[Foundation-l] Help Beat Jimmy! (The appeal, that is....)

Philippe Beaudette pbeaudette at wikimedia.org
Wed Oct 6 01:49:18 UTC 2010

Hi everyone,

I wanted to take a moment to bring you up to date on the planning of  
the 2010-2011 fundraiser, and ask once again for your participation in  
the process.  Our updated meta pages (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_2010 
  ) will give you an overview as well.  There's a lot of information  
here, because we've made huge progress: I hope you'll take the time to  
read it and join in the planning for the fundraiser.

There's no doubt about it: the appeal from Jimmy Wales is a strong  
message.  We've tested it head-to-head against other banners, and the  
results [1] are unequivocal - especially when you also compare its  
performance last year and the year before.

But nobody wants to just put Jimmy up on the sites and leave him up  
for two months!

So we're issuing a challenge:  Find the banner that will beat Jimmy.

Data informed conclusions
Here's the trick:
We have to make our decisions based on the facts, not our instinct.   
Please read the summaries below for really important details from our  
focus group and survey of past donors.

Focus Group
Wikimedia conducted a focus group of past donors in the New York City  
area in September 2010.  It's important to note that this was a single  
focus group, and in a single city.  We'll need to do more to make sure  
that results correlate universally.  But we came out of it with a few  
important take-away points.  It's important to realize that these  
points reflect ONLY donors - they should not be read as a wider  
feeling about mission or strategic direction - they're messaging  
points to help us refine and deliver the best messages possible.

** The most powerful image is of Wikipedia as a global community of  
people who freely share their knowledge and self-police the product.
For everyone who participated, the idea of a global community of  
people sharing knowledge that is accessible to anyone who wants it  
free of charge is incredibly powerful. Respondents in this group were  
highly unlikely to be editors themselves; most consider themselves  
users. They love the idea of the community and want to support it, but  
they are reluctant to put themselves out there by being more than a  
user and a donor.

** Keeping the projects ad-free is a powerful motivator.
Respondents were unanimous that keeping Wiki[m\p]edia ad free should  
be a priority, even if it meant that Wiki[m\p]edia would be  
approaching them for money more often.  Accepting paid ads could  
corrupt the values and discourage the free flow of information.

** Independence is critically important.
These respondents consume a lot of media, and they place a high  
premium on the free flow of information.  They have little patience  
for “sponsored” news or information that excludes other perspectives.  
The Wikimedia model of openness and community engagement facilitates  

** It’s a cause because it’s a tool.
This may sound a bit like a chicken/egg argument, but it’s actually an  
important nuance.  These folks use Wikimedia every day for things from  
simple curiosities to serious research. So it’s a tool that lets them  
get what they need. But it has grown to 17 million articles in 270  
languages. Because it has that kind of depth and it reaches so many  
people around the world, it’s worth protecting what the community so  
successfully built. And that makes it a cause too.

** Growing isn’t always a good thing, when positioning for donors.
Like many tech savvy folks, our respondents are a suspicious lot. The  
idea of Wikimedia growing brings up concerns about what Wikimedia  
would become, and fears about the path of companies like Facebook.  
It’s not just a privacy concern; it’s a concern about what would  
happen to the democratic model of Wikimedia inside a growth strategy.  
Supporting the organic growth of the community doesn’t raise the same  

** Supporters strongly reject any agenda being attached to Wikimedia,  
even when that agenda would extend the current offerings.
An agenda implies ownership, and respondents feel pretty strongly that  
the community owns Wikipedia. They think of Wikipedia as an organic  
thing, not like a typical nonprofit, and any attempt to steer it would  
disrupt that.  Community support is one of the key values, and not  
everyone in the community would support new initiatives.

** There is room to fundraise more aggressively.
Across the board, respondents were surprised that they didn’t have the  
opportunity to give to Wikimedia more often. Obviously, there is a  
balance and a PBS-style solicitation schedule wouldn’t make sense both  
for Wikimedia’s personality and for this audience, but there is much  
more space available than we are taking.

** Wikimedia donors are highly suspicious of marketing gimmicks.
Simple, direct messages are likely to work best. Jimmy’s message  
worked not so much because he was the founder, but because it was a  
simple plea for support delivered authentically.

As we know, that’s something that also needs quantitative testing to  
prove. Sometimes donor response in a focus group and donor activity  
don’t line up exactly.  But, some things already line up with early  
tests. The more gimmicky the banner, the less likely it is to drive  
donations even if it increases clicks.

Reaction to banners like “572 have donated in New York today” also  
raised concerns about privacy – not a good reaction in an already  
suspicious audience.  Appeals to “keep us growing” or that highlight a  
contributor’s work raise earlier concerns about an agenda.

Donor Survey Highlights
Wikimedia produced a random sample of 20,000 individuals from the much  
larger number of individuals, from many countries, contributing less  
than $1000 between November 1 2009 and June 30 2010. These individuals  
were invited to participate in a 29 item (but around 70 question)  
survey. 3760 agreed to participate, and the survey was conducted in  
August 2010. The participants probably differ from those who declined  
in ways that are associated with survey answers. Hence the respondents  
do not represent an entirely representative sample of the < $1000  

The survey participants are committed to Wiki[p/m]edia, visiting it  
frequently. They say that they are very likely to donate again, and  
they support all the survey-mentioned reasons for donation. They were  
not aware of Wikipedia chapters. A majority of respondents did not  
appear greatly concerned about possible threats to Wikipedia’s identity.
About 1/3 of these individuals have edited, though not frequently.  
Those who express more support for Wikimedia as a cause appear more  
prone to edit. Those who have not contributed in this way say mostly  
that they haven’t thought about it--suggesting that they haven’t  
really considered the possibility—or that they don’t have time.  
Europeans and the highly educated especially stress lack of time.

Some subgroup differences were found within the sample. The likelihood  
of writing or editing does vary a bit by subgroup, for example.  
Overall, however, responses did not vary greatly by subgroup, whether  
“demographic” (nationality, education, sex) or behavioral (e.g.,  
degree of on-line activity).

* The full details of the survey can be found at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FR_Donor_survey_report.pdf
* A short overview can be found at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donor_survey_report_excerpts.pdf 

Chapters will receive the specifics of how we will work with them  
through their fundraising contacts which were designated on the  
fundraising survey, in order to keep the information communicated here  
to the essentials.

We have been testing for ten weeks now, and are really pleased with  
the progress that the tech team has made with new tools to support the  
fundraiser.  Geotargetting appears to work now, and we are currently  
testing a 1 step versus 2 step donation process.  We will have solid  
test results this week, we believe.  In all, we believe that we are -  
technically and message-wise - in a really good position.  We're  
working out kinks, definitely, but we're working them out before the  
fundraiser starts, so that we can maximize the dollar-earning  
potential of every day that we have banners up.

We need you
 From the very beginning, Zack charged me with presenting the most  
collaborative fundraiser yet.  I'm thrilled at the level of  
involvement from the community, in everything from banner creation to  
testing structure, to design, to actually sitting on our test  
fundraisers with us in virtual conferences and being a full  
participating member of the team.  We're reporting out frequently, and  
trying very hard to engage with members of the community.  We have  
dedicated staff who are outreaching to our various language wikis in  
an attempt to get ever more broad participation.  I strongly encourage  
you to join in the discussions at the meta pages about the  
fundraiser:  /http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FR2010.  Your involvement  
is not just appreciated - it's crucial.

Thanks for sticking through this email - join us in discussion and  
help us beat the Jimmy appeal!


[1] - http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fundraising_2010/Banner_testing#Test_six_ 
Philippe Beaudette	
Head of Reader Relations
Wikimedia Foundation

philippe at wikimedia.org

Imagine a world in which every human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge.  Help us make it a reality!


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