Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2007-09-17/Treasurer and fundraising

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Wikimedia treasurer expected to depart soon

By Michael Snow, 17 September, 2007

As plans for the next Wikimedia fundraiser are underway, the foundation's treasurer and one of its original board members is looking to leave the organization. While day-to-day matters are being handled by staff, the foundation will be looking for someone with skills in the financial arena to fill the position.

In a September 12 message addressing the issue of when the board might be expanded again, board chair Florence Devouard mentioned the need for a new treasurer. Michael Davis, the current treasurer, was appointed to the board of trustees when the Wikimedia Foundation was initially created. He has been involved in various business ventures with Jimmy Wales, including as CEO of Chicago Options Associates, where Wales was research director, and is now the COO of Wikia. Davis's appointment to the Wikimedia board currently runs through December of this year, so presumably a replacement could be appointed to take over in 2008. The foundation is looking for "someone with a strong financial foundation who can think strategically, and provide advice and recommendations to the rest of the Board and Chief Executive."

Devouard explained the anticipated transition as being due to the fact that Davis no longer has sufficient time to devote to board responsibilities. He has served for over four years and already indicated a readiness to move on a year ago. Part of the issue is the demands of the growing Wikia operation—although a resident of Florida, Davis has been working part-time out of Wikia's office in San Mateo, California.

The importance of having Davis to oversee financial matters is highlighted by the fact that the Wikimedia Foundation has not had a Chief Financial Officer since Daniel Mayer, who had filled the role on a volunteer basis, resigned over a year ago. Since then, the organization has kept its ongoing books with the help of local accountants, and a former colleague of special advisor Sue Gardner is now covering the CFO role as a part-time consultant. Wikimedia has also retained the same audit firm that completed the foundation's 2006 audit.

Meanwhile, planning for another fundraiser is ongoing, as Gardner announced earlier. It may cover as much as two months, with an initial window given of September 23 to November 22. This would make the fundraising period longer, but possibly also make the intervals less frequent than previously anticipated (an earlier fundraiser had been tentatively considered for around May or June). Wikimedia has not held an organized fund drive since the most recent one concluded in January, despite reports circulated afterward on some blogs, based on a passing observation by Devouard, that the foundation might soon run out of cash (see archived story).

The form of fundraising efforts will presumably rely heavily on a sitewide notice on Wikimedia websites. One additional element being pursued is the creation of banners and buttons people can place on websites or blogs, including versions that allow you to show support for individual Wikimedia projects. Sabine Cretella, who has been involved in organizing this, blogged about the challenge of getting the community to respond, leading to a discussion on the foundation mailing list about the amount of help being provided to put the fundraiser together.


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