Notes on future of fundraising

For those who are not following it, there is an incredibly interesting, incredibly important, and incredibly long discussion page in response to Sue’s notes on the future of fundraising and funds dissemination. It’s worth a read. To keep track of my own thoughts, and to draw in blog readers who don’t normally visit gargantuan talk pages, I’ll post large comments I make. Here’s one from tonight.

…the issue as I see it is a fundamental tension between our decentralized culture and the challenges of our newfound wealth. Together, over the past few years, we have all built some extraordinary capabilities in raising funds to pursue our vision. That has given us tremendous resources to pursue free knowledge. But if we want to continue to have access to resources at that scale, we have to accept the responsibility to our donors to ensure every contribution is spent wisely and with the greatest impact. That requires Continue reading “Notes on future of fundraising”

RfC: Geography and Wikimedia

Ahead of our scheduled WMF Board meeting in early February, I’ve been thinking through a really hard and thorny movement-wide issue. Last time I was dealing with a similarly hard issue, I put some rough notes/questions up here and asked for your thoughts and help thinking through the issue. I’d like to try another Request for Comments with a related but bigger issue.

Let me set this up as a thought experiment. Imagine that we can all go back to the beginning of our movement. Imagine that we have a clean slate and can start fresh. But also imagine that we have the benefit of the past 10 years of experience, and with it all the lessons we’ve learned about ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses as a community.

Let’s say our objective is to define the basic structure of a movement that will most effectively help our community pursue our vision over the next 100, 200 or even 500 years. Long-term impact is the primary objective.

If we could start over, how would we organize our movement?   Continue reading “RfC: Geography and Wikimedia”

Wikimedia Foundation governance overview

We’ve started a new public mailing list called treasurers@lists.wikimedia.org for discussing and sharing best practices in financial reporting and financial transparency across the Wikimedia movement. The primary intended membership is treasurers, audit committees, and finance staff of movement organizations, but the list is public and anyone interested in financial reporting and transparency is welcome. We’ve got about 15 chapters represented so far, and hope to have more.

One of the things we’re doing to kick things off is outline how each of our organizations is trying to address these issues. See below for a list email I did today with my perspectives on the Wikimedia Foundation’s governance from my position as its Treasurer.

If this kind of detailed and occasionally technical discussion is your kind of thing, please join us. You can subscribe at http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/treasurers.

To begin sharing ideas and best practices, let’s start threads on the governance/accountability/transparency practices at each of our organizations. I’ll go first with my views on the Wikimedia Foundation. A few others Continue reading “Wikimedia Foundation governance overview”

Board letter on fundraising

Last week in preparation for our Board meeting at Wikimania I did a post on fundraising, financial controls, and chapters which triggered a lot of really thoughtful discussion. We’ve now wrapped up our Board meeting and have spent much time discussing the topic both among the Board and also with many community members here in Haifa. Given how incredibly important this topic is, we decided as a Board to capture our thoughts in a letter to the community. It’s up on meta, our Board Secretary Phoebe just emailed to a few lists, and below is the text. I’m happy to talk about the issues raised either in person at Wikimania through Sunday or on meta or here in blog comments.
Continue reading “Board letter on fundraising”

Board report for May-June 2011

Our new Board Secretary, Phoebe Ayers, is jumping right into her new role and both emailed and posted the first of a new series of regular board updates.  Text is pasted below:

Wikimedia Board of Trustees — activity report May-June 2011

Resolutions and votes

Controversial content

  • Controversial content resolution — this resolution was passed in May after a year-long process of discussion and research. It reaffirms the Board’s position on censorship, calls for continued community involvement in image review and asks for the creation of a personal image filter feature which would allow readers to not choose whether to view certain classes of images. Continue reading “Board report for May-June 2011”

Fundraising, chapters, and movement priorities

I’ve been getting ready for the board meeting and Wikimania and have been struggling with a particularly thorny issue and thought I would use a blog post to start a conversation I hope to continue in Haifa.

Many groups have discussed this issue over the past few years, including the Audit Committee (which I chair), our independent auditors KPMG, the Movement Roles group, the Chapters who have been working closely on the fundraising agreement with the Foundation and Barry Newstead’s development team, and the Board (e.g. see our resolution on the importance of transparency in use of donor funds). But progress has been difficult because this is a hard issue. Continue reading “Fundraising, chapters, and movement priorities”

Call for volunteers: 2011-2012 Audit Committee

As many of you know, the Wikimedia Foundation has an Audit Committee which represents the Board in oversight of financial and accounting issues, including planning, reporting, audits, and internal controls (see foundation wiki Audit Committee page for details).  The Committee serves for one year, from July through the late Spring when the Foundation files its annual tax return in the U.S.  This past year the committee included members from the broad community, from chapters, and from the Foundation’s Board (including me as Committee Chair). Continue reading “Call for volunteers: 2011-2012 Audit Committee”

Wikipedia’s global edits

Erik Zachte is at it again, with a blog post announcing his fascinating new visualization of all the global edits to Wikipedia in a single day (Valentine’s Day, a romantic choice).  It’s an incredible tool and worth a look — I just spent 30 minutes wandering around its different views, zooming in on different regions, and drinking it in.  See below for my favorite screenshot so far, which shows the locations from which all the edits to Wikipedia were made that day.

This reminds me of one of my favorite visualizations, a video with OpenStreetMap edits over a single year.

Call for volunteers — 2010-2011 Audit Committee

As many of you know, the Wikimedia Foundation has an Audit Committee which represents the Board in oversight of financial and accounting issues, including planning, reporting, audits, and internal controls.  The Committee typically serves for one year, roughly from July through the late Spring when the Foundation files its annual tax return in the U.S.  This past year the committee included members from the broad community, from chapters, and from the Foundation’s Board (including me as Committee Chair).

Continue reading “Call for volunteers — 2010-2011 Audit Committee”

Web Seer

A few months ago two data artists, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, released a beautiful visualization tool that uses Google Suggest to create an addictive way to explore the world’s searching. I came across this while looking at their 2003 project, History Flow, about visualizing edits to Wikipedia. The example below shows Google’s suggestions to complete the phrases “are diets…” and “is chocolate…”, with the size of arrows and words showing Google’s count of how many web pages address each completed question.


Continue reading “Web Seer”