[Foundation-l] board candidacies

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sat Aug 12 04:44:31 UTC 2006

George Herbert wrote:

>If it really were Bill Gates and he really did demand a board seat, there
>are certainly a lot of people who would worry about his motives: though they
>could be benign, it would certainly be controversial.
>What if it was (purely random example) Elon Musk, though, and he just said
>that he wanted to make sure that the organization was being run well after
>he donated that much money?  What if it was Mitch Kapor, also saying that he
>just wanted to make sure it was spent well?  Or Sergei or Larry from Google?
I don't think that this speculation about various individuals gets us 

>Part of the reason for large donators to want involvement is to get
>assurance as to the continuing management of the organization.  Which is
>legitimately a concern, not in particular to Wikimedia, but generally
>regarding nonprofits.  Some donations are structured as a committment over
>time, with the ability to back out of future donations if the organization
>fails to continue to perform well.  
That's fair enough, but it doesn't require a Board seat.

>With others, the donator just prefers to
>have a board seat level of involvement.
To glorify his ego?

>Is it in the best interests of the Wikimedia foundation and the various
>subprojects that the policy now be that the board has to stay completely
>Some benefactors have helped the management and productivity of nonprofits
>significantly, when they engaged and spent a lot of time helping with
>management and planning and such.  There is value beyond money (management
>skills, contacts and additional in-kind resource donations that they can
>generate, etc) in some of these people who might conceivably be interested.
There is some comfort  to being in a position where we can say "no" to 
these offers when they have strings attached.

>I think it's worth thinking about and talking about.  It's hypothetical now,
>but if it stopped being hypothetical some day, making those decisions on the
>fly would probably be bad decisionmaking process.


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