[Foundation-l] [announcement] new staff member in business development

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Fri May 18 04:48:33 UTC 2007

On Fri, 18 May 2007, Florence Devouard wrote:

> We just hired Vishal Pattel as part-time business developer.

Nice.  <communal welcome to Vishal>

> I realized recently that the message we were consistently giving to the
> press was that we basically got all of our revenue from donations.
> But...first of all, are we sure it is true ?

I don't know what "sure" means, since the public Foundation records aren't 
as transparent as they could be.  Does anyone know for sure what the 
breakdown is?

I will say this: I would bet you a good French dinner every night for a 
week* that Wikimedia+Wikipedia could raise its entire budget for the next 
year, if the budget reasons were clear, through donations alone, simply by 
asking its community for support.

> Second, regardless of how much we get from various sources, it make
> sense to know which message we want to get out. Do we want our public to
> hear only (or mostly) that we manage thanks to their donations ? Or do
> we also want potential business partners to hear that they can also make
> business with us ?

These do not exhaust the options.  Do we want the public to hear that 
their favorite site is sustainable on the good will and voluntary 
donations of its avid readers?  That sends a very powerful message that 
"supported by your favorite companies and brand-conscious advertisers"
does not -- not just a message about *Wikipedia* but a message about
our collective global community that is building this tremendous body of 
knowledge.  It drives home strongly the fact that the most invaluable 
contributions to Wikipedia, millions of hours of editing time and vast 
subject expertise, are by definition donations from the community,

> If we want the second, we must not only have a proper frame to do 
> business (such as a nicely working cafe press, or a good wap service),

There is no reason why we can't say "we manage thanks to public donations. 
We are also supported in part by these organizations (not because we need 
their support to survive, but because they like individual contributors 
think the projects are worth supporting)."

> -------
> * I mention advertisement. It is pure business. We do not do it, but it
> is mentionned regularly, and I think that for the sake of it, we should
> consider one day having a study done to see how much it would bring in,
> and how much negative impact it would have (not only on community mood,
> but also probably in donations decrease).

A pity to put it this way.  If there is a need for more funds, please ask 
the community for them.  Until there is a specific need for funds beyond 
what the community regularly provides, why should one evaluate "how much 
[advertising] would bring in"?  To encourage debates about whether ads
are good or bad?  Better to spend that community energy debating what
the budget should include and how to focus collective priorities...

> * arguably, I will mention here sponsorship. Because sponsorship is
> largely an exchange of money with promotion of a third party.

How about sponsorship by a hardware provider or ISP, to do away with 80% 
of the budget in one swift move?  That would be a sponsorship worth 
having, and a real in-kind service provided.

> I expect there are other ways to make business and to collect some cash.
> Which ones would you suggest ?

Is this what our primary focus should be?  I would feel better about this 
if there were specific plans for specific sorts of improvement, such as
network development, outreach, language diversification, systemic bias 
reduction, or infrastructure to reduce recurring maintenance costs.

> -------
> Fifth, much mentionned in the past few days. Brand precisely. Public
> perception of a brand. Whether to unify our brand or not. Whether to try
> to go toward a more unified appearance accross all websites, or not.
> Of course, we can get counselling from professionals on this, but
> community input will be unvaluable.

To me, the focus should be on clarifying project goals and purpose and 
definition -- "brand" -- internally within the community before worrying 
about how they appear to the rest of the world.  Numerous exciting 
potential projects have foundered in part on a confusion as to what the 
different goals and cross-purposes of different projects is/should be.


* I know, this isn't a fair bet, since you may have this already; or may 
not want seven straight nights of same.  Suggest another?

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