The Wikimedia Foundation has remained in a period of transition. It welcomed new leadership last year, including a new Chief Executive Officer and a new Chief Product and Technology Officer. The Foundation has navigated conversations with our global communities on a range of important issues, from a future charter defining roles and responsibilities to how we raise shared resources through banner fundraising. This year's Annual Plan gives greater clarity on multi-year strategic issues that don't have quick fixes, as well as more granular information on how the Foundation operates. As noted in the first part of this Signpost series, feedback from our many stakeholders is welcome and appreciated.
Where we are today
Last year we decided to focus our efforts at the Wikimedia Foundation on radically changing how we do our work. This included organizing our work regionally to respond to the varying needs of communities globally, to refreshing our values at the Foundation to improve our own levels of collaboration. This is putting us in a better position to more meaningfully shift what we do – especially as the world around us changes in more unexpected ways and we assess how to have more collective impact on common goals toward the 2030 strategic direction.
Once again, we must first consider the changing world around us, what it needs from us, and how we must adapt to it. We are grounding this annual plan in multi-year strategic planning to consider longer-term shifts to the Wikimedia movement's revenue, product and technology, and roles and responsibilities. External trends show that social platforms continue to displace traditional search engines, and that artificial intelligence threatens even more disruption to the digital world. The legal landscape on which our global movement relies is changing significantly after decades of relative stability. In response to continuing threats like mis- and disinformation, lawmakers are attempting to regulate internet platforms in ways that could fundamentally endanger our mission. These threats and increasing polarization create new reputational risks for our projects and work. Continued uncertainty in the global economy is accelerating the need to assess the trajectory of our revenue streams, and make new investments that can support growth in resources to fund our collective work and ambitions.
Our approach for the future
For the second consecutive year the Wikimedia Foundation is anchoring its annual plan in the movement's strategy to advance equity. Our intention is to connect the Foundation's work even more deeply with the Movement Strategy Recommendations, to make even deeper progress toward the 2030 Strategic Direction. We remain driven to do this through collaborative planning with others in the movement who are also implementing the recommendations. This is made more actionable in deepening our regional focus, so that the Foundation's support better meets the needs of communities in all regions of the world. The upcoming Movement Charter is expected to give more clarity on roles and responsibilities, possibly through new collaborative structures like hubs and a Global Council. We intend to continue our collaboration with the charter process to advance equity in decision-making for our movement.
This year the Foundation is recentering its plan around Product and Technology, emphasising our unique role as a platform for people and communities collaborating on a massive scale. The bulk of this effort – called "Wiki Experiences" – recognizes that volunteers are at the heart of the Wikimedian process of sensemaking and knowledge creation. So this year, we are prioritising established editors (including those with extended rights, like admins, stewards, patrollers, and moderators of all kinds, also known as functionaries) over newcomers, to ensure that they have the right tools for the critical work they do every day to expand and improve quality content, as well as their management of community processes. Managing the platform effectively also requires the Foundation to address large-scale infrastructure and data needs that may extend beyond the specific Wiki Experiences of the projects. This work is described as "Signals & Data Services." And in a category called "Future Audiences" we must accelerate innovations that engage diverse audiences as editors and contributors.
Trade-offs and choices
The financial model the Wikimedia movement has relied for most of its historic growth (banner fundraising) is reaching some limits. New funding streams to complement this – including Wikimedia Enterprise and the Wikimedia Endowment – will take time to develop. They are unlikely to fund the same levels of growth in the coming few years as we've seen in banner fundraising over the past decade, especially given an uncertain global economic outlook.
In response to these trends, the Foundation slowed growth last year compared with the previous three years. We're now making internal budget cuts that involve both non-personnel and personnel expenses, to ensure we have a more sustainable trajectory in expenses for the coming few years. Despite these budget pressures we will grow overall funding to movement partners, including expanding grants to take into account global inflationary costs, support newcomers to the movement, and increase funding for conferences and movement events.
This plan involves more funding in all regions while prioritising proportionally larger growth in underrepresented regions. To enable this growth for affiliates and newcomers, some grant programs (like the Research and Alliances funds) will need to be smaller. As we assess the Foundation's core capabilities we recognize that there are activities where others in the movement may be better placed to have meaningful impact, and are exploring pragmatic ways to move in that direction in the year ahead.
To be more transparent and accountable, this annual plan includes detailed financial information, notably on the structure of the Foundation's budget, as well as how the Foundation's departments are organized, and global guidelines and compensation principles.
The Wikimedia Foundation has four main goals in 2023−2024. They are designed to align with the Wikimedia movement's Strategic Direction and Movement Strategy Recommendations, and continue much of the work identified in last year's plan. These goals are:
- EQUITY: Support Knowledge Equity. Strengthen Equity in Decision-Making via movement governance and Movement Charter. Empower and engage the movement, support regional strategies and help close knowledge gaps.
- INFRASTRUCTURE: Advance Knowledge as a Service. Improve User Experience on the wikis, especially for established editors. Strengthen metrics and reporting.
- SAFETY & INCLUSION: Protect against growing external threats. Defend our people and projects against disinformation and harmful government regulation. Work across the movement to Provide for the Safety of Volunteers.
- EFFECTIVENESS: Strengthen our overall performance. Evaluate, Iterate, and Adapt our processes for maximum impact with more limited resources.
In this mission together
For the overall draft of the annual plan we're inviting collaboration both on-wiki in over 20 languages, in live virtual conversations, and at in-person community events. You can share feedback on-wiki till Friday May 19.