[Wikimedia-l] Rationale for fundraising record?

Zack Exley zexley at wikimedia.org
Sun Jan 6 19:26:44 UTC 2013

Milos -

I'm very sorry I didn't answer this question earlier...

On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 1:51 AM, Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail.com> wrote:

> I read the official blog [1] about it, but it doesn't have rationale.
> And I am too lazy to analyze it.
> So, may someone give us the reasons why this fundraising finished so
> quickly.
The short answer is: credit goes to a new kind of banner that put several
powerful sentences (powerful for getting donations) directly into the
banner. The text in the banner included several of the ideas from the
appeals that used to be on our landing pages, plus some new ideas. There
were a few other design changes that increased the donations too.

All these changes seem obvious in hindsight. But it took a lot of testing
to get there. You can see some of the tests we did on this page:

One thing that helped a lot was finding some new designers who were willing
to do very plain and simple designs and work with us to make very subtle
modifications to them week after week. For some reason it was very hard to
find designers willing to do that kind of unglamorous work.

> I have to say that I'm very positively surprised by this fact, as I
> was much more pessimistic in relation to the future fundraising.
> The main question -- which could be just guessed if we have accurate
> rationale for this fundraising record -- is how sustainable is the
> growth (or even the stagnation with this amount of money)?

There is room for confusion here. Just because we dramatically shortened
the campaign doesn't mean we can dramatically increase the money we raise.
As our banners get more effective, part of what happens is that we just get
the same pool of donors to donate faster. But better banners do also
increase the total pool of donors too.

We do know that this year the decay of fundraising from day to day was
steeper than in past years, confirming that we were eating into out
existing donor pool faster than before.

In past years, the campaign has dragged on for weeks with us only making
$150,000 per day. We wanted to avoid that this year, and so we did
everything we could to get the money in fast, so that we weren't littering
the sites with banners for little return.

> In relation to the question above, I'd be much more happy to hear that
> this is the product of staff's work, than the product of some global
> social changes.

There did not seem to be any underlying changes in the world that gave us
this lift. In fact, we probably received less of a lift this year from
growing readership because so much of the growth was in mobile (where, I'm
sorry to say, we haven't begun fundraising consistently).

Several months ago, it felt to us like the world was getting a lot worse
for fundraising. Part of why we looked so hard for these new banners was
that the old banners started performing terribly in our weekly testing. So
we were extremely relieved when we finally found these new banners that
worked so well.

Our mission on the WMF fundraising is to minimize the impact of fundraising
on Wikipedia and all Wikimedia projects while using fundraising as an
opportunity to educate our users about the uniqueness and beauty of the
Wikimedia movement. We're really happy that we reduced the impact
significantly this year and had more time to talk about the projects and
their editors in our "thank you" campaign at the end of December.

We're thinking now about how to make it all 10 times better in 2013!

Thanks for your optimism Milos!

> Although it would be great if the world is changing so
> quickly, it's much more unpredictable variable than work inside of the
> organization.
> [1]
> http://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/12/27/wikimedia-foundation-raises-25-million-in-record-time-during-2012-fundraiser/
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Zack Exley
Chief Revenue Officer
Wikimedia Foundation

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