The Wikimedia Foundation has long promised that the Wikimedia Endowment – held by the Tides Foundation and managed as an opaque, organisationally completely separate entity by a board led by Jimmy Wales – would soon be transferred to a financially transparent 501(c)(3) organisation. These promises date back to 2017 (see Signpost coverage this year and last year).
"We are in the process of transitioning the Endowment to a new US 501c3 charity, after which it will begin making grants and will publish its own Form 990. ... As we approach the $100 million funding milestone, we are in the process of establishing the Endowment as a separate 501c3. ..."
"We are in the process of establishing a new home for the endowment in a stand-alone 501(c)(3) public charity. We will move the endowment in its entirety to this new entity once the new charity receives its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter."
A full year has now passed since that 501(c)(3) determination letter (pictured) was received in June 2022. Yet the money has still not been transferred. This means that another year will have passed without public reporting on the Endowment's revenue and expenses, as it is organisationally separate from the Wikimedia Foundation (its revenue and assets are not included in WMF revenue and assets) and the Tides Foundation does not provide any such reporting either.
In response to an inquiry on the Wikimedia mailing list, WMF Chief Financial Officer Jaime Villagomez recently posted the following update on Meta:
Work is underway to move the Endowment assets out of Tides to its own charity. The transition is complex, due to the nature of banking activities and donor commitments so we cannot instantaneously move from one entity to the other. We anticipate that it will take a few more weeks to transfer most of our transactional and banking activity away from Tides. We will maintain the old endowment accounts to process residual income (such as dividend payments) for some months before we close those accounts. More importantly though, we will also be sharing an update on the Endowment's activities in FY 22-23 in the annual fundraising report to be published in the next quarter.
— User:JVillagomez (WMF)
The Board of Trustees will meet next on August 15 in Singapore. Following this meeting, there will also be an open session with the Wikimedia Foundation and Endowment Boards during Wikimania to answer questions on these topics or others you may have.
The Wikimedia Endowment holds a significant proportion of all the funds the public has ever donated to the Wikimedia cause. Yet it does not follow the same standards of transparency that apply to other parts of the movement. For example, it would be unimaginable for any WMF affiliate to ingest over $100 million over the best part of a decade without ever publishing audited accounts detailing revenue and expenses.
Why should the Wikimedia Endowment be different? – AK
The Wikimania Scholarship outcomes were recently published on the Wikimania site. According to the summary provided there,
We had a total of 3800 applications started, after removing spam and incomplete applications we had 1209 actual applications for review. These application were then grouped according to regions.
|# of applications
|Central and Eastern Europe
|East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific
|Middle East and North Africa
This means that less than one in six scholarship applications was approved. To one editor, at least, this seemed a "paltry" amount of funding:
I find it rather disgraceful that the Wikimedia Foundation accepted only 197 of the 1209 completed scholarship applications for this year's Wikimania conference, or 16%. While I recognize that travel scholarships aren't cheap, I presume that a sizable portion of the applicants are heavily involved in Wikimedia projects, devoting many hours a week to volunteer work. Wikimania scholarships are one of the few ways the WMF can use its ample financial resources to show tangible appreciation to volunteers and aid participation in the movement. You could have afforded to assist more than 16% of applicants, and it's disappointing that you deemed the expense not worthwhile when you put together your budget.
A WMF spokesperson responded by saying:
The Foundation sponsors the whole event—not just the scholarships—and in this year's Annual Plan, despite reducing expenses across the Foundation, funding for Wikimania increased. Not to undermine any disappointment that any applicant may feel for not having been selected, of course that’s completely valid and understandable, but it does feel relevant to mention that this year there are ~200 scholarships, around 66% more than the ~120 from the last in-person Wikimania in 2019. Together with each year’s Core Organizing Team, the Foundation always thinks about how to spend the funds to reach the most Wikimedians possible, because we completely agree with you that recognizing people for their contributions is critical. This year, that meant increasing the number of scholarships that could be awarded by the volunteer subcommittee, working to keep virtual registration free despite the costs of the virtual event, and working to keep the in-person ticket subsidized. I know it's of course still disappointing for anyone who wanted to attend in person and didn’t get selected. I really do hope those people will consider applying again for future Wikimanias.
— User:ELappen (WMF)
In a rare reversal, User:Gitz6666 had his global lock overturned after lodging an appeal with the stewards. Gitz6666 had been indefinitely blocked on the Italian Wikipedia in May, along with another user, and then had his account globally locked by an Italian steward.