[Foundation-l] ED Report to the Board: February 1 - 29, 2008

Sue Gardner sgardner at wikimedia.org
Sat Mar 8 02:35:13 UTC 2008

A number of you told me, offlist and on, that you liked getting the last 
report I posted here. So, I will continue :-)


Weeks of: February 1– February 29, 2008
Prepared by: Sue Gardner
Prepared for: Wikimedia Board of Trustees


1. Development of fundraising strategy emphasizing major donors and 
2. Continuation of major donor cultivation initiatives already underway
3. Goal setting for final two quarters of FY 07-08
4. Investigation of grant-giving and funding opportunities from 
philanthropic foundations
5. Establishment of new SF headquarters, including ongoing orientation 
of new staff



On January 31, the Wikimedia Foundation's office in St. Petersburg was 
closed. Oleta McHenry continues as our accountant there until March 31, 
and Rob Halsell continues as server tech out of Tampa. We're enormously 
grateful to Barbara Brown (office manager), Sandy Ordonez (head of 
communications) and Vishal Patel (business development), who have now 
wrapped up their paid employment with the Foundation.


On February 4, Véronique Kessler started as Wikimedia's new CFOO. 
Véronique is a CPA who comes to us with more than 15 years of 
managerial/financial experience with a wide variety of organizations, 
including the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Stanford 
University, brokerage firm Charles Schwab, the venture capital and 
investment firm Berkeley International Capital Corporation, the Walden 
International Investment Group, The Fremont Group, Wells Fargo bank, and 
Deloitte & Touche.


On February 11 and 12, a staff retreat was held in the new San Francisco 
office. Its purpose was to provide the new staff with a basic 
orientation to the Wikimedia Foundation, and to introduce them to each 
other and start building the team. The agenda included a walkthrough of 
the Wikimedia Foundation's vision, mission, values and goals, an MBTI 
exercise, collaborative development of an organizational timeline, a 
review of the org chart and discussions about roles and 
responsibilities, and a “big picture” presentation from me laying out a 
mini-SWOT plus organizational goals. Pat Hughes developed the agenda and 
facilitated the retreat: in attendance were Véronique Kessler, Jay 
Walsh, Cheryl Owens, Erica Ortega, Mike Godwin, Cary Bass, Erik Möller 
and me.

Establishment of the San Francisco office continues. A new healthcare 
insurance provider is in the works, replacing the one we used in St. 
Pete. We have business cards. The conference rooms are fully set up, and 
we have whiteboards, a lounge, working phones, a small kitchen, and a 
not-yet-working refrigerator :-) The Wiki Wall competition has 
concluded, with nine photos of Wikimedians now prominently on display. 
We've established the Wikimedia corkboard featuring dozens of photos 
from Wikimedia events around the world, and have set up monitors 
featuring information displays for visitors (e.g., real-time recent 
changes from IRC, the László Kozma near-real-time-changes map, etc.). 
Our library's growing and O'Reilly has sent us more copies of 
“Wikipedia: The Missing Manuals” to give to visitors :-)


During the last two weeks of February, we began developing staff goals 
covering the latter half of this fiscal year: January 1 to June 30. 
Because this is our first-ever attempt to create goals and track 
progress, it will doubtless be a clunky and imperfect process: we'll 
refine it as we go, and do better next time. We're doing this because 
publicly/visibly setting goals is a way to have a conversation about 
where we're headed as an organization and what's important to us. 
Usually, 80% of goal-setting will be obvious and straightforward 
documentation of what we already know, and 20% will be more serious, 
substantive conversation about where we're headed.

These are our overall goals so far: they're a work-in-progress :-)

* Achieve organizational maturity
* Achieve financial sustainability
* Increase quality and perception of quality
* Increase distribution beyond the wikis (e.g., DVDs, USB sticks, books, 
* Encourage and broaden participation (e.g., Wikipedia Academy)


We have just engaged a Bay Area firm to help us develop a fundraising 
strategy. That will take place over the next few weeks, and I expect 
will result in us allocating the majority of our energy to major donor 
identification and cultivation, with a lesser emphasis on foundations 
and “minor donor” efforts. Obviously there's quite a bit of major donor 
work already underway, and it won't be held up by this process. We've 
also brought in a contractor to help with the donor cultivation process 
over the coming months.

On March 4, the Foundation staged its first ever social event in the new 
San Francisco office – a two-hour networking party intended to cultivate 
potential supporters. Jimmy and I gave short speeches, and the rest of 
the evening was spent in informal small group conversations. Upshot: The 
event was well-executed (thanks Jay!), and we learned a lot, including 
fine-tuning some of our ideas about major donor cultivation. We got a 
few immediate small offers to help, and we hope we've stimulated 
conversations that will lead to more support down the road. We will be 
staging more of these in future, probably 4-6 annually.


In the absence of a head of partnerships, we've focused our energy on a 
small number of potential large scale institutional partnerships; these 
initiatives are ongoing, and will likely not produce results for several 


During the last week of February, we've been interviewing candidates for 
an open software developer / IT support position. The successful 
candidate will be announced within a few weeks. We have also been 
interviewing accountants, and that person will be announced soon also.


(At this time, the monthly report only covers work done by paid staff, 
and a lot of technology work is done by volunteers. A good way to track 
key technical changes is to read the Wikipedia Signpost's weekly 
“B.R.I.O.N.” report: 

The FlaggedRevs extension, chiefly developed by Aaron Schulz who was 
contracted by the Foundation last year, has been approved for initial 
test deployment on two experimental wikis; these are expected to go live 
shortly. Erik, Philipp Birken and Luca de Alfaro met to discuss the 
future of the extension and other quality initatives.

A security vulnerability in Squid was fixed. A feature to hide 
maintenance categories was implemented. Red links are now annotated as 
“not yet written.” Various bugs and inconsistencies fixed.

We've begun inventorizing all equipment in the SF office.


* The audited 2006-07 financial statements have been publicly released.
* The credit card usage policy was approved by the board.
* The 2007-08 financial statements were released to the board and 
published on the Foundation website.
* Mike has revised some important legal agreements.


* We continue to explore consortium options in Amsterdam. Mark and Erik 
meet with Kennisnet March 11 and 13.
* Erik and Mike continue work on the license migration issue with 
Creative Commons and the Free Software Foundation.
* Véronique will develop a payout process for the Greenspun illustration 
* Brion will test the wiki-to-print technology developed for us by 
* Erik will begin coordinating strategy development around domain name 
* The board will have its first meeting in San Francisco in early April.
* The board has asked me to take up the treasurer search. I have asked 
Erik to coordinate the search process.
* The board has asked me to review the Wikimania security issues. I've 
asked Mike to commission a routine conference site assessment from a 
professional firm, with a special focus on issues facing LGBT 
participants, and within the context of us being an organization that's 
highly-visible and not uncontroversial (e.g., Muhammad pictures, etc.). 
We'll ask for an overall threat assessment, as well as a set of 
recommendations on how to best reduce risk. I'll report progress to the 
board in April.
* The board has asked for a proposed data retention policy. Mike is 
working on this with Brion and Tim Pozar, a computer scientist and 
privacy expert. It will be delivered to the board at their April meeting.
* We are planning a party welcoming ourselves to San Francisco; targeted 
for April.
* Fundraising strategy will be finalized by end of March; meanwhile, 
major donor cultivation efforts continue, and we begin to explore 
opportunities with foundations.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list