[Foundation-l] Putting the Foundation back in WMF

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 18 21:49:14 UTC 2007

Anthony wrote:
> On Nov 18, 2007 1:34 AM, Robert Rohde <rarohde at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Nov 17, 2007 7:54 PM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:
>>> 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
> they're inflated.
>> Soliciting donations with a budget you know is misleading constitutes
>> fraud.
> 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
>> fundraiser income.
> 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
> million reasonable. 

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 
quite small.
* 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.


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