Dear all,

Speaking of the Form 990, the WMF has been promising for more than five
years now to transfer the Wikimedia Endowment, currently held by the Tides
Foundation, to its own 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation – which would then
publish a Form 990 each year, in line with the minimum standards of
transparency for US non-profits.

On 29 March 2017, for example, Lisa Seitz answered community questions
about the Endowment on Meta as follows:[1]

*"The WMF board has already given us the direction to move it into a
separate 501c3 once the endowment reaches $33 million. ... WMF's Executive
Director is supportive of moving it to a new 501c3 once it reaches $33

As the Foundation proudly announced last September, the Endowment passed
$100 million in June 2021. The $33 million mark came and went years ago.
The move to a non-profit never happened.

Fast forward a few years, and WMF staff still made the same sorts of noises
about moving to a 501(c)(3) soon. Endowment Director Amy Parker, e.g., told
me on Meta in April 2021:[2]

*"No grants will be made from the Endowment until its total revenue
surpasses $100 million. Updates on funds raised are posted to this page. We
are in the process of transitioning the Endowment to a new US 501c3
charity, after which it will begin making grants and will publish its own
Form 990. ... We are in the process of establishing a new home for the
endowment in a stand-alone 501(c)(3) public charity. We will move the
endowment in its entirety to this new entity once the new charity receives
its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter."*

This was more than a year ago.

Note that the promise to post updates on funds raised is no longer kept.
The last update on Meta was to say that the Endowment had surpassed $100
million in June 2021. There has been no update on funds raised since then.
We, and donors around the world who are asked to contribute, don't know if
the Endowment now stands at $120 million, $150 million, $200 million ...

Another thing the Wikimedia Foundation refuses to disclose is how much
money it has, since 2016, paid the Tides Foundation (an organisation the
WMF's General Counsel used to head before she moved to the WMF in 2019[3])
for its administrative services, or indeed whether – and how much – it has
paid any other consultants, law firms, advisors, staff, etc.

Asking about these matters yields the terse response: "As a matter of
practice, we do not disclose specific terms of contracts with our

Nor, of course, do we know whether grants have already been made, as Amy
Parker said might happen upon reaching the $100 million mark, and if so to
whom. It is not like there hasn't been a precedent: we have already seen
millions of dollars of Wikimedia money being funnelled to outside
organisations via Tides.[5]

Matters would be considerably more transparent if the Wikimedia Foundation
had done what it said it would do years ago: transfer the Wikimedia
Endowment to a standalone non-profit publishing its own annual Form 990.

What is the delay? Is the Wikimedia Foundation having trouble getting the
IRS to recognise the Endowment's qualifications for non-profit status? When
will we see a Form 990? Will the Foundation make a retrospective
declaration of all expenditure since 2016 if the Endowment is ever
transferred to a 501(c)(3) non-profit?

How about voluntarily publishing properly audited accounts for the
Endowment, covering the period from 2016 to today?

As long as there is no such transparency, anybody donating funds to the
Wikimedia Endowment is effectively throwing money into a black box.



On Sun, May 22, 2022 at 4:31 PM The Cunctator <> wrote:

> Thank you for this summary. The rate of turnover at Wikipedia is
> surprising to me.
> On Sun, May 22, 2022, 9:00 AM Andreas Kolbe <> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> The WMF published its Form 990 for the 2020 calendar year a week ago[1],
>> along with an FAQ on Meta[2].
>> Some salient points:
>> 1. In 2020, the number of Wikimedia employees whose total compensation
>> and benefits exceeded $300,000 went up to eight. They were:[3]
>> Katherine Maher, ED ($423,318)
>> Grant Ingersoll, CTO ($355,523)
>> Amanda Keton, GC ($350,292)
>> Jaime Villagomez, CFO ($347,642)
>> Janeen Uzzell, COO ($336,068)
>> Anthony Negrin, CPO ($324,916)
>> Lisa Seitz, CAO ($323,293)
>> Robyn Arville, CT/CO ($306,579)
>> In part this reflected salary increases of existing executives, in part
>> it was due to three new hires filling C-level vacancies (CTO, COO, CT/CO)
>> at significantly higher compensation levels than their predecessors.
>> All three of those new hires are no longer with the WMF today, each
>> staying only around two years.
>> Of the existing executives' salary increases, a couple seem reasonable
>> compared to the previous year's figures,[4] but in one case total
>> compensation went up by over 25% year on year, in another by 14%, without a
>> change in job title. (US inflation was at around 2% from 2010 to 2020.[5])
>> Note that present-day compensation levels are likely to be 10–15% higher
>> than the 2020 figures above.
>> 2. Overall salary costs rose by $12 million on the year prior (we knew
>> this already from the audited financial statements released in December).
>> The FAQ now clarifies that the number of employees (320 in 2020, vs. 291 in
>> 2019) on page 1 of the Form 990 refers to US employees only, while the
>> salary costs figure given on the same page ($67.9M in 2020 vs. $55.6M in
>> 2019) also includes an unspecified number of non-US employees. I have asked
>> for more detailed information on Meta.
>> Andreas
>> [1]
>> [2]
>> [3]
>> [4]
>> [5]
>> _______________________________________________
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