Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-02-11/Audit released

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Foundation's FY2007 audit released

By Ral315, 11 February, 2008

On Friday, Wikimedia Foundation Chair Florence Devouard announced the release of the Foundation's audit, for the fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 — June 30, 2007). The statements, though dated, paint an interesting picture of Wikimedia's financial situation as of June 2007.

Financials

The statement (PDF, 158KB) shows that cash and cash equivalents nearly doubled from June 2006 to June 2007, with unrestricted assets rising from US$974,216 to $1,631,282 (a 67.4% increase). Over the year, excluding temporarily restricted net assets, revenues increased by about $1.22 million, while expenses increased by about $1.28 million, resulting in a profit of $657,022, about 10% more than profits in Fiscal Year 2006.

While $514,166 in hardware was purchased this year, steep depreciation, via the double declining balance method commonly used for hardware, caused the overall book value of hardware and software to rise by just $185,766, to $612,375.

Expenses accounted for over $2 million this year, with the largest expense being salaries and wages, at $415,006. Internet hosting was close behind, costing $389,417. Operating and Travel expenses accounted for $310,334 and $264,361, respectively, and most other expenses fell into depreciation and in-kind expenses, those services that were contributed, but that must be booked under the headings of "revenue" and "expenses". Discounting these two categories, actual expenditures were just over $1.4 million.

At the end of 2007, the Foundation, for the first time, designated an allowance for accounts receivable expected to be uncollectible; at the end of the year, $3,817 was expected to be uncollectible.

Among the donations to the Foundation were 681 shares of Google common stock. Along with 187 shares received in FY2006, the shares were sold. Among other contributions were computer equipment (valued at $20,990), legal and public relations services (valued at $80,000), and Internet hosting from Yahoo! and Kennisnet (valued at $236,000). This is the first year that the value of that hosting has been calculated and reported.

Why the delay?

This year's report was released later than many expected; in the announcement, Devouard noted that the release was "a bit later than we would have originally liked". By comparison, the statements for Fiscal Year 2006 were released on December 8, 2006, Later in the announcement, Devouard explained the issues that the Foundation ran into that delayed the process:

"Why the delay?" you might ask. We had originally hoped to post the statements a few months earlier, but more time was needed at the Foundation level to review finances and work with our Florida-based auditors.

And why did we need more time? It’s fairly normal for audits to take longer to complete than was initially predicted. The Foundation’s projects (and their popularity) grew significantly over the past year, which meant that spending (number of transactions) increased. That means there was more work to be done. Also, there had been some turnover in Foundation staff (e.g., the accountant), which resulted in some loss of institutional memory that made it harder to do the audit preparation. So it isn’t really all that surprising that the audit was fairly time-consuming. It's complete, and that's what matters.

Concerns

In the notes to the financial statements, a note near the end concerned some on the mailing list: "In the normal course of business, the Organization receives various threats of litigation on a regular basis. In the opinion of management, the outcome of the pending lawsuits will not materially affect present operations or the financial stability of the Organization." As A. B. noted, the language is standard for many organizations when lawsuits are not deemed to be worthy of concern.

Some users also noted concerns about Wikia's relationship with Wikipedia. A disclosure note explained some relationships between the two entities:

The Organization shares hosting and bandwidth costs with Wikia, Inc., a for-profit company founded by the same founder as Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Included in accounts receivable at June 30, 2007 is $6,000 due from Wikia, Inc. for these costs. The Organization received some donated office space from Wikia Inc. during the year ended June 30, 2006 valued at $6,000. No donation of the office space occurred in 2007.

Through June 30, 2007, two members of the Organization’s board of directors also serve as employees, officers, or directors of Wikia, Inc.

Gwern noted, They share staff, [Wikipedia] favors Wikia in well-known ways, and so on - and people are surprised when the public perception is that [Wikipedia] is the non-profit branch of Wikia, or vice versa? Foundation CTO Brion Vibber replied, however:

Since the audit covers a period of time that's in the past, a few last vestiges of the Olden Days were still in effect during the audit period and are naturally covered. Today, Wikia and Wikimedia don't share any data hosting. We don't currently share any office space. We don't currently share any employees. So what is the current relationship?

  • We do currently share one board member, Jimmy Wales.
  • Wikia sometimes sponsors Wikimedia events or makes other donations to Wikimedia.
  • Wikia uses our open-source software, and sometimes contributes back patches or plugins.
  • Various people are involved in the communities of sites operated by both companies. (Eg, our target audiences overlap.)

With this year's report, only the financial statements were released. Last year, both the financial statements and a management letter were released; Devouard noted last year that she was "surprised Brad chose to publish that letter, as I remember the auditors saying it was a set of recommendations given for internal consideration." The 2006 management letter was deleted last month.

The report was audited by the firm of Gregory, Sharer and Stuart, a St. Petersburg accounting firm that the Foundation employed for its 2006 audit. It's not clear whether the firm will handle the Fiscal Year 2008 audit, or whether a San Francisco-based firm will be hired for the task.




Also this week:

Muhammad image — Audit released — Pope — WikiWorld — News and notes — In the news — Tutorial — Dispatches — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report


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