IRC office hours/Office hours 2012-04-12

[15:57:30] <tommorris> hey StevenW
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[15:57:38] tommorris awaits office hours
[15:57:54] <@StevenW> Hey :)
[15:58:06] <@StevenW> I'm just showing Garfield the ropes for a second, and then we'll get started.
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[15:59:28] <@StevenW> Hi Garfield!
[15:59:45] <@StevenW> I'm going to go spam the other channels for a moment, then we can probably get started
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[16:01:56] <SigmaWP> Hm.
[16:01:59] <@StevenW> Hi Sigma
[16:02:07] <SigmaWP> Hello
[16:02:44] ChanServ sets mode +v Garfield
[16:03:01] <@StevenW> So hi everyone!
[16:03:06] <Absolver> G'day. :)
[16:03:09] <SigmaWP> Hi
[16:03:19] StevenW wonders how many lurkers we have, and how many office hours folks :)
[16:03:30] SigmaWP doesn't even know what this session is about :P
[16:03:35] <@StevenW> See the channel topic
[16:03:48] <SigmaWP> Ah.
[16:03:50] mabdul|ill too
[16:03:55] <@StevenW> This is Garfield's first office hours actually
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[16:04:14] <+Garfield> Hello it is nice to be here.
[16:04:20] <mabdul|ill> oh fine. again somebody to blame about so many wrong projects :p
[16:04:27] <@StevenW> haha
[16:04:41] <@StevenW> Nope, Garfield doesn't run programs actually...
[16:04:47] <@StevenW> Is that correct?
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[16:05:19] <+Garfield> Yes. I handle accounting, finance, office IT and Office Administration.
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[16:06:00] <@StevenW> Unless anyone has any burning questions, Abbas actually emailed me one to ask, which I think is pretty interesting...
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[16:06:11] <@StevenW> "What is the Finance team doing to curb foreign currency risk during disbursement of grants? (Now that more chapters will be applying for grants for their Annual Plans worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, I presume that over a thousand dollars could be lost during foreign currency fluctuations)."
[16:06:18] tommorris loves the fact that mabdul|ill's first response is "blame". And by love, I mean, sigh.
[16:06:29] <@StevenW> Want to tackle that question Garfield?
[16:07:07] mabdul|ill is ill ad likely not clear in the head XD
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[16:08:03] <+Garfield> We are currently working on a project to maintain funds in our main currency types so that we can collect and disburse them with conversion. This project will be worked on until June.
[16:08:23] <+Garfield> I meant to say without conversion fees.
[16:08:46] <@StevenW> So basically we're going to have money saved in several major currencies? That's pretty cool.
[16:08:55] <@StevenW> Seems like a Wikimedia way to do things. :)
[16:09:15] <+Garfield> That is the goal, we will see how far we can go to implement this project.
[16:09:45] <@StevenW> Well I guess that answers Abbas' question.
[16:09:48] <jps> Garfield: How does the Foundation invest surplus cash? I've read that it is mostly in CitiBank certificates of deposit, which according to their website pay no more than 0.5% interest. Credit union certificates of deposit have the same federal guarantee up to $250,000, are far more socially responsible than Wall Street banks, and offer far more interest, around 2% these days.
[16:10:02] <@StevenW> Good question. Thanks jps
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[16:10:55] <tommorris> with the fact that the foundation and the chapters are basically raising money in a variety of different currencies, is there any reason why that money should not be kept in that local currency until absolutely needed? a sort of just-in-time currency conversion to avoid needlessly converting money, say, from EUR into USD and then back to EUR
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[16:11:30] <+Garfield> Currently we have our surplus funds invested in a money fund and CD's. Each CD is no more than $240,000 so that it stays below the insurance limits. I will look at the option of adding credit unions to this mix as long as we can maintain insurance limits.
[16:11:41] <jps> Thank you!
[16:11:47] tommorris believes he asked sgardner that question a while back and got slightly confused responses. ;-)
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[16:12:33] <@StevenW> tommorris: that's actually the plan Garfield was mentioning
[16:12:42] <tommorris> ah okay
[16:12:47] <@StevenW> :)
[16:12:53] tommorris came up with it six months ago then ;-)
[16:12:58] <@StevenW> Indeed
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[16:13:15] <@StevenW> Absolver had a question...
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[16:13:18] <+Garfield> We get some of best ideas from the community.
[16:13:21] <@StevenW> "Does Wikimedia only bank its funds with "zero-risk" accounts, or does funds actually get 'safely' invested as well to generate more interest?"
[16:13:40] <jps> Garfield: there is a site that collects the best credit union CD rates at
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[16:14:29] <+Garfield> Right now our goal in to maximize insurance coverage. We will be looking at other options, but right now I am not finding any attractive no load options to invest the money of the movement.
[16:15:02] <@StevenW> Thanks jps
[16:15:20] <tommorris> I think part of the question was about the ethical/social responsibility.
[16:15:51] <Absolver> If I can follow up on that - if investment does become an option further on, how is... yes - what tommorris says - what guidelines will be laid in place to decide where such funds are invested?
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[16:16:20] <tommorris> I believe the Church of England had a whole load of bother a while back when someone found out that they were invested in arms manufacturing indirectly, which was kind of incompatible with the whole peace love and Jesus thing.
[16:16:20] <+Garfield> We currently do not have a socially responsible mandate, but a low risk mandate.
[16:17:03] <tommorris> It'd be kind of unhappy if something similar were to be discovered about Wikimedia, which most people believe has a higher purpose.
[16:17:17] <@StevenW> Low risk is our version of being socially responsible I think, since it's donor money meant to go to the projects
[16:17:52] <+Garfield> This will be up to the Board to decide what restrictions they want to place on how the movement funds are invested. I do not see why being socially responsible should not be part of that conversation when it occurs.
[16:18:17] <Absolver> I'm happy with that answer, thank you Garfield. :)
[16:19:18] <@StevenW> I am pretty impressed that Wikimedians ask cool finance questions like this.
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[16:19:29] <@StevenW> Hi Ziko
[16:19:35] <Ziko> hello
[16:20:02] <Absolver> You only need to get one "You're investing my money in WHAT?!!" experience before that question becomes one at the top of the list when you donate money. ;)
[16:20:12] <tommorris> StevenW: hey, today I worked on the education of women in Nigeria and Lil Wayne singles - our movement has lots of multitalented people in it. ;-)
[16:20:13] <+Garfield> Agreed.
[16:20:30] <@StevenW> So do folks have more questions?
[16:20:52] <tommorris> Is there any plan of things you want community feedback on?
[16:21:20] <Ziko> hello garfield, we met in an air raid shelter
[16:21:34] <tommorris> 'cos the thing I'd ask if there aren't any more pressing questions would be: what changes in finance and administration are going on at the WMF that the community aren't aware about?
[16:22:05] <+Garfield> I will need feedback on how best to look at compliance and reporting with it becoming a burden on chapters and others in the movement.
[16:22:38] <Absolver> I imagine this might very well be answered elsewhere, so I'll be happy with an URL if it's been covered before - but what is the process involved when Wikimedia distributes funds for projects? And who can ask for funding for projects? (I'll stand in line here behind tommorris. ;) )
[16:22:56] <tommorris> Absolver: no, no, you go first
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[16:23:05] <tommorris> actual questions are more important than "tell us what the hell you do" prompts ;-)
[16:24:15] <+Garfield> Right now there is a grants process that Asaf can provide more information on. In addition, we are working building the FDC per the Board's decision in Berlin
[16:25:02] <@StevenW> FDC =
[16:25:16] <Absolver> Thanks, StevenW, I was just about to ask. ;)
[16:25:37] <@StevenW> Grants stuff is at
[16:25:43] <@StevenW> np Absolver
[16:25:52] <+Garfield> The main changes in our work in Fianance and Administration is working on the global movement of money project we talked about earlier and grant, chapter, project reporting and compliance.
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[16:26:51] <@StevenW> So who in Finance and Administration spends a lot of time talking to Wikimedians, including Chapters, about these things?
[16:27:02] <Absolver> So, all requests for grants go to the top of the tree, as it were? There are no 'local' grants from individual chapters?
[16:27:16] <@StevenW> Yes, chapters can and do give grants too
[16:27:26] <+Garfield> The main two contacts in our office are Christine, who some of you met in Berlin and myself.
[16:27:29] <Ziko> I'd be curious how accurate this diagram actually is:
[16:28:05] <+Garfield> Yes, there are grants from chapters but I do not have any information on those programs.
[16:28:47] <tommorris> okay, I'm not sure where in the movement roles and/or finance/admin and/or community stuff this fits, but as one of those weirdos who spends a lot of time typing things into square boxes, is there any plan to actually explain all this changing of movement roles and chapter funding and so on so that we can understand it?
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[16:29:34] <tommorris> 'cos a huge number of the discussions on what used to be Foundation-L seem totally not understandable to the ordinary editor
[16:29:45] <tommorris> or the ordinary editor who might happen to be slightly involved in their local chapter
[16:29:48] <tommorris> like, say, me. ;-)
[16:29:51] <@StevenW> It is complex for sure.
[16:29:55] <+Garfield> The diagram does capture that all money belongs to the movement and that except for core operations the FDC with the Board will be reponsible for decisions on how to spend program funds.
[16:30:01] <mabdul|ill> tommorris: signpost? Kurier?
[16:30:43] <+Garfield> Our goal is to have a clear process once we complete the FDC build and implementation process.
[16:30:48] <tommorris> mabdul|ill: signpost gets some of it, but I was wondering really whether Finance and Administration have a role in, say, explaining the fiscal impact of all the different proposals and stuff
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[16:31:17] <@StevenW> Speaking of which, I think Barry has been putting out a call for community members to help shape the FDC, which is one answer to your question tommorris
[16:31:25] <Ziko> Garfield: thanks
[16:31:35] <tommorris> cos there's always a lot of opinion and not much in the way of grown ups coming in and spelling out what it all means in reality
[16:31:36] <mabdul|ill> tommorris: oooh
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[16:31:53] <+Garfield> Finance and Administration are a part of the conversation and we have a voice on Meta along with everyone else.
[16:33:05] <+Garfield> Our goal to have a very clear process for how money is raised for the movement and how it is spent. Please let us know when you need more clarity. I can help with some of the answers.
[16:34:03] <Ziko> Garfield, we are talking about exactly what money?
[16:34:21] <Ziko> The definition is: donations that come in via the Wikimedia project sites such as wikipedia?
[16:34:23] <chrismcmahon> does F&A then have any direct influence on fundraising efforts? or are those separate activities?
[16:34:47] <@StevenW> Good question chris, let's tackle Ziko's first :)
[16:34:57] <Ziko> So if Google gives 2 million to the WMF, it is not part of the money?
[16:35:01] <+Garfield> The money that is raised by the Foundation and the payment procesing chapters raise via the Wikimedia project sites such as Wikipedia.
[16:35:21] <Ziko> Or WMNL receives the heritage of an old lady?
[16:36:21] <+Garfield> F&A does not influence the fundraising efforts, except ask them how much they can raise.
[16:36:35] <Ziko> Will other money be taken into account? that FDC might say: oh, WMF just got 2 million from the Gates foundation, so we have to allocate less to WMF?
[16:37:06] <+Garfield> As for the Google question, all unresticted funding received by the Foundation is included in the Movement budget.
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[16:37:39] <+Garfield> That will be up to the FDC.
[16:37:51] <Absolver> Actually, that brings to mind a related question - is there any form of segregation of funds, or is everything brought in under one pool? For instance, if I donate one billion dollars (pinkyfinger) to WM Norway, does WM Norway control those funds directly, or do they get pooled for WMF as a whole? (I suspect the unrestricted/restricted part comes into play here?)
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[16:38:14] <Ziko> Garfield: what is the "movement budget"?
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[16:39:15] <@StevenW> Hi Pharos
[16:39:19] <+Garfield> If the money was given directly to WM Norway as a restricted gift to them, then as I understand it, WM Norway has control that money as an independent not for profit.
[16:40:04] Pharos: hi steven and everyone
[16:40:16] Ziko: Hello Pharos
[16:40:18] Absolver: But unless it was specified as "only for WM Norway", it might get pushed on to the 'central pool' as it were?
[16:40:56] Ziko: Imagine someone leaves his possessings, in his will, to "Wikipedia" - that money would go to FDC?
[16:41:04] Garfield: The movement budget is the total of all unrestricted funds raised by the Foundation and the payment processing chapters, usually from the annual fund raiser less the money needed for core operation and money to allocated by the FDC. This is a new process we are implementing for next fiscal year.
[16:42:45] Garfield: On the WM Norway question, it is my understanding that a chapter has the ability to raise funds on it own for the purpose of supporting it's programs. So if the gift was to WM Norway, currently it would stay with WM Norway.
[16:42:49] Ziko: (Ah, thanks Garfield, I was just puzzled by the expression)
[16:44:07] Garfield: If someone to leaves a large unrestricted gift to the Foundation that it will become part of the movement budget, part of which will be distributed by the FDC. Some other part it may be put into a reserve fund or allocated to Tech improvements for example.
[16:45:43] Ziko: If someone in Germany put in his will "I leave my money to Wikimedia", we assume that he means the Wikimedia movement, I guess, and not WMDE
[16:46:06] Garfield: That will be a question for the lawyers to figure out.
[16:46:19] tommorris: Ziko: depends on German testate law. ;-)
[16:46:48] Ziko: ok, thanks
[16:47:54] Ziko: Garfield, the reserve you talked about, that will be a kind of reserve at the dispose of the FDC, for disseminating later?
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[16:49:42] Garfield: The reserve will be to make sure core operations, like the servers and the staff to support the servers have funding even if donations do not continue at current levels is my current understanding.
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[16:50:27] Ziko: So the reserve will be WMF money, as part of the "core business share" for WMF?
[16:51:22] tommorris: the building up of a reserve to keep the servers going through thick and thin seems... eminently reasonable. ;-)
[16:51:33] Garfield: If you mean is the money set aside for core operation, like servers, then yes.
[16:53:07] Ziko: So WMF can decide on it and won't have to ask FDC ever about
[16:53:18] Garfield: The board decides how much Foundation should add to the reserve each fiscal year with the goal to be able to support at least one full fiscal year of operations.
[16:53:59] Thehelpfulone: And is that information public Garfield?
[16:54:03] Ziko: oh, this is what the reserve means, ok
[16:54:26] Ziko: sorry for asking and asking, but i try to figure it out (drafting a new diagram in my mind)
[16:54:32] Garfield: The WMF Board takes responsibility for core funding the FDC will have as its focus program funding as I currently understand the decision.
[16:55:56] Ziko: this means that there are three kinds of money: (A) "movement money", given unspecified to "Wikipedia" or the movement, allocated by FDC to movement entities, (B) money given specifically to entities such as WMF or WMNL
[16:55:59] Garfield: The amount that is set aside for the reserve each fiscal year is part of our annual plan and the size of our reserve or cash balance is part of our monthly metrics report.
[16:56:16] StevenW: Both are listed here:
[16:56:48] Ziko: and then there is (C) this "core" money not allocated by FDC, but claimed by WMF for its core business that is trusted to WMF by founder Jimmy Wales on behalf of the movement
[16:57:35] Ziko: with (C) "core" money coming from the (A) money, the non specified donations to "Wikipedia" or the movement
[16:57:51] Ziko: I hope I got that straight? :-)
[16:57:58] Garfield: I think a better model will be funding for core operations which is voted on by the Board, money that is allocated to the FDC for programs, which includes part of the Foundation budget, and the money allocated to the reserve.
[16:58:05] StevenW: No, the Board. Not Jimmy. Jimmy is one member of the board, which is primarily an elected body.
[16:58:30] Ziko: (I mean when Jimmy founded WMF)
[16:58:37] StevenW: Ah
[16:59:41] Ziko: OK, Garfield, so you just described the money from the WMF perspective
[17:00:09] Ziko: the money to be used by WMF
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[17:01:02] StevenW: Is that a question Ziko?
[17:01:14] Ziko: Yes, whether I got that right :-)
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[17:03:06] Garfield: Yes, I described the distribution of money from the WMF perpective. Since each chapter is an independent organization, it will have it own view of money from the FDC and other sources to implement their programs and any infrastructure.
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[17:03:47] Ziko: ok, thank you Garfield
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[17:04:06] StevenW: Well, unless there are any final questions, it's time for us to wrap up.
[17:04:11] Ziko: how should I perceive FDC? as an WMF organ or a movement organ?
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[17:05:30] Garfield: The FDC is designed to be a movement body. That is why it handles funding for chapters, the some programs of the Foundation and other eligible entities within the movement.
[17:06:09] StevenW: Thanks for coming everyone.
[17:06:39] StevenW: Garfield had a pretty peaceful first office hours. :)
[17:07:13] Ziko: and why it shouldn't :-)
[17:07:31] StevenW: Indeed.
[17:08:05] jps: thanks for considering our questions!
[17:08:14] Garfield: Your welcome.