Mailing List Archive

[Wikimedia-l] Re: The Endowment, again

It's now transpired that the WMF actually received IRS approval for the new
non-profit organisation intended to take over the Endowment over eight
months ago, in June 2022.[1] The October 2022 announcement that approval
had been received was made four months after the fact.

Two years ago, in April 2021, we were told that the Foundation would "move
the endowment in its entirety to this new entity once the new charity
receives its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter".[2] Yet even with the
letter received last summer we still seem to be no nearer to having our
$100 million Endowment in the hands of a transparent organisation that
publishes audited statements of the Endowment's assets, revenue and
expenditure, along with a Form 990. We still don't have a date for when the
money will be transferred from Tides. We're merely told it will still take

So it looks like we will have had another full year of millions of dollars
of donations bypassing the Wikimedia Foundation's books.

None of this would be an issue if the Foundation had released audited
financial statements for the Endowment during the past seven years. But all
we've ever had is promises of transparency in the future, and requests for
more money now.

Remember, Anne, all donations to the Endowment are treated as a
"pass-through", so "they are not reflected on the Wikimedia Foundation's
financials as revenue or net assets".[2] That means they're essentially
invisible to us, because the Tides Foundation doesn't publish separate
financial statements for the Wikimedia Endowment showing us how much money
has come in and how much has gone out.

Moreover, all planned gifts willed to the Wikimedia Foundation have also
been going to the Endowment for some time now, wherever the terms of the
will allow.[3] I am not sure whether that means that these planned gifts
are now also processed as "pass-throughs". I suspect they are. If so, that
means that these amounts flowing into the Endowment have also become

Am I mistaken on any of the above? If not, are you really satisfied with
that degree of transparency over a fund reportedly holding more than 100
million dollars of donations? Would you accept such conduct from any
Wikimedia chapter?



On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Risker <> wrote:
> On Thu, 2 Mar 2023 at 09:26, <> wrote:
>> Why didn't WMF do the groundwork for transferring the endowment funds
from Tides to a WMF 501(c)3 given that there were over SIX long years to
make such plans?
>> Why does WMF STILL not know how to effect this transfer or when it will
be completed, despite the passage of six months?
> The timeline of when the IRS would grant 501(c)3 status was completely
out of the control of the WMF; they could make the application in a timely
way, but they could not be certain at what point this status would be
granted. I think we all recognize this; the IRS is a governmental
organization whose decision-making process and timeline are completely
outside of the control of the WMF, Wikipedia, or any other third party.
While the WMF could reasonably expect a positive decision, it had no way of
being certain when that decision would come.
> I have little doubt that many of the same people complaining of how long
it is taking to move things around *now* would also complain if staff had
been hired for an entity that didn't yet exist, based on the prospect that
it would eventually exist. Since the 501(c)3 didn't yet exist, all of its
staffing costs would have come out of the WMF budget at the same time that
other areas were being cut back in relation to lower-than-expected
fundraising. I've got a lot more liberal a view of WMF spending than many
others in this thread, and even I think that would have been a really poor
use of limited resources.
> It's not causing any form of disruption to make these changes in a
deliberate and thoughtful manner. Everyone can take a deep breath.
> Risker/Anne