Task force/Recommendations/Financial sustainability 3

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Additional sources of income

Question/Problem

Ongoing financial sustainability should not depend on one single source of income

Strategy

Wikimedia should continue with and/or explore the following types of revenue sources - these could be pursued both so as to diversify revenue sources and to enable Wikimedia to operate at a level (if it so chooses) that could not be sustained by small donations alone.

Sources that should be continued and expanded include:

  1. Licensing /royalty agreements-this has been relatively uncontroversial as it has been well managed and WMF has been careful to enter into mission-friendly agreements
  2. Corporate support while WMF receives in-kind donations from companies, and sponsorship towards Wikimania, there is room for more traditional sponsorship opportunities and more corporate giving

Other sources of income that should be researched are:

  1. Tiered donor membership levels. These would encourage users to "pay" for their use, similar to the way that National Public Radio (in the USA) and public broadcast television stations raise funds. Content is freely available, but if you use, like it and can afford it, you can "join" at various levels and receive a nominal "gift". This could include donors who agree to make a regular, i.e. monthly, donation
  2. Government funding. It might be possible to pursue this at country levels, via Chapters, there is probably more potential in European countries than anywhere else in the world. This would probably need someone to take charge of this kind of fund raising, probably based in Europe, and this would depend on the recommendations published by the Movement Roles Task Force
  3. Advertising and commercial sponsorship. Almost all websites are funded by advertising, anecdotally it would seem that many users of Wikipedia think that it is already takes advertising. However the received wisdom is that the most of the community of active editors are strongly against advertising on Wikipedia and adding advertising to wikipedia pages would drive away many editors. However, there has never been any proper research into this so it remains an on-going, ill-informed, and therefore distracting debate. The FSTF suggests that a research study be commissioned to:
    1. gauge the attitudes to and possible impact of advertising on different Wikipedia's editorial and user communities
    2. look at the impact that advertising might have on other sources of income (for example: it would seem likely to reduce the number of individual donations, but might raise the number of people interested in paying for an "advert free" subscription).
The objective should be to collect data that would allow both sides of the advertising argument to be better informed; with the ultimate objective being to determine a final resolution on this issue. The FSTF recognizes that this is somewhat contentious proposal but believes that more information is critical to informed opinions and that a clearly defined research study is the best way to move the debate forward constructively.