Talk:Task force/Financial Sustainability
Over the past few weeks, there's been some great discussions about the task force recommendations. There's some great energy here on this wiki, and I want to start moving toward completion. That includes:
- Integrating the feedback into the existing recommendations
- Filling in gaps (areas such as movement roles, expanding content, and reader conversion)
- Evaluation and prioritizing the recommendations
- Writing a draft plan
To get this work done, I'm proposing the creation of a Strategy Task Force. I hope that you all will read and help refine the proposal, and I especially hope that many of you sign up for the Task Force. Let's also move the discussions there so that we can have a central place to discuss next steps for strategy. Thanks!
This may have been raised before, sorry if I'm re-hashing old discussions.
I was wondering if anyone had been thinking about fundraising internationally as part of the Financial sustainability issues. Clearly, the WMF has been able to increase its fundraising capacity and professionalism in the last couple of years and this has reaped good rewards. We are not yet at the stage either in the USA or anywhere else in the world of having fully tapped-out the market in terms of fundraising yet, there is little-to-no fundraising efforts invested specificially in countries that aren't the USA. This is what the chapters are for, and it is fair/correct that the WMF is not trying to step on their toes.
We can see from this 2008 fundraising statistics graph that there are 10 non-USA nations that giving almost $100k or more (counting from switzerland-CH up). But, no WMF resources are being used to assist those countries to grow that amount - all of that money is coming in "naturally". There is huge underperformance in fundraising in these countries simply because we've never actually had the capacity to do anything in them other than put up the sitenotice.
Can I suggest then, that entirely on a basis of financial return (no equity or moral argument), that the WMF invest in growing the fundraising capacity of the 5 or 10 biggest donor nations? Where there is a chapter in that nation, then the WMF might see fit to give a grant to pay for the 1st year's salary for a fundraising manager for the chapter. Where there is no chapter, the WMF might approach it in another way. At this point in our community's growth, a "rising tide lifts all boats". Of course, there would need to be discussions about how the money would be re-distributed after it is collected (as is normal in WMF-Chapter relations) but my point is that, in terms of financial sustainability, the fundraising potential of non-USA nations is absolutely huge. Now that the WMF has a stable and professionalised fundraising team I believe that it is a strategic-level-thing to invest time/effort/money in improving the fundraising capacity in other nations, in association with the chapters as much as possible.
This has been mentioned many times by different team members, increasing chapter participation by engaging their community directly. Fundraising targets could be set for individual chapters from some of the larger donating countries. It would require a great deal of co-ordination from what I understand, perhaps a chapter or a team solely in charge of EU fundraising activities who could in turn co-ordinate with individual European chapters and follow targets.
The Financial Sustainability Task Force had a great phone call today. Meeting notes are up at Task force/Financial Sustainability/2009-12-18. John and Veronique are going to add some of their notes there also. If you were on the call, I'd encourage you to do the same. Specifically, Anders, could you link to the Wikimedia Sweden project you mentioned and perhaps flesh out the context?
Thanks everyone! Excited to watch this group progress.
Last edit: 19:59, 18 December 2009
Meeting notes from the Financial Sustainability Task Force are available at Task force/Financial Sustainability/2009-12-07.
I am new to this process, I would like to ask what is the relationship with orange being mentioned above, Is it country specific ? Also, I think its a little early to consider further expansions in language specific wikis and missions in developing countries before the foundation being financially stable itself, those goals are related to outreach more than any financial sustainability matters. I submitted the original proposal about an endowment based Wikipedia Fund, I estimated it would have to be around $120-150 million in light of further expansion and growth of the project with around 8% year on year increase in operations considered. For corporate donations, likely candidates would have to be evaluated and approached, but the donation amount have to be increased much higher. Google for example has been very helpful and instrumental in Wikipedia's success giving it search engine priority for years, they appear the first and likeliest candidates to be considered. A co-ordinated press release along with some promotion through other online venues for Large Corporate sponsors could generate positive PR and bring attention to the them as well as the cause. A banner like the current one present asking for donations could be permanent across Wikipedia, it could be utilized to thank benefactors through the year. A dedicated PR staff could organize fundraisers and increase knowledge about the the foundation and its cause as well as approach large sponsors.
I have a suggestion for Ads. we can consider a dedicated adspace on the corner of the main page alone(limited to the main page only) of either Wikipedia or Wikinews like a News paper and follow the Newspaper model, instead of being randomly generated by an ad service, it could be monthly or quarterly dedicated to a corporate benefactor. It would provide a tax write off as a donation as well as promotion to the benefactor, online websites and technology related brands seems like the ideal candidates but it can be considered like a dedicated space for ads like Newspaper, not just randomly generated links, Wikipedia can have more control over whats advertised. Sponsors can make other contributions besides funds like bandwidth or other hardware, Also for further reference - Large and successful blogs and website follow this method online.
Hi Theo: Regarding Orange: Orange has licensed the use of our trademark (as have a few other companies) and essentially co-branded content to deliver it through their portal for mobile phone users in a few countries. I'm not sure what the revenue stream is on this (and probably Veronique would prefer not to disclose that publicly, to avoid tainting future contract negotiations, but I'm totally speculating on that) but I get the feeling it's significant.
There's a backgrounder at this link.
Thanks Philippe, from the link it seems that its currently limited to 4 European markets. the first phase seems to be a widget and content integration for mobile platforms, I wonder if the foundation has similar agreements for North American markets, if not then maybe something worth pursuing if its significant enough. Anyway thanks for the link.
Wanted to let you know that I did some quick analysis focusing on the "full potential" of the fundraising campaign. You can access the findings at Enhanced fundraising campaign. Key takeaway: some countries raise significantly more money (when normalized for visitors) than others, which raises questions about how to increase funds raised in "low-performing" countries.
Let me know if you have any questions. What do you think about the data?
A dedicated Team could be set up to create Apps, Widgets and especially focus on providing e-reader functionality for the kindle and other upcoming e-readers. The E-readers like the kindle have been witnessing a very high growth rate, they represent a new avenue for Wikimedia, a strategic partnership with Amazon or other E-reader Manufacturers to provide an offline version of Wikipedia or even come preloaded with an offline version(with the ability to update) can be highly beneficial for the foundation. There are already similar projects out there, a similar proposal was also discussed earlier about offline versions  there is also a Wikireader out there that uses Wikipedia , I dont know if they have any official partnership or collaboration with the Foundation.
Also, The Foundation can pursue licensing deals and strategic partnerships with mobile operators across the world to provide licensing and support for Wikipedia Functionality on multiple platforms.
Wanted to share some thoughts from a conversation with an NPR national representative (Michael Riksen) from yesterday. Full notes will go up as soon as he approves them for posting at Interviews.
- Riksen noted that the mission of the Wikimedia is not entirely clear to donors. Advertising banners focus on "Wikipedia Forever" or other donor stories, but the idea that these projects aim to bring the sum of all knowledge to all people isn't present. Centering around a singular idea and having that idea appear throughout the projects--and not just during fundraising times--could be a powerful move to increase the message of the projects.
- Riksen also highlighted the challenge that some NPR member stations face between the parts of their audience that can/do and can't/do not support them financially. In many ways, member stations see an obligation to reach disadvantaged populations, but these stations do not get funding from these populations. Riksen noted that Wikimedia might be facing similar tensions.
John, I get the basic idea here (which does resonate, for sure) but I don't understand the actual sentence. Do you mean he says members stations want to reach the disadvantaged, but those stations do not get funding from *the disadvantaged*?
It would be interesting to know if NPR has resolved that issue. I for example sometimes imagine a world in which wealthy countries fundraise for Wikimedia, and a percentage of the money is explicitly earmarked to be transferred to activities in less-wealthy countries. It seems like one very obvious possibility, to me.
Yes, that was a typo, Sue. You were right with your interpretation.
It sounded as though NPR hasn't quite resolved this issue just yet, but we are having another call next week someone who's run pledge drives for member stations. Hopefully, that can shed some light on the issue, but I like the way you're thinking.
Wanted to let you all know that we just posted up notes from our conversation with Jon Huggett, a former Bridgespan partner who’s done a lot of work with international NGOs. You can find those notes here.
Some key takeaways as they pertain to finances:
- Large NGOs like WorldVision, Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children have had lots of success raising money through small donations from a large number of people, and they don’t have the reach of Wikimedia or the range of opportunities to make contact with people
- Capacity is key to successfully raising money this way: Jon estimates that organizations spend up to 1/3 of the money they raise on their fundraising costs
- When working with large networks (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, etc.), making explicit the value transfer between different levels is important
- For example, if a chapter raises a large amount of money and transfers it to the Foundation, they would expect to see some type of value transferred back to them
User:JohnF just posted notes from his interview with Mozilla Foundation's John Lilly and Mitchell Baker (board members). There are some items in there on financial sustainability; I'd encourage you to give it a read and comment here.
I sat in on a Bridgespan interview with Mark Surman (executive director) of the Mozilla Foundation a few weeks ago, and I suspect we'll find those notes here soon as well.
Mozilla Foundation is definitely one interesting point of comparison for us.
I created a page about the Mozilla Foundation's Financial position and its comparison with Wikimedia Foundation from the state of Mozilla to accompany the interview . As always please feel free to edit and expand to it. I also expanded on the Mozilla Foundation page with information from the Mozilla Foundation's Wikipedia page and added some links.
I wanted to provide this TF with a quick summary of the points that seemed most relevant to this team's work:
- Mitchell and John noted that business partnerships that Mozilla has entered into (e.g., Google) have been successful and acceptable to the community largely because they have chosen partners closely aligned with Mozilla’s mission.
- John also noted that Mozilla's business deals do not impose a large number of obligations on the Foundation.
- Both also noted that many of the business agreements that arose came out of community desires. (For example, the community asked for a Russian search engine, and now, that search engine is the default instead of Google in Russian language builds.)
Please take a look at the notes for additional details, and let me know if you have any questions.
I just noticed the way Mozilla foundation is structured, Mozilla corporation was founded as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2005. Mr. Lilly and Ms. Baker serve as the current and former CEO and Chairperson for the Corporation. It was created especially to handle revenue related operations, since the foundation as a Non-profit is limited in terms and amounts of revenues it can handle. The corporation however, as a taxable entity gave the foundation a high degree of freedom. they also made this public- Any profits made by the Mozilla Corporation will be invested back into the Mozilla project. There will be no shareholders, no stock options will be issued and no dividends will be paid. The Mozilla Corporation will not be floating on the stock market and it will be impossible for any company to take over or buy a stake in the subsidiary. The Mozilla Foundation will continue to own the Mozilla trademarks and other intellectual property and will license them to the Mozilla Corporation.
Can a similar structure for the Wikimedia Foundation be more flexible.
A good early exercise for this Task Force would be to capture the current financial status for the Wikimedia movement as a whole, which would encompass data for Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Chapters. I'd encourage people to take on this task. It could be as simple as collecting links and summarizing information, at least for starters.
Hi Eekim, I went through all the material you linked to and created a page  with the links and the relevant information. Its not complete, so anyone please feel free to add to it and expand.
Should Wikimedia create an endowment, if so, what will those funds be used for?
I do not have a definite answer, but I would like to point to the risk that an US based enowment could very well be seen as a major hindrance of receiving some type of revenues, like the Country speceific grant opportunities I mention abaove.
I originally wrote a proposal about a Wikipedia Fund that would be similar to an endowment. From the discussions, the largest concerns seems to be some legal hindrance of getting classified as an endowment fund and not being able to carry out the annual fund-raising activities as usual. I believe that people are getting caught in the minutia of the term and not considering the larger picture, it doesn't necessarily have to be classified as an endowment, a fund, a grant. The only requirement is for a large collection of donations accumulated over the years through different sources and activities managed by a third party in order to generate some return on the principal invested. The current fund-raising activities seem like a temporary fix, trying to outrun the cost and raise enough money to cover the bills from year to year, some people feel that this can go indefinitely I do not. The fund Doesn't necessarily have to be based in the US, Wikimedia has a worldwide presence at this point, there are many options available.
Other options like a separate smaller fund intended to cover only a part of the foundations cost like a technology fund- for Bandwidth or Hardware cost alone, also seems like a viable option, since it would cover the bare minimum required to keep the projects online, any other expense could still use regular fund-raising options like the annual fund-raising drives or benefits.
My old Proposal 
In preparation for a Board meeting a few weeks ago I did some background research on endowments and put together some questions and notes about endowments. I copied to http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Financial_sustainability/endowment_notes but here are the highlights.
- Will it be a net positive for long-term financial sustainability? Healthy community giving has worked pretty well for us so far, and given the scope of our audience and its geographical distribution is well diversified so comparatively low risk. An endowment could be valuable supplement but assuming a conservative 5% annual income rate would have to be huge ($150 or $200 million) to completely cover our costs. So the two would have to co-exist.
- WIll it negatively affect volunteer motivation? Will a significant endowment, or campaign to raise one, create an impression of boundless resources and therefore less need for volunteer help?
- Will it negatively affect existing donors? We currently cover our needs between community giving, major gifts, and institutional grants. Would an additional endowment alternative affect this?
- What is right legal structure and resulting risk profile? How much would having deeper pockets affect litigation against us?
Basic facts about an endowment
- An endowment is a pool of money that is invested so that the income can be used to support the nonprofit. Often, donors restrict these funds so that the principal (the amount initially donated) cannot be used to cover day-to-day expenses.
- frequently raised through a separate fundraising effort
- on size, one approach is to decide baseline level of annual income to fund operations (say $2 million) and then calculate how much endowment is necessary to generate this level of income. Assuming say a 5% annual income rate, we'd need $40 million to generate $2 million a year.
- building a capital base and then living off the income can stabilize cash inflow and reduce risk of funding shortfalls
- having a capital base can reassure donors about organization stability
- provides donors alternative for a gift that provides ongoing funding instead of meeting a one-time need
- we take advantage of capacity to raise more money
- could discourage future donations by suggesting we are already well capitalized
- could discourage volunteer work by sending signal the organization is wealthy
- some donors want to fund current needs, not a warchest
- could make us a bigger target for litigation
- with the financial market volatility over past year, endowments don't necessarily represent the image of stability they once did
Key questions for a board resolution creating an endowment
- What is the purpose of this endowment and how will it tie in with the mission?
- Who will manage the endowment? Will we have an investment committee or will we hire an outside manager?
- What is going to be our investment strategy? How can we ensure that the separate and detailed investment policies remain in accordance with this strategy?
- What will our disbursement policy be? Will the board have the authority to transfer funds under special circumstances?
Other questions to answer:
- what other like-minded organizations have an endowment?
- how would we differentiate fundraising for operating needs v. endowment? Give all donors a choice? Focus the community campaign on operating needs while focusing major donors and institutional grants on endowment?
- what is the impact on our legal risk by having an endowment? what legal structural steps could we take to protect it? should it be held by the WMF, or would it be more protected from litigation if in a separate entity? is the U.S. the right place for endowment to reside, or would another jurisdiction (e.g. Switzerland) be better?
- would endowment significantly help our major gifts effort? e.g. is the endowment option something which could open new doors for us?
- should we allow any kind of restrictions on endowment gifts? could become a significant administrative burden.
Hi Mr. West, I read through your notes. I had a discussion on the issue and what seems to be one of the major arguments against endowment is somehow altering the current image of the foundation, that future benefactors might not be as generous if the foundation has a fund and a regular stream of income from it, I think that that effect is being blown out of proportions. Wikipedia is not some charity or benefit for far off places, any benefactor can see what there funds are being used for. the information about the fund doesn't even need to be mentioned in future fund raising events, if the foundation were to become well capitalized it doesnt necessarily make it inefficient or its cause any less effective, there are thousands of charities and Universities that raised in excess of billions of dollars and continue to do so year after year, they don't mention if they have a fund or how capitalized they are, people just have to believe and support their cause. I cant say anything about being a target for future litigation besides that it doesn't seem like a credible enough reason to not have a fund, maybe a little fearful attitude on our parts. As for the argument of current economic downturn, I think its more of a reason to be secured than ever, if a fund wont represent stability neither would an annual fund raising drive, donations are more likely to be affected and dry up in an economic downturn. The fund could be based anywhere thats one of the many benefits of having a project like Wikipedia, global presence and recognition. The exact comparison of available options could be conducted in different countries once a decision has been made about the fund, some countries offer higher interest rates 10-12%, some more flexibility and security.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that if I were a large benefactor to the foundation, I would more likely contribute to a one time solution for the funding issue and have my contribution be remembered and thanked indefinitely(or at least for decades) rather than flip the bill for the year and wait till next year when my contribution is forgotten to newer benefactors. Any contributions to the Fund would live on much longer than any donation, any benefactor would prefer to have his contribution make a long term difference.
What are the revenue streams that could support Wikimedia in an ongoing, sustainable manner (i.e. grants, licensing, reciprocal agreements, in-kinds streams such as free bandwidth, free servers)?
Make use of country/cultural specific grant opportunities
Sweden/Swedish make up 1-2% of the WMF community/activiies, and being a rich country it would be fair we would support WMF with a higher share of the financing, say 100-150 k$ yearly. The stream of giftdonations from here though is only around 15 k$ a year, which probably if it was promoted more heavily could double, but this revenue source from here would never come close to the 100 k$. (the tradition of gift giving exists in Sweden but lees and involving far smaller sums then in US for example).
On the other hand, Sweden (and the Nordic countries) have a long traditon of revenue opportunities for non-profut organsaition from grants from some cultural specific funds, some totally independant from governement, other semi-dependent. For eaxmple when no will or close relatives exist, the inheritance after a death goes into a special fund, giving away grants to "good causes". I would think grants in the magnitude of 0,5 - 1 M$ yearly would be quite realistic to receive, which would allow both appropriate funding to WMF as well as funding a small office (two persons?) to be able to suport the WMF cause more professional then by only volunteers organized as today in the Chapter.
To be able to go this road, costs neeed to be more dedicated to Swedish usage then today. But, for example a dedicated cost for servers (not necessary for them to be placed here) could be allocated to Sweden, I would think the funds here would love it to be a common Nordic one, also supporting the Baltic states and perhaps som other language version in the poorer parts of the world.
Anders Wennersten 09:11, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
There are many options available to seek out alternative revenue streams, for Example server and bandwidth cost could be sponsored by hosting companies or large vendors who might seek positive PR generated since Wikipedia has a global presence, its a more centralised and viable option of reaching millions potentially hundreds of millions of users who use their product and services directly, the benefactor might require a Thank you page or a small banner mentioning their support or some press release. some kind of licensing agreement has also been discussed, there are devices like the kindle that use off-line versions of Wikipedia currently and clearly mentions the fact, a centralised effort to form collaboration for such hand-held reading devices could be beneficial for Wikipedia, an off-line or customized version of Wikipedia for the Kindle or any other e-reader device. The foundation can grant license to third parties or form reciprocal agreements. Large grants seem to be of the utmost importance and benefit, some dedicated personnels should seek them at every opportunities from corporate grants to indirect government grant or private institutions, they would have the highest pay-off but grants would be more likely to benefit if they contributed to a long term solution like a Fund instead of flipping the bill for the year and worrying about the next, the benefactors would also be more likely to contribute if its a one time grant for a permanent solution rather than till next year when someone else makes the same grants and older contributions are forgotten.
This might be a too early to consider but Wikimedia Repository is growing at a decent speed. A direction to consider in future might be to serve as a repository for images for professional purposes on licensing terms for publication, a special copyright agreement would have to be drafted where up-loaders can choose to provide all rights to the project with the up-loader receiving a payout for his IP if their pictures are used. Similar services could be considered for news as well but exclusive content would be the key. It might seem a bit early or far-sighted to consider right now but a decision to pursue the avenue further would have to be made now and it would grow on its own in the future.
My name is Anders Wennersten, 61 years of age and ex senior manager at Ericsson (Software development)
I spend 6-8 hours a day fixing weak articles and patrolling all new articles on Swedish wikipedia, doring some 30 000 edits a year. I have been the treasurer of Wikimedia Sweden, and am a member of Chapcom (and Audit committe)
I have pondered upon financial sustainability for our efeorts quite a lot and while not being an investment expert, I believe I can include into the group competence and experience from a chapter (far off country) perspective. I see a lot of potential unattempted sources of income that be be had on a (prepromised) yearly basis.
I am a teacher and university lecturer in Spain. I teach post-graduate students of business different ways to sell, present and negotiate in English. I also do marketing communications consultancy - mostly writing marketing plans for companies wanting to improve the way they sell their products. Before teaching I was a specialist sales and account manager for Reuters, then I was head of training for a subsidiary of the advertising agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide.
I occasionally edit Wikipedia - I seem to spend most of my time making charts that illustrate obscure English football statistics. I spend more time contributing to OpenStreetMap.
When I lived in London I helped organise London Wiki Wednesdays and got to know a lot of wiki people through a project I co-founded with my daughter called Yellowikis (http://www.yellowikis.org).
I hope that my background in marketing and my experience of working with a few thousand editors on Yellowikis will help us as we think about how to raise funds from the "crowd" as well as the "corporation".
I have been involved in legal and financial matters my entire professional career. I am a member of the California Bar and was a Certified Public Accountant. I practiced these professions until 1966 when I became the CEO of a publicly traded electronics company and a publicly traded company manufacturing and retailing shoes and work gloves. I then formed a company to develop multi-family housing for low income tenants and have remained in the real estate business until the present.
I have been involved as a board member and officer of a number on local, national and international NGO's with a concentration on financial sustainability. I think this experience would be of help to Wikimedia is maximizing its financial support activities.
I'm Veronique Kessler, the Chief Financial and Operating Officer of Wikimedia Foundation. I have a CPA license and I started with the Foundation in February 2008. Prior to that I have worked in both non-profit and for-profit companies in financial and accounting positions.
When I took the position, I recall that I was concerned about the financial sustainability of the organization-even on a short-term basis. I was intrigued but wondered where things would be in 12 months or 18 months. One of the first things on the agenda was hiring a fundraising staff person (which ended up being a team, not just one person) and enormous strides were made in the amount of funds raised. It's great to be in a position to be thinking of long-term sustainability (knock wood that this year's fundraiser goes well).
Thanks for posting these here, Veronique! Task force members, I'd encourage you to copy your bio over to your user page. If you need help doing this, just post here, and someone can walk you through it. Thanks!
I never posted mine:
I'm Philippe Beaudette, and I'm the Wikimedia Foundation's Facilitator for the Strategy project. Basically, that means my job is to be as helpful as possible to you folks and do everything I can to make sure the process involves the community.
My background is in fundraising and political consulting with a healthy dose of for-profit consulting (project management on Computer-Telephone Integration) thrown in.
I can be reach on my talk page or by emailing me: philippe(at)wikimedia.org.
I'm Stu West and I've served on the Foundation board as the Board Treasurer since April of 2008. I'm really excited about this task force and the questions we're trying to attack. My day job is in Silicon Valley, where I've worked for a bunch of tech startups and bigger companies in finance and operating roles. Through that work, I've spent a fair bit of time looking at different commercial / business models for financial sustainability of internet web sites, including display and search advertising. My overall impression of our financial sustainability is that we have many many ways we could raise money for our projects, but in the end we have to find something that works for and continues to motivate our community of contributors since in the end we have nothing without them.
I would like to ask if other members of the task force be willing to discuss any proposal or suggest any new ideas. There hasn't been much progress on the issue, I would like to co-ordinate with the team so we can have some discussions. I dont know if this page would be an apt forum for it though.--Theo10011 21:59, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
What business model options are available for Wikimedia to pursue to cover its costs? What can we learn from other organizations that have pursued these models?
Last edit: 19:00, 7 December 2009
I suggest developing an opt-in ad system. A button that turns on ads. Then use the ad money to pay more developers to fix the 4000+ bugs listed in the Bugzilla Weekly Reports. This is an example of a basic need. Secondary goals are unrealistic in my opinion until basic needs are met. Donations will never be enough in my opinion to cover even our basic needs as we keep expanding bandwidth, users, servers, and maintenance staff worldwide.
WikiHow.com and Wordpress.com are examples of popular, free web sites that anybody can edit, that use opt-in, opt-out, or minimal as-needed ads. Most people don't even know that the millions (see timeline charts) of free blogs on Wordpress.com are funded partially by ads, since only a few ads are used throughout the many blogs. See: support.wordpress.com/advertising: "To support the service (and keep free features free), we also sometimes run advertisements. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade."
For more info and ideas see w:Wikipedia:Advertisements and the other ad-related funding ideas being discussed elsewhere on the Strategy Wiki.
I do not think there will be broad input into these discussions as long as they are on the Strategy Wiki. Unified watchlists is a bug/feature and basic need that needs funding to develop. The ability to combine all the Wikimedia watchlists (or at least all the ones outside Wikipedia and the Commons) would greatly facilitate the expansion of the other Wikimedia projects. I only regularly check my Wikipedia and Commons watchlists.
I suggest moving all these strategy discussions to the Commons. Far more people watchlist the Commons than the Strategy or Meta Wikis. The Commons has a broad worldwide user base, and so would provide wider input, including more people outside English-speaking countries. By the way, about the ad button, cookies would remember the last choice. Since the button would be the same across all Wikimedia projects in all languages, its use would be intuitive even in other languages. Color would be different for on and off setting. --Timeshifter 05:27, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Great stuff, Timeshifter. I copied some of this information over to the advertising page, which also has additional links and context.
As far as I know there are no other organisations like the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia, which is at the forefront of internet usage today and constantly expands without going ad-based through old fashioned fund raising efforts. First the Foundation has to decide on the path it wants to take, whether to follow in the footsteps of older institutions and become self-sufficient through older time consuming efforts or find alternative funding approach through collaboration possible mergers. The foundation can consider options like any other university for funding, the only concern is the lack of time since the bulk of the endowments are derived from estates of the deceased, grants etc., the foundation can consider some financial ideas used by charities or something a little more unconventional like large benefits or events for the foundations benefit. It could be a hybrid of different things but a concise direction has to be decided by the foundation before anything.
I'd strongly encourage folks to look at the financial sustainability page. It contains background research and analysis for this conversation, including some preliminary analysis on advertising and pointers to models for comparison (such as Mozilla Foundation). Keep checking and developing this page as more research and analysis comes in.
Who is needed to support this strategy (e.g., Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, individual volunteers, external partners), and what do they need to do?
A concerted effort from everyone involved would be required. A hierarchy already seems to in place, communication might be an issue that needs to addressed. The foundation would be at the top providing consent and support, it would take community effort above all to co-ordinate any strategy, an oversight committee or a task force could be implemented permanently to oversee particular efforts and provide feedback to the foundations. Financial Sustainability is of the most importance for the foundation and as such needs to be addressed by everyone involved before hand with support and consent from every level.
What would it take in terms of capacity and capabilities for Wikimedia to pursue each business model? Which group, Foundation or Chapters, should own each part of the business model and how should they interact?
Fund-raisers could be organised by local chapters with the Foundations support, in local prominent locations with proper announcement and attention from the Foundation. An Annual Fund-raiser could be entrusted to every chapter, the Foundation can provide support by bringing attention to it on local wikis etc.. Local chapters could also be used to approach other prominent institutions, organisations in the community for collaboration and support.
Which models are most appropriate given the Wikimedia Foundation's mission and the strengths of the community?
Wikipedia's success has been driven by the community it supports, there is no more grass-roots strength that any other organisation can lay claim to than Wikipedia. It has a front-most presence on the internet as one of the highest used source, it has users and supporter in almost every major community and language in the world. A continued donation effort could be maintained through out the year for Wikipedia, the only suggestion I would have is the annual targets and need for a minimum to stay afloat that has to be addressed, we cannot constantly keep outrunning the cost year to year. if the issue of financial sustainability is addressed Wikipedia's donations could be used for other efforts and projects that would bring the foundation closer to its goal.