On Sun, Aug 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM, Risker <risker.wp(a)gmail.com> wrote:
See now, this is the kind of thinking that raises a
lot of questions about
chapters receiving the very large amounts of money that many got the last
time around. In the "real" world, charities determine what their objectives
are for the year, cost them out, and then fundraise with that specific
dollar objective in mind.
In the real world, charities also make sure that their target is not
completely out of proportion with the fundraising potential they have
in a given geography. What's the point of thinking up fantastic
programmes for a budget of a million dollars if you know that the
maximum your country will ever give to your cause is 20 000 dollars.
So I find the exercise to be interesting.
What, pray tell, will the Swiss chapter do with
the equivalent of half a million US dollars? And was that "target"
established by any particular research, or was it some figures worked out on
the back of an envelope? It's certainly not the way that any other charity
I know of develops its targets. Now, last year was the first time this
process was tried, so nobody was really quite sure how to manage things;
however, with the 2010 fundraiser under our belts, not much has happened at
the chapter end to examine the models being used. Indeed, many chapters
still haven't worked out what to do with last year's windfall, let alone
done any advance planning for next year.
It's my contention that a very significant percentage of last year's donors
in particular believed that they were donating to the Wikimedia Foundation's
local office, not to local independent groups, many of which are quite
adamant that they are *not* the WMF. Did anyone run a fundraising campaign
last year where donors had the choice of whether to donate to a local
organization versus the global one? ("Donate here to support Wikimedia
Chapter activities in XXX country - tax receipt issued" vs "Donate here to
support Wikimedia activities around the world - no tax receipt available")
Did local messages clearly delineate how the funds would be distributed, or
what the chapter's objectives and activities were? In other words, were
donors fully informed about what their donation would be used for?
I suppose your statement is backed up by some research? As in, you
have data to support the fact that "a significant percentage" of last
year's donor believed they were donating to the Wikimedia Foundation's
local office? As a matter of fact, I suppose you can also back up the
fact that donors even understand what the Foundation (or the chapters
for that matter) are and what they do? I'd be happy to see this data,
it's cruelly missing.
I see last year's fundraiser as an experiment. In some ways, it was
amazingly successful - more funds were raised, in total, than ever before.
But in other ways it was not - most of the chapters raised far more money
than they were in a position to deal with, and the lack of advance planning
in this area has raised a lot of questions within the Wikimedia community,
and could easily lead to concerns from outside agencies and individuals as
well. The hypothetical that we were "losing" donors because in many
countries tax receipts could not be issued has turned out to be false -
because many chapters that received a percentage of local donations were
still not able to issue tax receipts last year. Realistically, given the
basic chapter agreement, there are many that will never be able to obtain
the local equivalent of "charitable organization" status.
Did it ever come to you that the reason why chapters raised "far more
money" than they were in a position to deal with, might be:
1) the fact that more and more people want to support the projects
altogether (this is gonna stop at some point, the world is finite)
2) the fact that having a local chapter may have had something to do
with the "far more"?
I don't have data to back up my statement, so it's just a hypothesis,
please take it as such.
This isn't a swipe at chapters at all - without exception, the chapters are
enthusiastic local drivers of the Wikimedia vision, regardless of their size
or location. I have the sense that several chapters have found themselves
overwhelmed by the volume of donations they've received, and are genuinely
trying to be good stewards of those funds, but the structures simply aren't
in place for them to do so. I'd like to see some very serious effort on the
part of the WMF to help chapters develop these structures, both for existing
chapters, and for the Global South chapters that are currently in early
And there, I can only agree. Only, this is not exactly the direction
we seem to be taking :)
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