Grants:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round2/Wikimedia Foundation/Proposal form

Wikimedia Foundation received a funds allocation in the amount of NA (the FDC did not recommend a dollar amount for this proposal) in 2013-2014 Round 2. This funds allocation was recommended by the Funds Dissemination Committee on 24 May 2014 and approved by the WMF Board of Trustees on 28 June 2014.

Basic information


Overview of grant request

1. In order to support community review please provide a brief summary description of your organization's upcoming annual plan, including focus areas and goals.

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to participate in the FDC process, and we appreciate all input on this proposal. This submission does not represent the final 2014-15 Wikimedia Foundation plan, which will be completed over the next several months and approved by the WMF Board of Trustees in June. This is an in-progress early version of the plan, being published now as part of the FDC process so that the WMF can get community and FDC member input to inform the plan as it's revised and refined. The 2014-15 fiscal year is the fifth year of our five-year strategic plan, and it’s a year of great promise and transition as we expand Wikipedia in key directions. Four crucial initiatives: 1) Infrastructure: keeping Wikimedia’s sites and services operating at a high level and supporting Wikimedia’s developer community; 2) Mobile: growing contributions and readership on mobile devices; 3) Editor Engagement: growing and diversifying contributors to Wikimedia projects; and 4) Nontechnical Movement Support: emphasizing nontechnical movement support through grants, evaluation, legal support and communications. These initiatives are designed to expand the numbers of readers and contributors; to make it easier to contribute from any device, especially mobile; to ensure that our sites are robust enough to meet the additional traffic we expect; and to continue supporting innovation at both the Wikimedia Foundation and in the greater Wikimedia movement. We’re expanding projects that are already working well. We want them to work better still. We believe they will, and that WMF -- and the movement -- will be stronger because of what we’ll do in the year ahead.

2. What is your organization's proposed rate of growth in budget since last year? Please explain your organization's rationale if your proposed budget will increase this year.

At this point in the development of the plan, we are proposing to grow the annual budget from $50 million in FY 2013-14 to $60 million in FY 2014-15. This represents a growth rate of 20 percent. A portion of the proposed growth is in response to normal cost of living increases. We are also expanding our product and engineering teams to implement our mobile strategy, in response to the dramatic increase in mobile traffic we are seeing throughout the world. This is relatively consistent with how WMF has been growing over the last two years.

Note the FDC Framework funding guidelines on the rate of growth of year-over-year FDC allocations. These guidelines relate not to an organization's overall budget growth, but rather to movement resources (that is, what the organization received through Annual Plan Grants through the FDC process or what the organization retained via payment processing in the prior funding cycle).

Contact information


Table 1

Organization information Legal name of organization Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
organization's fiscal year (mm/dd–mm/dd) 07/01-06/30
12 month timeframe* of funds currently requested (mm/dd/yy–mm/dd/yy) 07/01/14-06/30/15
Contact information (primary) Primary contact name Lisa Seitz Gruwell
Primary contact position in organization Chief Revenue Officer
Primary contact username User: lgruwell
Primary contact email
Contact information (secondary) Secondary contact name Jonathan Curiel
Secondary contact position in organization Development Communications Manager
Secondary contact username User: Jcuriel
Secondary contact email

*Timeframe should ideally be for a 12 month period that begins after the FDC decision.

Amount requested


Table 2

Currency requested: 1

Currency requested is defined as the currency in which you wish to receive funds (e.g., EUR, GBP, INR). Note that the FDC makes grants in local currency when possible.

Exchange rate used (currency requested to $US): 2

Please use on March 1 2014 to determine the exchange rate. Please use five decimal points.
Currency requested US$
Total annual expenses of organization $60,064,000 $60,064,000
Amount proposed to the FDC for the coming year's annual plan n/a n/a
Amount to be raised from non-FDC sources n/a n/a
If applicable, amount of FDC funds allocated to organization last year $4,459,000 $4,459,000

Table 2 details:

Community engagement


This section provides the FDC an overview of your organization's work with your members, with volunteers, with the communities you serve, and with Wikimedia's online projects.

1. How many members does your organization have, and what is the role of members (e.g., attendance at events, paying dues)?

The Wikimedia Foundation is not a membership organization. That said, millions of people around the world are involved with the Wikimedia movement, and they interact with the Wikimedia Foundation in a number of ways. The Wikimedia projects, which are hosted and supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, are read by more than half-a-billion people around the world every month. Last fiscal year, more than two million people around the world donated money to Wikimedia through the Wikimedia Foundation. About 80,000 people around the world edit the projects every month, and the Wikimedia Foundation supports them in a variety of ways. (More on these people below.)

The role of each reader and each contributor is paramount to the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to bring the sum of all human knowledge to everyone around the world in their own language. Each new reader brings us another step toward that goal. And each new donor does too, by ensuring that the Wikimedia Foundation has the resources to continue expanding Wikipedia to new audiences around the world.

2. How many volunteers are engaged with your organization’s work? And how are volunteers engaged with your organization’s work?

In January 2014, 81,821 volunteer contributors made five or more edits on Wikimedia’s projects, including 76,273 who made five or more edits on Wikipedia. Called “active Wikimedians” and “active Wikipedians,” these contributors are invaluable. They write and edit, add images, conduct various administrative tasks, and participate in a myriad of other ways. The Wikimedia Foundation supports these people by keeping the Wikimedia sites and services functioning, including developing and maintaining the infrastructure for participation. For example, in July 2013 we introduced the ability to edit Wikipedia from mobile phones and tablets.

Additionally, volunteers around the world regularly contribute code to MediaWiki, including at our hackathons and through structured programs such as Google Summer of Code. Our Global Education Program works with hundreds of professors and students around the world to add material to Wikipedia articles, improving their quality. Our Communications Department works with media volunteers around the world to handle media inquiries. Our Grantmaking Department works with volunteer bodies, including the FDC and the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC), to fund hundreds of volunteer-driven activities such as the staging of conferences and outreach events. The Wikimedia Foundation hosts multiple mailing lists for volunteers interested in discussing issues like advocacy and gender that are relevant to the Wikimedia movement.

3. How do you know what the members of the community/communities your organization serves (including chapter members and broader online volunteers) need and want? How does this influence your strategic planning and decision-making?

The Wikimedia Foundation employs multiple mechanisms to understand what the Wikimedia projects' readers and editors need and want. We use this information to inform our own work, and also share it publicly so it can be used by others. This is the core work of the Wikimedia Foundation's Analytics team, which uses quantitative and qualitative strategies, exploratory analyses, controlled experimentation, and statistical modeling to help the Wikimedia movement better understand editors and readers. (One example is the 2013 project that investigated newcomer survival models.) The Analytics team is also responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure, tools and datasets, including Wikistats, which provides metrics and data visualizations for the 800+ Wikimedia projects; Wikimetrics, which provides participation metrics for program leaders such as Wikimedia chapters; the Report Card, which sets out an easy-to-understand summary of key metrics; Wikipedia Zero dashboards, which provide usage information for our partnerships with mobile carriers; Limn, a general purpose dashboarding tool; and Logging Infrastructure, which is software to collect and aggregate readership and participation data. Additionally: beginning in 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation began conducting regular Editor Surveys that help us understand editor demographics, attitudes and behaviors worldwide. Our first was conducted in 22 languages and generated 5,073 responses from editors all over the world. A follow-up six months later was conducted in 20 languages and received 6,560 responses from editors in 20 countries. Our third, in November 2012, was conducted in 17 languages, with 17,000+ responses.

Additionally, during 2013-14, the Foundation's Product Development team began a program called Roundtables that employs small group discussions between the Wikipedia community and the Foundation to support the development of new Wikipedia features. We have held five roundtables in the past year, with our first one improving Wikipedia's editor engagement tools. This past year, we also hired four liaisons to work with community members, initially to support the introduction of the VisualEditor. To get feedback on new extensions to MediaWiki and other new additions that improve Wikipedia, WMF regularly conducts user-testing with editors and prospective editors, as we’ve been doing during the introduction of Flow, our wiki discussion system. Our Legal Department consults extensively with readers and editors as it builds or updates global site policies affecting users, such as our new privacy policy. Through Requests for Comment, community members around the world solicit the Wikimedia Foundation to make changes related to Wikipedia and to take action on behalf of the Wikimedia movement, as happened in 2012 when we were asked to support the community in opposing two proposed 2012 U.S. laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Additionally, the Wikimedia Foundation has multiple general channels that give readers and editors direct opportunities to engage with us. People are welcome to participate in casual Internet Relay Chats or scheduled IRC "office hours" at , post input on , ask questions at , and reach our Board of Trustees, at . And, staff are individually accessible by e-mail, user talkpages and other methods. Through all these avenues, we receive lots of input about community member wants and needs, which helps to inform how we develop the site interface, functionality, policies, and so on. All of these inputs feed directly into our planning and decision-making, particularly in the Product Department, where it drives the development of the Product Roadmap.

4. Does your organization's program work support a particular Wikimedia project or projects, and if so, which particular project or projects does your work support?

The Wikimedia Foundation's scope is global and multilingual. We support all Wikimedia movement projects and all language versions.

Reflection on past programs and activities


1. Please give at least three examples of successful programs or activities that your organization has completed, and explain why they were successful. You may also provide links to information about these programs and activities, when available.

Platform engineering and technical operations: The Wikimedia Foundation provides the essential infrastructure that keeps the fifth-largest website in the world running efficiently. We purchase, manage, and maintain the servers that respond to the tens of billions of page requests that the Wikimedia projects receive every month, and these servers are centralized at our data centers, including our new main data center in Ashburn, Virginia, which we opened in 2011. Our technology team, meanwhile, maintains and improves the software that makes Wikipedia function for our 500 million readers, no matter what platform readers are using. Our mobile platform, for example, has experienced a dramatic increase in pageviews since we upgraded it in 2011, with pageviews going from four percent of the total to about 20 percent.

Because we have a solid technical infrastructure, we can support the Wikimedia projects' continued growth in content and growth in readers. In 2013, for instance, we added a caching center on the West Coast to better distribute audience load, and we made improvements to our Varnish cache invalidation code, which increased the efficiency of our servers. These developments give the Wikimedia Foundation more safeguards and more capacity to serve our readers, and have increased the efficiency of our websites. For 99.8 percent of our readers, the uptime is about 99.9 percent. For editors, who comprise the remaining 0.2 percent of users, the uptime is about 99.73 percent. Detailed efficiency rates are noted at . Each year, we outline a detailed list of projects to be completed for site operations, software upgrades, and other platform engineering and technical operations. The latest outline is at .

Mobile: Internet users are increasingly experiencing the internet through their phones and tablets rather than desktops and laptops. That's why the Wikimedia Foundation has rolled out a series of projects that are increasing readership and interaction from mobile devices. In 2013, for example, we introduced mobile editing. For the first time, anyone who reads Wikipedia on a mobile phone can edit and thousands of people now contribute this way every month. In 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation started Wikipedia Zero to reach the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who have mobile phones but who cannot use them to read Wikipedia because data charges are too high. The Wikipedia Zero Program is a series of partnerships with mobile operators in developing countries, in which the operators agree to waive data charges for reading Wikipedia. Wikipedia Zero has been implemented so far in 23 countries (Uganda, Tunisia, Malaysia, Niger, Kenya, Cameroon, Montenegro, Ivory Coast, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Jordan, Bangladesh, and South Africa), and is now generating more than 40 million pageviews monthly. In October 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation launched our first USSD/SMS pilot project to give basic feature-phone users access to Wikipedia. The project in Nairobi, Kenya -- in association with Airtel Kenya and the Praekelt Foundation, a South African nonprofit with expertise in open source, scalable mobile technologies -- attracted more than 50,000 users, who were able to query Wikipedia via a realtime dialogue of free text and multiple choice answers. Additionally, our engineering team has created a series of Wikipedia apps. In 2012, for example, the Wikimedia Foundation released an app for Android and iOS that let photographers easily add images to Wikimedia Commons, the Wikimedia Foundation’s media repository. Through projects like the VisualEditor, mobile watchlists, Nearby, and Notifications, our mobile team is building new functionality for mobile and gaining parity with the desktop version where appropriate. All these projects are possible because we initiated a major upgrade of our mobile platform in 2011, changing it from a simple read-only gateway to a robust platform that enables straightforward development of new features. MobileFrontend is the piece of MediaWiki that controls reflow of HTML & CSS to make our web pages mobile appropriate. Since the introduction of MobileFrontend in September 2011, mobile page views have gone from 887 million to 4.81 billion -- a 442 percent increase. Mobile pageviews are now 20 percent of all pageviews, where in 2011 they were just four percent.

Global Education Project: What started as a small pilot in the United States in 2010 has turned into a worldwide movement with educational efforts underway in more than 60 countries.

Four years ago, when we saw educators experimenting with Wikipedia assignments in their classrooms, we created the Wikipedia Education Program (then known as the Public Policy Initiative, or PPI) as a way to encourage and support the use of Wikipedia in higher education. We collaborated with Wikipedians, non-Wikipedians, librarians, teaching and learning staff, and educators to successfully use Wikipedia as a tool for teaching. In the process, we learned that not only do students better their writing skills as contributors of quality content to Wikipedia articles, they also get a solid education in knowledge creation, collaboration, media literacy, critical thinking, research skills, and more.

To date, we've introduced more than 7,000 students to editing Wikipedia as part of their coursework, and we've had a significant, meaningful impact on the quantity and quality of Wikipedia articles, especially on the English and Arabic Wikipedias.

  • English Wikipedia (7 terms): 12M words, 55M bytes, the equivalent of 36,600 printed pages and 73 reams of paper
  • Arab World (4 terms): 2.6M words, 24M bytes, the equivalent of 8,000 printed pages and 16 reams of paper
  • High quality content: research shows student articles improved 88 percent.

From the beginning, the Wikipedia Education Program showed great promise in significantly addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia. Sixty-one percent of the students participating in the U.S./Canada program are women and almost 88 percent of the contributors in the Arab world education program are women, including the first female administrator on the Arabic Wikipedia.

Additionally, we established educational program operations in university settings and developed a significant support structure for the program. We created brochures, software, online trainings, and other support materials that enable programs worldwide to start and scale quickly. Many of these materials have been translated into several languages, including Arabic, Armenian, Catalan, Valencian Catalan, British English, French, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, and Swedish. We worked with the Technology Team to create the Education Program MediaWiki extension, which enables better tracking of student work, improved insight into student activities, and more transparency for the community. The extension is now enabled on English, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Macedonian, Spanish, Persian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Czech Wikipedias and the German Wikiversity. The WMF Growth Team adopted the Education Extension and will expand its capabilities over time to address the requests of other programs working to attract new contributors.

In 2013-14, we completed our transition away from running the U.S. & Canada program and are now focused on expanding the impact and reach of education programs and initiatives worldwide. In an effort to scale the Wikipedia Education Program, we laid the foundation for an education cooperative that will help to support and mentor programs worldwide. We’ll continue to leverage our significant program experience in facilitating worldwide education initiatives as well as seek opportunities to explore potential partnerships with education program leaders and organizations throughout the world. And we’ll continue to encourage program growth worldwide and share best practices.

2. What are the programs or activities that did not work for your organization in the past? What did you learn from those experiences? What changes were made after learning from these experiences?

Catalyst Projects: In 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation began what we called "catalyst projects" to grow Wikipedia readership in India, Brazil, and Arab countries -- all developing countries with growing numbers of people who are accessing the Internet. Our strategy was to invest in geographies, particularly India, Brazil, and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA), where there was potential to recruit large numbers of new editors, by supporting editor recruitment teams in those geographies. However, as originally structured, the catalyst projects were administratively very burdensome on the Wikimedia Foundation, we were unable to support them as fully as we wish we could have, and it would never have been possible to support them at scale (meaning, dozens of countries). We came to believe that it would be more effective to partner with like-minded nonprofits that have a track record of accomplishment in the countries where we seek readership growth. We are now partnering in India with the Centre for Internet and Society, and in Brazil with Ação Educativa, both under two-year grants. In New Delhi, India, the Centre for Internet and Society officially began its Wikimedia Foundation grant in September 2012 ­­-- one year after the Wikimedia Foundation ended its Education Program Pune Pilot Project in India (see below). And in Brazil, Ação Educativa began its grant in January 2014. The Centre for Internet and Society is initiating a cross-­section of projects designed to increase Indic-­language editors and Indic­-language contributions, including outreach to university students through Education Program classes, holding workshops, holding community meet­ups, supporting hackathons, and other efforts. During the first ­year of our partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society, many Indic-­language Wikipedias increased by number of editors and by number of readers. By readership growth, for example, Punjabi, Assamese and Odia Wikipedias increased by 82 percent, 59 percent, and 37 percent respectively, while Malayalam Wikipedia became the first Indian language Wikipedia to reach 100 active editors. The Centre for Internet and Society has developed a visualization project that makes it easier to see the progress in new articles and editors --­­ an example of innovation that is arising from our new partnerships.

Visual Editor Launch: The VisualEditor, intended to replace Wikipedia’s complex editing interface with a more intuitive and user-friendly experience, is the Wikimedia Foundation's most significant and ambitious technological undertaking to date. Multiple user tests by the Wikimedia Foundation have shown conclusively that wiki markup is considered pointlessly difficult by today's standards: the VisualEditor Project is designed to remove that barrier to new editors. We introduced the VisualEditor in the 2012­-13 fiscal year as a prototype, and we planned for wide adoption by the movement when it launched in beta in July 2013. The roll-out went fine and achieved community acceptance on some language versions (by now, it is live in the default user interface on 165 Wikipedias), but on others we faced considerable community opposition, which we attribute to three factors specific to VisualEditor: 1) at launch, VisualEditor made extremely large pages unacceptably slow to load; 2) at launch, bugs in VisualEditor meant editors risked losing work or having pages perform in surprising ways; and 3) at launch, VisualEditor was missing some key functionality. From this experience, we learned that technological changes succeed best when they are rolled out slowly and incrementally. We should have rolled out VisualEditor over many months, gradually increasing performance, fixing bugs, and adding functionality as we got feedback from users. We also learned that major changes to the interface require significant communications and community liaison resources, and as a result we are planning to launch a Community Engagement team, which will be devoted to gathering end-user feedback on projects while they are being conceptualized and developed. The lessons we learned in the VisualEditor rollout also directly affected how we are developing and introducing our next major project, Flow, a discussion and collaboration system for all Wikimedia projects that will replace the talk page system. Instead of developing it to the greatest extent possible and then pushing it to wide release, we will be introducing Flow in a series of tiny but significant stages. We introduced Flow in an early test phase in April 2013, and in December 2013 and January 2014 we introduced it as a prototype on, and in two small editing projects on the English Wikipedia: WikiProject Hampshire and WikiProject Breakfast. Flow won’t be fully introduced as an operational system for another year.

Wikipedia Education Program in India: In 2011, after the Wikipedia Education Program’s first year, we expanded it to three universities in Pune, India. Between February and November 2011, the Pune pilot involved 1,014 students spanning 24 courses. During the pilot, nearly half of the student participants posted material that violated copyright restrictions. So on November 3, 2011, after unsuccessful attempts to stem the flow of copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation shut down the program. Afterwards, we commissioned a veteran analyst to independently investigate, and she reported that the professors in the project had played a very small role: rather than guiding, tracking, evaluating, and grading their students' work as occurred, for example, in the parallel projects in other countries, most professors in Pune delegated those functions to volunteers. With lessons learned from the Pune pilot, in Spring 2012 the Wikimedia Foundation started two much smaller pilots, in Egypt and Brazil, where the Foundation worked much more closely with the professors. Neither the Egyptian nor the Brazilian pilot had significant problems and both resulted in substantial additions to their language version, Egypt particularly. By the end of the 2012-13 academic year, students in Egypt contributed 15 million bytes of material to the Arabic Wikipedia.


Link table

Completed fiscal year Current year Upcoming year
Link to current mission statement of the organization Not required. Mission statement Not required.
Link to annual plan, including a budget. Wikimedia Foundation plan 2012-13 Wikimedia Foundation plan 2013-14 Not yet available
Links to community discussions around each annual plan. not yet available
Link to annual report, including a financial report. Not required. Not required.
Links to relevant strategic planning documents. 2012-13 Wikimedia Foundation plan 2013-2014 WMF plan as published Wikimedia movement strategic plan summary

Link table details, if necessary:

Upcoming year's annual plan: strengths, opportunities and threats

1. What organizational strengths enable your organization's plan (e.g., leadership, program planning and goal-setting, program expertise, experience with programs, governance structure)?

Our Board of Trustees is international in scope, with four members in Europe, three in North America, two in South America, and one in India. The majority of Board members are long-time members of the Wikimedia community, and half are selected through a community process. Our Board as a whole has significant experience in the free culture movement and other global community work, and individual Board members have deep subject-matter expertise in aspects of nonprofit governance, technology, education, finance, and movement development and advocacy.

On the staff side, we are led by a C-level team with deep knowledge of the Wikimedia projects and decades of experience in fields such as engineering and product development, community development, media and editorial leadership, law, advocacy, and nonprofit administration. Sue Gardner has been the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director for seven years and before that was a long-time public servant with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where in her last position she ran CBC.CA, Canada's most popular news site. Erik Möller, Wikimedia’s Deputy Director and Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, was instrumental in the founding of Wikimedia Commons, is a former member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, and is a longtime Wikipedian and MediaWiki code contributor -- the German-born Möller started editing Wikipedia shortly after the project was founded, and has since made over 30,000 edits on Wikimedia wikis and over 300 commits to the MediaWiki codebase. General Counsel Geoff Brigham joined the Wikimedia Foundation in 2011 with 25 years of experience practicing law, including as deputy general counsel and vice-president at eBay, as an appellate attorney for the Department of Justice, and as a liaison between the U.S. Department of Justice and the French Ministry of Justice with offices in the U.S. Embassy in Paris and the French Ministry of Justice. Chief of Finance and Administration Garfield Byrd has 24 years accounting and finance experience in both the nonprofit and private sectors, including 12 years as Chief Financial Officer for the New Teacher Center, the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and the Pacific School of Religion. Anasuya Sengupta, Wikimedia’s Senior Director of Grantmaking, originally from India, was formerly the regional program director for Asia and Oceania at the Global Fund for Women, one of the world's largest grant-making organizations exclusively for women's human rights. Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Seitz Gruwell has been working in civic-minded enterprises for over 14 years, and led a Silicon Valley grantmaking foundation and social technology incubator. Chief Talent and Culture Officer Gayle Karen Young has an extensive organizational consulting background with multiple nonprofit and corporate clients.

Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation sets clearly defined goals for our projects, outlined in an Annual Plan that looks ahead and also reviews exactly what happened in the previous year. The current Annual Plan is here: . Besides this yearly guideline, each department and major project has a road map that lays out specific goals and deliverables, as in this road map for the foundation’s engineering department: . On the macro level, the Wikimedia Foundation released a five-year strategic plan in 2011 that set broad, definable priorities for the Foundation in the areas of infrastructure, readership reach, editor retention and recruitment, quality assessment, innovation, and revenue.

We consider our transparency one of our greatest strengths, because transparency enables open feedback loops that improve effectiveness. The Wikimedia Foundation prides itself on being one of the world’s most transparent nonprofits, and our commitment to transparency is embedded in everything we do. The majority of our work is conducted or documented on public wikis. Our monthly metrics meetings -- where the staff covers Wikimedia developments in engineering, fundraising, grantmaking, programs, legal, community advocacy, communications, and other areas -- are streamed live and permanently available online. On our site we publish our annual plans and annual reports, audited and unaudited financial statements, the Form 990, the minutes of all Board meetings, monthly activities and performance reports, as well as many other materials. Many are translated into multiple languages, and often they are accompanied by detailed FAQs. Our transparency has been lauded by The Global Journal, a Geneva publication that covers issues of global governance and ranked us the world’s top NGO in 2012, putting us atop a long list of distinguished NGOs that included Oxfam, the International Rescue Committee, and Care International. The Global Journal judged its list of top 100 NGOs, which it first narrowed down to 1,000, by such gauges as an NGO's transparency and accountability, innovation, impact, effectiveness, strategic and financial management, efficiency, sustainability, and peer review of its operations. The Wikimedia Foundation, said The Global Journal in January 2013, “represents a path-breaking example of what an NGO can achieve in the Internet era. . . . The organization continues, through an innovative application of new technologies, to have a deep and abiding impact on the lives of millions around the world.”

2. What external opportunities enable your organization's plan (e.g., socio-political contexts, community engagement, ability to raise external funds)?

The Wikimedia Foundation's biggest external opportunity is the goodwill of the hundreds of millions of people who use the Wikimedia projects, act as their advocates and supporters, and fund them. Every year, the Wikimedia Foundation has raised more money than the previous year, and from more individual donors. More than 2 million people donated money in the last fiscal year. We have fine-tuned what works -- fine-tuned the wording of the online banners that ask readers to contribute, fine-tuned the size and design of those banners -- and that has both increased the total amount of donations and decreased the time that readers see those banners. In 2013, Foundation banners raised approximately $32 million.

The phenomenal growth of mobile phones is allowing us to reach more people than ever, especially in the Global South, as we’ve broadened the ability to read and contribute to Wikipedia on mobile devices. About 28 percent of Wikipedia’s pageviews now come from the Global South, a seven-percent increase in three years.

We are also part of a global community of people who support and advocate for free knowledge, free culture, free software, and the free and open internet. We’re a presence at such conferences as FOSDEM, the annual open source convention in Brussels, Belgium; PyCon, the annual gathering for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language; RightsCon, the annual conference where leaders in technology, politics, and journalism brainstorm about rights issues related to information, expression, education, privacy and other key issues; and News Foo, where leaders from media, technology, and public policy address key issues related to news and information. We meet regularly with people from Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and other like-minded organizations, and we frequently serve on their boards or advisory committees. We also host meet-ups to strategize about efforts like the one to free imprisoned Syrian free culture activist Bassel Khartabil. We are connected around the world with organizations that share our values and our goals.

3. What are the risks or threats that could prevent your organization from achieving your proposed annual plan (e.g., socio-political contexts, staff or board transitions or turnover, lack of community engagement, extraordinary circumstances, lawsuits, lack of ability to raise funds)? How will you minimize these risks and threats?

Before every fiscal year begins on July 1, the Wikimedia Foundation publishes an Annual Plan that looks ahead to the coming year and analyzes the risks and opportunities we will face (last year's is here). We have identified the following series of potential risks that could impact our ability to carry out our Annual Plan, as well as a summary of the nature of the risks, and a strategic response for how to manage those risks. Identification of these potential risks is important to ensure proper annual planning and strategic thinking. That said, as we presently understand them, we believe these risks are manageable and properly considered in our plan.

The potential risks and responses are set out under three categories below:

Community/Product, Environmental, and Organizational


Change aversion: We know that making Wikimedia projects a welcoming environment for new users requires radically overhauling the user experience on all levels. Doing so within a living, breathing community context is challenging and can cause projects to be delayed or derailed, especially when parts of communities become entrenched with status quo practices and products. As history shows, such entrenchment could result in an ossified platform that does not welcome new editors and contributors. Also, if WMF does not communicate effectively in advance of expected changes, their benefits, and the realistic expectations in rolling out complicated product, community reaction could be negative, further impeding or delaying beneficial innovation.

  • Response: We have put increasing emphasis on the development of the community engagement function at WMF, such as embedding community liaisons into the lifecycle of product development. In 2014-15, all key initiatives will have liaison support. We have also built, and will continue to develop, frameworks such as BetaFeatures and GuidedTours to aid in the gentle introduction and ramp-up of new site functionality. We will continue to put a priority on work that is important but does not usually result in community resistance - such as mobile and improving the onboarding experience of new editors - in addition to areas that our existing community may have stronger opinions about. We expect that the liaisons will help ensure trust and allow most of our community to accept the need for change and innovation to ensure the best ways of creating and delivering free information in a highly dynamic online world. Yet there will be loud voices who disagree, and we will need to simply work with those points of view while moving forward to set us up better for the future.

Technical complexity: Building large-scale, high-performance features that cover the breadth of complexity found in our projects (content, user-created scripts, tools and templates, and community processes) is not an easy task. Such efforts may take more time than expected, and may force trade-off decisions that are unpopular with our community.

  • Response: Operating in a context of high complexity necessitates understanding the potential impact of a change early. WMF has dramatically reduced the elapsed time between code being developed and code running on our production cluster, and we will continue to do so as part of continuous optimization of the development, deployment and testing processes, with significant focus on automation. In 2014-15, we will also likely need to begin engaging with the community regarding technical debt in community-created code such as templates and gadgets, especially insofar as it directly impacts our ability to modernize the user experience.

Wikimedia's ability to implement positive change could be constrained by lack or loss of community goodwill towards the Wikimedia Foundation. Our community has a large, diverse, and occasionally competing set of needs, so it can be difficult to respond to all of our community's expectations. When we release high-visibility products, policies, or other initiatives, we risk damaging our goodwill with the community if we do not build in notice and consultation processes or do not respond to their feedback. The growth of our projects depends on the community's willingness to support our work and partner with us.

Increased transparency and intensive interaction with the community may not always generate more goodwill and trust, and we continue to need to negotiate significant changes that affect our users. In some cases, the needs of different users may be irreconcilable. We also face a communication challenge, ensuring that we are responsive to the needs of our wider community, including those speaking our 287 languages, instead of only a small number of vocal users.

  • Response: During 2013-14, the Wikimedia Foundation engaged in a number of successful initiatives to forge a close working relationship with the community and to increase transparency, goodwill and collaboration. Efforts in 2014-15 are expected to continue to build on these strategic responses. Past examples include:
    • On-wiki community consultations, which covered areas such as the Privacy Policy and the Trademark Policy. The discussions frequently totalled hundreds of thousands of words, and allowed the Foundation to consult with the community and answer difficult questions about our priorities. A proposed amendment to the Terms of Use on undisclosed paid editing has become one of our largest consultations: within one week, the discussion had 170,000+ words from 1,000+ users. These community consultations allow the Foundation to improve our decisions and policies through transparent collaboration.
    • Transparency through the Wikimedia blog and regular reporting. The Foundation publishes detailed, monthly activity reports, hosts public metrics meetings with presentations on key initiatives, and publishes quarterly reviews of high priority WMF initiatives. These transparency initiatives allow our community to see the Foundation's current activities and plans. The Wikimedia blog includes regular updates on activities in the Wikimedia movement, totaling 207 posts in July 2013 - January 2014, including 45 posts in multiple languages.
    • Site visits. The Chief of Finance and Administration and head of Grantmaking piloted site visits to Wikimedia organisations and communities around the world to assist on matters ranging from grantmaking, financial reviews, and discussion of best governance practices. We feel these visits helped build trust, strategic clarity, and improved communications.
    • Legal protection of the community and our values. We continue to help facilitate the defense of users and functionaries when appropriate, and win matters that are properly perceived as protecting the community. For example, the Foundation is supporting a Greek Wikipedia user in an action brought by a Greek politician that we and the community believe is unjust.
We continue to grow in our understanding of how to effectively collaborate with our community. To that end, in 2013-14 we built out our team of community advocates, in addition to the previously-existing headcount, inside the Legal and Community Advocacy department. In 2014-15, the Community Advocacy team will continue to support high-value strategic initiatives. Additionally, the planned Director of Community Engagement (Product) will work with the community on product roll-outs and related communications on an ongoing basis.

Environmental Risks


Mobile and shift to consumption: While the continuing rapid increase of mobile usage (smartphone and tablet) represents an opportunity for consumption and some forms of contribution (e.g., photos, location), it represents a potential threat for text-based contributions, particularly article writing, if users shift towards using mobile devices.

  • Response: In 2013-14, the release of mobile editing on smartphones outperformed our expectations, suggesting that, despite our previous assumptions, users are interested in editing from mobile devices. We’ve improved and expanded our existing photo uploading applications and workflow on the mobile web. In 2014-15, we will offer editing in our Wikipedia Android and iOS apps, and port the VisualEditor to tablets. We will also explore different ways to use capabilities enabled by smartphones (touch interfaces, camera, and location) to encourage people to contribute (e.g., microcontributions).

Decline in desktop page views: We have observed a decline in desktop page views to our projects. Hypotheses explaining this decline include increased aggregation of Wikipedia-derived information in search engines, the shift to mobile, and a switch by users from search to social media. While we do not know whether this decline reflects a more sustained trend, there is a potential risk that fewer users will visit our projects in the coming years. A decline in readership could negatively impact our efforts to increase contributorship on our projects as well as our online fundraising efforts.

  • Response: We are continuing to research readership trends (e.g., referral analysis, improved descriptive statistics). We are working with Google to better understand any impact changes may have on our page view traffic. We are improving our mobile app offerings to investigate if we can increase the contribution of apps to overall viewership on top of what we’re seeing on mobile web. Wikipedia Zero is not currently a major driver of page view growth, but it is positioned to help accelerate growth of readership and contributions in developing countries in the long term.

Organizational Risks


Recruiting: The shortage of Silicon Valley technical talent could hurt our ability to recruit and retain technical staff. The job market for engineers began heating up in 2010, and continues to be extremely competitive, particularly in the Silicon Valley area. The Wikimedia Foundation, as a nonprofit, does not offer equity or large cash bonuses that are often awarded by multi-billion-dollar tech companies. The organization therefore faces a potential risk of not being able to hire the key engineers, designers, product managers, and other staff needed to deliver on this plan.

  • Response: In recognition of the challenging hiring environment, we have placed increased focus on developing internal recruiting expertise for technical staff, and on optimizing Wikimedia's value proposition. That proposition reflects a combination of a world-changing mission, open source values, reasonable salary near the midpoint of the tech sector, strong health and wellness benefits, and the opportunity to achieve huge impact as an individual. We have also augmented the ways in which we communicate that proposition to the world. We have created increased flexibility to hire opportunistically, as opposed to following a strict hiring calendar. The Wikimedia Foundation continues to hire internationally, and, to a significant degree, from the open source development community and the Wikimedia editor community. Our recruiting infrastructure has also become more fully fleshed-out to support engineering hiring, with a dedicated technical recruiter and a dedicated recruiting coordinator to improve the candidate experience.

Movement governance issues could detract from other priorities. Wikimedia organizations continue to operate with high visibility, which presents a potential risk that governance issues for a Wikimedia organization may have impact on the Foundation and other groups and organizations within the Wikimedia movement. Wikimedia organizations continue to grow rapidly and enjoy international attention based on the Wikipedia and Wikimedia brand. At the same time, Wikimedia movement organizations sometimes lack governance resources and models, especially resources tailored to our online-first, decentralized, and international community.

In the case of a governance scandal in a large chapter, for example, we would need substantial managerial, legal, governance, and communications resources to handle the situation. On the other hand, we risk imposing overly burdensome governance requirements and stifling the development of smaller organizations. Overall, the absence of a comprehensive movement roles strategy means that governance risks are addressed in an ad hoc fashion, which may risk damaging community goodwill and creating a suboptimal governance system.

  • Response: This year, we published a new Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook, which provides details about the operation and procedure of the Foundation's Board. Although the exact needs of each movement organization will depend on the jurisdiction, the Board Handbook may serve as a general model for other larger movement organizations.
Our grantmaking processes, reporting requirements, and agreements continue to be the main mechanisms for governance oversight. In 2013-14, the FDC process highlighted concern over how chapters were handling potential conflicts of interest and managing reserve funding. With the help of external governance experts and the community, we hope to provide targeted policies and training programs to address these governance needs identified by our community groups and grantmaking committees.
Based on the Board's recent decision to encourage informal forms for new groups, we hope that our movement will place more focus on programmatic impact rather than corporate bureaucracy. However, less formal structures may potentially decrease the oversight on lower-profile risks. Without a comprehensive movement roles strategy, we will have difficulty properly calibrating the amount of formality and attention for governance within the Wikimedia movement.

The bulk of Grantmaking resources may not be effectively achieving programmatic impact or supporting our online communities as most needed. In 2013-14, the Wikimedia Foundation launched a Program Evaluation team designed to begin assessing the effectiveness of Wikimedia's programmatic activities. The work is in fairly early stages, but it's clear that we are not in a position where we can claim that our grantmaking consistently funds programmatic work with a strong, demonstrated impact on our mission.

At the movement level we are still trying to establish a solid understanding of programmatic impact and how to achieve it. Governance and leadership policies, systems, and strategies continue to be developed, and the nature of roles and relationships within the movement continue to be debated. Approximately 90 percent of our total grant spending is currently focused on formal organizations – incorporated, staffed entities, or those intending to staff-up in the near future – while only a little over 4 percent of our current spending supports individual contributors, with the remaining going to informal, emerging groups. Just 18 percent of our grants go to the Global South (marked this year by a large grant to our Brazil based partner) and only 0.8 percent of our grants directly go towards challenging the gender gap.

At the WMF and the Grantmaking department level, the recent departure of the Senior Director of Programs has meant a restructuring challenge as well as a loss of significant Wikimedia programmatic expertise. We have begun to develop programs and tools to analyse the effectiveness of movement-wide programs and our grants, but still lack a complete holistic framework that will help us understand impact at the many different levels of the movement. We also lack coordination across the movement on issues of diversity in our communities and how to support this through technology, grants and related efforts. Lastly, we need to use technology more effectively to reach new volunteers and let them know that resources are available to support them. Our work on diversity and individual volunteers may well offer us opportunities for significant programmatic impact in our online communities.

  • Response:
    Expanding our work on impact: We will restructure the Program Evaluation and Design and Learning and Evaluation teams to create a more integrated impact and learning strategy for grantmaking and the movement as a whole, and we will keep facilitating conversations among movement leaders to identify and document best practices. The key challenge for the movement is to design, implement and assess successful programs, and the Learning and Evaluation Team will be deepening its work, including through further analysis and creating or collating self-assessment tools, toolkits, data sources and training. We will continue to document and analyze movement-wide activity and learning around Wikimedia programs (expanding our analysis from the seven program reports we’ve already created), and we will create toolkits and guidelines that will help the community design and evaluate its work better. We will also continue to facilitate work in growing leadership, governance and strategic planning skills alongside movement leaders and organizations, and with expertise from outside the movement.
  • Examining impact through organizations: Informed by the work on programmatic and organizational effectiveness, we will facilitate and support conversations on the overall goals and objectives of the Wikimedia movement, and examine the levels of impact different types of formal and informal organizations can have through online and offline activities. We will continue research into other movements, and our own, including through site visits to Wikimedia organisations and communities, in an effort that helps us partner with community leaders to ask tough questions, discuss strategy, and share good practices.
  • Enabling impact through individuals and diversity: We will increase resources to support individual volunteers and contributors, redesign the Travel and Participation Support program, and work with the Technology and Communications Teams to increase global awareness of grantmaking. We will aim to expand diversity, both through more coordinated efforts on the gender gap and through our proactive Global South focus strategy. In 2014-15 Grantmaking will aim once again to hit a 7 percent or greater target in grants and other resources to individuals, with the expectation that it will deepen our support of on-wiki engagement and activities, and improve editor retention and recruitment.

The onboardings of the Executive Director, VP of Engineering, and Chief Communications Officer will take organizational time and resources, which could hinder execution capability. The bulk of onboarding work for the new Executive Director will occur in Q4 of 2013-14, extending into 2014-15. This is occurring at the same time as that of the VP of Engineering and the Chief Communications Officer. A new Executive Director and the split in Engineering into two different departments, as well as the need to build out the Communications function as its own department with its own resources and mandate, will mean change regarding how the Wikimedia Foundation does its work, which may result in a temporary hit to the organization’s productivity.

  • Response: The major mitigating factor here is that the groundwork for a successful transition process has been laid. The WMF has prepared well for the arrival of its next ED, including the development of an orientation manual (the "Leadership Guide") and a detailed on-boarding plan. The outgoing ED will be actively supporting the new ED in on-boarding and getting oriented to the role. The ED selection process was thoughtful and extensive, and included members of the Board (including the Chair and Vice Chair) and members of the staff, as well as strong community representation and international representation. The Chief Communications Officer was hired via a similar process, and we have put in place an onboarding plan for that role as well, which includes full support by our outside consultants experienced with our Wikimedia communications issues. Our new VP of Engineering will receive the full support of our Deputy Director, who is fully familiar with the task and challenges of the position.

The international legal context could shift in ways that threaten the Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia projects’ ability to achieve the Wikimedia mission can be thwarted by legal changes around the world. The past year has seen an increasingly diverse set of challenges in this area:

  • Free and open internet. The free and open internet remains under attack, which threatens the projects. We have watched as governments, ISPs, and other parties around the world continue to inhibit people’s ability to read and/or contribute to sites like Wikipedia. Some countries – such as Bahrain, Belarus, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Vietnam – attempt to inhibit people's participation in online activities in a systematic fashion using such methods as filtering or removing content, imprisoning people who create or share certain types of material online, or shutting down or slowing down people’s Internet access.
Other countries and their citizens – including those that are not traditionally known for censorship, such as France, India, Greece, and Italy – have attempted to use local legislation, litigation, or police action against the Foundation or our users in ways that could quelch free speech and set precedent leading to civil or criminal penalties against the Wikimedia Foundation, movement organizations, and users.
  • Copyright. Copyright laws continue to evolve around the world in ways that could impact Wikimedians. Most notably, the European Union appears to be moving towards comprehensive copyright reform. If implemented correctly, this could resolve existing problems and make more existing content available for Wikimedians to reuse and build on. If implemented poorly, it could increase barriers to sharing and creation of information, or increase risk for the Foundation by potentially eroding safeguards that protect us as an intermediary. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement, could also have implications for copyright law in almost a dozen Pacific Rim countries with similar risks.
  • Net Neutrality. The Net Neutrality principle aims to prevent Internet providers from charging websites for high speed delivery of their content while downgrading non-commercial sites that cannot afford to be in the fast lane, like the Wikimedia projects. But the principle has sometimes been implemented in ways that could interfere with access to knowledge projects that pose no threat to the open Internet. One example can be found in the Dutch Telecommunications Act, which prohibits Internet providers from charging subscribers differently based on the services they are accessing. If such a law were to be adopted in a country in the Global South, it could prohibit mobile carriers from giving people, who cannot otherwise afford it, free access to read and edit Wikipedia through Wikipedia Zero. There is currently a movement to adopt similar regulation in South America and to harmonize laws across the European Union, where some carriers that operate in developing countries are headquartered. Given the potential impact of overbroad Net Neutrality laws, it's important that the principle be implemented narrowly.
  • Response: The Wikimedia Foundation does not participate in, or condone, efforts to inhibit people's access to knowledge online; we provide the same, uncensored service for everyone in the world. In 2013-14, we have acted to defend this position in a variety of ways, including defense against legal threats from around the world demanding removal or alteration of content on Wikimedia projects and against defamation lawsuits initiated in Germany, Italy, and India. Most importantly, we have continued to find help to defend contributors (both publicly and privately) from baseless legal threats, through our Legal Fees Assistance Program and Defense of Contributors Policy. We have sought to address reader concerns about surveillance, and participated in broader advocacy around that issue where appropriate. On copyright, we have continued to monitor the situation and look for opportunities for partnerships, such as our cooperation with the Free Knowledge Advisory Group (EU) on a recent EU consultation. More broadly, we have continued to work with Wikimedia volunteers interested in advocacy issues through the advocacy-advisors project, which we believe will continue to drive engagement on a variety of policy issues in 2014-15 (while staying within our non-profit legal constraints).

Revenue targets could not be met. The 2014-15 revenue target for WMF is an increase from our prior year projections. It is possible we cannot meet that target. Potential risk factors include the possible decline in readership in high-income countries (where most of our revenue is raised), possible reduced effectiveness of last year’s banners, and possible failure to discover a new kind of banner that works as well. Alongside the potential risk identified above regarding recent movement of page views from desktop to mobile, desktop readers donate three times more often than mobile readers. Additionally, the average donation on mobile is half that of the average desktop donation. In the near-term this trend towards increased mobile and decreased desktop traffic could further impact the Foundation’s online fundraising efforts.

A common misconception of the WMF revenue mechanism is that we can simply run banners longer to raise more money. In reality, the marginal gain from each additional day of fundraising drops rapidly after just the first week of fundraising, as the maximum pool of donors is exhausted.

  • Response: We are working to expand and improve mobile giving, so that a higher percentage of mobile readers donate. Additionally, we are working to grow our capacity to effectively fundraise to more countries. Still, the increased revenue target may require us to run more intrusive banners than last year, although we would still try to minimize the impact on readers. We are fundraising more consistently throughout the year now, so we are able to adjust our tactics in response to current trends. This reduces the potential risk of a critical failure during a few crucial weeks of a short annual fundraiser. Overall, we are confident we can meet this target. In case reserves vary materially from plan, the Board Treasurer will notify the Chair of the Audit Committee and the Executive Director and propose corrective action.

An unforeseen major expense or inability to raise revenues could use up the reserve and cripple the WMF financially.

  • Response: The likelihood of this happening is extremely small. Our fundraising team has always met its goal and has the flexibility to shift its tactics if current strategies become ineffective. The Wikimedia Foundation's costs are predictable and we have a track record of conservative planning. We have never in our major history faced a major unplanned expense. Our operating reserve is not expected to fall below six months of total expenses. In addition, we have made significant improvements to our insurance to protect against a variety of financial risks.

Key programs in the upcoming year's annual plan


You may also include illustrations such as charts, graphs, and timelines when answering these questions about each of your organization's programs.

Division of programs:

  • Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia's sites and services operational and support Wikimedia’s developer community
  • Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices
  • Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects
  • Nontechnical Movement Support: Grants, Evaluation, Legal Support and Communications

Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia’s sites and services operating reliably and efficiently, and support Wikimedia’s developer community

1. Please share the a) goal as well as (b) the measurable result(s) your organization hopes to achieve, including (c) when you expect the result(s) to be achieved.

For instance, “We plan to a) increase the number of active editors b) on Turkish Wikipedia by 15% c) by December 2014." Note that more specific results would be "Increase the number of new editors who become “active” editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 3%, and increase the number of existing editors who are active editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 10%.

Precise operational goals are developed in the course of the annual goal-setting process in May-June and iterated on a quarterly basis, following the model of the current fiscal year’s engineering goals.

2. How does this program address Wikimedia movement strategic priorities?
  • Wikimedia’s sites and services wouldn’t exist without an organization operating the required infrastructure. Currently that organization is the Wikimedia Foundation. Beyond this foundational work, this section captures work that primarily aligns with the “Stabilize Infrastructure” and “Encourage Innovation” section of the 2010-15 Strategic Plan.
3. What key activities are associated with this program?
  • Site operations: We operate the fifth most popular web property on the planet: We manage about 900 servers to support the Wikimedia sites, and continually optimize our operations in multiple data-centers world-wide.
  • Site performance and architecture: We make Wikimedia sites faster and keep them maintainable.
  • Wikimedia Labs: We provide the community a space for experimentation and tool hosting.
  • Data dumps: We make sure others can fully reuse the community's freely licensed work.
  • Code review: We enable code contributions from community and staff while protecting the quality and security of MediaWiki as it supports our projects.
  • Security and privacy: We work to protect Wikimedia sites against criminal attacks, and to protect and enhance the privacy of our users.
  • Deployment: We push new code into production, to make changes to the Wikimedia sites.
  • APIs: We enable external developers to create applications that interface with Wikimedia sites.
  • Release management: We support third party users of our software.
  • Test infrastructure: We provide a platform for thorough routine checks of code changes.
  • Shell requests: We handle site configuration changes to support community requests.
  • Search, authentication, etc.: We maintain and develop essential infrastructure parts for the entirety of our sites.
  • Quality Assurance: We carry out thorough routine checks of code changes to help ensure better rollouts for our community.
  • Reporting and documentation: We make MediaWiki accessible to new developers, and inform Wikimedia’s volunteer community about software changes that affect their work.
  • Outreach and development: We grow and nurture the MediaWiki developer community, e.g. by participating in mentorship programs and supporting hackathons around the world.
  • Upstream collaboration: We contribute back to free software projects whose work we are building on.
  • Analytics: We operate infrastructure to collect data about use of our projects in a manner consistent with our privacy policy, to better inform movement-wide decision-making.
  • Research: We perform complex analyses, A/B tests, qualitative studies, and other work in support of rational decision-making.
  • Internationalization: We interface with the global community of volunteers localizing our software, and provide tooling that addresses language issues for users around the world.

4. How will your organization measure and report the results of this program?

The Wikimedia Foundation aspires to be informed by actionable data in all its decision-making. For this reason, we employ a vast array of purpose-built tools that enable us to gain insights in real-time, and we continually experiment with new ways to measure our work. Examples of this include:

  • At the infrastructure level, we use a variety of monitoring tools such as Icinga, Observium, Ganglia, Nimsoft (an external monitoring service), and others. In the 2013-14 Fiscal Year, we began using Logstash as a central mechanism to analyze logs from various systems/services. We use Graphite and MediaWiki’s own profiler to track application-level data for performance analysis.
  • At the community level, we use reporting capabilities of tools such as Bugzilla and Gerrit to assess the health of the developer community and work with a third party vendor to create integrated dashboards for this data.
  • The analytics team (which leverages dedicated data collection infrastructure) primarily supports the program areas below, but sometimes assists in more complex assessments at the infrastructure level as needed.
  • The user experience team helps validate changes through qualitative research, such as usability studies.

In terms of reporting, the Wikimedia Foundation is one of the most transparent organizations on the planet. Reports range from weekly team-level updates to the monthly engineering report, call-outs in the public monthly metrics/activities meetings, and quarterly reviews with public minutes/slides. We also operate a variety of public dashboards.

5. How will what your organization learns from measuring these results direct your future program planning and decision-making?
  • The Wikimedia Foundation values iterative learning over detailed long-term agendas. Consistent with this principle, quarterly reviews and team-level retrospectives and planning meetings continually influence our direction based on what we learn, and goal setting is designed to be an adaptive process.

Any additional details:

Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices

1. Please share the a) goal as well as (b) the measurable result(s) your organization hopes to achieve, including (c) when you expect the result(s) to be achieved.

For instance, “We plan to a) increase the number of active editors b) on Turkish Wikipedia by 15% c) by December 2014." Note that more specific results would be "Increase the number of new editors who become “active” editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 3%, and increase the number of existing editors who are active editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 10%.

Precise operational goals are developed in the course of the annual goal-setting process in May-June and iterated on a quarterly basis, following the model of the current fiscal year’s engineering goals. We can, however, provide an initial analysis.

The proliferation of mobile, Internet-connected devices has radically altered the way humanity learns, shares, and communicates. Never in human history have we been closer to a world where every single human being can truly share in the sum of all knowledge. The Wikimedia Foundation fully recognizes the transformative potential of mobile technology and the threat to the movement of not adequately responding to this global trend.

Consistent with the above, in the next year, the organization will not simply need to view mobile as one of its “key programs,” but will need to begin reinventing itself as an engineering/product organization ready for a multi-device world. This process is an internal one and will at first be largely invisible to the community and the outside world as we equip more of our engineering teams with the knowledge and resources required to develop responsive, multi-device functionality, and we assign experienced mobile web engineers with internal teams.

As more and more users join our sites on mobile, or even migrate to mobile use from desktop use, we also need to understand that mobile users may have different motivations, interests, and demands than desktop users. In concrete terms, product managers and user experience designers need to think about the personas of mobile users when developing software.

In the long term, our current thinking (as always, subject to change as we learn) is that we will need to begin shifting away from a “mobile web” team existing as a distinct unit internally, and instead have every team at WMF develop responsive, multi-device functionality. This process will likely begin in the later part of the FY 14-15 period and conclude in the following fiscal year. As a result, all teams will need to become able to develop and design products that work for mobile-acquired as well as desktop-acquired editors.

While the mobile web team will be growing mobile development expertise across the organization, the app team will be focusing on continuing to build a strong application infrastructure and evolving the WMF infrastructure to be based on loosely coupled services. The app team will continue as a single unit and will partner with additional engineers at the organization on standardizing and creation of new services to modernize the WMF infrastructure.

Initial data from the mobile editing and mobile upload features launched in the last year show that the idea that mobile devices are purely useful for consuming content is a myth. Rather than thinking of contribution on mobile as a “nice-to-have”, we must consider mobile users equal participants in our community, and build functionality that suits different devices and usage patterns (including contribution features specifically optimized for mobile use, such as useful micro-contributions). We expect that users on mobile devices will play an ever-larger role in our editor community, and will contribute to the overall number of active editors.

We will also continue to invest in “Wikipedia Zero”, a groundbreaking WMF program designed to eliminate the cost of access to Wikipedia, especially for users in developing countries. The program currently delivers nearly 60 million page-views/month for free (February 2014 data). Beyond continuing to expand the network of participating mobile partners around the world, significant effort will be focused on increasing awareness of Wikipedia, e.g., by increasing visibility of Wikipedia on users’ phones (app preloads, default bookmarks, etc.) and through marketing efforts.

In summary, in the coming year, we will:

  • Make mobile and multi-device thinking part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s organizational DNA.
  • Increase the number of editors who contribute to Wikimedia projects by delivering functionality that treats all users as equal participants in our community, irrespective of the device they use to access our projects, and the scale and type of contribution.
  • Experiment with new ways to contribute specifically from mobile devices, recognizing the specific opportunities that mobile usage can present.
  • Increase mobile readership. Wikipedia Zero will continue to drive readership in developing countries. We will also increasingly look at Wikipedia’s apps from the standpoint of usage in developing countries (especially the Android app, due to the proliferation of cheap devices running older Android versions).

Quantitative targets we will develop as part of the goal-setting process may include:

  • Number of mobile user acquisitions
  • Number of editors active on mobile
  • Wikipedia Zero usage (pageviews and/or other metrics)
2. How does this program address Wikimedia movement strategic priorities?

Although we understand that a program may address many priorities in different ways, please select the 1-2 strategic priorities this program best addresses. For example, "The measurable result of this program addresses the strategic priority of increasing participation, by increasing active editors contributing to Turkish Wikipedia, a Wikimedia project."

  • Participation: The work on mobile web and apps is intended to further contributions, and Wikipedia Zero users, too, will be increasingly empowered to edit.
  • Reach: Wikipedia Zero expands access to free knowledge beyond organic market growth. In addition, we expect mobile apps to play an increased role in access to Wikipedia on mobile devices as we improve our native app offerings.
  • Innovation: Mobile devices present unique opportunities to participate in Wikimedia projects that we have only begun to explore.
3. What key activities are associated with this program?
  • Mobile web development: continued development of the readership and contributory experience on mobile web, including partnership with other product areas such as VisualEditor, Flow, and Growth.
  • Mobile web mentorship: enabling the Wikimedia Foundation to be an engineering/product organization prepared for development in a multi-device world, by ensuring the required expertise exists in all development teams.
  • Mobile app development: continued development of the Android and iOS Wikipedia apps, including partnership with other product areas such as VisualEditor, Flow, and Growth.
  • Wikipedia Zero: partnerships with mobile operators and others to provide free access to Wikipedia on mobile devices, primarily to users in the developing world where data costs can be prohibitive.
4. How will your organization measure and report the results of this program?

See above re: WMF’s reporting practices. The mobile team specifically maintains a dedicated mobile report card, which we expect to continue to refine, and Wikipedia Zero works with the Analytics Team to maintain a set of dashboards, both for aggregated data and per-operator data.

5. How will what your organization learns from measuring these results direct your future program planning and decision-making?

Any additional details: See above (5.1.4, 5.1.5, 5.2.1) re: WMF’s general approach to continued iteration. The mobile web team was one of the first in the organization to implement Scrum systematically, and also pioneered alpha→beta→production rollouts of key functionality to ensure early adopters can provide feedback while allowing for iterative improvement.

Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects

1. Please share the a) goal as well as (b) the measurable result(s) your organization hopes to achieve, including (c) when you expect the result(s) to be achieved.

For instance, “We plan to a) increase the number of active editors b) on Turkish Wikipedia by 15% c) by December 2014." Note that more specific results would be "Increase the number of new editors who become “active” editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 3%, and increase the number of existing editors who are active editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 10%.

Precise operational goals are developed in the course of the annual goal-setting process in May-June and iterated on a quarterly basis, following the model of the current fiscal year’s engineering goals. We can, however, provide an initial analysis.

The total of contributor numbers across our projects remains stagnant. The English Wikipedia editor population is in a slow but continuing decline, offset by growth in some other languages and non-Wikipedia projects such as Wikidata and Commons. While improving the basic user experience of MediaWiki alone may not put our projects back on a growth trajectory, it is without question a necessary component of this goal.

Editing an article or contributing a picture or video requires a level of technical competency that prevents users who may otherwise have valuable knowledge from contributing. The problem breaks down into four main components and a large number of smaller areas of improvement. The main components are:

  • Wiki markup. Markup shifts the burden from making a feature understandable from the developer to the user.
This shift has the benefit of making it very easy to develop very powerful functionality with limited development effort, as user interfaces optimized for discoverability and efficiency do not have to be developed for each feature. It has the downside of a very shallow learning curve, with even very experienced users often only having discovered a small subset of available functionality (frequently by copy and pasting markup rather than understanding the underlying constructs).
An easy-to-use, discoverable, efficient, and pleasurable user experience requires significantly more effort for any specific feature, in order to achieve a short learning curve and high task effectiveness even for advanced users. WMF has begun this effort with the VisualEditor, which now can be used to edit most content in Wikimedia projects, albeit not always with a user experience that meets the above criteria due to the complexity of the markup.
  • Everything is a page. By creating dedicated namespaces for discussions, policy pages, various workflows, etc., MediaWiki developers have been able to provide functionality to users quickly. A lot of the complexity of developing functionality has shifted to the users themselves, who have created markup/template-based workflows in wiki pages for discussion, decision-making, organizing work, etc.
This approach suffers from the usability issues above. In addition, the efficiency of these workflows can be extremely poor. No discussion system other than wiki talk pages requires manually indenting and signing comments (even email clients provide more efficient workflows). No commonly used non-programming workflow outside of wikis requires copy and pasting complex templates from page to page in order to complete a task.
WMF has begun addressing this problem through the “Flow” project which initially is narrowly focused on discussion workflows, but may also tackle other workflows in the future, either implicitly (simply by making them obsolete in the course of building a modern discussion system for MediaWiki) or explicitly.
  • Wikis were built for collaboratively editing text documents. Even MediaWiki, despite its name, is focused in most of its functionality on text collaboration. The workflows for contributing and editing media such as images and video are still very poor, and disconnected from the user experience of editing text. WMF first tackled this issue through the development of the Upload Wizard for Wikimedia Commons. In 2013-14, we developed a permanent multimedia team at WMF focused on media experience and contribution issues. The initial focus of the team has been mostly on media experience, but we expect to put significantly more effort into media contribution in the coming year. The spirit of wikis is quickness, but adding a media file to an article can still be a slow, arduous process, not one that makes users feel the kind of immediate gratification that helped Wikipedia succeed in the first place. In addition to better support for media files, we need to increasingly recognize structured data as critical to make content usable, discoverable, and connectable -- to provide a modern user experience. We will continue to partner with Wikimedia Germany in the development of Wikidata, and explore deeper integration in our projects, with initial focus on Wikimedia Commons to provide structured data for media files.
  • As wikis increase in complexity and depth, the new user experience suffers. Most of the issues above are independent of the amount of content and policy and the size of our community. However, even if these issues were addressed fully, participating in the larger Wikimedia projects is inherently harder in the year 2014 than in the year 2001, due to the vastly increased complexity of the content, the policies governing editing, and the size of the community. This has led to a significant increase of warnings and reverts for new users, even in response to contributions that would have been acceptable in the early years. It also means that the process of becoming an editor comes with a shallow learning curve that is independent of the technical complexity noted above. Learning about all the expectations around notability, verifiability/sourcing, stylistic guidelines, etc., is a slow, incremental process, with a significant amount of negative reinforcement as the primary mechanism to guide user behavior. Nor do these changes in Wikimedia’s user experience exist in a vacuum: While Wikimedia has become a more difficult environment to join, the rest of the web has become more open, inviting and encouraging by using a variety of techniques to reward participation. (Not all these techniques apply to Wikimedia’s mission, but they nevertheless may attract people who would have contributed to Wikimedia 10 years ago but now spend their time on social media.) In order to meet this challenge, WMF has built a small “Growth team”, which is narrowly focused on increasing the number of productive new users in a measurable way. In 2013-14, that team focused on improving the sign-up funnel and helping new users discover simple editing tasks.In the next year, we expect to continue to invest in the onboarding experience for new users. We also plan to experiment with a more personalized recommendation engine for editing tasks that will more successfully help users discover work in Wikimedia projects that appeals to them. As noted above, we also expect that creating opportunities for casual contributions, especially on mobile devices, may sidestep some of the issues of complexity. If tasks can be identified that are useful and important but that don’t require grasping the full complexity of Wikimedia projects, we may be able to build significant populations of users who can focus on these tasks without necessarily becoming “Wikipedians.” Finally, we are currently experimenting with content translation as a potential additional form of contribution to effectively support with the software. By making it easy to translate articles from one language to another, we may be able to appeal to a class of contributors that are currently not very active in our projects.

As noted above, in the development of this functionality, we cannot afford to treat mobile devices as an afterthought. We will put increasing effort into providing mentorship and resourcing to teams working on the aforementioned efforts in order to enable a satisfying user experience across devices.

The overall goal of these efforts will be to increase the number of contributors to our projects. This will likely be measured in contributing to the number of Total Active Editors (users with >= 5 mainspace edits/uploads per month). In addition, we will iterate on qualitative goals for projects that are expected to achieve quantitative impact over the longer term (Flow, VisualEditor).

2. How does this program address Wikimedia movement strategic priorities?

Although we understand that a program may address many priorities in different ways, please select the 1-2 strategic priorities this program best addresses. For example, "The measurable result of this program addresses the strategic priority of increasing participation, by increasing active editors contributing to Turkish Wikipedia, a Wikimedia project."

All of the Editor Engagement initiatives are aimed at increasing participation in our projects. We also expect that broadening the ways to contribute will lead to increased participation from under-represented groups, supporting the goal to increase diversity. For example, if we can provide micro-contribution mechanisms that work well on mobile devices that are in widespread use in developing countries, this may enable users from those countries to become a more active part of our community. Support for more casual contribution, in general, may help us reach users who don’t have the time to deal with the full complexity of our projects.

3. What key activities are associated with this program?
  • VisualEditor: a rich-text editor that is designed to serve as the default editing environment for our projects.
  • Flow: a structured discussion system initially targeting the talk namespaces in our projects, including user-to-user discussion.
  • Growth: features aimed directly at acquiring more contributors and encouraging them to contribute more (e.g., teaching new editors via interactive guided tours, providing task suggestions to drive further contribution).
  • Multimedia: features aimed at improving the media experience, including media contributions.
  • Content Translation: functionality aimed at making it easier to translate Wikimedia content from one language to another -- a class of contribution not currently well-supported by the software.
4. How will your organization measure and report the results of this program?

See above re: WMF’s reporting practices.

5. How will what your organization learns from measuring these results direct your future program planning and decision-making?

See above (5.1.4, 5.1.5, 5.3.1) re: WMF’s approach to continued iteration.

Any additional details:

1. Please share the a) goal as well as (b) the measurable result(s) your organization hopes to achieve, including (c) when you expect the result(s) to be achieved.

For instance, “We plan to a) increase the number of active editors b) on Turkish Wikipedia by 15% c) by December 2014." Note that more specific results would be "Increase the number of new editors who become “active” editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 3%, and increase the number of existing editors who are active editors on Turkish Wikipedia by 10%.

Nontechnical Movement Support at the macro level consists of a wide range of goals and measurable results and objectives fundamentally necessary to enable the Foundation’s key programmatic work (infrastructure, mobile, and editor engagement), and to protect and empower Wikimedia’s projects, the Foundation, and our global volunteer community.

The Grantmaking team makes grants to people and organizations aligned with the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission, with the goal of increasing the quantity, quality, diversity, and reach of free knowledge. The team also consists of the Foundation’s Global Education Program, which supports the expansion of global efforts to teach Wikipedia editing in the classroom. The team makes significant efforts to support movement-wide programmatic and grants evaluation and learning, including the inclusion of the recently created Program Evaluation and Design team.

Grantmaking directs grants to individuals, groups, and organizations working on building community and growing content on Wikimedia projects and other sister projects, as well as to related open knowledge projects. The team is committed to supporting under-resourced and emerging regions, languages, and communities, particularly in the Global South. We work with committees of community members, and with partners across the movement, to ensure a collaborative, peer-reviewed system of decision-making and evaluation of grants and other resources.

Grantmaking runs four main grants programs:

  • Annual Plan Grants (reviewed by the 9-member Funds Dissemination Committee or FDC), that offer unrestricted, general support funds for the annual plans of recognized Wikimedia organizations (chapters and thematic organizations). The 2013-14 budget for this program was and remains $6 million.
  • Project and Event Grants (reviewed by the 28-member Grant Advisory Committee or GAC), that primarily support offline projects and events run by Wikimedia organizations and emerging groups. The current year’s budget is $700,000.
  • Individual Engagement Grants (reviewed by the 17-member Individual Engagement Grants Committee or IEGCom), that support experimental projects led by individuals or small teams, and are primarily aimed at online impact on Wikimedia projects. This year’s budget is $200,000.
  • Travel and Participation Support (reviewed by the 3-member Travel and Participation Support Committee), which is run in partnership with the German and Swiss Wikimedia chapters, and supports the active participation of Wikimedians in non-Wikimedia events. WMF’s contribution to this budget this year is $50,000.

In addition, we offer scholarships to Wikimania (reviewed by the 9-member Scholarships Committee, with a current budget of $150,000) and Partnership Grants to support partnerships with significant allied organizations -- particularly in the Global South -- that support our communities in expanding reach and participation. The two current partnership grants are in India and Brazil, with the Centre for Internet and Society and Ação Educativa. The current budget for Partnership Grants is $618,000.

The Grantmaking Team’s Global South strategy includes being responsive to needs from communities across the Global South, and being proactive in supporting the growth of community and content in nine of the most high-potential geographies/language communities across the Global South. The team’s focus on diversity also includes exploratory work in challenging the current gender gap issues of the Wikimedia movement.

All these grants programs and strategies are supported by the Grantmaking Learning & Evaluation Team, which assesses the overall impact of grants through grant reports, external research and program evaluation, and also monitors the internal performance indicators of the Grantmaking Team.

Since the Grantmaking Team works throughout the year, with rolling and bi-annual cycles for grants, our high-level targets (see the end of this section) are timed to the end of June 2015. Our goals and related targets are divided into three specific areas: Structures, systems, and processes; Learning and mentoring; Diversity. These goals are focused on working with the Wikimedia community to improve our grants processes; increase our support to individual contributors; deepen our programmatic evaluation work and ensure greater diversity of our movement through the support of Global South and gender-related work.

With programmatic support, the Foundation’s Legal, Community Advocacy, and Communications teams aim to:

  • Provide legal protection and defense of the Wikimedia Foundation and the values supporting the creative works of the community.
  • Support productive communication and collaboration between the Foundation, the global Wikimedia volunteer community, and our millions of readers.
  • Grow the global story of the Wikimedia movement among leading media via our multilingual communications platforms.

As set out below, the activities of Legal, Community Advocacy, and Communications Teams are not easily quantifiable given the subjective, and often reactive, nature of the practices. Our chief measure of success is our effectiveness in responding to our hundreds of inquiries and issues, both internally and externally, and to ensure that our various legal portfolios - like litigation, privacy, and trademarks - are built appropriately for a major global website while still reflecting the values of the movement and community. We also measure our success by the quality of the teams we build. For a detailed review of our activities and measurements of past work in Legal, Community Advocacy, and Communications, please see the appendix.

Structures, systems and processes

Significantly expand the resources for individual contributors:

  • Scale successful pilots for supporting online contributors.
  • Redesign the Travel and Participation Support Program to ensure resources that help support contributors in the most effective ways possible.
  • Expand the Individual Engagement Grants Program to explore successful ideas that best support a range of individual contributors and our online communities.

Support more impactful grantmaking to, and programs by, Wikimedia organizations and groups:

  • Continue to refine the Annual Plan Grants/FDC process and the Project and Event Grants Program by incorporating ongoing recommendations by the FDC, the FDC Advisory Group, the GAC, and the community at large.
  • Continue to iterate on proposal and reporting requirements across grants programs, in order to make processes as responsive and flexible as possible; lessen requirements where appropriate.
  • Support greater impact and innovation by Wikimedia organizations through increasing impact analysis and comparative studies across different kinds of Wikimedia organizations.
  • Provide training to Grants Committee members to develop capacity for proposal evaluation.
  • Offer Project and Event Grant templates and guidelines for well-understood programs and events (e.g., a single-language writing contest; a series of editathons), including sample budgets, relevant metrics, and pointers to tools (e.g., Wikimetrics, GLAMorous).

Ensure the integration of the Wikipedia Education Program and the Program Evaluation and Design teams:

  • Build out a successful learning and evaluation team that is both community-facing and supports the community’s needs for tools and data, and is internally focused on data-empowered grantmaking decisions.
  • Deepen the programmatic evaluation and organizational effectiveness work, including through building out toolkits and modules.
  • Ensure the successful transition of the Wikipedia Education Program into a facilitative hub for education programs globally that also coordinates across the department on shared goals of both Global South and gender diversity.

Learning and mentoring

Create a shared learning and evaluation framework to help us better understand what ‘success’ means in the movement, and how it can be achieved.

  • Monitor the effectiveness of at least two grantmaking campaigns or thematic requests for proposals.
  • Continue and deepen the evaluation and learning from Wikimedia programs, including through the coordination of voluntary programs data reporting and high-level analysis and reporting.
  • Develop a network of volunteers with valuable, targeted skillsets (e.g., research methods, design, software development, event planning) to participate as IdeaLab mentors.
  • Coordinate at a high level within the Grantmaking Department on collaborative program evaluation projects, as well as collaborate on strategic planning and monitoring of the program evaluation capacity-building initiative through meetings and strategy sessions with the Grantmaking Department, WMF, and our community of program leaders.

Create, coordinate and collate tools, toolkits, datasources and training, to ensure a culture of impact-driven self-assessment and shared learning and mentoring in the movement.

  • Conduct analysis of different movement organizations, including their growth and formation patterns.
  • Develop governance toolkits (in collaboration with Legal and Community Advocacy) for organizations.
  • Build learning materials online, categorized by programs and affiliate types;
  • Create program toolkits and packages of materials for grantees to do self-evaluation (e.g., dashboards, data compilation).
  • Provide direct training and capacity building supports, along with a centralized hub for resources related to Wikimedia program evaluation.


Significantly increase our focus on diversity both in the Global South and on gender.

  • Facilitate the development of an executable gender gap strategy through two diversity-focused events (on and offline).
  • Organize two grantmaking campaigns with a focused/thematic request for proposals, aimed at attracting and supporting more community initiatives to improve diversity.
  • Continue to experiment and expand successful grantmaking pilots to support individual contributors in the Global South.
  • Generate grantmaking leads from the work done by the Head of Global South Partnerships in the Global South.
  • Explore additional external partners in the Global South for potential Partnership Grants in high-potential regions.

Overall Grantmaking Targets (by the end of June 2015)

  • Disseminate up to $8.35 million in grants that contribute to growing Wikimedia community and content.
  • Increase support to individual contributors: at least 7 percent of total grants spending, directly supporting 1,500 contributors and indirectly supporting 4,000 contributors with resources that increase their contributions to Wikimedia projects (baseline: 2013-14 YTD grants to individuals ~4 percent; current year’s target: 7 percent).
  • Increase support to the Global South: at least 20 percent of total grants amount and 60 percent of number of grants, in order to improve the diversity of the global Wikimedia community and related content (baseline: 2013-14 YTD grants to Global South ~18 percent in share of $ and ~51 percent of total number of grants; current year’s target: 10 percent).
  • Increase support to challenging the gender gap to at least 1.5 percent of total grants spending, and host at least two diversity events in order to build out an executable gender gap strategy (baseline: 2013-14 YTD grants to gender gap issues ~1 percent; current year’s target: 1 percent).
  • Establish a working Education Cooperative with at least 11 programs actively participating, create an accurate baseline for all 60 education initiatives and partner with 2-3 education programs worldwide to assess programmatic needs and pilot global support activities (baseline: 2013-14 initial education cooperative meeting with 9 participants).
  • Work closely with Arab World education program leaders to increase the number of student editors to 300 per term and add 14 million bytes of content to the Arab Wikipedia in 2014-15 (baseline: ~ 200 student editors/term and ~10 million bytes/term).
  • Create and implement an integrated learning and evaluation framework and structure to support both the community and Grantmaking Team in making impact-driven and data-empowered decisions.
  • Increase the number of and ease of access to at least three self-evaluation tools, including increased numbers of users of Wikimetrics, numbers of learning modules for translation, and numbers of dashboards created by movement partners/program leaders (baseline: 1 tool developed, Wikimetrics; 2 learning modules).
  • Continue to deepen the data on existing Wikimedia programs, develop program toolkits for at least three Wikimedia programs and impact reports for at least two grantmaking programs/campaigns.
2. How does this program address Wikimedia movement strategic priorities?

Although we understand that a program may address many priorities in different ways, please select the 1-2 strategic priorities this program best addresses. For example, "The measurable result of this program addresses the strategic priority of increasing participation, by increasing active editors contributing to Turkish Wikipedia, a Wikimedia project."

Grantmaking addresses all five strategic priorities, especially increasing participation, improving quality, increasing reach, and encouraging innovation. The Foundation’s Legal, Community Advocacy, and Communications Teams predominantly address the Stabilize Infrastructure priority, in that they broadly support the work of the entire Foundation; however they fundamentally make possible the four other key programs described in this funding submission. So the wider goals of the program are relevant to all five of the Wikimedia strategic priorities.

3. What key activities are associated with this program?
4. How will your organization measure and report the results of this program?

The Foundation produces and widely distributes monthly reports that provide updates regarding its major initiatives, milestones, and activities. Results from this programmatic work will also be published regularly on the Wikimedia blog, the main hub of information for the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia movement. Monthly metrics meetings also summarize results of work achieved. In addition, the Legal and Community Advocacy Team maintains a portal, a discussion page on active legal issues, and the legal section of the Wikimedia blog for reporting major developments. The Communications Team manages the Foundation’s active social media channels as well as a regularly updated press page. The Grantmaking Team maintains a portal that directs all activities of the Funds Dissemination Committee; maintains a portal that details Individual Engagement Grants, Project and Event Grants, and Travel and Participation Support; and maintains the grantmaking section of the Wikimedia blog for reporting priority developments. The priority initiatives of the Foundation are discussed in quarterly reviews, and the results of those meetings, which review and discuss progress and problems related to the key initiatives, are published throughout the year.

The Foundation also produces an annual plan, which reports on the programmatic results of the current fiscal year and lays out its goals and tactics for the upcoming fiscal year.

5. How will what your organization learns from measuring these results direct your future program planning and decision-making?

The Foundation’s Legal, Community Advocacy, and Communications Teams will review, update, or confirm tactics and strategies actively through the year based on internal discussions, new data, community consultation, and environmental variables. We will take constant readings of the effectiveness of programs, and make nimble changes to our programmatic work to support the key initiatives of the Foundation. The Grantmaking Team will also review its approach throughout the year based on community feedback, internal discussions, and effectiveness of its programs.

The Foundation also reviews its goals and strategic planning every year during the annual planning process, when current fiscal year goals and outcomes are measured and new plans and goals are proposed. In effect, the Foundation’s entire planning process is rooted in reviewing the results and learnings from its programmatic activity.

Given that this specific program is what makes the related programs possible, this team will work closely with the rest of the organization to measure results and ensure the programmatic work is tactically effective. As an essential support program, changes may be made immediately to ensure the other programmatic initiatives are getting the support they require to help the Foundation achieve its mission.

Any additional details: For an overview of all the Wikimedia Foundation’s activities and goals, please see the appendix.

Financials: year-to-date progress


"Year-to-date" refers to the period between the start of your organization's current fiscal year and the date your organization submits this proposal. Please provide the most recent year-to-date financials available, whenever possible.

1. Please identify the start date (month/year) and end date (month/year) of the 12-month period you define as "year-to-date" in this section.

Table 3

Current fiscal year planned budget Year-to-date actuals Projected final amount
In currency requested In $US In currency requested In $US In currency requested In $US
Revenues (from all sources) $50.1 M USD $34.7 M USD $50.1 M USD
Spending $50.1 M USD $18.7 M USD $48.0 M USD

Table 3 details, if necessary:

Financials: upcoming year's annual plan

1. Please link to your organization's detailed budget on this Wiki or in a publicly available spreadsheet file.
Infrastructure $15,255,059
Editor Engagement
Non Technical Movement Support
Administration and Fundraising
Total Budget
2. Beyond the Wikimedia movement, does your organization currently receive or expect to receive financial support from external donors?

If so, the FDC staff will request contact information and your permission to contact the donors.

  • N/A
3. How much total funding does your organization plan to spend on travel (including staff travel, board travel, other volunteer travel, travel grants, and travel reimbursements)?
  • Travel expenditures for the Wikimedia Foundation will total: $1,341,800.
4. Excluding these travel expenses, how much total funding does your organization plan to re-grant (as reimbursements, grants, or microgrants to individuals, groups, or organizations)?
  • $8.95M (see chart below for breakdown).
FDC Grants
Individual Engagement Grants
Wikimania Scholarships
Partnership and Alliance Grants
Program and Event Grants
5. Overall, please estimate the percentage of total staff time spent on program work, as distinct from the total staff time spent on operational work (such as administration, fundraising, governance, legal, etc.)
  • Our estimate is that 74 percent of total staff time is spent on program work, and 26 percent of total staff time is spent on administration and fundraising.



Please list anticipated revenues, by source (e.g., Annual Plan Grants through the FDC process, WMF Project and Event Grants, other grants from Wikimedia organizations, grants from institutional donors, public funding, membership fees, donations, event fees or other revenue)

Table 4

Revenue source Anticipated (in currency requested) Anticipated (In $US)

Online Campaigns $54 million $54 million
Foundations and Major Gifts $6 million $6 million

Table 4 notes, if necessary:

  • Online Campaigns includes transfers from payment processing chapters. We will determine what portion of the funds will come from the chapters during meetings with the chapters at Wikimania.

(Table 5 not used)

Please include both part-time and full-time staff and long-term contractors. Current staff should include both staff that are currently hired and staff that your organization plans to hire during the current year. Please provide a link to a detailed staffing plan or organogram, if your organization has one.

Table 6

Department (e.g. Programs, Communications) Number of current staff Percentage of current staff time* Number of upcoming staff Percentage of upcoming staff time* Rationale for hiring new staff
Executive 2 100% 0 100%
Product and Strategy 36 100% 12 100% [1]
Engineering 84 100% 22 100% [2]
Grantmaking 16 100% 6 100% [3]
Fundraising 10 100% 2 100% [4]
Legal and Community Advocacy 12 100% 0 100%
Finance and Administration 17 100% 4 100% [5]
Human Resources 8 100% 0 100%
Communications 5 100% 2 100% [6]
Totals 190 48 100%

*Please include estimates of the percentage allocation of staff members and long-term contractors. For example, for full-time staff, you would put 100% in this column. For half-time staff, you would put 50% in this column.

Table 6 Notes: These are based on anticipated staffing by end of FY 13-14, and requested headcount for FY 14-15.

*Please include estimates of the percentage allocation of staff members and long-term contractors. For example, for full-time staff, you would put 100 percent in this column. For half-time staff, you would put 50 percent in this column.

  1. 4 Community Liaisons to support engineering rollouts, 1 Senior Analyst, 1 Sr. UX Designer or Researcher, 1 UX Researcher, 1 Sr. Designer, 1 Product Manager, 1 Community Facilitator, 1 Data Analyst, and 1 Data Engineer
  2. 14 Software Engineers, 3 Ops Engineers, 2 QA Testers, 2 Scrum Masters, and 1 Event Coordinator
  3. 3 Evaluation Officers for Program Evaluation, 2 Program Officers for Grantmaking, 1 Global Education Officer
  4. 1 International Campaign Manager and 1 Product Manager to coordinate and support FR-tech
  5. 1 Payroll Specialist in Finance, 2 Project Coordinators in Administration, 1 Senior Office IT position in OIT
  6. 1 Media Relations Manager and 1 Wikipedia Zero Communications Manager
Summary of staff and long-term contractor expenses

Table 7

In currency requested In $US Percent increase
Current staff expenses $23.6 M USD $23.6 M USD
Proposed increase for current staff expenses $1.2 M USD $1.2 M USD 5.1%
Proposed increase for new staff expenses $3.1 M USD $3.1 M USD 12.5%
Total staff expenses $27.9 M USD $27.9 M USD

Table 7 Notes: The Wikimedia Foundation has current staff expenditures of $23.6 million. We plan on increasing current staff cost by $1.2 million to cover cost of living adjustments and salary increases for merit. We are planning on adding new staff totaling $3.1 million in expenditures for a total staff expense of $27.9 million.

Program expenses

Program expenses are the costs associated with your organization's programs. These costs do not include operating costs or staff salaries, which will be described in separate tables. For example, program costs may be the costs of an event, the costs of outreach materials specific to a program, budgets for microgrants and reimbursements, or technical costs associated with specific programs.

Table 8a

Program / initiative In currency requested In $US
Infrastructure $15,255,059 USD
Mobile $3,759,000 USD
Editor Engagement $6,719,941 USD
Non Technical Movement Support $19,254,000 USD
Total program expenses (should equal the sum of the rows) $44,988,000 USD

Table 8a Notes: These tables include staffing costs, which are an integral part of the program activities.

Operating expenses

Operating costs are the costs associated with running your organization, and include administrative expenses such as office rent and maintenance, legal services and insurance costs, fees, financial services, board costs, internal IT costs, and fundraising costs. These should not include the program-specific costs described above, or staff costs described above.

Table 8b

Operating resource In currency requested In $US
Administration $10,389,000 USD
Fundraising $4,687,000 USD
Total program expenses (should equal the sum of the rows) $15,076,000 USD

Table 8b Notes: Operations includes the budgets for the Executive Director, Board of Trustees, Business Office, Office Information Technology, Office Administration and Human Resources. This category also includes rent, insurance, taxes on the WMF servers. It also includes computers, facilities improvements, and furniture to accommodate the increase in staff.

Fundraising includes the cost of payment processing for a variety of payment methods and in multiple currencies.

All financial data presented include staffing costs, which are an integral part of the cost of operations.

Table 9

In currency requested In $US
Total cash balance as of proposal submission $38.0 M USD
Total revenues $34.7 M USD
Total spending $18.7 M USD
Net (revenues less expenses) $15.9 M USD
Operating reserves,* if applicable $17.3 M USD

Table 9 Notes: All cash, revenue, expense, net, and reserve data is as of December 31, 2013.

Cash balances are held primarily in USD, Euros and Pounds Sterling. Reserves are held in an investment fund consisting of a variety of short term investments.

*Operating reserves are liquid, unrestricted assets available for an organization to use as a cushion, and to cover the costs of operations in case of unanticipated expenses or loss of revenue. Operating reserves are not meant to be considered a solution to everyday cash flow issues; in most cases, they are meant to be held over from year to year, accumulating interest and growing based on each individual organization’s operating reserves policy.

Additional budget questions


Verification that this proposal requests no funds from the Wikimedia Foundation for political or legislative activities


Enter "yes" or "no" for the verification below.

The term “political or legislative activities” includes any activities relating to political campaigns or candidates (including the contribution of funds and the publication of position statements relating to political campaigns or candidates); voter registration activities; meetings with or submissions and petitions to government executives, ministers, officers or agencies on political or policy issues; and any other activities seeking government intervention or policy implementation (like “lobbying”), whether directed toward the government or the community or public at large. Grants for such activities (when permitted under U.S. law and IRS regulations) should be sought from the Wikimedia Foundation Project and Event Grants Program.
I verify that this proposal requests no funds from the Wikimedia Foundation for political or legislative activities JonathanCinSF (talk) 19:00, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Once this proposal is complete, please sign below with the usual four tildes. No changes should be made to the documents after the the deadline for proposal submission for this round passes without written permission from FDC staff. Proposals will be considered submitted once the deadline for proposal submission for this round passes, unless a proposal is withdrawn by the organization submitting the proposal.

Q: What is this proposal? Is it the final version of the WMF's 2014-15 Annual Plan or a draft?

A: This is a draft version. The WMF develops its plan in six stages: 1. In January, the WMF Executive Director and C-team give the Board an update on what's happened in the year to date and what's expected for the remainder of the year. 2. Based on that update and its internal deliberations, the Board issues planning guidance to the Executive Director. 3. Based on the guidance, the Executive Director and C-team develop a draft version of the plan. We call this v1. 4. The Board provides feedback on the draft. 5. Based on the feedback, the Executive Director and C-team iterate a final version of the plan and submit it to the Board. 6. The Board votes to approve the final version. What you are reading in this proposal is the v1 draft.

Q: How do the FDC process and the WMF annual planning process fit together?

A: The WMF is happy to participate in the FDC process, because it will enable the WMF to get review and feedback from the FDC and from Wikimedia community members, as our plan is in development. We consider participation in the FDC process to be part of our commitment to the movement’s principles of transparency and accountability through participatory review. Therefore, we're participating in the FDC process by asking for community and FDC review of the v1 of our plan, before we move on to revising it and creating v2, which will go to the WMF Board for its review and approval. We appreciate the opportunity to have the plan reviewed, and look forward to receiving questions, comments, and feedback.

Q: How will the FDC input influence the WMF plan?

A: The FDC input is expected to be given to the WMF on May 8. This is the main formal opportunity for the FDC to influence the planning process. (It's not the only opportunity, because the WMF will already have been influenced by questions and comments from community members and FDC members during the community review period.) The WMF will be reworking its v1 plan into v2 throughout April and May. Revisions will be made based on feedback from Sue to her direct reports, input from C-level colleagues to each other (particularly about interdependencies), the input from the FDC and community members, the feedback given to the WMF by its Board of Trustees, and any constraints imposed by fundraising limitations and/or unavoidable spending requirements. We expect the FDC input will be important in the refinement process, but it will not be the only input the WMF is considering.

Q: Why is the WMF not requesting a specific dollar amount from the FDC?

A: When we synched up the WMF annual planning process with the FDC process, we did it in such a way that the FDC review period happened at the same time as the WMF Board review period -- because that's the point at which, by design and in actual practice, input has the most ability to influence how the plan develops. But the WMF needs to incorporate input and develop the final version of its plan more quickly than the FDC process allows. The FDC publishes its dollar amount recommendations 1 June, but the WMF timeline requires its plan to be finalized 6 June so it can be discussed and voted upon by the WMF Board of Trustees in time for 1 July. It's not possible (nor would it lead to the best possible outcome) to tear apart and rebuild the WMF plan in five days. That means it's not possible for the WMF timeline to incorporate both the FDC/community review period, and also a dollar amount recommendation. Therefore, after considerable discussion and reflection, the WMF has decided to synch up with the FDC review period, since that's the point at which FDC and community input can have the greatest influence on the WMF plan.

Q: Why has the WMF answered n/a to the questions of what funds it will raise from non-FDC sources.

A: Other Wikimedia movement entities fundraise outside of the FDC process and keep those funds for their own use. That's why the FDC proposal form asks about those funds; so it can see the full picture of what that entity is spending. The question isn't applicable to the Wikimedia Foundation, because the WMF is unique in that it raises funds for the entire global Wikimedia movement, including the allocation for the FDC.

Note: This next portion of the FAQ represents the document shared with the WMF Board of Directors as a part of the annual planning process:

Background and context


Every year between February and June, the Wikimedia Foundation develops its Annual Plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. This year as part of the Annual Plan process, the Wikimedia Foundation is participating in the FDC (Funds Dissemination Committee) process, the proposal for which is due April 1. The FDC proposal represents a high-level view of the 2014-15 Wikimedia Foundation Plan as it exists today and as it will be submitted to the FDC. At this point the work of developing the plan is well underway, but we are still mid-process. Assumptions underpinning the numbers will be refined, and we are still making decisions about what we want to achieve, and how much money we will need to spend to do it. The purpose of sharing the Annual Plan v1 with the Board, the FDC and the community is to give these groups an opportunity to influence the substance of the plan while it is mid-process.

Timeline recap

January 31 Year to date report and first consultation with Board.
March 26 v1 of the Annual Plan to Board for feedback.
March 31 WMF FDC proposal submitted on the wiki to the FDC.
April 1 Community comment period on all FDC proposals including WMF. << we are here.
April 17 Board feedback due to Sue on v1 of the Annual Plan.
(Board members are asked to offer their comments as part of the consensus Board feedback on April 17, instead of individually posting on the wiki.)
April 18 Sue delivers Board feedback to C-Level team.
April 30 Community comment period ends.
May 8 FDC publishes its formal comments on the WMF Annual Plan v1.
May 30 v2 of the plan is finalized, following input from Stu.
June 6 Final version of the Annual Plan goes to Board.
June 20 Board vote opens.
June 27 Board vote closes.
July 1 Annual Plan is published and budgets released.

Questions and answers


Q: What is the purpose of this portion of the FAQ?

A: This Q & A is part of a package of materials for the Board which in total represent v1 (first draft) of the 2014-15 plan. Its purpose is to help explain and support the other materials.

Q: What documents are the Board receiving as part of this package?

A: The Board will be receiving the WMF FDC proposal, this FAQ, and the "summary document" which has a more detailed cost breakdown than is provided in the FDC proposal.

Q: What documents will the FDC be receiving?

A: The FDC will be receiving the WMF FDC proposal input and this FAQ. The proposal input includes everything requested by the FDC as part of its process. We considered giving the FDC the summary document as well, but we're not going to do that this year because it contains staffing costs from which individual salaries could be deduced. We're not necessarily opposed to sharing that information, but we haven't checked with anybody who might be affected, and so we're not going to do it this year.

Q: How has participating in the FDC process affected the development of the plan?

A: Participating in the FDC process this year has added complexity and duplication, including by increasing coordination and communication overhead. We've tried to synthesize the Board and FDC processes as much as possible, but there is quite a bit of unavoidable extra work posed by adding in FDC participation. Upshot: the cost of participation in the FDC process is not insignificant. We are hopeful, though, that the benefits (useful feedback/input from community members including the formal feedback from the FDC) will exceed the costs.

Q: What is the upshot of the plan at this point?

A: At this point, the C-Level team is still refining what it hopes to accomplish next year, which will of course have implications for the financials and the final version of the annual plan.

That said, the high-level picture is the following:

  • The bulk of the Wikimedia Foundation’s proposed programmatic spending in 2014-15 is in the areas of infrastructure (including support for the open source community), mobile technology and programs, editor engagement, and non-technical support to the Wikimedia movement.
  • We are increasing the priority of mobile and multi-device development for the organization. This primarily means establishing mobile development practices across the organization and reducing the monolithic nature of our technology stack by providing more functionality in the form of stand-alone services that can be used in the context of different applications and implementations. We’ve also begun integrating Wikipedia Zero with engineering and product in 2013-14, and will continue to deepen that relationship.
  • We intend to continue our efforts to improve the user experience for new and experienced Wikimedia contributors alike and to increase the retention rate of new users in particular. We’re fully establishing community engagement as a new organizational function partnering with product management, and we’re deepening our commitment to data-informed development with strong support by user experience design and user experience research.

To do this, we are provisionally aiming to raise $60 million in 2014-15, with no funding designated for the reserve. Per our agreement with the Board, this proposed budget will not allow the total cash and reserves of the Wikimedia Foundation to drop below six months of operations or $30 million.

Currently, the v1 2014-15 plan calls for $9.9 million in increased spending from the FY 2013-14 budget, which results in a balanced budget with a revenue goal of $60 million. We will need to further assess our ability to raise $60 million and, if necessary, lower both the planned revenues and expenditures. The plan currently calls for adding as many as 48 FTEs as well as converting eight people from contractors to staff (currently the WMF has 190 FTEs): as we work through the planning cycle we'll be assessing the extent to which those additional FTEs are necessary, feasible and desirable for the work we're trying to get done.

*** Note to the WMF Board: You are not being asked to approve these numbers as the plan is not finished. At this point in the plan’s development, it’s normal for us to have spending plans that are larger than what we will eventually submit in the final version of the plan. Normally the planning process starts with a large number that revises downward as we refine our priorities, figure out interdependencies, and work through what's realistically possible for us to accomplish. ***

Q: What are the main proposed goals of the Wikimedia Foundation for 2014-15?

A: Please see the section “Key programs in the upcoming year's annual plan” in the Annual Plan.

Q: What are the main increases in spending in the draft plan, and what will they make possible?

FY 14-15 Budget FY 13-14 Budget Variance from FY 13-14 Budget % Increase Notes
Infrastructure $15,255,059 $14,830,059 $425,000 3% 1
Mobile $3,759,000 $2,614,000 $1,145,000 44% 2
Editor Engagement $6,719,941 $4,657,941 $2,062,000 44% 3
Non Technical Movement Support $19,254,000 $15,627,000 $2,930,000 $3,627,000 23% 4
Other $15,076,000 $12,341,000 $3,432,000 $2,735,000 22% 5
Total Budget $60,064,000 $50,070,000 $9,994,000 20% 6


1: Budget increases due to an increase of 12 staff.

2: Increases in the budget due to increase of 11 staff.

3: Increases in the budget due to increase of 5 staff.

4: Budget increases due to an additional funding for legal costs associated with the defense of community members, the protection of trademarks, additional funding for Communications, and additional funding for non-FDC grantmaking of $887,000, including Wikimania Scholarships and the addition of 8 staff.

5: Budget increases are due to higher donation processing costs, the expansion to the 5th floor of our current building, and the addition of 6 staff.

6: One significant increase that affects all budgets with staff, is a $1.3 million or 5.1 percent increase to fund cost of living increases and merit pay increases.

Q: What is contained in Infrastructure?

A: Infrastructure is solely technical spending. It contains all product and engineering spending that is not contained in Mobile, and Editor Engagement (below). It includes hosting costs, and all staffing costs associated with site performance and architecture, Wikimedia Labs, the data dumps, code review, site security and privacy, deployment, APIs, release management, and so forth. The main costs in this line item are staff and hosting.

Q: What is contained in Mobile?

A: The Mobile line item contains the costs for all staff who work solely on mobile web development and mobile app development, as well as the Wikipedia Zero Team. It does not contain any costs for staff who don't work solely on mobile. For example, no costs associated with interface analytics, research, and QA are captured in this line item; they are contained in Infrastructure.

Q: What is contained in Editor Engagement?

A: The Editor Engagement line item contains the costs for all staff who work solely on editor-engagement-related web and app development, including VisualEditor, Flow, Growth, multimedia and content translation. No costs associated with, for example, analytics, research, and QA are captured in this line item; they are contained in Infrastructure.

Q: What is contained in Non-Technical Movement Support?

A: The Non-Technical Movement Support (NTMS) line item contains all the direct costs for supporting the Wikimedia movement, with the exception of all product and engineering costs. It includes all grant money and costs of grantmaking, as well as all costs related to Legal, Community Advocacy and Communications, and direct funding for Wikimania. The largest dollar amount contained in NTMS is grant money, followed by staffing, followed by allocations for commissioned work on trademarks, domain names, litigation, and the legal defense of community members. (NTMS does not include any costs associated with the Board, the Office of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration including Office IT, or Human Resources; those are captured in Other. This breakdown could be criticized as imprecise: for example, some legal work is purely administrative. However, we believe the dollar amount of administrative (Other) costs being classed as NTMS is likely offset by the dollar amount of NTMS costs being classed as Other, such as some costs associated with the Executive Director and Board.)

Q: What is contained in Other?

A: The Other line item is essentially all administrative costs, and contains all spending by the Wikimedia Foundation with the exception of spending included in the Infrastructure, Mobile, and Editor Engagement line items. It contains all costs associated with the Board, Office of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration including Office IT, Human Resources, and Fundraising. It includes, for example, the salaries of all administrative and fundraising staff, the office rent and other facilities expenditures such as internet and telephones costs, payment processing fees, all costs associated with large meetings such as the all-staff meeting, all costs of staff equipment, audit firm and recruiter fees, and costs of insurance.

Q: What does the proposed new spending consist of?

The majority of new spending is direct staffing costs (salaries and benefits), and indirect staffing costs (office rent, laptops and desks, etc.) Roughly 57% of the new spending proposed here is direct staffing costs. That's fairly consistent with past practice: for example, currently about 45% of total WMF expenses is salaries and benefits.

Consistent with Narrowing Focus, increased spending on staffing would be intended to strengthen primarily Product & Engineering. In Engineering, we propose to add 14 software engineers, three Ops engineers, two QA testers, two scrum masters and an events coordinator. There will be a secondary emphasis on Product, where we propose to create five positions dedicated to supporting engineering roll-outs with community liaison work, as well as adding three positions to user experience/design, three to Analytics, and one additional Product Manager role. Lack of these resources has been identified as blocking or impeding progress during the quarterly reviews, by teams charged with responsibility for executing priority initiatives such as Mobile, Growth, VisualEditor and Flow.

We also propose to add five positions in Grantmaking: three learning and evaluation officers, two new program officers, and one Global Education officer. And, we propose to add two new fundraising positions, four administrative positions, and two positions in Communications.

Our major non-staffing expenses are proposed to include the following: $1.3 million for expanding the office space to take over the 5th floor to accommodate staff growth. (This includes both the increased rent costs and one-time costs for furniture and space build out.) An additional allocation of about $1.3 million to cover various legal fees (such as maintenance of our global trademark portfolio and community defense initiatives), insurance and professional services. Payment processing costs will increase by only $10K, because although we expect to increase payment processing revenues significantly, we have been able to negotiate lower percentage fees. Costs of grants are proposed to increase $887K, including increased grant money allocations for the Individual Engagement Grants (up $250K), Wikimania and Wikimania scholarships (up $250K), Partnership and Alliance Grants (up $300K), and Project and Event Grants (up $100K).

Hosting costs and cap-ex expenditures, traditionally a significant proportion of WMF spending, are budgeted to be lower than in previous years, with hosting down $800K and capex down $225K.

The current plan proposes spending growth in Infrastructure of 3 percent, Mobile of 44 percent, Editor Engagement of 44 percent, NonTechnical Movement Support of 19 percent and growth of “everything else” of 28 percent. This will give the Wikimedia Foundation an overall growth rate of 20 percent.

Q: The FDC proposal represents the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan as it exists right now. How did it get to this point?


  • Everybody on the staff understands and is committed to the strategic priorities laid out in the 2010-15 strategic plan. This plan also builds on the WMF’s Annual Plans to date, on the Board’s decision to create the FDC, and on the two key focus areas of Engineering and Grantmaking.
  • In January, the staff gave a presentation on 2013-14 activities thus far to the Board, and the Board discussed its initial views on priorities for 2014-15. Sue shared the Board’s feedback with the C-team, and talked with each C-person about priorities and expectations for his or her area.
  • This plan sets a revenue target for the Wikimedia Foundation and the two payment processing chapters (Wikimedia Deutschland and Wikimedia Switzerland) of $60 million. (To be clear, this includes all donations that come in via the Wikimedia sites, as well as grants and major gifts to the WMF. It doesn’t include money raised by chapters outside of the Wikimedia sites.) As we move towards the annual campaign, we’ll set expectations with payment-processing chapters about how much money we hope they can raise, but whether they fall short or exceed expectations, the WMF will fundraise to hit the target.
  • Throughout February and March, the C-level team worked with Gayle, Garfield, Tony, and their own direct reports to develop their budget and staffing requests. Their requests were submitted in March and compiled by Tony. This plan is preliminary and will need to be reduced. That is happening now, while you review this version of the plan.

Q: What remains to be done before the plan is finalized?


  • We are gathering Board, FDC and community input via this process, and it will be incorporated into our thinking and the thinking of the management team.
  • On April 1, the FDC application of the Wikimedia Foundation will be submitted on wiki. This kicks off the period of Wikimedia community questions and commenting.
  • On April 17, the Board sends feedback to Sue on v1 of the plan.
  • April 1 - April 30 is the comment period from the FDC and the community on the Wikimedia Foundation proposal.
  • Throughout April, the annual planning team will work with the C-level staff to iterate the plan (including goals and targets) into a v2 which will be delivered in early May. This version will incorporate input from the Board, FDC, and community as appropriate.
  • On May 8th, the comments from FDC on the Wikimedia Foundation plan will be published. This is the main formal opportunity for the FDC to influence the plan.
  • At the end of May, Stu, Sue, and Garfield will meet to discuss the near-final version of the plan.
  • On June 6, Stu will send the Board the final plan and Stu will post the resolution, triggering a two-week mailing list discussion period. Normally we have an IRC meeting at some point in this period, and we plan to do that this year as well.
  • On June 20 or thereabouts, Stu will move to open the vote, triggering a seven-day voting period that will close before June 27.
  • On June 27 or thereabouts, voting will close so the Wikimedia Foundation can publish the plan on time.
  • On July 1, the Board decision on the FDC recommendations will be published by the Board and a revised version of the Wikimedia Foundation FDC plan will be published, as approved by the Board.

Q: What caveats do you have for us, as we read the draft plan?

A: At this point in the process, there are still lots of assumptions underpinning the numbers that are being validated and refined. There may be errors -- e.g., double-countings, missed items, bad timing assumptions-- and there are many refinements to be made. To a degree the mistakes will cancel each other out as we work through the process, but it's still possible that we’ll discover that our financial picture is better or worse than what we think today, without us having made any decisions that affect the substance of the activities we are planning. So, the picture as described here may change as we refine the plan.

The substance of the plan is still very much a work-in-progress. Sue is giving her direct reports input on their first drafts, and we will also be considering the feedback we get from the Board, the FDC, and the community.

Q: What are the goals that would be tied to this plan?

A: The goals and targets are preliminary -- they are mid-process and not yet fully articulated. The basic activities are laid out below, and further articulated with goals and targets in the FDC proposal. Below, though, is a snapshot of where we are right now. The C-level people are currently working with their teams to flesh these out.

The key programs for the Wikimedia Foundation for 2014-15 as presented to the FDC will be the following:

  • Infrastructure: Keep Wikimedia's sites and services operational and support Wikimedia’s developer community.
  • Mobile: Grow contributions and readership on mobile devices.
  • Editor Engagement: Grow and diversify contributors to Wikimedia projects.
  • Nontechnical Movement Support: Grants, Evaluation, Legal Support and Communications.

Q: This feels like a fair amount of proposed growth for the organization, particularly from a staffing perspective. Can you give more context for the staffing increase?

A: At this point, the WMF proposes to increase staffing by 40 FTE hires and 8 FTE conversions over the course of 2014-15, to a planned staff of 238, an increase of 25 percent over 2013-14. The FDC proposal contains the details of departmental-level breakdowns.

For purposes of comparison with previous years:

Total FTEs at EOY Increase (#) Increase (%)
2010-11 actuals 78
2011-12 actuals 119 41 53%
2012-13 actuals 150 31 26%
2013-14 projections 190 40 27%
2014-15 plan 238 48 25%

Here's how that breaks down by activity area:

Activity Area Total FTEs at BOY (projected) Total FTEs at EOY (plan) Increase (#) Increase (%)
Infrastructure 65 77 12 18%
Mobile 18 29 11 61%
Editor Engagement 37 42 (48 with conversions) 5 (+6 conversions) 14%
Non-Technical Movement Support 33 41 8 24%
Other 37 43 6 16%
TOTAL 190 238 48 25%

Over 2013-14, attrition is projected to be 23 FTEs, or 12 percent of the total staff. Over 2014-15, we expect attrition to be 24 FTEs, or 10 percent of the total staff. Our typical turnover is about 9-10% (low by industry standards): this past spring, we experienced higher attrition than planned partly due to departmental and organizational leadership changes in Operations and Programs.

Going in 2014-15, we are reasonably well-staffed for hiring. In 2013 we hired an engineering recruiter and during the last quarter of 2013-14 we intend to hire a senior recruiting manager and a recruiting coordinator to oversee special projects, as well as to launch an improved applicant tracking system. The draft plan as laid out here outlines a maximum ceiling for our staffing -- that is, the positions we would ideally like to fill to make sure our teams can get their work done. We know we cannot hire rashly because people who aren’t culture fits don’t work within the complexity of our operating environment, so quality of hiring cannot be sacrificed for speed. We need to continue to hire high quality staff and take the time to integrate and onboard them.

Overall, we also continue to look at diversity as a component of hiring. We are doing well in terms of diversity of staffing, particularly at the executive level. We will continue to work on gender diversity, adding Wikipedians especially in roles where community history and experience is a necessity (i.e. Grantmaking and Program Evaluation), and hiring people with global experience to reflect the global nature of our mission. We are a small enough organization that attrition of one or two people affects the overall percentage of staff in a given category (hence the percent differences between FY 2012-13 and March 2014). Part of the challenge of increasing gender diversity has to do with with the fact that most of our staff are in Engineering, and the broader challenges of diversity within that field. This is something our recruiting team is aware of and the FY 2014-15 recruiting plans include greater outreach in this area.

FY 2011-12 FY 2012-13 March 2014
Women 31% 32% 28%
Wikipedians 25% 53% 48%
Ethnic Minority 28% 29% 29%
Lived Outside Home Country 51% 79% 72%
Foreign National 32% 39% 35%

When does this initial discussion period end?

The Board's feedback and guidance are useful throughout the process. You should feel free to continue discussions until early May. But your input will be most useful if we can receive it before April 17. After that, it will be more difficult for it to have influence on the substance of the plan. We are also planning on reviewing any feedback from the FDC and the community during the FDC comment period - April 1 to April 30 - and from the FDC assessment - May 8 - for its impact on the final annual plan.