Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2015-16

Annual Plan on

2015-2016 Annual Plan
2015-2016 Annual Plan Questions and Answers
About this document:
  • Amounts reflect management reporting, not generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP amounts are noted where they appear.
  • Management reporting reflects primarily cash-basis revenues and spending. As such it excludes non-cash items such as in-kind amounts and depreciation and includes total spending for capital items. Revenue projections and annual plan do not include ancillary revenue such as interest income, speaker fees, and miscellaneous income.
  • Restricted amounts do not appear in this plan. As per the Gift Policy, restricted gifts above $100K are approved on a case-by-case basis by the WMF Board.

2015-16 Annual Plan PDF

Lila's Foreword


In 2015, we declared what matters. We made changes to strengthen our movement and organization. We refocused on our core: community and technology, introducing new thinking and skills to the WMF, and new products to the world. We outlined this focus in our Call to Action. We committed to organizational excellence, reconnected with our communities, and publicly reaffirmed our values.

  • Organizational focus: organized around community, technology, and serving user needs.
  • Results forward: built operations and strategy based on data and accountability for outcomes.
  • Mobile-first: launched our first native apps for iOS and Android.
  • Collaboration: created a Partnerships Team to connect our vision to like-minded organizations.
  • Values: fought back against government policies that would damage our mission.

We restructured the WMF around the people we serve, anchored in community and technology. We unified community-facing teams. We began realignment with Wikimedia affiliates around shared priorities. We ran an open strategy consultation and invested in our election process, resulting in some of the highest volunteer engagement in the history of the project. We dedicated resources to promoting respectful, welcoming conduct on our sites, gender diversity, and the protection of minors. We reorganized technology talent around core audiences, elevating some of our most experienced people and bringing in new experts. We committed to user experience as a foundation for success. We shipped two highly-rated mobile apps, dramatically improved editing performance, unified user identities across projects, and brought VE to deployment-ready quality.

Across the WMF we introduced best practices for action and progress. We overhauled reporting, introduced organization-wide quarterly goals and measurements, and set clear expectations for accountability. We established a special team mandated with driving performance across the organization.

We recommitted to our values. We took a stand against policies and practices like mass surveillance that harm our community and vision, establishing the Wikimedia Foundation as a major force on policy issues. We established a team to pursue partnerships with organizations that will expand our reach, and influence the technological, public policy, and cultural landscape.

We are not done. In 2016, we must declare for our future. Knowledge production, sharing, and the internet are changing all around us. In 2016 we must close gaps in core capabilities so we can expand the reach and depth of our projects across the world. These gaps remain in the areas of community (including affiliates and partners), technology, and communication.

We are a small non-profit in a land of internet giants, and as such we must be highly disciplined in what we do. We must partner heavily, leverage the strengths of our affiliates, increase volunteer engagement, and plan ahead. We must build funds and resources in order to invest in key far-reaching projects, and reimagine our movement for future generations. To succeed, we must embark on this shared future together. Joined, we are stronger. Together we can empower every human to share in the sum of all knowledge.

Call to Action 2015


Improve Technology & Execution

  • We will define our commitments - and deliver on time and on budget.
  • We will make our decisions based on data.
  • We will improve our process for community input, and allocate dedicated technical resources to community requests.
  • We will update legacy architectures and deliver mobile-ready infrastructure and services to support structured data, user security, and a simplified user experience.

Focus on Knowledge & Community

  • We will integrate across community engagement functions to improve communication and results.
  • We will create a central, multilingual hub for community support.
  • We will have a working plan to support emerging users and communities.
  • We will improve our measures of community health and content quality, and fund effective community and content initiatives.

Support Innovation & New Knowledge

  • We will integrate, consolidate, and pause or stop stalled initiatives.
  • We will create spaces for future community-led innovations and new knowledge creation.
  • We will facilitate and support new models and structures for knowledge curation.
  • We will strengthen partnerships with organizations that use or contribute free content, or are aligned with the WMF in the free-knowledge movement.

The focus of the next year


Last year we set up teams and team structure to align our organization with the future of the Wikimedia Foundation. This restructuring of Engineering and formation of the Community Engagement Department are, with the Call to Action, the basis for change in the FY 15-16 Fiscal Year.

  1. Consolidate staff and funding of current work: We will reallocate staffing and funding from low- impact projects to projects that further improve our impact.
  2. Fill in the gaps in current user needs:
    1. Software: Examples include improving edit rates with Visual Editor, performance improvements, readership engagement improvements via improved readability and discovery UX, API build-out and refactor core technology so we can build faster in the future.
    2. Community support: Examples include making the grant process simpler and responding to requests for fixes in an acceptable timeframe.
    3. Communication: We are seeing communication gaps, inconsistency in messaging, and lack of centralized community and product communication. Filling the gap on product marketing, brand positioning, social engagement, and global support are all part of this effort.


See appendix B for updated WMF leadership team structure

Plan metrics


How we will measure success


We will use a Quarterly Metrics Scorecard to track our progress on delivering on our commitments in this plan. We will use both top-level and departmental metrics to measure our progress and report back to our community on that progress.



For full report please see Wikimedia Foundation Quarterly Report - January - March 2015

Summary of the fiscal plan

  • Twelve months of reserves as of June 30th.
  • 17% growth total budget.
  • 20% growth without awards and grants.
  • Begin our endowment with $5 million.
  • Reserve surplus overspending reduced by $9.3 million.
  • Stretch goal to exceed fundraising target by 20%.


The reserve target will be changed, upon Board review, to 12 months of reserves at the end of Q1 of the fiscal year.

Board Resolution


Resolved, that the Board of Trustees hereby approves management's proposed 2015-16 annual plan, which includes $68.2 million of revenues, $65 million of spending, and adds $3.2 million to the reserve. This will be in addition to raising $5 million for a new endowment. If, during the year, management anticipates the reserve at the end of any quarter will differ materially from the plan, the Board directs management to consult the Chair of the Audit Committee promptly.

Quarterly Breakdown of the Annual Plan

Q1 (July - September) Q2 (October - December) Q3 (January - March) Q4 (April - June) Total
Cash Revenues 6.0 31.7 10.0 20.5 68.2
Cash Spending 14.7 15.5 18.0 16.8 65.2
Net (8.7) 16.2 (8.0) 3.7 3.2
Reserve 59.5 75.7 67.7 71.4 68.2
Endowment 5.0

All amounts USD, in millions.

Appendix A - Budget Detail


Total Revenue and Expenses


2014-15 Projection vs 2015-16 Plan

2014-15 Projection 2015-16 Plan Increase (Decrease) %
Revenue 74.0 (i) 68.2 (5.8) (8)
Expenses: WMF 48.9 58.7 9.8 20 (ii)
Expenses: Grants 6.8 (i) 6.3 (0.5) (7)
Total Expenses 55.7 65.0 9.3 17
Contribution to reserve/endowment 18.3 8.2 (iii) (10.1) (55)
Reserve at end of year 68.2 71.4 3.2 5
Endowment at end of year 0 5.0 5.0
Staffing at end of year 240 280 40 17 (iv)
  • (i) Amount does not include donation revenues retained by payment processing chapters as per the FDC grants of approximately $1.4M.
  • (ii) The 20% increase is the net of $454K in projected under-expenditures, increases due to annualizing of staff cost hired during the fiscal year, and additional staffing to implement the plan for the 15-16 fiscal year.
  • (iii) For FY 2015-16, WMF is budgeted to add $3.2 million to the reserve and $5 million to the “endowment”.
  • (iv) Staffing growth trend for previous years: 35% (projected) in 2014-15, 23% in 2013-14, 22% in 2012-13, 53% in 2011-12, and 56% in 2010-11.

The $68.2 million in revenue does not include the $5 million to be raised for the Endowment.

The reduction in Grants is primarily due to the elimination of the Partnership Grant that was designated for Brazil in the amount of $500,000, discontinued per feedback from the local community because desired outcomes were not achieved.

Total Spending by Functional Area



All amounts USD, in millions.

2014-2015 Spending (projected) Compared with 2015-2016 Plan



All amounts USD, in thousands.

2015-16 Plan vs. 2014-15 Projection Summary: Projecting increases in spending due to continued investments in Engineering, Community Engagement, Advancement and Communications.

  • (a) Increase due to increase in staffing, annualization of staff hired during FY 14-15, increase in data center capital equipment, and increase in hosting expenses.
  • (b) Primarily due to increase in staffing.
  • (c) Increase due to increase in staffing and outside professional services that result from expanded scope in fundraising.
  • (d) New initiative, thus increase due to increase in staffing, professional services, and travel related expenses.
  • (e) New initiative, thus increase due to increase in staffing and professional services.
  • (f) Primarily due to increase in staffing.
  • (g) Primarily due to increase in staffing that was done outside of plan, and transfers of staff from other teams to respond to an increased demand for services and support.
  • (h) Increase due to increase in staffing from expanded scope of work.
  • (i) Primarily due to the elimination of the Partnership Grant that was designated for Brazil in the amount of $500,000. The program was discontinued per feedback from the local community because desired outcomes were not achieved.

Appendix B - WMF Structure


Staffing by Functional Area

2014-15 Projection includes vacancies Current vacancies included in projection 2015-16 Plan Increase (FTEs) Increase (%)
Executive 2 0 2 0 0
Engineering 137 6 149 12(i) 9
Community Engagement 33 2 38 5(ii) 15
Advancement 17 0 23 6(iii) 35
Legal 9 0 12 3(iv) 33
HR/Finance/Admin/COO 31 6 38 7(v) 23
Team Practices 7 0 7 0 0
Communications 4 0 11 7(vi) 175
Total 240 14 280 40 17
  • (i) Engineering - 5 Engineers, 2 Engineering Managers, 1 Data Center Tech, 1 UX Designer, 1 Data Analyst, 1 Head of Infrastructure, 1 Chief Privacy Officer.
  • (ii) Community Engagement - 1 Community Organizer, 1 Survey Specialist, 1 Community Advocate, 1 Wikipedia Library Coordinator, 1 Community Liaison.
  • (iii) Advancement - 1 Endowment Director, 1 Partnership Manager, 1 Fundraising Email Manager, 1 Designer, 1 Fundraising Research Associate, 1 Development Outreach Manager.
  • (iv) Legal - 1 Attorney, 1 Legal Administrative Assistant, 1 Public Policy Specialist.
  • (v) HR/Finance/Administration/Office Information Technology - 2 Help Desk, 1 HR Analyst, 1 Recruiter, 1 Development Coach, 1 Financial/Budget Analyst, 1 Purchasing Specialist.
  • (vi) Communications - 2 Product Marketing Managers, 1 Communications Associate, 1 Advocacy Associate, 1 Social Media Manager, 1 Community Content Manager, 1 Internal Communications Manager.

Appendix C - Team Priorities




Obtain and improve site usage metrics, including user research and test instrumentation, user testing, and A/B testing to drive product quality and direction. Begin API update. Continue performance work. Improve community engagement practices. Reduce the number of projects in favor of improved quality.

  • Establish, monitor, and report KPI analytics to direct specific Wikipedia growth and product efforts
  • Implement usability improvements to increase key quality metrics for Search and Discovery, Reading, Editing, and Community
  • Improve Wikipedia performance globally
  • Create the Wikipedia API, begin MediaWiki modularization, and increase creation and reuse of structured data (Wikidata)
  • Collaboratively define, document, and maintain product roadmaps.

Community Engagement


Focus on strengthening quantifying our understanding of contributors and the knowledge they produce, and prioritize programs and services based on this understanding. Define critical missing workflows for community support and staff as appropriate. In collaboration with community, re-align affiliate and WMF programs and simplify their funding. Clarify programs missions, goals, collateral, and training.

  • Improve our ability to identify and support successful experimental projects: identify and review projects regularly, including those in IdeaLab
  • Conduct online consultation to simplify grants program and improve alignment across affiliate organizations
  • Provide structured program support, including goals, collateral, and training for more mature contributor-driven programs such as * Education, GLAM, and the Wikipedia Library
  • Set and monitor code review KPIs for all community-sourced contributions
  • Identify community health metrics and test projects to improve them
  • Set-up community communication pages for top subject areas, define workflows, and monitor KPIs.



The Advancement Department will provide lasting financial support for existing and new initiatives, including those supporting the expansion of usage and contributions, and begin building relationships for new content delivery, distribution, and input.

  • Raise $68.2 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year through online reader campaigns and fundraising outreach to foundations and major donors
  • Raise $5 million and secure planned gifts to ensure our long-term future through an endowment
  • The Partnerships Team will pursue a range of strategic partnerships: secure or reconfirm two pre-install partnership for mobile, and build two large-scale content partnerships.

Steward the mission of the WMF by maintaining strong core support for a top ten website and global community as defined below, while providing needed capacity to change and innovate.

  • Continue to meet internal SLAs for Foundation contracts, board support, and daily operating advice and workflows related to compliance in fundraising and grantmaking, technology liaison work, and other risk management
  • Preserve the movement's reputation by maintaining global trademark filings in existing countries, strategically filing for protection in priority countries, and pursuing enforcement actions against infringers in a user-centered way
  • Protect and help defend the interests of the WMF and our users through a variety of legal tools and strategies, including successful and relevant mediation, litigation, policy, and consultation, as appropriate
  • Recommend and begin to implement privacy and public policy initiatives consistent with changing technology and our mission and values, including free expression and content liberation
  • In coordination with our community, raise awareness of key issues to support our projects globally, including: free content, access to knowledge, and privacy
  • Deliver constructive and effective training for staff given past growth.



Improve and grow the public image of our community, projects, and the WMF; steward the Wikipedia and Wikimedia brand positioning and management; advance public understanding of, and engagement with, free knowledge; and support and advance strategic initiatives and projects, with an emphasis on technology, innovation, and new knowledge. Continue positive international press coverage for community, advocacy, and product. Increase views and use of community and WMF content on WMF-managed communications channels. Grow social media audience.

  • Secure coverage for and support definition of product roll-outs that fulfill their unique release criteria, defined on a per-project basis. Provide dedicated product-marketing support to drive integrated roll-outs for product launches, develop messaging platforms for new engineering teams, release strategic collateral including product-centric videos, and secure coverage globally.
  • Refine and distribute community content and support community engagement through content, contributed by or featuring community members, and distributed across social, blog, video, press, and more
  • Respond to and advocate around issues that impact our mission and our community, in collaboration with the Legal Department
  • Improve information sharing within the Wikimedia Foundation, ensure regular and consistent internal communications around Foundation milestones, and help us move forward together toward common objectives using resources more effectively, improving the performance and alignment of the WMF.

Wikimedia Foundation Risks


As part of our annual plan cycle, we identify some of the top potential risks that could threaten the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to empower people to contribute to the sum of free knowledge. These potential risks cover a broad spectrum, including product and technology, fundraising, community health, legal, operations, and other domains. Ongoing mitigation strategies are set out below as well, but such strategies can never eliminate all risks.

Product and Technology


☛ Risk: A competitor provides a better reader experience for Wikimedia content, diminishing our ability to turn readers into editors and donors.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Understand impact of Internet traffic patterns on readership, edits, and revenue.
  • Streamline reader engagement features and upgrade editing experiences.
  • Improve presentation and searchability of content.
  • Develop strong partnership program to seek cooperative, working relationships.

☛ Risk: Failure of technology infrastructure disrupts WMF operations.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Conduct analysis of technology infrastructure to determine bandwidth usage and prevent overloads.
  • Analyze technology infrastructure and location of data centers to identify vulnerable points of failure and build
  • redundancy when appropriate.

☛ Risk: Efforts to build large scale, high performance features result in delays or failures of those features.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Reduce time between development and running code to test features in a way to allow for rapid iteration.
  • Work with community to improve community
  • created code so as to facilitate WMF engineer development.



☛ Risk: The shift from desktop to mobile or other usages reduces donations below the necessary level to sustain WMF operations.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Test, find, and implement new methods of fundraising with mobile.
  • Find techniques to engage donors within shorter periods of time.
  • Explore alternative revenue streams that are in line with WMF’s mission and values.

Community Health


☛ Risk: The Wikimedia global movement does not improve in cultural, geographic, or demographic diversity, leading to less relevant and lower quality content for a global audience.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Invest in and implement diverse technologies and delivery strategies that improve the ability of users worldwide to access the projects.
  • Promote community initiatives related to diversity and emerging regions through monetary, communications, programmatic, and evaluation resources.

☛ Risk: Wikimedia lags behind other companies in social media growth, leading to reduced reader and editor growth.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Create contextual and personalized feeds of engaging free knowledge.
  • Improve shareability and embeddability on social media sites.
  • Leverage social connections as part of the editing experience.

☛ Risk: Community civility and WMF community relations worsen, leading to decreased WMF effectiveness, editor and contributor attrition, and lower quality content. Mitigation strategies:

  • Focus strategically on community needs through the new Community Engagement department.
  • Experiment with “safe space” policies and other techniques to improve civility.
  • Allocate dedicated financial and technical resources for community requests and tools that positively impact
  • civility and interactions with new users.
  • Provide public support and strong stances on contentious issues like gender gap.

☛ Risk: Changes to attract new users trigger a strong negative reaction among established editors and contributors that causes them to stop or reduce participation on the Wikimedia projects.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Ensure constructive user input and respectful socialization of changes early.
  • Improve tools to facilitate the introduction of new products.
  • Use incremental approaches when introducing new products, including small group beta tests or default
  • settings only for new users.

☛ Risk: Community leadership does not develop effectively, damaging community participation, governance, and responsiveness.

Mitigation strategies:

  • With a greater focus through our Community Engagement department, create spaces and support for innovation, training, and mentorship for existing and new community leadership.
  • Support diversification in candidates for the Board of Directors and community governance bodies.

☛ Risk: An unjustified lawsuit creates prohibitive costs or reputational loss that impacts other WMF priorities and budgets.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Work with engineering and product teams throughout development to avoid legal pitfalls.
  • Maintain strong Legal department and network of top outside counsel globally.

☛ Risk: Changes to safe harbor immunity laws expose WMF to new, extensive liability, costs, and technology burdens.

Mitigation strategies:

  • As part of our ongoing strategy, engage in public policy education to inform the public and lawmakers about the importance of safe harbor laws while opposing any threatening proposals.
  • Ally with like minded organizations to persuade lawmakers to pass strong safe harbor protections for hosting companies like WMF.



☛ Risk: WMF fails to accomplish a critical task because only one unavailable or departing staff member has the necessary expertise.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Develop succession planning and talent management to ensure that substitutes are available.

☛ Risk: Inefficient recruiting leads to a loss of talented staff and contractors.

Mitigations Strategies:

  • Improve recruitment strategies such as identification of best advertising venues and partnerships with top recruiting agencies.
  • Streamline interview process to speed up highquality candidate hiring.
  • Create faster, more efficient onboarding process in coordination with Admin and IT.

☛Risk: Failure to create a strong, consistent values based work culture could cause valued staff to leave.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Hire a well qualified HR lead with strong experience.
  • Establish initiatives that support our commitment to diversity and creating spaces for constructive, direct and
  • honest communications.
  • Communicate and listen effectively with staff on values and initiatives undertaken.



☛Risk: The WMF creates a high profile public commitment that it cannot meet, damaging credibility.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Work with organizational leadership on understanding intent and clarity in public messaging.
  • Develop messaging platform for communications consistency.
  • Train and coach staff in preparation for public appearances and interviews.

☛Risk: The community takes a position that is problematic or out of step with public sentiment, resulting in damage to brand and reputation.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Work with Community Engagement to build strong proactive monitoring capacities to better anticipate major community policy or bureaucratic decisions.
  • Identify network of key community spokespeople and build new capacity where necessary to increase rapid response time, coordination, and improve public perception of Wikimedia.