Task force/Recommendations/Financial sustainability 1

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Note

As the FSTF considered financial sustainability, we focused on two issues as important backdrop for weighing alternatives:

  1. Impact on community health -- A critical part of evaluating any fundraising alternative is understanding its impact on community health. Some alternatives (e.g. advertising) could provide significant additional funds to pursue our mission but may negatively affect community participation and health. As a result, we viewed each alternative through both the lens of funding it can provide but also the potential reaction of the community.
  2. Trends in spending levels -- We focused on financial sustainability in the context of our current Foundation spending levels, roughly $10 million a year. Should we elect to pursue initiatives that significantly increase mission-related funding needs, we may have to revisit fundraising alternatives and priorities. We recommend that follow-up research into financial sustainability look both at the "steady state" case but also investigate sustainability in the context of more aggressive pursuit of the mission.

Income

Question

What revenue streams could support the Wikimedia Foundation in an on-going, long term and sustainable manner?

Process

The FSTF considered each of the 10 different funding models outlined in the Bridgespan report as well as other potential sources of revenue such as advertising/sponsorship, earned income and gifts-in-kind (such as donations of computer hardware and bandwidth).

In general there was a lack of concrete information about three key issues:

  1. potential revenue from the different approaches to raising funds
  2. hard data on the impact they might have on the community of editors and users that form the core constituency of the Wikimedia's projects
  3. the actual amount of money required by the foundation depends to a certain extent on the recommendations from the other strategic task forces

This lack of information is addressed by the third of the strategic recommendations.

Strategy

Wikimedia should continue to build upon the proven success of fund raising by soliciting donations of money from individuals and institutions as the primary source of revenue.

Further, the FSTF felt that Wikimedia should actually expand this kind of fund raising because:

  1. it has proved consistently successful over the last few years
  2. the community of editors and users generally accept it as the principal source of income for the projects
  3. with 230,000 contributors worldwide in the most recent fundraiser, it is well diversified and lower risk than most other alternatives
  4. there would seem to be a lot of untapped potential in this sort of fund raising when compared to other non-profits; estimates range from 2 to 10 times the current level based on the huge number of users as well as the relatively high profile of Wikipedia in different parts of the world