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Wikimedia Deutschland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikimedia Deutschland (also known as WMDE, Wikimedia Germany, and the Society for the Promotion of Free Knowledge) is a German non-profit association based in Berlin.[1] It was founded in 2004 and recognized that year as the first national chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, which funds and supports Wikipedia and other projects.[citation needed]

In 2022, according to its records, it had over 100,000 dues-paying members and employed around 160 people,[2] working on projects ranging from public relations to technical development of Wikidata to community support for contributors to Wikipedia and sister projects. It has its own fundraising team and is supported in part by dues from its membership. It also directly supports free knowledge access and development beyond Wikimedia projects, and hosts the annual summit of Wikimedia affiliates.[3]

Goals and activities[edit]

The association is involved in software development for Wikimedia projects, supporting projects by volunteers from Wikimedia projects, and cooperating with educational, scientific and cultural institutions on the subject of free knowledge, "to promote equal opportunities in access to knowledge and education."[4]

Its statutes specify that the association should fulfill the tasks of the Wikimedia Foundation, using wikis for collecting and distributing knowledge, and that its activities include:

supporting the operation of the Wikimedia Foundation's wikis;
the offline distribution of the Wikimedia projects in digital or print formats;
hosting events and distributing information about free content, wikis and Wikimedia;
and clarifying scientific, social, cultural and legal issues related to free content and wikis.

At the 27th general assembly in May 2022, the chapter decided on a framework of values of "participation, diversity, free and open access, justice, sustainability and respectful cooperation".[5]

Organizational structure[edit]

Legal status[edit]

Wikimedia Deutschland was founded on June 13, 2004[4] by 34 Wikipedians, and entered into the national register of associations on October 25, 2004 under the number 23855 Nz in the district court of Berlin-Charlottenburg. The tax office for corporations in Berlin has recognized the activities of the association as a non-profit under the tax number 27/029/42207 for its promotion of education.[citation needed]

Parts of the organization[edit]

The governing bodies of the association are the General Assembly, the Honorary Executive Committee and the full-time Executive Board.

General Assembly[edit]

The General Assembly is the supreme body of the association. It decides on fundamental association questions and matters, elects the presidency and decides whether the presidency and the board are to be discharged. Active members can take part in elections and decisions on changes to the statutes and contributions by remote voting. The members present decide on simple motions.[4]

According to their own statements, the number of members grew to over 72,000 by April 2019.[2] In addition, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is an honorary member of the association. In May 2022, membership exceeded 100,000.[citation needed]

Supporting members are not entitled to vote. Honorary members are exempt from the payment of contributions according to the statutes; they have the same rights as active members.[4]

General meetings have been held twice a year since 2011.[citation needed]

Executive Committee[edit]

An honorary executive committee consists of a chairman, a treasurer and five assessors. The committee appoints, supervises and dismisses the Board of Directors and is responsible for the strategic orientation of the association. Lukas Mezger was chairman of the executive committee from December 2018 to May 2022. At the 27th general meeting on May 14, 2022, Alice Wiegand was elected his successor.

Board of Directors[edit]

From 2006 until a change in the association's statutes on March 19, 2011, a managing director was responsible for the day-to-day management and management of the office, under the supervision of an honorary board of directors. However, he did not have the power to represent the association. Since 2011, a full-time board of directors has been responsible for the management and represents the association externally.[citation needed]

Previous managing directors include Pavel Richter, Jan Engelmann, Christian Rickerts,[6] Abraham Taherivand, Christian Humborg,[7] and Franziska Heine.


In 2022 the association employed over 150 people.[citation needed]


The association is financed mainly by donations and membership fees. Some donations come from annual banner-driven fundraising campaigns on the wikis.

According to WMDE's own statements, these banner donations were used "in consultation" with the Wikimedia Foundation until 2009 - for example for technology and community support - and thus a contribution "made to international work". Around 30% of annual expenditure in 2009 went into administration and advertising.[8]

Since 2012, a fundraising agreement between the chapter and the Wikimedia Foundation covers the distribution of banner donations between the chapter and the foundation.[9] Unlike most regions and languages, where donations are processed by the Foundation and granted out to regional chapters and community projects, fundraising from banners on German Wikipedia are processed by the chapter and a portion are passed on to the foundation.[citation needed]

In 2015, Wikimedia Deutschland processed 7.6 million euros in banner donations, kept just over 2 million euros, and received another 840,000 euroes from the Wikimedia Foundation's Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC). Membership fees contributed another 1.1 million euros to their budget. Funds are used primarily for software development (€1,360,000 for 2015), community support (€770,000) and education, science & culture (€610,000). The next largest costs are for board operations (€490,000 including specialist lectures on international relations and political advice) and public communication and outreach (€405,000).[10]


Around 2010, Wikimedia Germany was criticized by members and German Wikipedians for its lack of transparency in publishing salaries and consultant fees.[citation needed]

In 2014, the premature departure of Pavel Richter from the association caused a public dispute,[11] leading to the resignation of the chairman and the replacement of the majority of the Executive Committee at the next General Assembly. Three former association presidents returned to the board to work through the following period.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Transparenz". Wikimedia (in German). Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  2. ^ a b ""Ich werde förmlich in das Wissen hinein gesaugt"". Wikimedia Deutschland Blog (in German). 2022-05-09. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  3. ^ "Wikimedia Summit - Meta". meta.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  4. ^ a b c d "Satzung, Ordnungen und Beschlüsse". Wikimedia (in German). Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  5. ^ "Unsere Werte". Wikimedia (in German). Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  6. ^ kress.de. "Christian Rickerts wird Vorstand". kress (in German). Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  7. ^ Kreye, Andrian (2021-05-11). "Interview: Christian Humborg wird im Juni Chef der Wikimedia". Süddeutsche.de (in German). Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  8. ^ Lischka, Konrad (2010-10-08). "Wikipedia-Spenden: Wiki-Autoren streiten um Geld und Transparenz". Der Spiegel (in German). ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  9. ^ "2012-13 Fundraising Agreement (DE) - Meta". meta.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  10. ^ "Wikimedia Deutschland Jahresplan 2015". Wikimedia Deutschland. 2015.
  11. ^ "Streit bei Wikimedia Deutschland: Trennung von Vorstand Pavel Richter". Der Spiegel (in German). 2014-05-20. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 2023-08-21.

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