Thomas Dalton wrote:
On 17/11/2007, Robert Rohde <rarohde(a)gmail.com>
Endowments and contingency funds are nice, but
right now that's all
After 26 days this drive is at $725k. Even running the drive for the
planned 2 months, nearly 80% longer than the longest previous drive, it will
be a huge surprise to come anywhere close to the $4.6M the foundation wrote
down for their "budget".
Rather than talking about how to put money away for the future, the
immediate discussion needs to be A) how to raise money more effectively,
and/or B) how to make do with less.
A good point. The easiest way I can see to spend less in the short
term is to delay the move to SF.
Even if it were possible, it would be a bad idea.
First point is that it is not really possible; we are in the middle of
the move already. Second point is that we precisely need to move also to
get nearer to those potential donors. We were simply too isolated in
I haven't done the sums, so I don't
know if that would be enough, but it would help. There
are a lot of
benefits to the move, but right now it would appear we simply can't
afford it unless things greatly change. The other big expenditure is
the appointment of an ED, but I'm not sure delaying that would be a
good idea - we're never going to have a stable foundation until we
sort out the governance.
We have such a person and we are already spending money to pay her. So,
the only way we can actually decrease this cost would be by removing her
or cutting down her salary (and most presumably, to be significant, the
cut would have to be quite large, so it is probably not an option).
I believe NO one on the board and on the staff would like to see a
vacuum in that position again.
I have also been wondering what we could cut down. And to be honest,
Tech has been reduced to the minimum, however, additional positions have
been planned. So I could expect we can save on some of the additional
Office of the ED. the office of the executive director covers salary of
the ED, salary of the assistant, relocation to San Francisco (eg, travel
to SF to select offices etc...) and consulting (eg, fundraising
consulting, communication consulting, branding consulting etc...)
I do not know if a full time assistant is really necessary. Relocation
is already ongoing. Consulting... in the absence of staff in certain
areas... is pretty necessary, but we can be more careful on this. Not
sure how wise it is in the long run.
I included in that budget, board meetings (4 a year), advisory board
meeting (minor expense), wikimedia chapter meeting, other travel by
board members and minor other expenses (communication stuff,
registration to websites...)
I do not think cutting down the number of face-to-face board meeting
would be reasonable. Wikimedia chapter meeting was already delayed. We
can stop reimbursing board members of their travel expenses, but that
would be a very sure way to make sure to lose hours of effective free of
charge work. A better direction is to not hesitate to ask waivers for
expenses when we can.
Honestly, little to cut down here.
Wikimania has never been a cost to the Foundation in the end. Sponsors
have always covered it. We might consider trying to make it a revenue
source perhaps ?
Finances and administration look pretty high. But I do not think there
is much to scratch here. A significant part of it is simply financial
fees (paypal etc...), audit, accounting costs etc... We do not have a
big fancy office. etc...
Overall, I think the B) how to do with less, is not really a sustainable
option. A) is certainly a much better direction of thinking; As well as
C) other sources of revenue.
And yeah, concepts of putting money aside for the future are very nice
on the paper. But reality is that we need that money now. I have been
told at the beginning of the fundraiser that we had two "promises" of a
big matching donation. Not sure when they will show up really. Or even
if they will really show up a matching donations or regular donation.
What I do know though, is that we are not counting propositions of big
donations by hundred, nor even dozen.
I have been asking a lot around me in the past few weeks and bottom line
is that every big foundation giving money just do not want to spend it
on "infrastructure" and for all those people, we are just this,
infrastructure. You might always try to argue that "servers" are not
"infrastructure", but really "our core program", that does not matter.
In the mind of philantropists, "servers" or "bandwidth" are just
infrastructure, that's not sexy, they do not want to fund this.
And to be fair, I do not think that "we are saving languages" is the
right pitch either. It is more sexy, but what those guys want to see are
rationale, timeline, figures, proof of concept, partnerships etc...
So, what we need to really work on in the near future are a "collection
of grant propositions", which we can show around to philantropists.
"What you will invest in" and what do you get in exchange.