About the Wikimedia Endowment
Wikimedia Endowment mission statement reads:
"Access to knowledge is a fundamental human right. The Wikimedia Endowment is our enduring commitment to a world of freely shared knowledge, now and in perpetuity."
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. The Endowment has been established as a Collective Action Fund at Tides Foundation, a public charity with a 40-year track record of holding and managing charitable funds for nonprofit organizations. 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.
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.
More information about the Wikimedia Endowment can be found at wikimediaendowment.org.
Wikimedia Endowment Advisory Board Members
The Wikimedia Endowment Advisory Board consists of dedicated volunteers from a variety of industries including education, technology, and for-profit business, who are committed to the Wikimedia vision: a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. They provide insight and guidance to further the sustainability of Wikimedia through the Endowment.
Internet and technology entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, is founder of the online non-profit encyclopaedia Wikipedia and co-founder of the privately owned Wikia, Inc. including its entertainment media brand, Fandom powered by Wikia. Wales serves on the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organisation he established to operate Wikipedia. In April 2017, Jimmy launched WikiTribune - a news website involving professional journalists working alongside volunteers to curate fact checked and reliable articles. In 2006 Jimmy was named in Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ for his role in creating Wikipedia.
Annette Campbell-White is a recognized pioneer for women in the world of venture capital investment and a longtime supporter of the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission to make knowledge free and accessible to everyone.
Prior to retiring in 2015, Annette served as Founder and Senior Managing Partner of MedVenture Associates, a biomedical venture capital firm that invests in life-improving medical devices. Before that, Annette was the first biotechnology analyst on Wall Street and the first female partner at Hambrecht & Quist, a leading international banking firm. Annette has received prominent recognition for her business achievements, including being named on Forbes Midas List from 2005-2007.
Annette has also served on the boards of several performing arts associations, including the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances, a major presenter of the performing arts at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1997, Annette established the Kia Ora Foundation to assist New Zealand students in postgraduate study in the fields of musical performance, science and engineering. In addition to scholarships, the Foundation funds special projects, which support activities involving New Zealand artists.
You can read more about Annette on the blog.
Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University, and co-founder of the philanthropic Arcadia Foundation.
Baldwin has long been dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, the environment, and supporting open access resources. In 2002, he and his wife Lisbet Rausing, both long-time Wikimedia Foundation supporters, founded Arcadia to focus on these missions. Since then, Arcadia has made grant commitments of over $363 million to charities and scholarly institutions globally that preserve cultural heritage and the environment, and promote open access.
Baldwin is also a renowned scholar who is interested in the historical development of the modern state. You can read more about Peter on the blog.
Niels Christian Nielsen
Niels Christian Nielsen was appointed on 13 February 2017.
Niels Christian Nielsen is a noted business leader in technology, research, and education. Niels is the Managing Director of the World Refugee School, a global initiative dedicated to bringing scalable, affordable, and quality education to the world’s refugee children. Prior to World Refugee School, Niels founded and served as the former CEO of Catenas, a venture to create a globally leading professional services corporation. He was part of the team that, through a sequence of mergers, created the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), a technology consultancy and industrial research lab. He has initiated a number of large strategic projects, involving multiple participants and public-private collaboration.
He designed the Danish Network Cooperation program and proposed the creation of the Learning Lab in Denmark, where he served as interim CEO and Board member.
Niels has also been involved in Green Tech initiatives through the Danish Energy Research Council, the Copenhagen Climate Council, the Turkish government’s Sustainable Growth Strategy for South East Anatolia, and large-scale green urban developments.
You can read more about Niels on the blog.
Michael Kim was appointed on June 5 2017.
Michael Kim is the founder and Managing Partner of Cendana Capital, an investment firm focused on early stage venture capital, and former trustee of the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco Employee Retirement System.
In addition to his expertise in investment strategy and venture capital, Michael is actively involved in arts and public service in San Francisco, where he and his family reside. In 2004, he was appointed by then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to a five year term as a Trustee of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System, a $20 billion pension fund, and served as the President of the board and the Chairman of the Investment Committee.
For more on Michael, visit our blog.
Patricio Lorente was appointed on 22 July 2021.
Patricio Lorente of City Bell, Argentina is a scholar devoted to outreach activities in education. He is currently the General Secretary of Administration of the National University of La Plata. Lorente joined Spanish Wikipedia as an editor in early 2005 and has been an administrator since 2006. He is a founding member of Wikimedia Argentina and served as president from 2007 - 2012. Lorente was selected as a Wikimedia Foundation Board Trustee in the years 2012, 2014, and 2016, and he served as chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board from July 2015 through June 2016.
Doron Weber was appointed on 22 July 2021.
Doron Weber currently serves as Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Weber is a graduate of Brown University (B.A). and studied at the Sorbonne and Oxford University (M.A., 1981), where he was a Rhodes Scholar. At the Sloan Foundation, he runs the Public Understanding of Science and Technology Program, with national programs in science and the arts, and the Universal Access to Knowledge Program, which has supported the Wikimedia Foundation since 2008. A published author, Doron has been a Wikimedia Foundation Board Visitor since 2011, mentored by Jan-Bart de Vreede.
Phoebe Ayers was appointed on 7 August 2021.
Phoebe Ayers is a long-time editor in English Wikipedia, Commons, Wikidata, WikiVoyage, and elsewhere. A former WMF trustee, she has been a long-time participant in Wikimedia Foundation governance, as well as community events, including many Wikimanias, and outreach to educators and librarians. Phoebe has been an academic reference librarian in the science and engineering library at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 2015. Prior, she was a librarian in the Physical Sciences & Engineering Library at the University of California, Davis.
- 2014: The first contribution to the endowment came from the estate of Jim Pacha
- 2016: An additional $1 million was donated by Craig Newmark
- 2017: $5 million was donated by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, and $5 million of matching funds was provided by the WMF (blog post)
- 2018: Running total - Approximately $19.2 million has been raised for the Wikimedia Endowment to date.
- 2018-04: Between $22 and $23 million
- 2018-09: $1 million donation from Amazon
- 2018-10: $2 million gift from George Soros
- 2018-12: $1 million gift from Facebook
- 2019-01: $2 million from Google.org
- 2019-04: Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing donate an additional $3.5M
- 2019-07: Running total - as of July 1, 2019, the Wikimedia Endowment holds $43 million.
- 2019-10: $1 million gift from Amazon
- 2020-01: Running total - as of January 1, 2020, the Wikimedia Endowment holds $58 million.
- 2020-07: Running total - as of July 1, 2020, the Wikimedia Endowment holds $62.9 million.
- 2020-09: $1 million gift from Amazon
- 2021-01: Running total - as of January 22, 2021, the Wikimedia Endowment holds $90 million.
- 2021-06: $100 million goal reached.
Wikimedia Endowment Investment Policy
The purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment is to serve as a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. This investment policy is meant to guide the Wikimedia Endowment while we are in our initial fundraising period. This policy will be reviewed by the Investment Committee annually.
Expected Returns & Risk
During this initial phase, the Wikimedia Endowment seeks to track the performance of a global passive investment market index with the goal of producing returns that match a recognized benchmark for institutional investors. This benchmark will be based on a 66% allocation to global equities, 20% allocation to sovereign and investment-grade US bonds, and 9% allocation to Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”). The Wikimedia Endowment is designed to take principal risk in pursuit of higher returns, but that also may require liquidity.
All investments in the Wikimedia Endowment will be highly liquid. Typical investments will include Exchange Traded Funds (“ETFs”) and mutual funds administered by industry leaders, such as Vanguard. Assets under management, bid-ask spreads, and other liquidity indicators will be considered in selecting appropriate securities. Typically, load funds will be avoided. Cash settlement on these instruments is typically one to three days after trade execution.
The Wikimedia Endowment will target a 75% equity and 20% debt portfolio using low-cost passive index funds, both in mutual fund and ETF format as appropriate to meet liquidity needs.
The Wikimedia Endowment is beginning as a passive investment pool and performance will be measured against the benchmarks of the funds in which it is invested, in proportion to its target weights.
|Asset Class||Benchmark||Target Allocation|
|US Equities||CRSP US Total Market Index||31%|
|Non-US Developed Equities||FTSE Developed All Cap ex US||27%|
|Emerging Market Equities||FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap||8%|
|US Govt & Investment-Grade Debt||Barclays US Aggregate||20%|
|US Real Estate Investment Trusts||MSCI USREIT||9%|
Target allocations updated as of September 20, 2021.
The Wikimedia Endowment will revisit this allocation periodically to make sure it delivers appropriate risk-adjusted returns.
The Wikimedia Endowment will rebalance as necessary to maintain an asset allocation that stays within 3% of target allocation (i.e. 33% target would stay between 30% and 36%).
-Adopted January 6, 2017
Sustainability ratings of Wikimedia Endowment investments
The Wikimedia Endowment is invested through the Tides Foundation, which is committed to achieving an impact-driven portfolio. The Wikimedia Endowment is invested only in funds that have been reviewed by Tides and meet its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.
According to its Investment Policy, Tides “conducts its investment management process with the recognition that its responsibility includes not only the traditional goals of maximizing return and minimizing risk, but also a focus on utilizing its investment capital to achieve a world of shared prosperity and social justice, founded on equality and human rights, a sustainable environment, healthy individuals and communities, and quality education.”
Morningstar Sustainability Ratings evaluate funds based on ESG and rates them on a scale of one to five “globes,” with five being the best on ESG factors. Here is how the Endowment investments are rated according to this ESG measure, as of December 9, 2020:
- 30 percent of the endowment is invested in funds rated a “five”
- 30 percent of the endowment is invested in funds rated a “four”
- 20 percent of the endowment is invested in funds rated a “three”
- 10 percent of the endowment is invested in funds rated a “three-E;” these funds have an ESG mandate and their lower rating may be due to companies in the fund not being covered by Morningstar analysts (especially in ex-US markets)
- 10 percent of the endowment is invested in funds that are not rated by Morningstar but have an ESG mandate
1. What is the Wikimedia Endowment?
- 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. The Endowment was launched in January 2016 (on the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia) with the initial goal of raising $100 million USD to support the Wikimedia projects.
- 1.1. What is an endowment in general?
- An endowment is a (usually) permanent fund used to support an organization or a cause in perpetuity, meaning for a long period with an undefined end. Organizations with endowments usually invest the endowment funds in financial holdings, and then spend or use the interest or investment incomes produced each year. This allows the endowment to provide financial support for a long period of time.
- 1.2. What are the industry's best practises around endowments in the US nonprofit sector?
- In the nonprofit sector, endowments are considered an important part of good financial planning for organizations that aspire to continue fulfilling their nonprofit mission for the long-term. While organizations look to annual fundraising and other revenue streams to support their day-to-day operations, they look to endowments to support their long-term goals. Knowing that there will be a steady stream of funds across multiple years helps organizations plan for more ambitious and long term projects. It is common for organizations to build their endowments to a defined large amount before starting to use them as a funding source.
2. What is the impact of reaching the initial $100 million goal?
- The Wikimedia Endowment was created in order to ensure a sustainable future for the Wikimedia projects and invest in their growth. With this milestone, the Wikimedia movement will have a critical base level of financial support to continue to flourish and thrive for many years to come. It is a permanent fund that will ensure that we continue to provide free knowledge to the world in times of economic uncertainty or crisis, and will serve as a springboard for innovation during good times. Because of the Wikimedia Endowment, we can focus on growth, making long-term planning decisions, and invest in new initiatives with greater confidence. We are also able to provide our donors and volunteers with the assurance that their investment will be protected for generations to come.
3. What is the strategic purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment? How will the Endowment support Wikimedia projects?
- Like the many colleges and universities with endowments, Wikimedia projects will always be in the business of educating people. And we do it for free. To protect our ability to do this long-term, we set out to raise an initial goal of $100 million for the Wikimedia Endowment. Income generated from the investments made by the Wikimedia Endowment will be used as a stable funding source for the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. Investment income from the Endowment can now be used for work that supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects. The Endowment Board will be sharing more about its strategy for how funds will be spent in the coming year.
4. How are the Wikimedia communities represented in the Wikimedia Endowment?
- Similar to the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees, there are now seats dedicated to Wikimedia community members on the Endowment Advisory Board. We are excited to welcome Phoebe Ayers and Patricio Lorente with their deep experience in the Wikimedia communities to the Endowment Board. We will be sharing more details about the Endowment board in early 2022.
5. How is the Wikimedia Endowment set up legally and what is a 501(c)(3)?
- A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the US. The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Endowment Board have announced plans to move the Wikimedia Endowment, currently managed by the Tides Foundation as a Collective Action Fund, into its own separate 501(c)(3) organization governed by the Wikimedia Endowment Board. The move will help solidify the independence of the Wikimedia Endowment, allowing its management and investments to be aligned directly to the needs of the Wikimedia projects. The application to move the Endowment to a separate 501(c)(3) is currently before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
6. How is the Wikimedia Endowment money invested?
- Currently, the Wikimedia Endowment is invested through the Tides Foundation which has an ESG (Environmental, social and corporate governance) investing mandate for responsible investing. More about the Wikimedia Endowment’s current investment policy is available below. As the Wikimedia Endowment moves to its own public charity, it is likely that this policy will be revised. More information on that will be shared when and if changes are made.
7. How much investment income do you anticipate the Endowment will generate?
- Investment income will vary from year to year based on the performance of Wikimedia Endowment’s portfolio and general market conditions. The Endowment Board will be sharing more about its plans in the coming year.
8. What is the difference between the Endowment and annual fundraising campaigns led by the Wikimedia Foundation?
- In the nonprofit sector, endowments are considered an important part of proactive financial planning for organizations that aspire to continue fulfilling their mission for the long-term. While organizations look to annual fundraising and other revenue streams to support their day-to-day operations, they look to endowments to support their long-term goals and mission. While the Endowment does not replace our need to raise our annual fund to support day to day operations, it does give us more resiliency and it is a testament to the value that so many people place on the need for knowledge.
9. How does the planned giving initiative work and how does this impact the Endowment?
- The Endowment was first established thanks to a legacy gift by Jim Pacha, who generously donated much of his estate to seed its initial funding. Today, more than 1,400 members of the Wikipedia Legacy Society have committed to leave a portion of their estate to the Wikimedia Endowment. Gifts in wills provide donors with an opportunity to continue making an impact for generations to come. Their planned, future gifts will provide another stream of donations to ensure the Endowment’s growth and independence.
Advisory Board Meetings
- Endowment Essay - Written by Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, then Chief Advancement Officer
- Community essay about Endowment
- Board resolutions:
- Establishment of Endowment
- Approving the Endowment Advisory Board Operations
- Consideration of future Endowment structure
- Future Wikimedia Foundation funding of the Wikimedia Endowment
- Endowment structure
- Endowment Donations and Bequests
- Remit of Planned Gifts to the Wikimedia Endowment
- Wikimedia Endowment Structure, 2021