Difference between revisions of "Fundraising FAQ 2007-2008"

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m (Wikipedia is cool! I'll give you some money. But what will it be used for?)
(per Board meeting today, there is no stated goal in this fundraiser.)
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: We maintain [http://fundraising.wikimedia.org/ a complete listing] of contributions for both the current and previous fundraisers. You can view breakdowns based on currency and date in addition to viewing donor names and comments.
: We maintain [http://fundraising.wikimedia.org/ a complete listing] of contributions for both the current and previous fundraisers. You can view breakdowns based on currency and date in addition to viewing donor names and comments.
=====What happens if we reach the 1.5 million before the end of the four-week period? What happens if we don't reach it? Would the fundraiser be extended, or end early?=====
: We expect that the fund drive will continue long enough to leverage the available opportunities for matching donations. At the conclusion we will evaluate whether this provides the resources needed to support the Wikimedia projects in the immediate future.
: If we reach our goals early, what a great problem to have! If this happens, we will change the text of the site notices to be thank-you messages, as has been traditional in fundraisers. Such success would indicate the need to plan for a capital campaign/endowment fund drive later this year, with major corporate and foundation gifts to establish such an endowment. In the long term, an endowment would help provide a stable financial base for the Wikimedia Foundation to carry out its mission.
=====I have a problem or concern that isn't answered here. What should I do?=====
=====I have a problem or concern that isn't answered here. What should I do?=====

Revision as of 22:18, 20 December 2006

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About the fundraising drive

Hosting a web site costs next to nothing, why do you need all that money?
Hosting a personal web site, today, costs next to nothing, because such sites get very little traffic and need very little room on the provider's computers. However, Wikipedia is among the biggest sites in the world in terms of hits. The Wikimedia Foundation spent about US$430,000 on computer hardware and US$200,000 on Internet hosting during the 2005-06 fiscal year.
Wikipedia is cool! I'll give you some money. But what will it be used for?
The money will be used for the continued operation and improvement of Wikimedia projects. This includes hardware, bandwidth, staff, events like Wikimania, and other expenses. A successful fundraiser will mean both being able to continue and expand what we are currently doing, and to have a secure financial base for the future.
You can also see how we've been using money in the past here (PDF, 90KB).
Isn't Wikipedia supported by a billionaire, who founded it?
Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales, an Internet entrepreneur. Mr Wales was able to support Wikipedia when it was a small site, had no employees, and had minor hosting requirements, but this is no longer the case. Today, Wikipedia is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, which gets money mostly through donations by individual Internet users.
I'm told that Wikipedia is supported by Yahoo! or some other company. Why don't you solicit them?
Yahoo! provides the Wikimedia Foundation with hosting at another computer center located in Korea. Wikimedia also receives significant assistance with bandwidth and hosting from Kennisnet in Amsterdam. No private company or individual is "bankrolling" the Foundation — our support comes primarily from individuals on the internet. As our audited financial statements show, the Foundation spends a lot to maintain its primary computing center, in Florida. The Foundation is open to contributions from individuals, companies, private foundations and other donors from around the world.
I have this terrific idea: you should simply put up advertisements.
This suggestion has been made many times and debated over and over. While technically not excluded (in case other means of funding are insufficient), it is extremely controversial. In particular, it is believed that having advertisements would jeopardize Wikipedia's neutrality. The Foundation has no current plans to have paid advertising on Wikipedia or its other projects.
You should be getting money from the government.
Perhaps, but we do not get any.
My country is not in your list of countries from which you accept donations, why discriminate?
The Wikimedia Foundation accepts donations without discrimination. However, the companies handling its credit card transactions have their own policies regarding what kind of cards and countries they accept to deal with. If PayPal does not accept transactions with your country, try MoneyBookers, or the converse. In any case, we still accept checks and direct transfers.
Where can I view detailed information about the progress of fundraising?
We maintain a complete listing of contributions for both the current and previous fundraisers. You can view breakdowns based on currency and date in addition to viewing donor names and comments.

I have a problem or concern that isn't answered here. What should I do?
If there is a technical problem with your donation, or if there is a question not answered on the Fundraising pages, you may send your questions to donations@wikimedia.org.

About matching donations

What if I know someone who might want to pledge a matching donation, now or in the future?
Great! Please contact our Grants Coordinator, Danny Wool, at dwool@wikimedia.org to talk about this.
What are matching donations exactly?
For "matching donations", a company or other large donor pledges to "match" every small individual donation made up to a certain amount or period of time. For example, if you donate 50 dollars in a drive with matching funds, the sponsor will also donate 50 dollars, making the total effect a donation of 100 dollars. This encourages people to give more money knowing that their smaller donation will have twice the effect.
What is the need for Wikimedia to take on such an initiative now?
Wikimedia has experienced phenomenal growth over the past year. Wikipedia now ranks as one of the top ten websites in the world[1], up from No. 28 a year ago. The Wikimedia Commons hosts over a million media files. We've hired developers and staff to keep the projects running smoothly. But what we haven't done is have a fundraiser this year.
We'd like to be able to do more: more projects, more features, more content, more reliable service. But that requires more hardware, more bandwidth, and more staff. We can't do that at our rate of growth unless we use the resources available to us in the most effective way possible, and soliciting matching funds from corporate donors is one of the best ways of doing that. We want to leverage the support of our community and users with money from the private sector.
Will donations to the local chapters be matched?
No, they won't; matching during this drive will only cover money donations made directly to the Wikimedia Foundation, whose activities support all Wikimedia projects including those with local chapters. The local chapters may choose to do a similar arrangement for their own fundraisers. Coordinating a donation matching program at an international level is complex, but we hope to encourage wider donation matching in future fund drives.
What are considered "donations made directly to the Wikimedia Foundation"?
There are several channels for making a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation. But beware that only donations in the form of money will matched by our sponsors;
  • donations made with PayPal - the donation will be matched
  • donations made with Moneybookers - the donation will be matched
  • donations made by money transfer - the donation will be matched
  • donations made by cheque sent by postal mail received during the matching period - the donation will be matched
  • buying merchandise at Cafe Press - the donation will not be matched, but WMF gets 20%
Will this affect Wikimedia's neutrality, now that money has been given by several companies?
No. We have not agreed and will not agree to any arrangement that requires us to change the content of the sites. We are committed to maintaining the neutrality of the sites and entrust the user community to ensure that these standards are upheld.
Was the community consulted before this decision?
The idea of having a fundraiser with matching donations has been raised publicly on several occasions, including recently on the Foundation mailing list. The community is at the heart of what the Foundation does, and supporting the community is why the Foundation exists. But the community does not have the ability to receive funds; the Wikimedia Foundation does. The actions taken by the Foundation are in the spirit of a fiduciary responsibility, to do what is in all of our best interests.
Consulting the community about specific details is difficult because these are confidential by necessity; we cannot expect anyone to be able to make an informed decision without complete information. It is the Foundation's responsibility to make such decisions on behalf of all affected, including considering its effect on the community of users who build the sites.
If the editors and community reject the idea now, then why can't we remove the notice?
The Wikimedia Foundation is ultimately responsible for the placement of the site notice. The Foundation is obligated to maintain the notice under the terms of the agreement, which was made to gain the benefit of encouraging large donors to support our projects without having to compromise any of the important aspect: the article content.
Fundraising is a necessity to operating a top website for free with no advertising. We are unique as a non-profit in the world in that our online space has grown on such a shoestring budget and the goodwill of the community. We believe that inviting corporate donations to support us is not an act of treason, but smart business sense.
The Foundation concerns itself by asking how to make effective use of the money the community is willing to donate. Matching funds are a smart way to provide leverage. Some may not like the corporations involved, but they are willing to put a significant amount of money in play to challenge the community to give, and the funds to buy servers that keep the projects running the way you want them to run. People opposed to site notices "on principle" need to answer the legitimate question, how then should the Foundation keep running, given the incredible demand for growth and resources? To not attempt to make the best use of donor funds seems shortsighted. If the Wikimedia Foundation is to exist perpetually, it must lay down a secure foundation both in terms of project infrastructure and organizational and financial infrastructure.
The site notice is the best method of reaching the people we most want to see the message, and who will not see it otherwise: the millions of people who aren't part of the editing community, but who use Wikimedia projects every day. Removing it means removing that potential source of support, jeopardizes the success of the fundraiser, and violates our agreements.
If this is such a good idea, why didn't the Foundation do this before?
Previously, such a concept could not have been implemented because the Foundation did not have an audited set of books to assure donors and the world at large that we were responsible and doing the right things with the money. The Wikimedia Foundation is listed with Guidestar[2], the Better Business Bureau [3], and similar systems as a charity.
Who determines what is an acceptable or unacceptable company to accept matching funds from?
The board of Wikimedia Foundation has complete discretion to decide which companies may participate. Some companies may choose to participate whose goals and ideals are not completely aligned with ours. Accepting their offers to match donations does not mean that we will change how we work, or that we must endorse everything they do. It simply means that we accept their help and desire to support us and in turn, recognize their contributions.
How is this different from a company receiving ads (i.e. logos) if they pledge to donate money?
Advertising is the placement of copy written by the advertiser, i.e., "Buy Joe's Widgets, they're the best". If we were selling pixels of space in a site notice, and the company were free to put whatever they want there, that would be advertising. We are explicitly not agreeing to do that, nor could we, without jeopardizing the tax-exempt status of these transactions.
Instead, we are agreeing to place a thank-you notice in recognition of a pledge to match funds donated by the community: it is through "the generous support of Company X that your donation today is being matched." The money collected will directly depend on the money the individual donors are ready to offer to the project. If very little money is collected from individual donors, very little money will come from companies. If individual donors are generous, companies will be generous. This is a cooperation in financial gift.
The presence of a logo and link in recognition and identification of the donor do not change the nature of the agreement, and the typical surfer to our site isn't going to be concerned one way or the other.
Is this just a slippery slope to full ads, all the time?
No; we have no plans to put advertising on the site. As a nonprofit charitable organization, the Wikimedia Foundation ultimately relies on donations from the public as its primary source of funds. It is in part because we do not have advertising as a regular source of funding that we need to make our fundraising efforts as effective as possible.
Why did you choose these companies? Was there a competitive bid?
We asked companies who we knew to be friendly to the Foundation and who are significant companies in the online space. We did not have a competitive bidding process, something that would probably be better suited to a setting that really was commercial advertising. Instead we asked companies who were willing to commit to matching at least $60,000 per day. We aren't done; if there are companies who are willing to match donations, they should contact the Wikimedia Foundation offices and speak to Brad Patrick or Danny Wool.

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