Talk:Wikimedia Endowment

(Redirected from Talk:Endowment Essay)
Latest comment: 1 day ago by JBrungs (WMF) in topic January 2023 board meeting
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This note was updated on 03/2023

Previous discussions ...Edit

can be found here: Talk:Wikimedia_Endowment/Archive_1. (It's a bit unusual to archive everything on a talk page. Community convention is to leave at least some recent discussion on any talk page, rather than presenting people with an empty page.) --Andreas JN466 15:31, 22 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I disagree. If nobody has commented on a page in, say, five years, the "don't archive everything" enshrines that last comment, usually without the context of earlier comments. For seldom-updated talk pages, it is better to archive everything after 90 days. --Guy Macon (talk) 13:07, 2 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But I commented on a discussion on 11 September 2021, and less than five days later my comment was archived without a direct response from User:JBrungs (WMF). Then, only after that discussion was archived did she fix the broken link that I'd pointed out. This action violates the spirit of en:Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Editing own comments: "But if anyone has already replied to or quoted your original comment, changing your comment may deprive any replies of their original context, and this should be avoided. Once others have replied, or even if no one's replied but it's been more than a short while, if you wish to change or delete your comment, it is commonly best practice to indicate your changes".
Now my comment in that archive lacks context and sounds snarky. I understand whoever wrote that "404 error message" Imagine a world in which there is a page here was trying to be cute, but there's a fine line here between coming across as cute and sounding snarky.
At least now, I can find the report and read footnote 6, which I couldn't before. Wbm1058 (talk) 14:24, 2 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Quite, thanks. For context, the WMF announced on September 22 that the Endowment had passed $100 million in June, i.e. three months earlier. The announcement included a link to this talk page, with an invitation to "join the conversation".
So it is arguably somewhat ironic that this talk page, which had not been archived once in five years, was archived just prior to that announcement, thereby removing all the existing conversation, some of it quite recent, and presenting a blank page.
I can understand the idea of making room for fresh discussion ... I just thought it went a bit too far, and I didn't want visitors coming to this page thinking there had never been any discussion or controversy before that might be of interest to them. (While Wikimedia insiders would recognise an archive box, and know how it works, I wouldn't necessarily expect new visitors to notice it and click on the little "1".) Cheers, --Andreas JN466 11:39, 3 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lack of mention in Form 990, question about who controls the EndowmentEdit

According to the Wikimedia Foundation's Form 990, the WMF does not "hold assets in temporarily restricted endowments, permanent endowments, or quasi endowments" (page 6, Part IV, line 10, which asks about these, is answered "No"). The 2019 Wikimedia Foundation Form 990 FAQ document explains that this is because

  • The Wikimedia Endowment is established and held by a separate legal entity (Tides Foundation) with its own separate Board and Advisory Board that has the authority to control and govern the Policies and Practices of the Endowment Funds. The Foundation and the Foundation’s Board do not have any direct or indirect ability to determine the direction of management and policies of the Endowment Funds. As such, per US Accounting Standards, in which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) follows for the Form 990 reporting purposes, the Endowment Funds are not required to be reported within the Foundation’s financial statements on our Independent Auditors’ Report and Form 990.

But then again, the Wikimedia Endowment page (overleaf) says,

  • The Endowment was launched in January 2016 (on the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia) with the initial goal of raising 100 million dollars to support the Wikimedia projects. The funds may be transferred from Tides either to the Wikimedia Foundation or to other charitable organisations selected by the Wikimedia Foundation to further the Wikimedia mission.

This appears to imply that the Wikimedia Foundation has complete control over where the money goes – it can only be transferred either to the WMF itself, or to other charitable organisations selected by the WMF.

I was wondering what the advantage is of setting up the Endowment in such a Janus-like way that it can be described both as something completely outside of the WMF's control for the purposes of the Form 990 and as something completely within its control for the purposes of Meta. I asked about this both on the Wikimedia-l mailing list and on the Form 990 talk page back in July, but never received a reply. Can anyone help? What am I missing? --Andreas JN466 15:58, 22 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your questions. The original plan was successful for the initial setup of the Endowment to be with Tides so we at WMF could focus our energy on fundraising. We are now at the planned stage of maturity to move the Endowment to a separate public charity 501(c)(3). More details about the setup of the 501(c)(3) as well as information about the Endowment Board's plans for the investment income will be shared in the next few months. We anticipate this to happen in early 2022. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 09:05, 28 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you, Julia. I think the problem lies with the expression "The Foundation and the Foundation’s Board do not have any direct or indirect ability to determine the direction of management and policies of the Endowment Funds. What does that mean in concrete terms? Clearly the Foundation controls who the funds can be transferred to (they may be transferred from Tides either to the Wikimedia Foundation or to other charitable organisations selected by the Wikimedia Foundation to further the Wikimedia mission), so the "direction of management and policies" must be referring to something else – could you please find out what exactly that phrase means here? And would I be correct in assuming that the new charity will again be separate from the Foundation in the same way as Tides Advocacythe Tides Foundation is, so the Endowment will not have to be reported in the Form 990? Regards, --Andreas JN466 18:52, 3 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Andreas,
We will be able to share more details on the Endowment Board's plans and policies in early 2022 after the new public charity has been established. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 13:05, 4 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am sorry, Julia, but the question about what the phrase do not have any direct or indirect ability to determine the direction of management and policies means relates to the present set-up with Tides Advocacythe Tides Foundation, rather than the future charity. Could you ask Tony Le what he meant by that? He originally wrote it, but has not been back to that page. Regards, --Andreas JN466 18:18, 4 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jayen466: FYI: Tides and Tides Advocacy are not the same organization. The former is used by the Endowment, while the latter has been used by the WMF's "Knowledge Equity Fund". --Yair rand (talk) 21:35, 4 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Yair rand:: Thanks for catching this. I knew this, but lost the plot for a moment.   Amended above. --Andreas JN466 23:07, 4 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Andreas et al, I continue to find it confusing as to who controls the Endowment. I understand that The Knowledge Equity Fund is associated with Tides Advocacy. The much larger Wikimedia Endowment was founded in 2016 as a Collective Action Fund at Tides Foundation:

"An Advisory Board, nominated by the Wikimedia Foundation and appointed by Tides, will make recommendations to Tides related to the Endowment. Tides or the Wikimedia Foundation may choose to transfer the Endowment from Tides to the Wikimedia Foundation, or other charities identified by the Wikimedia Foundation."

NB that according to the Tides Collective Action Fund (CAF) FAQ:

"A CAF is a fund established to receive charitable contributions and make grants in support of Tides Foundation’s charitable purpose."

Why is Wikimedia subsuming its Endowment for use in support of the Tides Foundation's charitable purposes?! The WMF Foundation should be using the funds in its Endowment for Wikimedia's purposes. Wikimedia's purposes don't necessarily align with those of the Tides Foundation. In fact, this was the stated purpose for the endowment upon its founding:

"This Endowment will serve as a perpetual source of support for Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation. It will empower people around the world to create and contribute free knowledge, and share that knowledge with every single human being."

Note too that the Advisory Board referenced in my first blockquote above consists of the current Wikimedia Endowment Board. No problem there, however, the decisions of the Advisory Board (which the Tides CAF FAQ refers to as "an independent advisory committee") are subject to the following provisions:

The committee reviews grant requests, then makes recommendations to Tides that align with the CAF’s charitable purpose and goals. Tides reviews the recommendations for legal compliance and support of Tides’ mission and values and then makes a final decision on the grant request.

Once again, it seems like use of the Wikimedia Endowment is not in the control of WMF. Tides makes the final decision on the use of Wikimedia Endowment funds, and may choose NOT to act upon the recommendation of the Wikimedia Endowment board. Tides CAF FAQ states that explicitly emphasis mine:

Can Tides overrule the recommendation of the Independent Advisory Committee? CAFs benefit from the input of the independent advisory committee. The intent is to follow its recommendations. However, Tides may reject recommendations that are deemed unlawful, inconsistent with the CAF’s purpose, or that don’t support Tides’ charitable mission.

Is the Wikimedia Endowment still organized as a Tides CAF or has it attained its own 501(3)c status, and now under WMF's direct control only? I understand why the Wikimedia Endowment was initially organized in 2016 under the aegis of Tides Foundation, as it was necessary to wait until the U.S. Internal Revenue Service had granted the Wikimedia Endowment the tax status of a non-profit entity. I don't know why the decision was made to wait until the Endowment was $100million in assets, as it was over $20million upon its founding in 2016 but that's moot. It is now 2023, so I am puzzled if it is the case that the WMF Endowment (now with assets over $100million) is still with Tides. Even with delays for COVID, there has been more than enough time since Sept 2021 for the IRS to act.--FeralOink (talk) 07:36, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@FeralOink As far as we know, the Endowment is still with Tides. This is also still what the Endowment website says today:
The Endowment has been established, with an initial contribution by Wikimedia Foundation, as a Collective Action Fund at Tides Foundation (Tax ID# 51-0198509). Tides is a public charity with a 40-year track record of holding and managing charitable funds for nonprofit organizations. The purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment is to act as a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. An Advisory Board, nominated by the Wikimedia Foundation and appointed by Tides, makes recommendations to Tides related to the Endowment. Tides or the Wikimedia Foundation may choose to transfer the Endowment from Tides to the Wikimedia Foundation, or other charities identified by the Wikimedia Foundation that are engaged in activities that further the Wikimedia Endowment’s purpose. Following any transfer, the Endowment would continue to act for the purpose of being a permanent, income-generating fund to support the Wikimedia projects.
This is even though there was an "Acknowledgement of 501(c)(3) approval from IRS" during the 21 July 2022 board meeting (surely this means that approval had been received by then?) and we were told in April 2021 that the Endowment would be moved in its entirety to this new entity once the new charity receives its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter.
IRS approval thus appears to have been received at some point between the 16 June 2022 update saying the IRS was experiencing delays, and the 21 July 2022 meeting – in other words, something like eight months ago. And still the move has not happened. Andreas JN466 13:25, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikimedia Endowment only represented as an expense in audited financial statements, upcoming FAQEdit

As described here and confirmed here (question 3), the money held in the Endowment is not included in the net assets of the Wikimedia Foundation, as those funds are held by the Tides Foundation. Nor is money received by the WMF for the Endowment included in WMF revenue. However, when the Wikimedia Foundation makes payments to its own Endowment Fund, those are reflected as Awards and Grants expenses in the Wikimedia Foundation's audited financial statements. They have amounted to $5M a year for the past six years.

FAQs published in past years along with the WMF audited financial statements made no reference to the fact that the annual Awards and Grants expenses included $5M the WMF paid into its own endowment, and that the revenue and net assets figures did not include the Endowment, thereby making the WMF operating surplus appear rather smaller than it really was.

This year's audited financial statements and associated FAQ are due to be published next month. Could we please make sure that the Endowment aspect is covered appropriately this year? Pinging Tony Le. Thanks. --Andreas JN466 19:20, 23 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In last years FAQs under the “What’s the overall takeaway?” section you will see that it reads We increased our awards and grants as we continue our commitment to support our Affiliates, Organized Groups, and Community Members, and to build our Endowment (a $5 million payment to the Endowment is included in the awards and grants total).
We will continue to disclose the contributions of the Wikimedia Foundation to the Endowment in this year's FAQ as well. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:02, 29 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, Julia. The reason last year's FAQ includes that reference to the Endowment is because I added it, long after the FAQ was first published. I am glad to hear a similar reference will be included in the next FAQ from the beginning. Regards, --Andreas JN466 23:19, 1 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions from mailing listEdit

The following has also been posted to the Wikimedia-l mailing list.

Dear Lisa and all,

According to Meta and the just-released WMF Advancement fourth-quarter tuning session deck, the Endowment actually passed the $100-million mark not this month [the announcement that it had done so was made on September 22], but three months ago – in June, before the start of this current financial year. The Meta page e.g. says:

The Endowment reached our initial $100 million goal in June 2021. The goal was set as part of a ten-year plan from 2016-2026.

This means the Endowment grew by around $40 million in the 2020/2021 financial year alone – about as much as in the three previous years together – based on this Meta edit by Endowment Director Amy Parker, who stated that on June 30, 2020, the Endowment stood at $62.9 million:

I say "around $40 million" because if the Endowment grew from $62.9 million on June 30, 2020, to over $100 million sometime during June, 2021, at least $37.1 million (and probably a little more) must have been added to it in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Now, according to the just-released WMF Advancement fourth-quarter tuning session deck, in the 2020/2021 financial year the Foundation raised ...

  • $154 million for the Foundation (vs. an initial target of $108 million)
  • $18.9 million (vs. a target of $5 million) for the Endowment

I've been told by WMF staff that the WMF receives two kinds of moneys for the Endowment:

  • Some are "pass-through" donations to the Endowment. These are moneys received by the Foundation that are passed straight on. They enter the Endowment directly and do not appear in the Foundation's Revenue, Assets or Expenses figures.
  • Some are ordinary WMF revenue, reflected in WMF Support and Revenue totals, which is then used to make a Foundation grant to the Endowment. Such WMF grants to the Wikimedia Endowment are included in the Foundation's expenses total, under Awards and Grants. My understanding was that this has been $5 million per annum (equalling the target mentioned in the above slide), for the past six years.
Question 1

So what are the $18.9 million for the Endowment in the tuning session deck? Does that mean that the WMF, in the last financial year, took $172.9 million in revenue ($154M + $18.9M) and made an $18.9 million grant to the Endowment? Or are these $18.9 million pass-through gifts to the Endowment, which won't show up in the Foundation's financial statements at all, and the annual $5 million came on top of that, out of the $154 million?

Question 2

At any rate, given that the Endowment evidently grew by at least $37.1 million in the last financial year, the $18.9 million mentioned in the tuning session deck are about $20 million short. Where did the other money come from, given that it seems to have been so much more than in previous years? Were there any particularly large gifts from companies or foundations? The only major gift mentioned on the Meta page is a $1 million gift from Amazon.

I am sorry for the many questions, and apologise in advance for any misunderstandings on my part, but I find the Endowment set-up completely impenetrable and non-transparent.

There is no Form 990 documentation, because the Foundation says on the Form 990 it does not have any Endowment assets, and there are no timely updates or audited financial statements about money going into the Endowment or coming out of it. I wish this were different. --Andreas JN466 18:13, 4 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

These questions were answered on the 2020/21 Fundraising Report talk page. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 08:50, 13 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Tides Foundation relationshipEdit

Julia, could you please explain how the financial relationship with the Tides Foundation works? Tides presumably takes some payment for its services. How is that handled?

Does Tides charge a management fee, or a commission on income generated from investments, or retain some of the investment income (e.g. anything in excess of some agreed percentage) in lieu of payment for its managment services? How should people think of the service relationship?

Could you say how much money Tides has made from the Wikimedia Endowment since it was set up in 2016? And are there any other beneficiaries (consultants e.g.) that have received payments out of the funds collected for the Endowment? Thanks, --Andreas JN466 11:43, 20 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi Andreas,
We have an agreement with the Tides Foundation which covers the administration of the Endowment. As a matter of practice, we do not disclose specific terms of contracts with our vendors. You can see more about the setup with Tides and the plan to set up a separate 501c3 on the Endowment FAQ. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 05:49, 29 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Isn't Tides supposed to be a charity? Why would they want to be treated like any for-profit "vendor"? What's the rationale behind keeping their rates secret? Nemo 14:52, 29 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know about this case, Nemo, but generally speaking, the most common purpose of persistent secrecy is to hide misconduct, or at least to keep things under wrap that would "look bad". What else is there to gain from secrecy?
The WMF has been saying for five years now that it will soon transfer the Endowment away from Tides and to a standalone 501(c)(3) organisation – an arrangement that would at least ensure the legally mandated minimum amount of transparency, with audited accounts and so on. In 2017 we were told on this page that this would happen once the Endowment reached $33 million. This was described as a board decision. But when the time came, it seems the idea of transparency caused discomfort, and the board quietly changed its mind. No announcement of this change in plans was made, no reason was given. The Endowment passed $100 million in June 2021, with still no 501(c)(3) organisation in sight, no audited accounts ever published. --Andreas JN466 12:51, 3 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

IEEFA: Major investment advisors BlackRock and Meketa provide a fiduciary path through the energy transitionEdit

We're laggards, but it's easy to catch up. Nemo 14:49, 29 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Andreas Kolbe's Signpost article; request for regular monthly updatesEdit

@JBrungs (WMF): Julia, I hope you have read Andreas's article in the current edition of the Signpost. It was a real eye-opener for me, and I believe the issues therein rise to the level of a bona fide financial scandal at this point. In addition to addressing the questions in the article, I am asking that the Foundation provide, each month going forward:

  1. the total market value of the Endowment;
  2. the number and value of Endowment donations and bequests over the past month;
  3. the composition of all the securities and other financial assets held by the Endowment, with each of their individual line-item values;
  4. all transactions over the past month for any Endowment holdings;
  5. a list of all investment decisions taken, including rebalancing actions, whether by the Endowment Advisory Board or the administration;
  6. a report of the work done in the past month to transfer the Endowment to an IRC 501(c)3 organization, and the status of all pending efforts toward that end with their expected resolution date; and
  7. an attestation from each member of the Endowment Advisory Board that they have reviewed the information above along with any comments they each personally may have.

Will the Foundation start issuing that information monthly, please? New4Q (talk) 18:04, 30 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you very much for your comments and thoughts. We will be publishing an update on work for the Endowment, the Endowment Board, and governance later this month. JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:38, 6 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for your commitment to be transparent with the money being received. If the update on the Endowment does not feature any of the above, could you please explain why the Foundation did not think this information was appropriate to include? I think there is strong community support for transparency; donors and editors deserve to know the details behind the Foundation's financial arrangements. Harry585 (talk) 01:55, 8 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JBrungs (WMF): thank you for your response. Do you agree to provide the information I requested on a monthly basis? Please answer yes or no. If no, please explain why not. I would also like to ask, regarding item number four, that you please also disclose the commission for each transaction and the broker receiving that commission. Can you provide that additional information? New4Q (talk) 15:41, 12 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Note Wikimedia Endowment/Updates/2021-22 Q4 Update:

In September 2021, the Foundation announced that the Wikimedia Endowment had reached its initial $100 million goal and that the process of moving the Wikimedia Endowment to its own, independent nonprofit by obtaining US 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status has been started.

We started off with establishing a new legal entity for the Endowment, which was the first step towards its independence. The Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, was then filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in late 2021. The IRS has posted an advisory1 that tax-exempt application processing is delayed. Our submitted application has not yet been assigned to an Exempt Organizations specialist for review, and we do not have an expected date for its processing to be completed. The Endowment continues to be under the management of the Tides Foundation.

Since its incorporation, administrative and regulatory controls have been a key point of focus to ensure the Endowment’s smooth transition from a managed fund to an independent entity. The Endowment Board has established bylaws that define the duties and purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment, the Wikimedia Endowment Board, and Wikimedia Foundation staff working to support the Endowment. The Endowment’s policies regulate activities of the Endowment Board and staff members. Bylaws and policies will be posted to Meta after minutes are approved at July 2022’s board meeting.

All this work helps us to guarantee that the Endowment will support our movement in the best possible way, ensure that the future of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects is secured, and that our communities can thrive.


--Andreas JN466 14:13, 16 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@JBrungs (WMF): Can anyone please explain why this recent At-Large Directors for the Wikimedia Endowment Board job posting says, "The Wikimedia Endowment is led by Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, President...," but there is no mention of that here, on or User:Lgruwell-WMF?

I'm also curious to know why the Endowment is recruiting unpaid positions from paid job boards instead of the volunteer community.

Anyway, were the January minutes approved? When will the market value, holdings, transactions, and fees paid by the Endowment be disclosed? New4Q (talk) 05:25, 26 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is the money still with Tides?Edit

The WMF appears to have made contradictory statements about where the Wikimedia Endowment funds are currently held.

Earlier this week, Rai 3, a channel of the Italian national broadcaster, aired a program about Wikimedia and Wikipedia. On their website, they also link to answers (1, 2) they were given by the WMF's User:NGunasena_(WMF) in response to various questions the programme makers asked.

One of these questions concerned the Endowment. I quote:

Q: The Wikimedia Endowment is today still entrusted to the Tides Foundation. According to SignPost ( on March 2017 Lisa Seitz-Gruwell said: “The WMF board has already given us the direction to move it into a separate 501c3 once the endowment reaches $33 million. [...] WMF's Executive Director is supportive of moving it to a new 501c3 once it reaches $33 million." The Endowment has reached $33 million and passed them reaching $100 million today. Why the Wikimedia Foundation didn’t move it to a separate 501e3 entity? Being entrusted into the Tides Foundation is not available to the public any financial report about Wikipedia Endowment. Don't you think there is a lack of information and transparency about a fund that is created through worldwide donations?

A: Your information is incorrect. The Wikimedia Endowment was established as a separate entity and received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2022 following a 2021 board resolution. The Wikimedia Endowment was founded on and upholds principles of transparency common to our movement. Our financials are available for public review and we ensure our community and benefactors stay informed on developments related to the endowment by publishing regular information such as the list of donors, announcements about Endowment Board members on the Endowment Website. We also publish current updates and new policy updates on Wikimedia Meta and regular updates on our Diff blog, as well as on the Wikimedia Foundation website.

This answer was given to the Rai journalists in November 2022. However, what the programme makers said matched what is said here in Meta, did it not? On the very page that this talk page is attached to, it says today (two months later) that the money is "currently managed by the Tides Foundation". If so, then it hasn't been moved, which is what the journalists were asking about ("The Endowment has reached $33 million and passed them reaching $100 million today. Why the Wikimedia Foundation didn’t move it to a separate 501e3 entity?").

I do recall an October 2022 blog post from the WMF reporting that the WMF's application for a 501(c)(3) non-profit had been approved and that the WMF was "in the process of setting up the Endowment's strategic and operational policies and systems". But there has been no announcement that the money has actually been moved and the Tides Foundation Endowment closed down. The Endowment website itself also says (archive) that the money is still with Tides.

Could someone clarify please? Thank you. Andreas JN466 17:34, 20 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This question was also raised in a thread on Wikimedia-l. SJ’s message there summarized the situation very well. The Wikimedia Endowment has received its 501(c)(3) status from the US Internal Revenue Service. We are in the process of setting up its financial systems and transitioning out of Tides. This is in line with the direction from the 2021 resolution from Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. We plan further updates in the next few months.
The statement made by the recent broadcast in Italy was unfortunately an incorrect representation of the answers we sent them; a further clarification was made on establishment of the Endowment in January also linked from the show’s page. Considered as a whole, there are lots of inaccuracies in the broadcast despite engagement with the show by the Foundation and Wikimedia Italia over a period of six months to ensure the movement and Wikipedia’s editing model were represented correctly.
Best regards JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:11, 24 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Andreas, ah, I see that these long six years have passed, and the Wikimedia Endowment in its $100 million plus of assets is still with Tides as a Collective Action Fund. Given the secrecy associated with the activities of the Endowment, I would be curious if there were any disbursements from the Endowment that the WMF Endowment Board aka Tides CAF Advisory Committee requested, but were declined by Tides as is Tide's right.--FeralOink (talk) 07:43, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would be equally curious to hear about disbursements that were approved ... We literally have no idea whether payments made from the Endowment to date total 100 dollars or 100 million dollars, or what amounts were paid to whom. Andreas JN466 08:23, 1 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

January 2023 board meetingEdit

@JBrungs (WMF): Thank you for the update on the content page clarifying that the money is still with Tides. It would be nice if there were a rough timeline – will this process take weeks, months, or years?

I had hoped the community might be given some more insight into planning following the January 2023 board meeting mentioned at Wikimedia_Endowment/Meetings/July_21,_2022. However, neither the agenda for the January 2023 meeting nor the minutes for the July 2022 meeting appear to have been posted. Did the January 2023 meeting not take place? Regards, Andreas JN466 15:34, 7 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, I am most curious! Your very reasonable inquiry has remained unanswered for nearly 3 weeks. I have the necessary expertise to assist the WMF Endowment board in facilitating a prompt transfer of funds from the Tides CAF where the funds currently reside to the coffers of the WMF Endowment itself. Please do not hesitate to let me know if such assistance would be helpful.--FeralOink (talk) 07:46, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just for reference, User:CVirtue (WMF) said almost two years ago: We are in the process of establishing a new home for the endowment in a stand-alone 501(c)(3) public charity. We will move the endowment in its entirety to this new entity once the new charity receives its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter.--CVirtue (WMF) (talk) 13:43, 20 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That letter was reportedly received from the IRS sometime before 21 July 2022 ... yet the money is still with Tides.
The Endowment is now seven years old. In all this time, there has not been a single public audited financial report on how much money exactly has gone into the Endowment, and what expenses have been incurred.
All we have had, year after year after year, is promises that the Endowment would soon be transferred to its own 501c3 organisation that would finally file financial reports.
I have called multiple times for restrospective financial reports for the past seven years to be published. The response: Crickets. Andreas JN466 14:12, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

According to the recently approved minutes for the July 2022 Endowment board meeting:

  • The Endowment investment value stood at $95.2 million at the close of FY 21-22.
  • Funds are conservatively invested and the plan is to stay the course [...]
  • Based on a motion by Jimmy Wales, seconded by Phoebe Ayers, the Board unanimously approved the following resolutions:
    • Resolved, that the Board of Directors approves the proposed annual budget for the 2022-­23 fiscal year, consisting of $10 million of forecasted revenue and $1,803,622 of expenses for the Endowment;

User:JBrungs (WMF):

  1. Could you clarify the total present value of the Endowment, including cash? (For reference, a year ago in the January 2022 Endowment board meeting, it was reported that there were $99.33 million in the investment account and $6.07 million in cash. An additional $8 million raised in December w[ould] be transferred to the Endowment in January 2022.)
  2. And could you give us an indication of what the $1.8 million in expenses will be spent on? Regards, --Andreas JN466 20:25, 26 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I agree Andreas. We really do need to know why there are $1.8 million of expenses. It shouldn't be necessary for us to make guesses (e.g. Is some of it for the WMF Endowment director salaries? No, they are unsalaried positions. Travel to board meetings? Maybe, but how much? See what I mean: It is like 20 questions!)--FeralOink (talk) 15:05, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, I want to know more about the statement that "funds are conservatively invested". "Stay the course"? In what manner, User:JBrungs (WMF)? All we know (from what I could infer given the lack of transparency) is that 60% is invested in global equities. International equities are high risk, high return. Some percentage is part of a diversified portfolio, but I hope that a goodly amount of that 60% is invested in Blue Chip companies in the U.S., Germany, and Japan (the latter through American Depository Receipts or institutionally managed equity funds). There are ALL sorts of questions that accompany the appropriate investment of a $100 million endowment fund. It isn't huge compared the top 100 foundations in the U.S., but given the nature of Wikipedia and the free knowledge movement, it is vast. Do we get any say in this? There should have been very strictly specified investment guidelines in the articles of incorporation or whatever legal document was used to establish the endowment in 2016. I don't recall seeing anything like that.--FeralOink (talk) 15:20, 27 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just a quick note that I am working on getting you some answers in the next few days. Best, JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:39, 28 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you for your questions.
Generally, in this Diff post you can find more information on when the Endowment 501(c)(3) was established and other work that we are doing.
More specifically,
Regarding timelines: This is difficult for us to predict at the moment. Unfortunately, I can not give you a precise timeline for when the money will be transferred out of Tides. We are actively working on the steps necessary to set up the Endowment’s strategic and operational policies and systems to ensure a smooth transition of the Endowment funds and their management. We expect the transfer will take place in a matter of months. We will inform you when it has taken place.
Regarding investments: The Wikimedia Endowment Board of Directors has fiduciary responsibility to oversee how the Wikimedia Endowment is invested.  The Finance Committee, which is made up of people with significant financial investment experience, leads this work. They developed the Investment Policy and ensure that the fund is invested in accordance with policy and monitor the fund’s performance according to benchmarks. The Charter for the Investment Committee details their responsibilities.  
Regarding the date of creation of the new legal structure for the Endowment: The Wikimedia Endowment was granted 501(c)(3) status on 28 June 2022. There is an image of the IRS Determination Letter on the Endowment Policies page on Foundation wiki and it is noted in the meeting minutes of 21 July 2022 board meeting. This letter is the record that our application was approved. Effectively, this means that on this date the Wikimedia Endowment obtained 501(c)(3) status and we were then able to move forward and begin setting up the Endowment’s strategic and operational policies and systems.
Regarding reporting and board meeting information: The Board has committed to a reporting cadence, as noted in our recent update.  Annually, we will publish an Annual plan, audit, and a Form 990. Semi-annually we will post board meeting agendas and minutes (once approved). Per our regular practice, the value of the Endowment is noted in the meeting minutes. As with any investment, the value of the Endowment will fluctuate as the funds are invested and financial markets change. Also per our regular practice, minutes from meetings are posted after being approved by the Endowment Board. The approval of the minutes from the January 2023 meeting will take place at the July 2023 board meeting. The minutes will be posted shortly after.  
Finally, regarding Endowment expenses: The Endowment incurs expenses like any other non-profit organization. The 1.8 million USD earmarked for expenses includes personnel, equipment, and other administrative services including fundraising costs, human resources, information-services, clerical, finance, and legal services.  
Best, JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 06:46, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JBrungs (WMF) Thank you, Julia. I believe I'm correct in saying that the above figure of $1.8 million is the first time the Endowment Board has mentioned any kind of expense figure at all in the seven years the Endowment has existed. Could you provide an overall figure of expenditure incurred from the establishment of the Endowment at the start of 2016 (?) to 30 June 2022?
You mention "personnel, equipment, and other administrative services including fundraising costs, human resources, information-services, clerical, finance, and legal services". Could you provide some more detail?
  1. Does the Endowment employ its own (non-WMF) personnel?
  2. (Aren't WMF personnel soliciting donations etc. for the Endowment paid by the WMF rather than from Endowment funds?)
  3. Does the Endowment employ any law firms other than Adler & Colvin (mentioned in one of the board meetings)?
  4. Are there any external consultants that are paid from Endowment funds rather than WMF funds?
Also, could you ask how much cash the Endowment had as of 30 June 2022, in addition to the investment account? Thank you. Andreas JN466 09:02, 2 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi @Jayen466,
I have seen your questions but the next two weeks are super busy with staff travel and time out of office and I need several people to get you answers. I will try to get you something by the week of the 20th of March. Thanks for your understanding. Best, JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:18, 3 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many of your questions relate to the business agreement between the WMF and the Wikimedia Endowment. We do not usually publicly share our business contracts, however, as stated previously, the agreement covers personnel, equipment, and other administrative services including fundraising costs, human resources, information-services, clerical, finance, and legal services.  At this time, the Endowment does not employ any of its own staff nor any external consultants. The Endowment reimburses the Wikimedia Foundation for the costs their staff incur while doing Endowment business.
Adler & Colvin was the only law firm used by the Wikimedia Endowment during the setup phase. Like the Wikimedia Foundation, in the future the Wikimedia Endowment may need to hire outside counsel for certain matters depending on the jurisdiction or specialized area of law. The same is true for external consultants.  
We share in the Endowment minutes after they are approved by the Endowment Board, what the value of the Endowment is at that time. You can find the last approved minutes (July 2022) on meta.
Finally, as we noted in our reply above, the Grantmaking Committee made a recommendation to the full board about what information we would share and on what cadence. The Board has committed to reporting regularly, as noted in our recent update. That commitment includes an annual plan, audit, Form 990, board meeting agendas and approved minutes, including the value of the fund.
Best, JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 05:19, 30 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Return to "Wikimedia Endowment" page.