Annual Fundraising Plan for Fiscal Year 2013–14
The Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2013–14 set a donation target of $7,000, including $1,500 from event sponsorship and $5,000 from individual donations. This does not include donations solicited from membership applicants. As of March, we have set our fundraising target for the remainder of this fiscal year at $3,500, given progress already made toward our revenue goals.
For the purposes of this plan, a "sponsor" contributes money in connection with a specific program or event, while a "donor" contributes to the organization in general. It is understood that sponsorship generally involves some degree of cross-promotion, including the distribution of sponsor literature at an event.
Why would a person or organization donate money?
- The donor has a personal interest in the organization and its mission.
- This sort of fundraising makes use of the organization's social network. These donors are motivated to give to Wikimedia DC because they know people in the organization and wish it, or them, well. Event attendees may have a warm feeling toward us.
- The donor has an economic interest in the success of the organization or its mission.
- This example is less applicable to our organization, but one example would be a business association donating to a political candidate because that candidate supports the interest of the business association. If Wikimedia DC provided a public service that resulted in increased economic activity for a particular sector, we could solicit contributions from this sector. A "functional" interest can be thought of as an economic interest. Enterprises using MediaWiki might want to work with us and support us. Public relations specialists who want to be able to edit properly and appropriately might want to work with us and support us. GLAM institution people want to be visible online. Tech company staff want to know how to use wikis and to represent their institution on Wikipedia.
- The donor has an ideological interest in the organization or its mission.
- In Wikimedia DC's case, these could include donors who support our free knowledge mission, our connection to Wikipedia, open source software, open data standards, open government data, and addressing systemic biases in academia.
This year's fundraising plan focuses on reaching out to contacts we already have, encouraging them to give to Wikimedia DC. These solicitations should leverage the donor's personal or ideological interest in Wikimedia DC and its activities. In addition, we must thank our past contributors for their gifts, and encourage them to continue giving into the future. We also plan on holding a tech community outreach event, raising additional funds through event sponsorships.
We recognize how important it is for Wikimedia DC to give thanks to its current base of donors. The first step is to prepare a standard thank-you letter on appropriate letterhead. Once we have done so, we should go through our records and make sure to thank each of our donors. We should then make it a regular practice to thank contributors upon giving. Our Fiscal Control Policy requires acknowledgements for donations of $25 or greater, but we recommend it as a practice for donations of all sizes. We should continue our practice of crediting donors of $25 or greater in our annual report. Past donors should be thanked by July 1.
Wikimedia DC should also consider hosting a donor recognition event, such as a networking reception with good art and music. This event should take place by November 1, in recognition of the donors of the past fiscal year.
Outreach to potential donors
The President will go through Wikimedia DC's current contact records and determine who to call according to the following criteria:
- Donor's relationship with the caller (family, friend, business associate, Wikipedian, etc.)
- Reason why the donor would be interested in contributing (they support a project the organization does, personal connections, etc.)
- A specific amount of money the donor could contribute; this amount should be seen by the donor as insignificant. An ideal median donation is $100.
- Whether the donor has already contributed that year
The President will be responsible for making these calls as a a high-level figure within the organization and as someone who is highly conversant in the activities of Wikimedia DC. These calls should not include specific project pitches, since this could cause the resulting donation to be a restricted gift.
With respect to larger donors, specific pitches for projects will be prepared and sent to potential large donors. We have identified two such donors as of writing, but more may arise. As general criteria, politically oriented groups should be funding specific events only, while general operating funds should be from non-political sources.
By July 1, the list of potential donors will be prepared. Phone calls should begin once Wikimedia DC has been recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization.
Tech community outreach
Holding events related to Wikipedia or broader issues affecting Wikipedia provide a potential revenue stream for Wikimedia DC. The Fundraising Committee thus proposes that Wikimedia DC hold a panel on open source technology in partnerships with technology firms that operate out of, or have offices in, Washington, DC. As DC-based representatives of Wikipedia we provide expertise on a massive and world-renowned technological endeavor and community of volunteers; this lends itself as a compelling subject manner for a panel. Such an event would satisfy our goal for community events as stated in our Annual Plan.
The event should be budgeted as to raise more money than it spends; how this works in practice depends on the budget of the event. For an evening panel with a networking element, this should not be very much, especially if we hold it in partnership with a venue to which we have pre-existing connections. The benefits of sponsorship should be comparable to the tiers of sponsorship used for Wiki Loves Monuments 2013, with the details depending on the specific need of the event. In addition to soliciting sponsorships, we should charge for admission to the event. This admission fee could go toward a drink ticket for the attendees.
Our goal is to hold this event by August 1. Records of attendees and sponsors should be kept in a central location to facilitate further fundraising efforts.
Future revenue streams include the recognition of institutional benefactors (not institutional members) and fundraising for specific free-knowledge projects such as a scientific claim wiki. Wikimedia DC should establish an institutional benefactor program once it has sufficient experience with fundraising and can identify perspective members and specific perquisites for such a program. Project-specific fundraising should be carried out once a specific project proposal is considered and adopted by the Board. Such a plan should identify what types of individuals or organizations would be interested in contributing to such a project and the perquisites for contributing. Wikimedia DC should be prepared to establish a separate fund for use in such projects.
Wikimedia DC should not consider the establishment of an endowment until revenue levels are high enough that operations would not be affected by using funds for long-term investments. In our current situation, we get a higher return (in terms of fulfilling our mission, building our infrastructure, increasing our organizational capacity, etc.) by using 100% of our funds for operations. We are nowhere close to approaching the point of diminishing returns, where increased expenditures would do little to grow the organization's capacity or help it better fulfill its mission. Thus for the time being, Wikimedia DC must focus on increasing revenues for the sake of growing operations.