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Wikimedia 2008/2009 Fundraiser Analysis I


The Wikimedia Foundation has started its annual fundraiser again on November 4th 2008. It is scheduled to run until January 15th 2009. I've written several articles on last year's so I've been asked a lot to comment on the current one. This year Wikimedia clearly state they want to raise $6 million. No more diffuse targets, "number of donors" weirdness as last year. Well done, Rand!

Wikipedia main page shows $3.289.684
The Wikimedia fundraiser contributions page shows $2.289.684 - the Sloan Foundation million less

Rand Montoya is Wikimedia's new "Head of Community Giving" and responsible for making this fundraiser much more professional than last year's. The contribution history page still is only good to spot the occasional clown donating JPY 1 (which makes Wikimedia loose money due to transaction fees). But Rand pointed me to two other pages giving a better report on current donations:

The meter banner on top of many wikipedia pages matches the data on these pages quite closely. It's just a million off :-). (see images above) That million is an annual donation by the Sloan foundation ($3 million over three years). All of it been accounted for in the donation year 2007 (see the Wikimedia Financials FAQ) but somehow it is added again in the meter but not in the statistics pages. BTW: The German Wikimedia chapter has a less fancy, but more complete and transparent reporting of donations. Not cut-off after seven days. All of a month on one page. Data ready for copy & paste into a spreadsheet. Benchmark.

So, is the $6 million target realistic? At day 29 of the 74 day campaign, $3.3m have been raised. Taking out the major donations totaling $1.7m (these are not stochastic enough to be estimated with any reasonable validity) and assuming that the Christmas tax rally at the end of the year roughly equals the start of fundraising spike, we can expect $2.6m to be raised from individual contributors. Adding back the major donations, the estimation for the total fundraiser comes in at $4.3m. That's plus any major donations still to be announced. I bet a guy with Rand's experience has another ace up his sleeve. One less elegant solution has been hinted at in the fundraiser FAQ already: "What happens if you do not reach your goal? [...] A second, smaller fundraiser may be scheduled for March."

Wikimedia Fundraiser 2007/2008 Report published by Wikimedia Foundation


Eric Möller has published his report on the Wikimedia 2007/2008 fundraiser. I found it because he hotlinked one of the images that I created for my detailed analysis. His report lists some interesting new information:

  • Wikimedia got $50,000 in Google stock from another - yet again - anonymous donor.
  • The Wikimedia chapters (local organisation units e.g. in Germany or France) have collected nearly $250,000 in their fundraisers (mostly in Germany). The Germans buy stuff of their own from the money. Only the Swiss donated 25% of their raised budget back to Wikimedia foundation. Eric explains: "The lack of a clear understanding between chapters and the Foundation about the role and responsibilities of the different entities in the fundraising process is an additional impediment. For example: Should chapters share fundraising revenue with the Foundation, and if so, how? [..] The German chapter has an informal agreement with the Foundation to invest half of its fundraising revenue in ways directly benefiting WMF projects."
  • Eric says it was not intended to raise the full $4.6m. Somehow people just mis-interpreted the fundraiser that way: "The publication of the planned spending was misunderstood by some to indicate that the fundraiser's goal was to raise 4.6 million dollars. [...] Inquiries related to the actual financial target of the fundraiser were less common, probably in large part due to the publication of the Foundation's planned spending."

The report is extremly low on self-criticism. There is no insight visable that not giving a financial target was a major bummer or that the general intransparency, unprofessional communication and amateurish reporting on financial issues was keeping many people from donating. Nothing about missing the 100,000 donors target, either. There is not a word on the webcomics deletion issues and the subsequent call by the webcomics community to boycot the fundraiser or the scandal around hiring a convicted felon as COO because of unprofessional HR work. Not a word on the ridiculous "dinner with Jimmy Wales" for people donating $25,000. Nobody even donated $10,001.

"Also, given that most of the viewers of the planned spending distribution had no financial background, the level of explanations given was probably not sufficient." Come on, Eric, the people with financial background are not even considering the published material as "planning".

And next time, please link a blog entry and not some graphics. Criticism is healthy. Let people develop an opinion of their own. Try putting a "public criticism" section into your report. It will definitely add to the report's credibility.


03.02.08: Eric has ammended information from the Italian chapter. They raised around $3,000 and forwarded it all to Wikimedia foundation.

Wikimedia Fundraiser Follow-up


The Wikimedia fundraiser has generated a few interesting posts and received further analysis today:

  • Erik Möller sent a wrap-up email stating that the fundraiser has also gained "a single unrestricted $500K donation by an anonymous donor". Him quoting that the Fundraiser "raised altogether more
    than 2 million dollars" may also explain why the fundraiser ran two days longer. "More than two million" just sounds so much better than "nearly two million"... :-)
  • He also explains "Last month, Sue & I took a first tour through the Silicon Valley, and with the help of one of Jimmy's friends [ed: Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners], we've been able to meet with a number of key people in the area who could make major contributions to the Foundation. We're planning a dinner with potential major donors and rainmakers next month, and we hope to also form some stable group or committee of influential & networked people who can help us raise major contributions.

    Our general process with these individuals has been to give them a standard presentation about the past & present, and a highly tentative view of the future of the organization, to answer any questions they have, and to then follow-up and cultivate the relationships further. What we seek is preferably completely unrestricted, philanthropic seed funding as we set up headquarters in San Francisco.

    In addition to these meetings, we've also had some first exploratory discussions with Sun Microsystems about developing some kind of partnership(s) - this is still very provisional, and we'll follow up in the next month." as a result to a leaked confidential Powerpoint presentation from the mentioned Sun meeting.

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Follow-up"

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis III


The official Wikimedia fundraiser had been extended into January, 3rd 2008, has been kept up on the 4th and is kind of still running. The site notice has been trimmed down to a thank you message but still requests further donations, which are also continuously added to the official daily funds list and running totals as of the press time of this article.

I've presented two interim analysis

Today, let's wrap up the fundraiser until the second official close date 03.01.08:

From 22.10.07 until 03.01.08 43,837 people have contributed a total of $1,467,446 (US) according to Wikimedia's own stats (see the previous two articles mentioned above for a discussion of their reporting scheme).

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis III"

Wikimedia Fundraiser continues past extended deadline


The Wikimedia fundraiser was scheduled to end yesterday, 03.01.08, after the deadline had already been extended. The donations headers and pages are still up and people have contributed similar amounts today compared to yesterday, so Wikimedia is approaching 1.5m$ with funds coming in at 17,880$/day (last 10 day average) up from the $12,400 seen right before Christmas.

Wikimedia Fundraiser continues past deadline

There is no communication from Wikimedia when the fundraiser will be ending now. The FAQ still says yesterday and questions on the talk pages are currently unanswered.

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis II


Yesterday, 22.12.2007, the initial deadline for the Wikimedia fundraiser ran out.

It has been extended to 03.01.2008 but it's a good time to assess the results so far as
yesterday ends the initially planned duration of the fundraiser.
As I documented in the original Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis article, the
Wikimedia Foundation hoped to raise up to $4.611m. Measuring the success of the fundraiser
was conducted through a meter showing the number of people that donated rather than
the accumulated total donations, like in previous years. The target seemed to be set at 100,000
people donating. That was later confirmed.
The estimations from the first two weeks of fundraising up to 03.11.07 were: $1.68m to be raised from 60,500 people.
That was well below the (unofficial) target of $4.611m and the (official) 100,000 donors goal.

So, where are we after the initially planned two months of fundraising have been completed?

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis II"

Wikimedia Fundraiser changes progress meter


The Wikimedia foundation has just changed the progress meter to track the number of donors.

Now every icon seems to represent a 5,000 people increment. So the 100,000 donors target looks still set. Well, actually 95,001 would now fill the last icon on the meter.

To achieve this Wikimedia still needs to accelerate the donors/day according to my analysis from yesterday. At the current 1,000 donors/day, they'll "only" receive around 60,500 individual donations. The running total donors figure is now displayed in text. This is pretty advantageous as the graphical representation need to be updated only once another 5,000 people have contributed. The new meter is also language neutral, so it does not need to be updated for each language individually anymore. The Text below the meter ("You can help Wikimedia change the world!") is HTML too, so this can be easily localized. All in all, well done!

This is what it looks like on the English Wikimedia home page now:

Wikimedia fund raiser meter, new version, English Wikipedia Homepage 04.11.07

The German version of Wikipedia currently still displays the old graph:

Wikimedia fund raiser meter, old version, German Wikipedia Homepage 04.11.07

There is also a change in the individual donations listing visible:

The people contributing $0.01 seem to have vanished. Perhaps the interface to Paypal and Moneybookers has a minimum set to $1.00 now. This will shift the average donation upwards, but will also account for fewer donors. The trolls at least were good to be counted...

Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis


The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation behind Wikipedia, is running their annual fund raiser since October 22nd. There have been numerous complaints that the Wikimedia Foundation did not name a target sum to be achieved or is in other way acting intransparent. There may be good reasons for that:

  • The last fund raiser was "tough" to get through already and raised about one million dollars with $20 average contribution as to what Bruno Giussani reported from Lift '07.
  • The foundation grew from $56,666 turn-over in it's fiscal year 2003/2004 to $283,487 (2004/2005) and $1,066,785 (2005/2006). The 2006/2007 figures are still not reported, but it's safe to estimate that the 4x increase of the previous year has slowed down a bit.(see Updates section below) See for the scarce details.
  • The budget planning for fiscal year 2007/2008 totals $4.611m. The break-down is very rough and little effort is spent to explain the figures to the general public.
  • The suggested donations have been set high at $200 to $40 with marketdroid speak to sell that:
    "If you and 99 other people donate .. $200 – We can ...".
  • It's not very likely a target in the range of the planned budget can be achieved from Joe, Dick and Harry's contributions. Wikimedia may need Larry, Sergey or Mark here. (I'll leave that without links for you to think about :-))

So - to make the best of this - and continue being unnecessarily intransparent, Wikimedia (cough Jimmy Wales, cough) has decided to only list the number of donors as the "progress report".

Their "meter" currently looks like this:

Wikimedia fund raising meter as displayed 03.11.07 around 22:00

You can easily analyse the scale to find that Wikimedia hopes 100.000 people will contribute.

Continue reading "Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis"