Already from the start, the word "foundation" in the title of the
Wikimedia Foundation has caused confusion. In Florida, you
register a corporation, and "foundation" is just part of a name.
In some countries in Europe, there are completely different laws
for corporations, associations and foundations (German: Stiftung).
In short, a foundation (Stiftung) is an immutable long-term,
self-governing holder of money. A typically example is the Nobel
Foundation, which holds the money inherited from Alfred Nobel, and
every year spends the interest on the Nobel Prizes.
Apparently, the WMF has a problem to foresee how much each year's
donation campaign will bring in, and how the coming year's budget
can be made to fit this. Perhaps each year will raise less and
less money, and that we already have the best years behind us.
Is there a way we could reach better long-term stability? Should
the WMF set up a long-term fund and move some of this year's money
there, as a reserve for future meager years? If the interest rate
is 4% then a fund which is 25 times bigger than the budget can
support it in whole for ever. But even a smaller fund might be a
good help. Should donors be given the option of giving to the
current budget or giving to the fund? Has this been discussed?
(Some people would claim they can easily earn more than 4% annual
interest. Obviously, they should start savings banks.)
Lars Aronsson (lars(a)aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se