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Board meetings Minutes from 2014-11-21 Questions?

November 21, 2014

  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Board of Trustees Present: Jan-Bart de Vreede (Board Chair), Patricio Lorente (Vice-Chair, present for a portion of the meeting), Phoebe Ayers, Frieda Brioschi, Bishakha Datta, Sam Klein, María Sefidari (present for a portion of the meeting), Jimmy Wales (present for a portion of the meeting via web conference), Stu West, and Alice Wiegand
  • Non-Board members present for most of the meeting: Lila Tretikov (Executive Director), Geoff Brigham (Secretary and General Counsel), Stephen LaPorte (Legal Counsel)
  • Non-Board members present for portions of the meeting: Lisa Seitz Gruwell (Chief Revenue Officer)

The Chair called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM on November 21, 2014, and confirmed that a quorum was present. Jan-Bart, Patricio, Phoebe, Frieda, Bishakha, Sam, María, Stu, and Alice were in attendance. Lila, Geoff, and Stephen were also present.

Executive Session

The Board held a confidential session at the start of the meeting. Lila was excused Geoff and Stephen stepped out after the session's introduction, and no staff members were present for the remainder of this portion of the meeting.


Lila, Geoff, and Stephen returned for this portion of the meeting.

Board minutes
The Board considered a vote to approve the minutes from the October 2014 online meeting. Sam made a motion, seconded by Jan-Bart, to approve the minutes, and the Board unanimously approved the vote.
Board Handbook Update
Stephen reviewed updates to the Board Handbook from the previous quarter.

Operational Updates

Lila presented a general update on the Wikimedia Foundation's activity since the August 2014 meeting. (Lisa joined at this point in the meeting.)

Lila's presentation began with a review of the editor and page view trends on Wikipedia. Next, Lila reviewed the changes in the online environment that surrounds the Wikimedia projects, including mobile usage, social media, and machine-readable data. The Wikimedia projects are following the general trend on mobile usage, but need development in other areas, such as social media features and machine learning expertise. The next steps should be to improve Wikipedia by focusing on its strengths, recognition, reach, and trust.

Lila discussed areas that the Wikimedia Foundation should address, such as the social complexity for new contributors on Wikipedia, the way Wikipedia content is actively used on other platforms, and the need for thought leadership on user rights, privacy, and accessibility.

At this point in the meeting, Jimmy joined via web conference.

Lila discussed the need to experiment quickly with incremental changes. This may require new technology and better forms of community interaction. Lila discussed her plans for the next quarter, including continuing strong legal work, improving product, developing less reactive communications responses, and rebalancing grantmaking towards specific goals. A few areas may require significant work, such as building a team for engineering, developing partnerships with others who reuse Wikimedia content, and creating a strategy to support Wikimedia's communities of readers and contributors. The top priority will be developing a strategy and clarifying the metrics for the organization's operations.

The Board discussed these points with Lila, including branding and the Wikimedia Foundation's relationship with users. At the conclusion of this topic, Patricio and María left for the remainder of the meeting.

Executive Update from Fundraising

Lisa began her presentation with a history of the Wikimedia fundraising campaigns. Lisa reviewed the revenue from major countries, including a comparison of revenue performance in top countries based on GDP and traffic. Lisa also reviewed the Wikimedia Foundation's other sources of revenue, including individual donations in response to emails, donations from other organizations, and donations received through donor advised funds. A growing number of donations come through Wikipedia's mobile sites, but the dollar value of those donations are lower than desktop donations.

Lisa described the factors that influence the success of a fundraising campaign, including traffic trends by region and donation volume by region, persuasiveness of the message, effectiveness of the payment methods, length of the campaign, technical and strategic ability to play effectively in the mobile space, and geographic focus of the campaign. Lisa discussed the changes that the fundraising team observed during the last year, including a decrease in page views in North America and Europe.

Lisa outlined the upcoming priorities for the fundraising team, including an increased focus on partnerships with those who reuse Wikimedia content, more emphasis on mobile, experimentation with more visible campaigns, and expansion of the methods of payment processing. Lisa presented specific examples of fundraising campaigns from this past year.

The Board asked questions about mobile payment options, tax benefits for donations such as UK Gift Aid, and successful approaches in previous fundraising campaigns. Board members asked Lila and Lisa to consider and evaluate ways to raise additional revenue to increase the reserve for future needs of the organization and movement, including the possibility of adjustments in fundraising methods as appropriate. The Board thanked Lisa for her presentation.

At the conclusion of this portion of the meeting, Lisa was excused for the remainder of the meeting.

As General Counsel, Geoff reviewed litigation and other legal issues with the Board. This presentation was presented confidentially under the attorney-client privilege. The Board thanked Geoff for the presentation.


The Board held a brief discussion reviewing the meeting and the preceding two-day retreat. The meeting closed at 2:40 PM.