[Foundation-l] 2010-11 Annual Plan Now Posted to Foundation Website

Eugene Eric Kim eekim at blueoxen.com
Wed Jun 30 16:45:49 UTC 2010

On Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 8:38 AM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
> A small point -- I don't know who the "you" refers to here -- me? --
> but when *I* ask for an endowment, it is not because I think the
> current levels of support suffice; that's a different question. It's
> because I don't want the long-term support for Wikimedia to be
> dependent on our ability to fundraise increasingly large amounts from
> year to year. Fundraising above and beyond such an endowment is fine
> and good and necessary as well. I have heard that raising an endowment
> was rejected by the strategy process because it was hard; I don't know
> what that means, exactly, but raising an extra $20M in a recession is
> hard, too.

That was from me, and I obviously oversimplified my explanation in an
attempt to be concise. Gerard and Ziko have already raised critical
points that entered into the decision to focus on many small donors as
an ongoing strategy. To expand on this, see this thread started by Sue
a few weeks ago on strategy wiki:


In regards to the endowment question, as you note, the motivation for
an endowment drive is long-term sustainability and some level of
protection from recession. The cost of doing an endowment drive is
enormous. There is usually an 18 months ramp up time simply to start
the drive, and you need a huge staff to manage it. That work comes at
the expense of other work. Furthermore, endowment drives also
typically court high wealth donors aggressively. We do that now, but
that's not our focus, and I think that a lot of good things emerge
from prioritizing many small donors.

What the Financial Sustainability Task Force (with help from the
Bridgespan Group) found was that:

1. Our revenue has grown significantly over the past few years,
despite the recession and a tiny fundraising team that has not grown.
This is because we aren't close to tapping our potential, and it also
speaks to the fundraising team continually getting smarter in how it

2. When we compare Wikimedia Foundation to other similar nonprofits,
it's clear that our potential revenue is much larger, again despite
the recession.

3. In particular, our potential is huge in other countries besides the
U.S., which several people have already pointed out in this thread.
Courting donations in other countries has a lot of positive benefits.
It helps strengthen our chapters, and it increases international
participation and ownership into our projects.

In summary, it's not clear that an endowment drive is a more effective
sustainability strategy than our current model, and the opportunity
cost would be much higher.

If you look at the targets at:


you'll notice that the proposed financial goal is listed as the number
of donors, not as a revenue figure. That speaks to the importance of
getting many people to contribute, which I think jives well with our
community's philosophy in general.


Eugene Eric Kim ................................ http://xri.net/=eekim
Blue Oxen Associates ........................ http://www.blueoxen.com/

More information about the wikimedia-l mailing list