On 08/28/11 12:17 PM, Nathan wrote:
On Sun, Aug 28, 2011 at 12:01 PM,
I would like to ask your opinion on WMF's stewardship of the money. The
Foundation has fulfilled its legal obligation as a non-profit but as a
community member from english wikipedia, do you feel it has been accountable
to you or spent it on worthwhile activities for the community? the reality
is WMF raised several times more money than all chapters combined, this
year's target is 30% or so more than previous year's. Do you think
concentration of all that money with one organization and one entity is a
smart idea with a global movement like ours?
In what way is devolving money to
many organizations in many countries
an *improvement* for accountability, particularly when the standards
for transparency and fiscal responsibility are minimal or
non-existent? I don't know about Risker, but I don't personally
believe the Foundation's money is being misspent. It helps that I know
the Foundation is a professional operation, and that it's spending and
priorities are disclosed.
If we are talking about the money raised in the country itself how is
that "devolving". That seems too much like the financial model used by
the business agents for ladies of the night. The issue has nothing to do
with whether Foundation funds are being misspent. Having the Foundation
as "a professional operation" is of absolutely no interest to me..
Professional operations tend to develop different priorities from
More to the point, according to  nearly 80% of the
fundraising take was from North America. Participation by chapters in
the fundraiser is not, in anyway, an alternative to concentrating
money in the WMF.
That link shows 67.75% as being from the USA.
Its going to
be the end of activities and projects like those, if chapter
independence to raise funds is taken away. I completely agreed with Birgitte
SB's take on the matter earlier.
Do you want WMF to be the sole and only authority for what the entire
movement does? Every project, every little activity in their slice of the
world or their online community has to be individually approved and
sanctioned by WMF. It's taking away independence of these small groups in
deciding what's best for their own part of the world or community, somewhere
along the line this is getting conflated into issues of accountability that
no one really disagrees with, not the chapters themselves. the only solution
because of certain chapters mismanagement, is to make every chapter more or
less a branch office of WMF.
First of all, the chapters can continue to fundraise how they like.
There are other methods of fundraising, and many thousands of other
non-profit groups that manage to fund themselves without the WMF
drive. If your goal is chapter independence, then you should be
encouraging chapters to engage in their own fundraising efforts. If
they have no source of funding other than the Wikimedia Foundation
annual fundraiser, then they are fully yoked to its continuing
goodwill and approval.
I have no problem with this. Chapters should be made to understand the
consequences of swallowing poison pills.
Second, there is no reason to expect that every little expenditure
will have to be approved by the WMF in advance. I haven't seen
outlines for requesting grants from the Foundation... have you seen
documents that suggest the requirements for receiving a grant will be
particularly onerous? Perhaps a chapter will establish a budget,
submit the budget to the WMF, and have the whole budget funded. That's
more along the lines of what I remember Phoebe and others suggesting.
Due diligence requires management to be wary of what they "have no
reason to expect". For a person who hasn't seen grant request outlines
you do a lot of speculation about what they don't contain. To the
extent that chapters require grants, it is wholly reasonable that they
establish the need for those grants, and be accountable for them when
they receive them. Beyond the startup stage chapters should strive to
have independent core funding. so as not to require WMF grants to fund
core operations. That's an important part of being responsible and
accountable; national laws too play a big role in establishing
accountability and transparency. It would be irresponsible for a
chapter board member to base his policy stands on the suggested
interpretation of one WMF board member.