The Wikimedia Endowment page on Meta actually states very clearly in its lead paragraph who benefits from the Endowment. It says,
"The funds may be transferred from Tides either to the Wikimedia Foundation or to other charitable organisations selected by the Wikimedia Foundation to further the Wikimedia mission."
The Wikimedia Foundation alone controls how the funds are used (limited only by whatever UPMIFA or donor-specific constraints apply).
The Wikimedia Foundation legally controlling the funds, and the endowment's purpose being to protect the project moving forwards, are not mutually exclusive.
Legally, yes, the Wikimedia Foundation controls the funds, so for the page to say otherwise would be misleading. Unless some other entity can somehow direct Tides to transfer the money, then the page shouldn't say that.
Including the $100 million endowment, the WMF will now have investments of around $200 million (excluding cash and cash equivalents), for an annual investment income of over $10 million. That is already enough to run core services. Wikimedia posted total expenses of $3.5 million in 2007/2008, a year after Wikipedia became a global top-ten website.
Well, it's not 2007 anymore. Just because it cost $3.5 million in 2007 doesn't mean it'd cost $3.5 million now. I don't know enough about the current financial situation, staff, data centre expenditure, hardware, etc. to state whether $10 million is actually enough to continue to maintain the infrastructure required for the project. Could you share your breakdown and financial analysis?
The problem for me – and many other rank-and-file volunteers – is not the idea of an endowment as such, but fundraising messages saying "Wikipedia really needs you this Tuesday" to donate money so Wikipedia can "stay online", "protect its independence", etc., or "to show the volunteers their work matters".
The WMF creates the impression that it struggles to keep Wikipedia up and running; people then feel scared or guilty, think Wikipedia is struggling, or dying, or will soon put up a paywall; and the WMF does little to correct that mistaken impression, even when directly asked about it as in Katherine's recent The Daily Show interview. One is left with the uncomfortable conclusion that the WMF creates and fails to correct that false impression because it benefits financially from it.
Indeed, as the endowment grows I would expect our fundraising messaging to change, from talking about donations being required to maintain the projects, to instead highlighting the new developments that donations enable. As mentioned before, I don't know if we're there yet. I look forward to us getting there.
(I'll ignore your nonsenscial remark about the WMF somehow profiting from this.)
I disagree, SJ. The Meta page has a blue progress bar showing how much money is in the Endowment. To me it is incompatible with the idea of a wiki – a website designed to support continuous updates – for such a progress bar to be up to a year out of date. It's not what a reasonable reader of that page would expect.
"People expect wikis to be updated, and information on the endowment is on a wiki, therefore we should have monthly updates on the endowment" isn't a very compelling argument. I don't see why the reporting cadence should go beyond what is typically expected of endowments in the nonprofit space.
If you have a problem with that particular bar on that page on Meta for some reason, perhaps a disclaimer about the last time it was updated could be added. That seems like a much simpler solution than drastically increasing the financial auditing and reporting overhead.