Task force/Financial Sustainability/2009-12-07

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Financial Sustainability Task Force Meeting Notes

Meeting Date: December 7, 2009

Present: Veronique, Rebecca, Rand, Sandy, Anders, Stu, Paul, John, Philippe

Below are the summarized discussion items from this morning's meeting. In true wiki form, please add, edit, comment as needed. Thank you.

Goal of the meeting: to generate more discussion around guideline questions.

Today's discussion topics:

  • Scalability: Number of unique visitors is growing. Number of active editors is not. Financial sustainability is dependent on taking advantage of growth of users & projects, and setting goals that can grow with user base.
  • Chapter fundraising: need to tackle issue of how to transfer money raised from chapters to the Wikimedia Foundation. Sometimes money is raised in home chapters and not transferred.
  • How do other nonprofits scale their fundraising campaigns? As compared to other nonprofits, we feel we have the capacity to raise $90-100M annually, but this would demand a serious investment in fundraising operations. From raising money to storytelling to ongoing stewardship efforts.
  • Storytelling/marketing: Importance of connecting donors with mission, particularly the work we are doing in developing countries. Example of girl in Senegal who helped her school & her village by using Wikipedia. Save the Children is one example of an organization that does an excellent job of raising money and connecting donors to specific children (in their marketing materials).
  • Restricted gifts (defined as funding a specific project either separate from, or within, the general operations): People may want to fund specific language Wikipedias or specific categories within Wikipedia.
  • Endowment: it is tough to raise an endowment on its own, may want to connect to general operations. Make part of general operating campaign rather than a separate campaign like a typical capital campaign. Typically, an endowment raises several million dollars ($50-200M), invested in a fund, and every year 5% is taken out to go towards operating expenses. Usually no more is taken out unless in particularly bad economic conditions, and then, permission from endowment donors would be needed/expected.
  • Corporate giving: Today, if you give $1,000, you can have a link to your company on Wikimedia's Benefactor Page. We may want to raise that bar, and offer multiple benefits depending on giving level. May want to have specific staff person dedicated to corporate sponsorships/donors. We should determine what websites/companies are most often linked to, from Wikipedia, and use this information for quality upkeep, as well as generating new sources of revenue.
  • Mobile: relationship with Orange needs better definition. Need to be clear about trademark licensing, when we do it and why. We should work with other mobile carriers, in addition to Orange.
  • Ads: need to discuss in much more detail. Opt-in, opt-out has been discussed before but not attempted. History of conversations around advertising will be added to the Ad Page on Strategy wiki (thank you Philippe, for coordinating). We should have sample pages of what ads would look like- from the discreet to the ridiculous. We could keep article pages free of ads but consider them elsewhere, for example on our search pages.

Next step: continue discussion on wiki