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Policy talk:Fundraising principles/Archive 1

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Implementation of the policy

Wittylama had a few comments about fundraising principles, particularly as applied to the annual coordinated banner campaign. Reposted here:

  • "easily dismissible on mobile" (...the impossibly-small "x" icon to dismiss...)
I also find it hard to use the "X" icons we have for dismissing interfaces and overlays: both these banners and elsewhere.
  • "Tell the OTRS team and appropriate Chapter (when applicable) when any major change (such as adding/removing a new payment method) happens in that language/country.
A "pull" solution might be simpler here: a page that lists all such updates, so that people can go and find the information when they need it. SJ talk 
  • "Maximal Participation: ...we should empower individuals and groups world-wide to constructively contribute to direct messaging."
rather than being ambassadors for our mission, wikimedians are feeling increasingly embarrassed
I can't speak to how different people feel, but I think having a network of tens of thousands of ambassadors is a great strength, and something we should be working through for every messaging campaign, fundraising or otherwise. SJ talk 
  • "Minimal disruption: ...causing minimal disruption and annoyance for users of the projects"
Instead, a desire to finish fundraising quickly is given higher priority.
As you say, "less disruption" != "shorter". I wonder what the fundraising team's internal measures of disruption/annoyance are: I know they are aiming for low disruption, not just short duration. For example, we now have a larger proportion of fundraising done continuously throughout the year in part because that is less disruptive.
I would be glad to see a longer campaign with better side effects. For instance, a campaign that leaves everyone who sees it feeling more inspired and enthusiastic, motivated to recruit others to get involved, rather than annoyed or guilty or concerned. I don't know how possible this is, but it's worth trying and striving for. SJ talk 
  • "Internationalism: ...our fundraising practices must support the easiest possible transfer of money internationally."
we've had the recent discussions about how donating is difficult from the Netherlands and impossible from Russia
I don't know the answers to these specific cases, nor how long it takes to implement changes. These issues do get regular consideration; I was glad to see a number of new ways to donate implemented in the past year, regionally and globally. SJ talk  04:23, 4 December 2014 (UTC)


"All Wikimedia fundraising activities must be truthful with prospective donors." I'm a bit concerned at the fact that this is listed as a principle signed off by the board, yet people have reported (on wikimedia-l) at having to "set things straight" with their friends who had been shocked and surprised at the wording which was being used. -- Chuq (talk) 07:10, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

summary of wikimedia-l thread "Fundraising banners (again)" / Nov 26, 2014 --

Summary of ~80 messages; editorializing by phoebe | talk 18:21, 5 December 2014 (UTC) in brackets.

communication re: fundraising season

  • develop banner approaches in the off-season [the fundraising team already does this, but there's desire for community discussion too]
  • if you do something new (in a geography etc.) make sure you communicate it to the stakeholders
  • fundraising team seen as sometimes unresponsive [though acknowledged that this, the en.wp fundraiser, is their biggest crunch week]
  • Also many thanks for the acknowledged very efficient, remarkable job at fundraising to the team; "The fundraising team is amazing at their jobs"

message content

  • don't mislead about ads: potential implication that if we don't get the money we'll run ads is not ok [agreed.]
  • don't mislead about WMF finances: potential implication that we'll go off the air immediately if you don't donate is not ok [note, I'm not seeing this in the current message, but I may not be seeing it because every fundraising appeal I've ever gotten is crouched in crisis terms.]
  • message sounds like an obituary/doesn't sound like an obituary/is clear/is too American [the latter is a problem esp. with English Wikipedia messaging, I suspect]
  • comments about emails, too [note, previous donors get 1 email a year]
  • comment that 1/fundraiser a year is not true for those unlucky souls who get a/b tested
  • as contributors, we want to be proud of Wikimedia, and not demotivated by the banners. some find the fundraising demotivating because of above points.

  • pop-ups are no good [pretty clear consensus]
  • sticky banners no good [I'm not sure if there's consensus on this point]
  • banners that obscure content are no good [note, though we agree on the principle, I am personally skeptical about the claim of this banner interfering with our mission; the content is still right there]
  • mobile banners too big, x to dismiss too small

brand image

  • current messages are seen as harming brand image because of above content points
  • harming brand image is not ok [I think we're all agreed on this]
  • messages should encourage people to contribute content as well [def. worth exploring]
  • user sentiment analysis is important [possible action point: maybe user sentiment re: brand should be more highly weighted in the banner tests?]
  • what would happen if donors were shown financials alongside banners? [note this seems very impractical to me. The majority of donors do not have experience with big nonprofit finances or a scope of comparison. Yes, I look at the 990s of charities I give to, but I suspect I'm unusual in that way].


  • we want all the data, because we are Wikipedians
  • especially .. user sentiment methodology & raw data
  • social media reaction: it seems very negative/more negative than past??/how much is there/should we worry about it?
  • how many impressions do people see? Is it really less? [note, we've been trying to optimize for fewer impressions for a long while, hence the shorter fundraiser]


In many ways it's hard to measure how much fundraising costs to our mission, but the recent focus on frontend performance may help us. WMF should be measuring the impact of CentralNotice [some of which is permanent, because of how the extension is designed] and fundraising campaigns [this varies per campaign and banner] in terms of:

  • time and resources needed by users to load our pages,
  • time spent by them on our content,
  • bounce rate.

These are pretty standard metrics across the web, so it shouldn't be that hard (Research:Content consumption metrics will hopefully help). Harder would be:

  • likelihood that a user comes back,
  • likelihood for users to get active editing,
  • productivity for editors.

Or, said with straight words: can we confidently say that fundraising campaigns aren't killing some Wikipedias?

  • I think it's well possible to kill a Wikipedia by adding some seconds to load time, scaring away huge portions of visitors and actively boycotting editors. So the question is worth considering (even if it may sound like trolling to some).
  • By "killing" I mean causing/enabling/facilitating two-digits percentage decreases in page views or edits. Such collapses are happening right now, it's not philosophy. See Research:The sudden decline of Italian Wikipedia.
  • It seems to me that WMF is not measuring "externalities" of fundraising in any way. (Not even banner impressions, let alone amount of users' screenfuls "occupied", or any of the metrics above.) So I'm pretty sure that we're not able to answer this question yet, but we should always be ready for tough questions.

--Nemo 21:16, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

Just a quick try at gathering stats on number of anons editing enwiki. Its been a very long time since I took any sort of stats class (And that was just an intro), so I probably did this totally wrong... But it doesn't seem like there's been much affect on number of anons editing. Bawolff (talk) 08:02, 7 December 2014 (UTC)
MariaDB [enwiki_p]> select substr( rc_timestamp, 1, 8) as  'date', floor(((count(*) - 25005.3448)/25005.3448) * 100) as "% different from avg", ((count(*) - 25005.3448)/1713.1075) as 'numb std devs different', count(*) as 'total edits' from recentchanges where rc_user = 0 and rc_timestamp < 20141207000000 and rc_timestamp > 20141107990000 and rc_type < 5 group by substr( rc_timestamp, 1, 8 );
| date     | % different from avg | numb std devs different | total edits |
| 20141108 |                   -8 |             -1.14607215 |       23042 |
| 20141109 |                   -1 |             -0.07842170 |       24871 |
| 20141110 |                    8 |              1.25541170 |       27156 |
| 20141111 |                    7 |              1.13457865 |       26949 |
| 20141112 |                    5 |              0.81410840 |       26400 |
| 20141113 |                    4 |              0.62906455 |       26083 |
| 20141114 |                    1 |              0.23446001 |       25407 |
| 20141115 |                   -9 |             -1.20152693 |       22947 |
| 20141116 |                   -4 |             -0.48470093 |       24175 |
| 20141117 |                    6 |              0.98806129 |       26698 |
| 20141118 |                    7 |              1.13983226 |       26958 |
| 20141119 |                    5 |              0.80768732 |       26389 |
| 20141120 |                    2 |              0.43759963 |       25755 |
| 20141121 |                    0 |              0.00797101 |       25019 |
| 20141122 |                  -10 |             -1.37956596 |       22642 |
| 20141123 |                   -2 |             -0.23019268 |       24611 |
| 20141124 |                    7 |              1.04760221 |       26800 |
| 20141125 |                   -1 |             -0.10060361 |       24833 |
| 20141126 |                    1 |              0.25956059 |       25450 |
| 20141127 |                  -13 |             -1.81736686 |       21892 |
| 20141128 |                  -15 |             -2.10339678 |       21402 |
| 20141129 |                  -11 |             -1.53892549 |       22369 |
| 20141130 |                   -7 |             -0.95810963 |       23364 |
| 20141201 |                    5 |              0.82695056 |       26422 |
| 20141202 |                    7 |              1.08787989 |       26869 |
| 20141203 |                    6 |              0.98572635 |       26694 |
| 20141204 |                    4 |              0.66350489 |       26142 |
| 20141205 |                   -1 |             -0.06557954 |       24893 |
| 20141206 |                   -9 |             -1.21553656 |       22923 |
29 rows in set (5.54 sec)

Please also see Phabricator:T78023, which is a ticket I started on this problem where I was redirected here. The size of the banner makes it difficult for registered users to log in. The banner should at very least be positioned below the #p-personal toolbar if not shortened. {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 21:17, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

I think it should be shortened. My friends (who are not editors) are telling me how annoying the banners are, almost taking up the whole page, and that they somehow show up again everyday even after being dismissed. Tony Tan98 · talk 20:39, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Where from here

The initial flurry of opinions and objections has by now calmed down on the mailinglists and has been neatly summarised and commented on by Phoebe above (again, thank you). Lila suggested that if we all know better, come with suggestions, which is by all means fair. There is now a page on Fundraising banners/December 2014 for just that. So, now what? Do we still expect something to change this year? Are we aiming for next year or the following years? Are we just going to do the same thing next year? The last one seems the least desirable, but still the most likely outcome. What can we do to change that? Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 11:17, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Well, at least there is a physical limit: no matter how much they try, WMF can't make banners bigger than the devices on which they are displayed, nor have more banner impressions than page views. --Nemo 12:59, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, nice conclusion Nemo, but we need to somehow persuade WMF to reduce the banner size, perhaps to what it was before, but certainly not taking up the whole screen. Tony Tan98 · talk 20:58, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Trying out suggestions seems like something that could be done soon, no need to wait until next year. Finding a better tradeoff between annoyance and effectiveness is definitely something to review for next year. It seems to me there was an implicit assumption up til now that the only two measures of banner quality were 'conversion rate' (to donations), and 'number of impressions seen per person' and 'length of campaign' (as a measure of annoyance). Clearly that is not right: a very large banner that repeats unexpectedly a few times may be much more frustrating than a persistent small one that lasts for weeks. Annoyance also varies with the language and messaging, which can range from inspiring, pleading, concerning; the beauty or garishness of design; whether it is easy or hard to close a banner, and whether this state persists. It would be worth having a more specific discussion about some of these things. In addition to "things to try in Dec 2014" a list of good banners and fundraising messages from the past, along with stats about them, would be helpful. SJ talk  17:48, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
Not quite "number of impressions seen per person", which has never been measured at all as far as we know: see [[Talk:Fundraising 2012/Report]. --Nemo 17:50, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

In terms of 'where to from here', I would like to directly call on SJ and phoebe, as well as the other "community members" of the WMF Board of Trustees to raise the issue at the next WMF BoT meeting. Specifically, I would like the BoT to request the WMF Fundraising team to proactively develop public "operating principles", in consultation with the community, for website and email fundraising. These operating principles should live on THIS page, below the general Fundraising Principles that have bene approved by the BoT in 2012. I think the excellent summary that Phoebe made here is the perfect beginning of a document. It should be written and discussed in the same manner that the Legal department discussed the changes to the Terms of Service. I believe that the process itself (not merely the outcome) would be important to help bring the wider community and the WMF Fundraising Team back on the 'same page' and help reset the relationship....

Hopefully in the future the Fundraising team doesn't feel like they're besieged by angry community, and equally, the community will feel empowered and inspired to go and tell their friends and family to donate. As it currently stands, I doubt if any Wikimedians are 'evangelising' for the fundraiser with their own real-world friends like we used to 5 years ago - which is a great shame... If we can't harness the projects' volunteers to help raise donations, then that's a pretty sorry state of affairs.

Heartily agreed on both points. SJ talk 
SJ, can and should this still be put on the agenda for the next BoT meeting? I don't really know much about the workings of these organs and boards. I can't find if/when the next meeting is scheduled, or how these agendas are put together, but there seem to usually be a meeting in the first two months of the year (or Q3 as it seems to be known, I add with mild snark). Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 14:49, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Also - the reason I think this should be a direction being requested from the BoT is to give it legitimacy and 'weight'. If random members of the community such as myself start writing a document here, that is only going to make the fundraising team feel like we're trying to undermine them and respond with aggressive silence (like on wikimedia-l regarding the 'Russian question') Wittylama (talk) 21:44, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

You are not a 'random' member of the community; and thoughtful documents are welcome from all sources. Please do work on such a document. I don't interpret the silence re: the Russian question as aggressive; I'd like to know the answer myself, and It seems like one of the things that will be answered after the December campaign (in other countries) is over. SJ talk  17:48, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
On «harness the projects' volunteers to help raise donations», I'm not sure that's what the WMF wants. Usually, WMF likes to claim all merits for raising money from a silent majority of alleged "readers", while thanking an amorphous mass of anonymous editors, in order to be able to spend the money in whatever way they like. I really think that raising money here is the aim itself for WMF, to gain a position of authority and power over all the others. I don't see a solution for this problem. --Nemo 10:08, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
The WMF does want and encourage that. It is also the case that the majority of donations come through the banners, from readers who are not logged into an account. It would be worth running grassroots campaigns as well, and tracking their impact separately.
I don't think any of this relates to 'how money is spent', or a 'reader v. editor divide', both separate topics. Readers / editors / donors aren't amorphous, they are numerous. That can make the networks hard to visualize, but worth trying; through attribution lists, donor lists, storytelling. How else would you do it? SJ talk  17:48, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Questions to the fundraising team from Wikimedia-l

I'm copying here some questions that were raised recently on Wikimedia-l. Please use this section only for questions and use the section below for comments. feel free to add your own questions to the list:

Practical questions for the fundraising team to answer
  • why isn't fundraising using the same software to receive bug reports (phabricator) as everyone else?
  • why haven't the crowdsourced banner text suggestions been A/B tested?
  • why were new banners shown to people who had chosen to dismiss previous ones, and why were they allowed take up such a large proportion of the screen/obscure content?
  • has anyone responded to the Russian community yet to their polite and important question?
  • why were new banners following the user down the page?
  • how the localization of the suggest amounts to donate was done?[1]
More general questions that should be adressed by the community and discussed by the Board of Trustees
  • what degree of 'urgency' is morally acceptable in a donation request, especially when the financial situation of the WMF has never been healthier/stable? (e.g. threatening phrases like "keep us online and ad-free for another year")
  • Is the practice of "finishing the fundraiser period as fast as possible by any means" the correct interpretation of the the official fundraising principle of "minimal disruption"?
  • Is the official fundraising principle of "maximal participation" being adhered to? That principle calls for "empowering individuals to constructively contribute to direct messaging, public outreach..." Does the WMF Board believe this has happened?
  • Is the current "we don't like asking for money so just give it to us and we'll stop annoying you" approach to fundraising (implied by the final phrase in the final 2014 campaign email "Please help us forget fundraising and get back to improving Wikipedia.") potentially damaging to the Wikimedia brand value, even if it does raise the money in the short term? Lila said that there has been "sentiment analysis" done about this, what was the result?

--CristianCantoro (talk) 10:17, 13 January 2015 (UTC)


  1. There has been several complaints about the fact that the amount asked using phrases like "buying a programmer a coffee" was very much off the real cost a coffee in a given country.


The Wikimedia blog post Thank you for keeping knowledge free and accessible speaks of a $20 million fundraising goal for the December fundraiser. As far as I can see, according to the figures in the yeardata-day-vs-sum.csv spreadsheet at [1] this target was reached on December 16. Yet the fundraising campaign continued until December 31, for an eventual December fundraising total of well over $30 million, over $10 million in excess of target.

In the thank you e-mail, donors were told,

"Each year, just enough people donate to keep the sum of all human knowledge available for everyone [...] thank you for keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free this year."

It is my understanding that the cost of keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free is far, far less than what the Wikimedia Foundation is taking (Internet hosting accounted for $2.5 million in 2013/2014; contrast this against the $30+ million taken just in December 2014).

Wikimedia Foundation financial development 2003–2014. Green is revenue, red is expenses, black is assets.

The Foundation's revenue has increased by 1,000 percent since 2008 or so, and the number of paid staff has experienced an unprecedented expansion, from a dozen to several hundred paid staff.

It seems hardly correct to say that "just enough people donate to keep the sum of all human knowledge available for everyone".

Assuming all the figures above are correct and not subject to error, aren't the banner and thank-you e-mail wordings too manipulative to be morally and ethically justifiable? Andreas JN466 00:38, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Signpost Op-Ed

In this Op-Ed at the current signpost the just finished survey is harshly criticised for failing to even ask the main questions, that came from the community. These questions where asked here as well, and consequently not answered by the fund-raising team as well. The whole survey looks like something especially commissioned to support the justification lyrics for this scare-mongering begging spree with huge banners. A lot about meaningless formal questions, nothing about the blatant lies in the message. Will there be any more answers to this questions? Why were they avoided in the survey? --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 15:03, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Funds dissemination: split into separate page?

It is great to see principles around both fund-raising and funds dissemination articulated. However, it seems odd to have them both on the same page, under the "fundraising" heading. Any problem with splitting the second section into another page? (The third section, on payment processing, might or might not be worth splitting off as well...I'm not so familiar with that area, so I don't have a strong opinion.) -Pete F (talk) 02:33, 16 November 2015 (UTC)

I have seen this Peter Coombe (Wikimedia Foundation), thanks for the ping. I will take a look at this and respond after the FDC deliberations conclude later this week. Cheers, KLove (WMF) (talk) 16:54, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Support Support I've now had a chance to review this and I agree with what Peter and Siko have suggested. It doesn't make sense to me to have the fundraising and fund dissemination listed together here, given WMF has a number of grant programs that disseminate funds raised by the movement & fundraising teams. I now understand that this is part of a conversation held a few years ago as Siko outlines below. KLove (WMF) (talk) 00:19, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree it seems odd to have funds dissemination on a page with the current fundraising title. My assumption is that this page was started at a time in which these 3 topics (fundraising, payment processing, and funds dissemination) were being discussed by the WMF board as very interrelated issues. At this point, it seems like either moving the dissemination section to a new page (Peter's suggested name for the new page is ok by me, since it seems like that section isn't only about the FDC), or retitling this page would be an improvement. Siko (WMF) (talk) 00:41, 17 November 2015 (UTC)

 Done. Since there seemed to be agreement, I have gone ahead and split that section off to Grants:Principles. Peter Coombe (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 19:05, 18 March 2016 (UTC)

Are gigantic banners consistent with "causing minimal disruption and annoyance for users"?

Normal Wikipedia users without accounts (or who access Wikipedia in Incognito mode, often for good reasons) regularly see gigantic, disruptive banners asking them to donate. These banners are very disruptive and annoying (presumably intentionally so, on the theory that more disruptive banners cause more donations). Does this not go against the principle of "minimal disruption"? Perhaps the reason the banners still exist, is that another principle demands that all fundraising "raise the maximum possible amount of money from donors". Are the current banners trying to strike a balance between these two principles? If so, has the reasoning and analysis that led to this decision been documented and shared publicly? Ornilnas (talk) 07:54, 16 September 2020 (UTC)