Thanks for the comments.

I think of WMF Board membership as being similar to ENWP Arbcom or some
event committee memberships in the sense that doing the roles well often
seems to require a near-martyrdom level of commitment. I'd like to see some
ceilings on workloads for volunteers, and that includes the WMF Board if
Board members aren't going to be compensated for their time. One way to
enable those ceilings to be realistic, as we've discussed in this thread,
is to provide support from paid staff for routine work, organizing
communications, preparing reports, writing grant requests, etc. I guess my
priorities in no particular order are that (1) work gets done in a timely
and reasonably high-quality manner, (2) people don't get burnt out. I'm in
favor of using funds to support the community in achieving those goals.

By the way, I'm also aware that taking on roles like WMF Board membership,
ENWP Arbcom, etc. means dealing with a seemingly endless string of
complaints and requests, and I appreciate your making efforts to do a good


On Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 12:36 AM, Christophe Henner <>

> Hey,
> Many topics covered here :)
> 1. Paid vs. unpaid: I don't know of the legal situation, but I always felt
> that for a NGO it is better to have a volunteer board. Especially for us as
> our movement is built thanks to volunteers. I fear it would slightly hinder
> our message if trustees were paid. But, when we need a specific expertise,
> then we can pay for it. But not as a trustee, as an expert helping us on a
> specific matter;
> 2. Time comitment. So on that, we are actively working on trying to reduce
> the mandatory time board members have to allocate to WMF. Goal is between
> this year and next year to lower it down to what we benchmarked as average
> (and I can't find the number again, I'll dig into that). That work started
> after a discussion with Guy on the fact that the time comitment was so high
> we migh scare away high profiles. So working to get mandatory board time
> down.
> But there's also "non-mandatory" time comitment. I can only speak for me,
> but right now, it takes me from 2h in the day up to 6h, almost everyday. I
> try to have Sundays when I don't work (either for my job or wikimedia). In
> that I do include reading (scanning for some mailing lists) emails.
> Right now, I think that the most complicated thing to handle is travel
> times as you need to take almost a week off every time we travel abroad.
> But until we invent teleportation (that would be super cool), I can't see a
> way to change that.
> 3. Staff support to the board : We already have some. First, as the
> treasurer and secretary roles are filled by staff members, it unburden
> board members a lot. On top of that, we also benefit from support from each
> department on a needs basis. Travels are taken care of by staff, I'm
> working on slides now, I could ask the communication department to help me
> on that. Anna and Michelle work a lot with Natalia on board recruitement.
> To be fair, staff does a lot of heavy lifting for us already.
> What is true however is that we don't have one personn fully assigned to
> support the board. But I'm not sure it is needed right now. That might be a
> discussion worth having.
> 4. Appointed seats "quality": yes we are looking for great board members.
> And that is also why we need more time than one could expect.
> Christophe HENNER
> Chair of the board of trustees
> +33650664739
> twitter *@schiste*        skype *christophe_henner*
> On Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 3:52 AM, Pine W <> wrote:
> > Hi James,
> >
> > Two points:
> >
> > 1. Intrinsic motivation, at this point, appears to be inadequate for
> > increasing the population of the Wikimedia volunteer community. I am
> > skeptical that we should rely on the same mechanism which isn't working
> in
> > the volunteer community to fill slots on the WMF Board, which also seems
> to
> > be struggling to fill its ranks.
> >
> > 2. I think that there's some grey between fully intrinsic and fully
> > extrinsic motivation. For example, there are a number WMF employees to
> > which WMF pays $100,000+ compensation packages. Yet we don't complain
> that
> > their motivations are extrinsic and incompatible with the Wikimedia
> > mission. WMF pays them that level of compensation to encourage them to
> stay
> > with WMF instead of working for another organization (probably a
> for-profit
> > one) which would likely pay them similar levels of compensation. It seems
> > to me that if WMF is struggling to attract the quantity and quality of
> > Board members that it needs, then compensation is a reasonable option to
> > consider.
> >
> > Responding to Pete: although it's unusual for nonprofit board members to
> be
> > paid, as far as I can see the practice isn't forbidden. I imagine that
> > Legal could provide guidance about what is and isn't allowed. Whether
> > whether it's allowed and whether it should actually happen are, of
> course,
> > two different questions. A resource that I find instructive is
> >
> > 2015/december/should-board-members-of-nonprofit-
> > organizations-be-compensated,
> > which provides a list of pros and cons for providing compensation to
> Board
> > members. One of the points that they make is along similar lines as
> Lane's:
> > that providing compensation could increase the diversity of candidates. A
> > point that I think is also worth making is that if Board members are
> > compensated then expectations should be proportionately greater for their
> > performance and attendance to Board matters; I don't want anything like a
> > repeat of the situation that happened with Lila in which the WMF Board
> > seems to have been asleep at the wheel. Given that current Board members
> > seem to be struggling with their workloads, I think that exploring the
> pros
> > and cons of compensating WMF Board members is worth serious
> consideration.
> >
> > I like the idea of the Board having its own staff separate from the ED.
> > This would be similar to how legislative bodies are supported by their
> own
> > staff which is separate from the executive branch. If this kind of
> support
> > would be adequate to address the problems of Board recruitment (which I
> > doubt) then I'd say to go for it. It might be worthwhile exploring this
> > option in tandem with exploring the option of compensating Board members.
> >
> > Pine
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