On Nov 18, 2007 1:34 AM, Robert Rohde
On Nov 17, 2007 7:54 PM, Anthony
The budget wasn't met last time either, was
it? Looking back it seems
like less than half the budget was raised during the entire fiscal
year, and the foundation only spent about half of that ($1.4 million
raised, only 0.7 million in expenses).
These supposed budgets look completely unrealistic to me. I assumed
that was intentional. Ask for way more than you need, and then settle
for half that. It's a common strategy.
One can pad the budget with programs that you might hope to pursue if there
was enough money, but you can't simply inflate the numbers for no reason.
I don't claim they're inflated for no reason, I only claim that
Soliciting donations with a budget you know is
A budget is by definition a forward-looking statement. Obviously it
is dependent, among other things, on actually receiving the money
requested. Proving fraud would be impossible. Besides, the $4.6
million dollars doesn't even call itself a "budget".
If the percentages are known to be misleading, that might constitute
fraud, although proving it would still be impossible. But asking for
way more than you need and more than you ultimately get is not
fraudulent even if it could be proven.
I'd like to assume that the $4.6M in
"planned spending" is not so
ridiculous that it would still be reasonable to have less than $1.5M in
Less spending on capital expenditures, along with other cuts (the
board certainly doesn't need anywhere near $200K/year, Wikimania costs
should be borne by the participants, etc.) would probably make $1.5
As a side note, Wikimania is entirely paid by "participants+sponsors"
(mostly sponsors). However, its organization still appears in the
"expenses" because these are expenses. We simply do not need to
fundraise for Wikimania, it is covered by other means; but it is still
part of the overall budget.
As for "board expenses", not sure you saw the note I left on WMF site
about this. I apology for the unclarity of this part of the budget. We
shall be more explicit next time. They rather constitute "governance"
expenses than board expenses.
These expenses include
* board meeting expenses (ie, 4 meetings per year. Travel costs
essentially). Can we cut down on these, my position is no.
* an advisory board meeting (it occured immediately before Wikimania and
at the same place. Essentially, it counts location of the room, travel
expenses of 4 advisory board members who could not support their costs
themselves; it also included hosting costs for all participants).
Can we cut down on these ? Probably we can, but to be fair, amount was
* wikimedia chapter meeting. One was held last year in october in
Frankfurt. I originally suggested a new one this year again in
Frankfurt, early december. The budget included travel and hosting costs
of part of the participants (not only board members but also
participants staff as well as participation of some of the chapter
people). My own estimate was quite rough, and I saw other estimates
afterwards which were slightly higher. As earlier mentionned, this
meeting was cancelled, and I hope, will happen later in 2008. Final
budget can vary depending on the location chosen, and ability of
chapters to handle their participation themselves. Bottom line, this was
not really a board expense, but a "governance" expense and definitly not
involved only the board itself.
Can we cut on that ? well, we can cancel the meeting permanently, but
this is not something I will support.
* other travel by board members. This includes Wikimania participation,
visits to local chapters, or other travels not covered by other
organizations. Amounts are quite limited actually. Jimmy covers most of
his own travels. Aside from Wikimania, I do not think Jan-Bart or Frieda
claim much. Michael is not travelling. I am not fully sure for Kat,
but as a student, her freedom of mouvement is limited. Most of these
expenses must come from Erik and I, and I think it is not scandalous at
all. Note that we have now two policies to check those expenses. All
expenses over 100 dollars must be pre-approved prior to the travel by
one or two board members.
* The rest of the expenses are registration to charity websites etc...
We were not clear at all in explaining these expenses. Next time, I
promise we'll try to be more specific.
Capital expenditures are always optional, after
all, since they're an investment in the future as
well as an expense.
How reasonable depends in part on how much is in the bank and how many
servers were already bought in the current fiscal year. The current
figures being released by the foundation are woefully inadequate to
tell for sure.
The figures for the finance and administration are at $700,000/year.
Maybe that's necessary, but with that much being spent I sure hope we
start getting those regular financial reports that were promised
something like two years ago.
And which could not be delivered until we had the staff to actually
prepare them. But I suppose I do not really need to explain that to you
again :-) that's the snake eating his tail.