When some board members of your organization are
publicly accused to
misuse the donors money to promote their own business, how do they answer?
Since you asked, my suggestion is to simply say "They don't" -- &
provide detailed evidence that this is not the case.
Let's look at the travel budget, since that is the one which is appears to be
attracting the most controversy. If all of the air travel is done by Economy Class (you
know, the way the rest of us travel), then say so. If it isn't, then make it the rule
from this moment forward. I've travelled Economy & Business class in the past,
& given my druthers I'd want to travel Business -- especially for those long
journeys between continents across those wide oceans. But whenever someone insists on
flying Business or better on the Foundation's money, they need to be told,
"Business class to this place costs 5 times or more than Economy. If we send you
Business Class, that means either 4 other people can't travel where we need them to go
or we take the money from a project that is at least as importa
nt -- if not more so -- than you."
This applies to accomidation for staff and board members while on the road. If the rule
is that people either stay with friends or at economical hotels, tell us -- or again make
it the rule. I don't think anyone expects that travelling staff & board members
stay at flophouses, but if the board can prove that they are being frugal with the funds
it will attract more donations. (And if you need help with finding Wikimedians willing to
offer a bed and a meal to travelling staffers, tell the membership & let's get
Recently I've been doing business with a local non-profit run by the Catholic Church.
I think it's fair to say that the Catholic Church in their operations is nowhere near
as transparent as the Wikimedia Foundation. For the work this charity has been performing
on my account (my wife & I have just adopted a child), they charged us a serious
amount of for everything -- IIRC, somewhere around $15,000, and the two of us are not rich
people. The folks at the charity were not in the least apologetic for that amount; the
director at one point said in a general meeting, "The offices we are using are
donated, the furniture we use is donated -- every dollar we get we try to put it towards
providing services for the birth mothers in terms of housing, food, medical care and
counselling both before an
d after the child's birth."
I honestly hope that every employee of the Wikimedia Foundation is not only professing
but doing their jobs with an attitude like that -- where every dollar is going to support
one of the Wikimedia projects, & keep them flourishing. And while I'll admit that
I have my reservations, I believe that this is the case. However, if this is not the case,
then there is a serious problem here that no amount of PR is going to solve.
Link of interest to you: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Policies
All these policies have been approved by the board through resolutions.
Maybe of most interest to you in this case:
I guess that should answer most of your questions.
Regarding, air travel for example, I can freely say that in the past
four years, I have always travelled in economy. As far as I know, it is
the case for other board members and hopefully, from staff. One
exception I am aware of is Jan-Bart, for very very long flights, because
he is terribly tall and getting cramp in economy for 15 hours is really
no fun. So, yeah, as chair, I authorized business class for him and the
additional cost was actually not much.
I can not warantee that this policy is always 100% followed (there are
tiny details, such as the fact I book myself my train reservations to go
to Paris, because it is SO much easier than asking the office manager in
the USA to do so), but I know that all staff and board members are aware
of that policy, and think it rather provide a guideline, because all of
us have the interests of the projects at heart.