[Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia (Foundation) endowment

MZMcBride z at mzmcbride.com
Thu Mar 14 17:47:37 UTC 2013

Thomas Dalton wrote:
>An endowment is a long-term thing. Current low interest rates probably
>won't last more than a few years. Even so, it would need to be a very
>large fund, yes. If you can get a return of, say, 2% over inflation
>(you can get more than that if you're willing to take some risks) you
>need 50 times your annual budget to fund it all from the endowment.
>That would be something like $2 billion for the WMF. It doesn't need
>to fund the entire budget to be useful, though, and can be built up
>over time (eg. from legacies in people's wills).


As I understand it, the yearly annual Wikimedia Foundation budget is about
$35 million. It costs about $2.5 million to keep the sites operational for
a year. So even if an endowment weren't large enough to cover well over
130 full-time staff members, it could still keep us up and running for a
while. Assuming $2.5 million, that's about $125 million, using your
multiply by 50 formula. That's still a shitload of money, but it's much
less than $2 billion. :-)

I think we need to decide, as a community, whether this is something we
want. If it is, we should set up an endowment fund sooner rather than
later, so that people willing to donate to such an endowment have a place
to put their money, I think.

The question then becomes: how do we decide on this? A community
vote (similar to the licensing update vote) followed by a Board
resolution? A Wikimedia-wide requests for comment? Just a Board resolution
(assuming a majority of members support this, of course)?

Thoughts on how to figure out what the next step here is would be really
appreciated. (Particularly looking at you, Philippe, given your work on
both the strategic plan and the licensing vote. Gerard's Law and all. ;-)


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