Questions about Wikimedia Fundraising by

3 Ago

Introduction: this is my first post on FCVG, my first public post about the Wikimedia world and it is in English, so be nice to me =). For starters, I’m Cristian (CristianCantoro) I am a Wikipedian and I currently invest my spare time (and some not-really-so-spare time) as a member of the board of Wikimedia Italia where I try to manage and help WMI’s project as director of programs.

Premise: some days ago Stu West, a Wikipedian who is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, asked some questions about how the money raised by the Wikimedia Chapters around the globe during the annual Wikimedia global fundraising are used, in particular:

  • Is it right that 50% of rich country donations stay in those rich countries?
  • How do we establish solid movement-wide financial controls to protect donor funds? How do we ensure transparency of the use of those funds?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for stewarding donors’ contributions?
  • How do we address the above questions while maintaining the decentralization that has made our movement so great?

These question raised a lot of interest in the Wikimedia world, particularly among the chapters members, this post itself is born from such a discussion on the Chapters mailing list. Many people shared their though in their blogs:

  • Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe), also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, relanced the questions on her blog: Chapters, fundraising, and “the movement”;
  • Sebastian Moleski, president of Wikimedia Deutschland  posted a response: Subsidiarity as a fundamental principle;
  • Florence Devouard  (Anthere) member of the board of Wikimedia France and former Chair of the WMF, contributed to the discussion with this post;
  • Delphine Menard (notafish) member of Chapter Committee (and of half of the Wikimedia chapters in Europe :P)  says that “All your money Are Belong to US” ;-);
  • Craig Franklin (Lankiveil), a founding member of Wikimedia Australia, focused on the first question here;

I recommend you to read through all of them (the order above is the one I have taken). Stu’s questions merit great consideration,  here’s my two (lenghty) cents:

1) About the North/South debate[1]: Wikimedia Italia has a tradition of projects about Africa, here’s two of them: WikiAfrica and InsideTunisia (in italian), we have also some further projects now at the stage of ideas. I also remember to have read a broader discussion some time ago about Wikipedia reaching(?) its goal of “giving access to everybody on the planet to the sum of all the human knowledge” [links coming as soon as I retrieve them]. Or, if you prefer the question still is “what kind of big-medium-small projects can the WMF and the chapter and the users (editors and readers) start to achieve this goal?” or something related as: “help Wikipedia in local African languages grow”, “grow the number of readers in developing countries”, “have people which does not have the possibility to access information in other ways to actually use Wikipedia to study”, “understand how to bring Wikipedia in places with no internet connection”, etc?

These are the right questions about this point IMHO. As a personal consideration let me add also that knowledge can not be exported, so we can not think about starting a project in a country if we don’t find enough people in that country interested in it.

2) As one of our members (and former secretary) Giulia Conflero pointed out, the second point is that now WMF has a fairly good degree of control of the fundraising and all the other processes while the chapters (at least some of them, WM-IT for starters) are less “mature” in that respect. But, as Stu himself pointed out in some way and Seb remarked very well we can’t spoil “the decentralization that has made our movement so great”, you will not find anywhere else people with such a great commitment to the Wikimedia cause and with real knowledge of the problem-particularities of a given state-country-culture.
I don’t know how to say this graciously enough but we lived a couple of episodes in the past in which we felt that the Foundation was a little bit distant from our reality (as a non-United States organization), happily things improved in the last years.

So in my opinion this is only a matter of time, expertise and having good-clear-stable-transparent rules everybody agrees on to (a) become a chapter (b) participate in the fundrasing and so forth.

Then I can’t resist about commenting Delphine

“[…] the Wikimedia Foundation today acts both as an international coordinating body and a chapter. […] Which to some extent skews the equation.”

this is really a shot through the point. Apart from maintaining the servers and having a greater amount of resources to manage to some extent the foundation is not different from the chapters, nevertheless I see that some central control is necessary and a useful thing.

WMF should always remember this premise (common goals) and should stay really close to the chapters reality while not exaggerating with the conclusion (the control).



[1] I second the dislike expressed by Delphine about the words, which are utterly outdated, then I advice everybody to let Hans Rosling change your mindset with his dataset (you can watch more interesting videos on

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1 Response to Questions about Wikimedia Fundraising


Shadows In Wikipedia | simsa0's wordpress

Febbraio 22nd, 2013 at 19:44

[…] and content to a private foundation that has no oversight whatsoever? As the Wikimedia Foundation maintains all the servers that store Wikipedia, what happens if it simply shuts them down? Or starts to […]