deployed in English and German, and an announcement has been distributed in many languages. The German community in particular has very actively pushed the extension, and deployment on the German Wikipedia is expected to follow in April.

The first stage of Single User Login has been deployed. Administrators on all Wikimedia projects can migrate their user accounts to the new global login system. For now, sessions are still separate, i.e., it's necessary to log into each project separately. After appropriate testing, access to the migration tools will be given to non-administrators.

The PediaPress PDF library and collection manager are in local testing; first report available at: - first real world deployment to happen in April.

The search engine has been improved: the front-end has been standardized, and the search now supports media thumbnails, which is particularly valuable for Wikimedia Commons.

The WAP mobile phone gateway has been improved, and Brion has implemented an experimental location-based Wikipedia search.

Orientation and New Office Set-up Continues[edit]

Health insurance for North American staff will be in place in early April. We are beginning to set up schedules of meetings, such as a weekly revenue meeting, fundraising meetings, technology meetings, and so on. Many people's goals for the current fiscal year have been finalized. The office is starting to become not just usable but in fact a friendly and pleasant, collaborative space. Photos of and by Wikimedians are very present, creating a sense of immersion in the volunteer community.


Work on the UNU-Merit survey is ongoing and a first round of feedback on the draft survey questions has been exchanged.


Wikimania 2009 will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina - congratulations to the bidding team!

Planning for Wikimania 2008 continues

Planning towards the chapters meeting in the Netherlands continues

Coming Weeks[edit]

  • Hiring for software developer, fundraising, partnerships positions
  • UNU-Merit survey questions to be finalized and distributed for translation
  • Early meetings with grant-giving foundations
  • Major donor cultivation and stewardship
  • Analysis and consolidation of fundraising data from past fundraisers
  • Phasing out old 32-bit machines from server farm
  • Migration to new version of Asterisk for office phone system
  • Further deployment and testing of FlaggedRevs, PediaPress PDF library
  • Security of Intranet wikis to be increased
  • Major hardware order and deployment, including a dedicated server for Wikistats
  • Permanent set-up of data displays in the office and other prettification efforts