From: Jimmy Wales <jwales(a)wikia-inc.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 7:49 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Chapters
On 8/10/11 7:22 PM, Birgitte_sb(a)yahoo.com wrote:
As for the rest I encourage you to exercise
moral duty by helping the chapters fulfill the reporting
requirements, implement the financial controls, and operate
transparently. You have been through this all before. You were the
chairman of the board when WMF was struggling with all of these
items, so why not use your experience directing WMF through being out
of compliance with such things to mentor those chapter which are struggling?
Of course. My past experiences are what allow me to approach these
difficult issues without blaming anyone, and I think that the chapters
should not feel blamed.
Growing from a barely functioning chapter - usually just a group of
people who made a proposal and did all the hard work to get through the
chapter approval process - into a successful, effective nonprofit
organization with strong financial controls, transparency, training,
oversight is really hard work. Delphine has spoken eloquently about it.
A model which dumps too much money/responsibility onto a chapter before
they are ready for it is not a valid service to anyone. A model which
allows chapters to go off the rails with little or no recourse other
than some kind of disastrous legal battle or something would also not be
a valid service to anyone.
When I look at the track record of many chapters to date, I see that
we've asked too much, too soon, and it's not causing happiness.
I think the new approach, if thoughtfully pursued with lots of
good-faith input and collaboration by all, can really make a huge
I hope no one makes the mistake of thinking my position is that there should be no
change at all in fundraising. I responded early on, I believe to Stu's message, that I
found the existing incentives to perverse and think that they have harmed the ability of
new chapters to form and become successful. I do believe changes are needed.
However, I have deep doubts about the chances of chapters succeeding under the specific
proposal of funding a large majority of the chapter operations with a grant from WMF. I
have been hoping that those supporting the proposal might respond to my sharing these
doubts with some information about the model that inspired the proposal. That they might
know of some organizations funded in a similar way and be able to consider my concerns by
re-examining those organizations for any validity to them.
So far the response has simply been to try and reassure me that the proposed changes will
have no unintended consequences on the simple basis no one wants anything to change except
the accounting ledger. While I don't doubt the accuracy of such statements regarding
people's desires, I can't find such assertions convincing. I don't wish to
upset people further by my lack of faith that intentions matter very much.
I have raised all of the major considerations I would like people to think about. I really
hope for a good outcome, whether anyone chooses to give credit to my concerns and advice
or not. There no real need for any of you to convince me and I am as tired of repeating
myself as am sure many of you are of hearing my repetitions. So lets just agree to
disagree about the issue.