sam, i am not so convinced that what you write is true in too many
countries, namely that you think wikimedia gets too little of its funding
from other foundations. but i think it is fair enough that WMF tries to get
foundations funding on its home turf which it knows best. there are many US
based foundations like the knight foundation with principles like "Knight
primarily funds U.S.-based organizations." what i personally do not
appreciate is that WMF tries to get others into such a model as well, which
turns out to be a spiral of death. WMF e.g. tries to make chapters look for
other financial sources. i am aware of three effects:

first, it generates pressure within WMCH for getting other income. this
pressure leads to generating income on the shoulders of volunteers. on one
hand they are charged. when i edit i should join WMCH and pay membership
fee. i should visit conferences and pay for it. on the other hand persons
should then acquire money from foundations,  or the government.  often in
europe getting money from sources close to the government is attached with
"you get 50% of the money, 50% you pay yourself" disturbing the budget of a
small organisation completely. a very "un-wikipedia" task, at the end of
the day not very funny for a typical wikipedia person. wikipedia typically
deals with crowd-sourcing people and money. the result is: less volunteers.

second, wikipedia is perceived as competition. in switzerland, and in
europe in general, NGOs, clubs, foundations depend much more on individual
donors money and government. wikipedia has the most prominent website
amongst all of them. if somebody from wikipedia asks the government or asks
foundations for money it for sure triggers a "competion feeling".
like-minded organisations want to have money as well. and like-minded
organisations usually have people behind. and them feeling competition is
causing a no-partnership, a rivalry. the result is: less volunteers.

third, there is no connection between money spent in switzerland and money
given in switzerland. there is no direct "i gave it to you and you are
thankful" feeling. in many countries it i do not even known how much money
was given for the wikimedia cause. the result is: less people talking about
it, means less persons being close to the cause, and less money given. i
calculate it simple: an average person knows 400 persons. if we have 1000
volunteers, a maximum of 400'000 persons would, in an ideal world, know
about the money flow.

to sum it up - i do think that maintaining the volunteer base is the most
difficult task. it is much more difficult then getting money. this
discussion shows to me only that many persons in our movement still believe
otherwise, that scratching out additional cents from every resource we can
find is task number one. unfortunately without considering collateral
damage, and motivation of volunteers: as a volunteer i want to have fun,
and i do not want to pay (too much) for my hobby.


On Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 9:18 PM, Sam Klein <> wrote:

> Thanks Scott, this is important context.  I think Wikimedia gets rather too
> little of its funding from other foundations, through cooperations with
> like-minded organizations, and from national/international initiatives to
> educate and to preserve culture & knowledge.
> Scott writes:
> > MZMcBride wrote:
> >
> > > 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:
> >
> > 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.
> >
> It also makes for a very inward-focused and narrow sort of strategy: "How
> can we make our few banner projects work better / attract more people"
> rather than "how can we make knowledge more accessible to everyone in the
> world, including by supporting and enhancing other excellent projects".
> If you start with funders and organizations whose missions are similar to
> Wikimedia's, working with them on a grant is a way of making them part of
> the community: a successful engagement results in them learning more about
> the impact and value of our mission, and supporting or encouraging more
> work along those lines with their other grantees.  It also builds a
> relationship and trust within the circle of similarly-minded organizations
> (in this example, grantors; but this applies equally well to other sorts of
> partners), which can be drawn on in the future if there were a real crisis
> or urgent need.
> Mission-aligned donors & grantors & infrastructure-providers & archivists
> are all part of our community, in addition to having collections or money
> or services to contribute.  Which is an extra reason to let them contribute
> that is easiest for them, as long as the overhead required to accept that
> contribution is not too large.
> I'm sure small donors will continue to be the dominant source of funding
> for a long time, perhaps for as long as it exists.  But a bit more
> diversity in funding sources can improve consistency, predictability, and
> security of support.
> SJ
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