On Sat, Jan 30, 2016 at 11:43 AM, MZMcBride <z...@mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> One part of this arrangement still confuses me. In the linked post, you
> write, "With this grant we brought the idea to the funder and they
> supported our work with this grant."
> Why ask for and take the money? The Wikimedia Foundation can raise
> $250,000 in a few days (maybe hours) by placing ads on a few large
> Wikipedias soliciting donations. Why take on a restricted grant, with its
> necessary reporting overhead and other administrative costs?

Responding just to this small portion of MZMcBride's email:

When I interviewed at the WMF, back in Sue's tenure, I asked pointed
questions about the funding model since I was coming from a non-profit
which perennially struggled with funding.

Sue explained to me that the goal was to have WMF's budget be roughly 50%
grants and 50% user contributions to guard against unexpected fragility
with either of these funding sources.  There is/was the continuing concern
that folks accessing wikimedia content through non-traditional sources
(google snippets, mobile apps, etc) will not see or respond to a banner
campaign, so that sooner or later one of our banner campaigns will come up
very short.  Further, a reliance on banners for funding creates perverse
incentives that discourage us from fully embracing potential users of our
content who may bypass the "official" clients and their banner ads.

Similarly, from my time at OLPC I saw first hand that economic recession
can cause grant sources of funding to dry up seemingly overnight.  So to me
it seemed very wise not to put all the eggs in a single basket.  If grants
or banner campaigns came up short, the other side of the funding equation
could carry the load while the WMF retooled.

This was Sue's explanation.  I don't know if this is still the explicit
thinking of the current board/ED, but IMO it's still an entirely reasonable
rationale for pursuing grant funding, even if the grants come with more
"strings attached" than a banner campaign.

ps. I'm deliberately not addressing the specifics of the Knight foundation
grant here, we can continue that discussion on the original thread.  I'm
just talking about grant funding in general.

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