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Wikimedia Foundation Report, March 2009

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ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, March 2009

  • Covering: March 2009

My Current Priorities[edit]

1. Preparation for April Board of Trustees meeting and chapters meeting
2. Recruitment of Chief Program Officer
3. Begin development of 2009-10 Annual Plan and goal-setting process
4. Finalize Strategy Plan Process proposal
5. Preparation of licensing update decision and potential roll-out
6. Bits and pieces: normal fundraising activities, grant proposal development, etc.

This Past Month[edit]

All Staff Meeting[edit]

On March 12-13, the Wikimedia Foundation held its bi-annual all staff meeting. During the meeting, WMF staff were given an overview of the foundation's strong year-to-date financial position, and the fundraising team was thanked for exceeding its targets in a difficult global economy. The process for 2009-10 goal-setting and performance assessment was rolled out, and new projects and priorities for 2009-10 were discussed.

Chapters and Board Meeting Preparation[edit]

Following consultation with Wikimedia volunteers, individually and on the foundation-l mailing list, Sue Gardner prepared a presentation for the Board of Trustees on Biographies of Living People, and drafted a resolution for the Board's review.

Four workshops were organized for the chapters meeting in Berlin: Frank Schulenburg prepared a workshop on public outreach; Mike Godwin prepared a workshop on trademarks; Rand Montoya prepared a workshop on fundraising, and Erik Moeller prepared a workshop on the Wikimedia Foundation's new Chapters Funding Request process.

Mike Godwin worked with the Stanford Law Clinic to create a new draft chapters agreement template, and a trademark policy memorandum for the Board of Trustees. The trademark materials will be presented at the April Board of Trustees Meeting.

New Chief Program Officer[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation hired Jennifer Riggs as its first Chief Program Officer. Jennifer comes to Wikimedia from the American Red Cross Bay Area chapter, where, as Manager of Volunteer Resources, she managed the work of more than a thousand volunteers. Prior to the Red Cross, she worked at the California School-Age Consortium and with the Peace Corps. Jennifer speaks French, Sango and some Spanish. She is scheduled to begin work with Wikimedia April 13. Cary Bass, Frank Schulenburg and Jay Walsh will report to Jennifer, and Jennifer will report to Sue.


The technology team launched a tech-focused blog at <techblog.wikimedia.org>. It will be used for updates about important developments as well as background on outages or maintenance operations.

The usability team completed the first Wikipedia user experience tests ever organized by the Wikimedia Foundation, with the help of Bolt|Peters, a usability firm in San Francisco. Videos and analysis of the results will be released shortly.

The Wikimedia Foundation hired Frederic Vassard as Systems Administrator, a planned new position. Fred has a background working with Linux and Unix system administration, and will be responsible for operations, monitoring, and documentation of the Wikimedia Foundation's technical infrastructure. He will also help improve our responses to, and anticipation of, operations issues.

The department continued working on the launch of the new mobile interface for Wikipedia, and a native application for iPhone and Android.

Michael Dale continued testing new upload changes that are aimed at improving the user experience of finding and transferring media content. A preview was announced in the tech blog: http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2009/03/add-media-wizard-and-firefogg-on-testwikipediaorg/

Several of the Technology Department staff also prepared for an upcoming trip to Berlin, Germany where they will be taking part in a wiki technology meeting adjacent to the chapters meeting.

Other Program Activity[edit]

Erik Moeller and Mike Godwin continued preparing the decision for a potential licensing update for all eligible GFDL content in Wikimedia Foundation projects. A survey on the issue of author attribution was presented, and the proposal at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Licensing_update was finalized and readied for translation. A licensing update committee was formed to invite volunteers to help support the decision-making process and implementation.

Frank Schulenburg created a proposal and built a team of volunteers for a Wikipedia Academy event with the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This will be the first-ever Wikipedia Academy to take place in the United States. Its purpose is two-fold: to coach the National Institutes of Health staff in how to contribute usefully to Wikipedia, and to experiment with how the Wikimedia Foundation might work with volunteers to support the staging of Academies in ways that scale past one-off events.

Cary Bass organized a merger of Wikipedia Facebook pages, and supported volunteers self-organizing to form the Board of Trustees Election Committee. During the month of March, two new OTRS administrators were recruited and appointed.

The Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with the Star Tribune newspaper (Minneapolis, Minnesota); the New York Daily News; Fox News; Veja Magazine (Sao Paulo, Brazil); the BBC; The National (Abu Dhabi); Philosophy Talk, KALW (San Francisco); the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

An "Inside Wikimedia" video was released showing the Wikimedia Foundation office and interviews with staff and volunteers: http://blog.wikimedia.org/2009/03/04/take-a-look-inside-wikimedia/

Fundraising, Grants, & Partnerships[edit]

During March, the Wikimedia Foundation received 1,069 donations, with a combined total dollar value of USD 57,711. Year-to-date, by the end of March the Wikimedia Foundation had raised USD 5,417,804 in donations, 35% above the full-year target of USD 4,000,000.

Rebecca Handler coordinated with the Hellman Family Foundation to finalize an unrestricted gift of $75,000. Our thanks to the Hellman Family Foundation for its generous support of the Wikimedia projects.

Sara Crouse travelled to Chicago, where she and Jimmy Wales spoke with the MacArthur Foundation.

Finance & Administration[edit]

In March, the Wikimedia Foundation hired Bill Gong as its new Accounting Manager. Bill will fulfill the duties previously held by Mary Lou Secoquian, as well as incorporating some new responsibilities related to financial reporting and analysis. Bill comes to Wikimedia with several decades of non-profit accounting experience, including positions at the Catholic Charities of San Francisco, the U.S. National Hispanic University, the Volunteer Center of Marin, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He was most recently the Director of Finance for the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

Veronique completed the Form 990 Tax Return, which was reviewed and approved by the Audit Committee on March 27. The Form 990 Tax Return will be presented to the WMF Board of Trustees for final approval during the April Board Meeting.

James T. Owen began work for the Wikimedia Foundation as the new Personal Assistant to the Executive Director and Deputy Director. James recently relocated to San Francisco from Manhattan, where he worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Associate Administrator for Information Systems and Technology. Prior to joining the Met, James was an Executive/Personal Assistant and Estate Manager, and held positions helping disadvantaged children and adults at non-profit organizations in New York, Minnesota, South Africa and Wisconsin.

During March, the Finance and Administrative department continued developing the Wikimedia Foundation's new Employee Handbook (to be released June 30, 2009), and began a process for standardizing development of budgets for funding proposals.

During March, Kul Takanao Wadhwa spoke at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and had meetings with more than twenty European and Asian potenial partners. He also started researching markets and business models in the areas of publishing and Wikipedia branded product.

In Coming Weeks[edit]

  • Begin on-boarding process with new CPO
  • Release of the 990 Tax Return
  • Berlin Wikimedia Chapters Conference and April Board Meeting