(Retitling this thread, which is now focused on the endowment)
As a meta note, it is a true delight that our primary concerns surrounding
the endowment, 5 years in, are that it is flourishing well beyond
expectations*. An extremely warm *thank you* to everyone who has made that
possible, it sets an anxious part of my mind at ease :)
So according to the financial statements for the last
five years, the WMF
>> had a revenue surplus of over $100 million over that time period (measured
>> as increase in net assets, from $77.8 million to $180.3 million). But over
>> the same period, the Foundation also accumulated $100 million in Tides
>> Foundation funds (i.e. the Endowment, reported to have passed $90
>> million in early February, and the $8.7 million in Tides Advocacy).
>> This means that the Foundation has actually had a revenue surplus of
>> more than $200 million over the past five years, averaging over $40 million
>> per annum.
That's not usually what revenue surplus means!
A key reason for a strong endowment, and the primary one that many of us
have wanted one, is as a source of long-term support (specifically: for
critical operations) that is managed independently, and can not be simply
used as a cash reserve.
As explained on Meta, it is inaccurate to think of the endowment as "an
investment that the WMF is the beneficiary of". The endowment is there to
support the Projects, rain or shine.
To quote from my initial proposal
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Sj/endowment> (*NB: past proposals
may not reflect current or future endowment goals; among other things I
don't know that we've ever tried to narrowly define and optimize core
services ;*) :
"The endowment should be large enough to sustainably support the basic
operation of the Projects (see iii. below), able to grow with inflation
while supporting any needed central server farms and technical support with
its interest, and of a size that we can raise."
2. Would it be possible to provide, say, monthly updates for the Endowment
Once a year is standard and would suffice here, I should think.
3. Could a mention of the Endowment, and the fact that the posted expenses
include $5 million paid to the endowment, be added to
(The FAQ refers to the most recent audited accounts, and thus is still a
live document. For Awards and grants, which includes the $5 million paid to
the endowment, the FAQ summary is: "We increased our awards and grants as
we continue our commitment to support our Affiliates, Organized Groups, and
I agree with clarifying the 'Awards and grants' category. I try to keep
track of the % of total global donations that are redistributed as awards
and APG or other grants (*current guess: 9%
and must remember to subtract the endowment transfer each year. It would
be excellent if that were called out as its own line item.
* I remain of the opinion that the endowment should be doing even better,
as a hedge against the growth in complexity and maintenance cost of our
toolchains and services -- that we should implement a policy assigning a
minimum % of all windfall gifts or donations over the expected target to
the endowment. But it may make sense to revisit that in earnest once the
Endowment org & what it supports are more crisply defined.