back to article Golden handshakes of almost half a million at Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) recently released a Form 990 for its 2015-2016 financial year. Once again, the foundation took almost a full year to do so rather than the standard five months. The form shows that in the 2015 calendar year, the WMF – which relies on unpaid volunteers to generate the entire content of its …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why I don't donate to big charities

    They're all as bad as each other.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

      Surely you do not think that the International Red Cross is as bad as this ?

      The Wikimedia Foundation is not a charity - it is a money-hoovering operation that poses as a charity. This article just reveals some of the squalor that the WMF is desperately trying to hide, but the truth is that when we hear that the WMF has a ten year reserve and keeps asking for more money, well that is already a sure sign that a charity it is not.

      I give money to the Red Cross - whatever evils lay within, they still save lives. The WMF will never see a cent from me because I refuse to fund money-grubbing liars and thieves.

      1. Your alien overlord - fear me

        Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

        they are the same as in the bosses pay themselves vast amounts why expecting the frontline workers to do it for free. Also secrecy about what they pay themselves etc. etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

          Hear hear !

          There are something like 250,000 registered charities in the UK, all no doubt doing equally good work for their own good causes. Why people feel the need act like lemmings and continue donating to the same "brand name" charities is beyond me !

          All you need to do is look at the accounts for the large charities, obviously they are deliberately as clear as mud, but you can get a good feel for the unfair imbalance that "your alien overlord" alludes to.

          Furthermore, I know and have met various people working on the "frontline" of some of the larger charities. The stories of all the toughing that goes on at management level is truly depressing ..... extensive use of chauffered cars instead of public transport, business class (or higher) on air trips (irrespecitve of how short the trip), and a healthy accommodation & subsistence budget .... and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

          Of course, the brand names will all tell you they need to do this to "attract the best talent". Well no. In the private sector, yeah, sure, pay yourselves as much as you like. But if you are going to work in a senior management role in the charitable sector then for heavens sake ... SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR THE FUNDAMENTAL CORE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES ASSOCIATED WITH THE WORD CHARITY AND ALL THOSE WORKING BELOW YOU ON THE FRONT LINE AS UNPAID VOLUNTEERS !

          1. phuzz Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

            "There are something like 250,000 registered charities in the UK, all no doubt doing equally good work for their own good causes."

            Most private schools in the UK are charities, as that allows them to be VAT exempt. I'm not sure what good work they might be doing, other than maybe giving a few bright-but-poor kids an education.

            1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

              Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

              There are something like 250,000 registered charities in the UK, all no doubt doing equally good work for their own good causes. Why people feel the need act like lemmings and continue donating to the same "brand name" charities is beyond me !

              The way I see it, "Charity" covers the following groups:

              • Big name charities that lots of people donate to, and which raise money for good causes

                (sub-classifiable based on the ratio of income to directors' salaries)

              • Less well-known charities, supported by a smaller number of people, which raise money for good causes

                (again, sub-classifiable as per the above)

              • Organisations who wangle charitable status for themselves, so that they can avoid tax and/up bump up their income at HMRC's expense, but who only seek to raise money for themselves. The private schools example quoted above is a good example of such

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

              "Most private schools in the UK are charities, as that allows them to be VAT exempt. I'm not sure what good work they might be doing, other than maybe giving a few bright-but-poor kids an education."

              Well, sure.... like anything else in this life, you'll get the odd exception here and there, but fact remains even if you remove the exceptions from the 250,000 charity figure, you are still left with more than enough choices that meet whatever ethical concerns you may have whilst also not mandating you to donate to the "brand name" charities.

          2. Nolveys Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

            In the private sector, yeah, sure, pay yourselves as much as you like.

            ...as net income goes infra-red, employees are treated like fish to be made into sushi and fleets of buses are purchased because throwing your customers under one bus just isn't enough.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

              "...as net income goes infra-red, employees are treated like fish to be made into sushi and fleets of buses are purchased because throwing your customers under one bus just isn't enough."

              I suspect you miss the point. I said "in the private sector, pay yourselves as much as you like" because at least we all know the rules, i.e. companies are in business to make profits... and if you want to pay your senior management team excessive salaries out of those profits, then hey.... why not.

              Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying its a "Good Thing (TM)" that you get senior execs on stupid salaries in the private sector.

              I'm just saying that unlike the charity sector, the private sector does not sit there running prime-time TV adverts showing you starving children with flies in their mouth, or have armies of chuggers on the street selling you sob stories, or relying on large networks of unpaid volunteers. With the private sector, there is not the same expectation of core values and principles in people's minds that you have associated with the word charity.

      2. MrKrotos

        Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

        The Red Cross you say? https://www.theguardian.com/society/salarysurvey/table/0,12406,1042677,00.html

      3. Doctor Huh?

        Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

        "The WMF will never see a cent from me because I refuse to fund money-grubbing liars and thieves."

        I applaud the sentiment and I agree with it, but I have to ask: Are you paying your taxes?

        1. Craig 2

          Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

          " I refuse to fund money-grubbing liars and thieves."

          "I applaud the sentiment and I agree with it, but I have to ask: Are you paying your taxes?"

          I think the Government (taxes) probably falls under the same scope.....

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: Are you paying your taxes?

          I work in Luxembourg. The fiscal environment in that country sees your income tax deducted from your pay, so what you effectively get is liberated from tax.

          So yes, I pay my taxes.

          Now could you tell me what my taxes have to do with supporting charities ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Are you paying your taxes?

            > Now could you tell me what my taxes have to do with supporting charities ?

            Since you are not British the subtlety may have been lost to you, so please allow me to clarify that what our fellow commentard was questioning was not your no doubt commendable charitable tendencies, but your refusal "to fund money-grubbing liars and thieves."

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Right, got it.

              Except that those money-grubbing liars take the money, they don't ask for it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

        > Surely you do not think that the International Red Cross is as bad as this ?

        I served in the Red Cross as an EMT while a student.

        I do not donate money to the Red Cross (nor, obviously, to Wikiwhatever).

        As long as your phrasing of "not as bad as" was intentional, I take no issue with it in principle.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

      When you give to charity there are literally only two places your money could end up.

      Spent on further fund-raising.

      Director's bonuses.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

      To give you an example from one of the brands, Oxfam (and they're not the worst I've seen, but they are (slightly) more "transparent" than most in their enumeration of senior troughing).

      Here's a few examples of what they admit publicly in their most recent accounts in relation to "higher-paid staff" :

      "Termination costs amounted to £1.4m (2014/15: £2.4m)"

      "Oxfam pays towards the cost of education for up to three children where suitable free schooling is not available"

      "Allowances also cover the additional cost of living in very expensive countries"

      " The earnings for the group and charitable company of key management personnel, which are considered to be the Leadership Team (including the CEO), for 2015/16 were £822,216"

      "Directly incurred expenses of the Chief Executive in 2015/16 were £18,657. The most significant element of the Trustees’ and Chief Executive’s expenses is the cost of visits to overseas programmes, in respect of flights and accommodation"

      They have :

      23 people earning £60–69k

      6 people earning £70–79k

      2 people earning £80–89k

      4 people earning £90–99k

      1 person earning £100–109k

      1 person earning £110–119k

      1 person earning £120–129k

    4. Blofeld's Cat
      Flame

      Re: Why I don't donate to big charities

      A hospice in our area recently needed to repair and refurbish one of their buildings.

      Before starting their fundraising they asked some construction firms to quote for the work, and most gave the going rate with a small percentage reduction as they were a charity.

      The exception was a long-established local firm who offered to do it for the cost of the materials - which another local firm then supplied free of charge.

      Total cost to the hospice - nil, goodwill earned by local firms - immeasurable.

  2. DropBear Silver badge
    Devil

    I'm surprised there weren't any noises on El Reg about the recently restarted, astonishingly aggressive begging campaign - the main banner literally covered more than half of my browser window, and I had to block _at least_ three different "delayed pop-up that 'on load' script blockers don't catch" / "backup pop-up instead of the main one when that gets blocked anyway" / "pop-in from the side when that gets blocked too" nasties.

    In spite of all that I'm proud to say I managed to not read any of them, and I vow to keep blocking them on sight - with a smile - until all the "important" folks have left and all the money goes to two techies propping up the servers.

    1. JN

      ElReg had three articles on this and was quite probably instrumental in stopping that fundraising campaign early, after showing that the takings had already exceeded the Wikimedia Foundation's publicised target by several million dollars.

      The articles are here:

      1. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/16/jimmy_wales_wikipedia_fundraising_promise/

      2. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/19/jimmy_wales_breaks_promise_more_chugging/

      3. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/30/el_reg_just_saved_your_wiki_xmas/

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        @JN

        El Reg' articles certainly opened my eyes and closed my wallet.

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        @JN I'm aware of those articles, and that's exactly why I was surprised nothing was said about this recent development - the banners I'm talking about surfaced about a month or so ago, out of the blue...

        1. JN

          Ah, okay. :)

          The WMF performs banner tests throughout the year, as part of its efforts to maximise the banners' effectiveness. A/B tests. When that happens, a small proportion of users is shown the most recent fundraising banner designs, and then the designs they've run are compared for fundraising effectiveness.

          I haven't seen any such banners here my end in recent weeks, so I think you may just have got caught in the test group. The big fundraising campaign is always in late November and December. (Come to think of it, I think there may also be some countries where the banner runs at a different time of the year.)

          Cheers.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    It's a shame you can't edit their contracts and pay terms like you can do on Wikipedia.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      they can...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not surprised as this is how charity works.

    What a sad world we live in that charity has become a means to an end for rich people to make more money as it gets invested in stocks and shares rather than going to the people that need it or paying ridiculous payoffs or wages like this.

    I donate to local charities such as hospices, animal rescue etc... and will not fund these corporations in all but name.

  5. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    WTF?

    Severance payments?

    I thought that America worked on the "at will, no redundo" model of employment?

    How do these guys get themselves severance in excess of their annual salary?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Severance payments?

      America also operates under the principle of "It's not what you know, it's who you know." This smells of people getting sweetheart deals from personal friends.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Severance payments?

      "How do these guys get themselves severance in excess of their annual salary?"

      Its part of the "attract the best talent" the brand name charities will recite when you query salaries ... i.e. Golden Handcuffs and Golden Parachutes are, apparently, an justifiable expectation of "talented" senior execs these days.

    3. midcapwarrior

      Re: Severance payments?

      High level types negotiate contracts.

      Contract may have a minimum number of years of guaranteed salary/severance.

      May include unused vacation and "incidentals" such as moving costs.

      At will is for the plebes.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    High School Math question

    If an executives base compensation is $342,050 - then how are they paid to take a crap during working hours? Show your working.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: High School Math question

      Not applicable. They are exempt.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: High School Math question

      They are of course paid handsomely for taking a crap during working hours. And why not? Often it's their best work.

    3. Esme

      Re: High School Math question

      @ version 1.0

      Very roughly, I estimate forty-eight weeks, five days per week, 7 hours per day; that gives us about 6 million paid-for seconds per working year. If paid at a rate of a penny per second, that'd be an annual salary of £60,000p.a. I recall seeing a recent artilce somewhere saying that it takes about 12 seconds for mammals to do a wee, irrespective of size, so an exective level wee is going to cost at least 12p. Divide annula salary by 60K and multiply by 12 for weeing, and again by a constant to cover how much longer doing a Nr 2 takes over having a wee, and there's your answer.

      8-}

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: High School Math question

        "I recall seeing a recent artilce somewhere saying that it takes about 12 seconds for mammals to do a wee, irrespective of size"
        Esme, I consider myself to be a member of the class Mammalia and I suspect that you're underestimating the time to wee. Due to my advancing years, I suffer from hardening of the prostate gland and this makes weeing a more protracted process; more like 60 seconds to completion, ignoring the last few drops of course. Then I also have congestive heart failure and that means my day starts with 40 mg of Frusemide, a dieuretic, closely followed by two very large mugs of unsweetened black coffee; also dieuretic. So on a bad day I might wee four or five times in the first hour.

        OTOH these times may not be applicable to weasels, rats, or indeed members of the class Reptilia.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: High School Math question

          Ah, but but by your own admission, your Gitness is hardly a representative example of mammalia ... In my experience, 12 to 20 seconds seems to cover most mammals about the place ... depending on propensity to keep the ol' legs crossed until it's an emergency, of course.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: High School Math question

            Far from it in fact. But the question then arises as I hinted at in the previous comment: "Are the folks we are discussing representative examples of Mammalia?"

  7. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Apocryphal

    Apocryphal Exec-recruiting slogan for Wiki?edia: "The more you fail, the more you earn!"

  8. BongoJoe

    I wish I could earn as much working for free...

  9. Milton Silver badge

    An unpleasant surprise

    I've donated my £10 to WMF a few times, when they put up the "donations needed" banner, because I use Wikipedia a lot and have also deployed Mediawiki software a few times, with considerable success. So I feel grateful for the whole thing.

    But it will be a long time before I donate again, if this is the situation: unpaid volunteers do the work, six figure bonuses for others. That just won't do. Forget it.

    1. Gregory Kohs

      Re: An unpleasant surprise

      How could you have been "surprised" by this? For at least 10 years a quick search on "reasons not to donate to Wikipedia" or something similar would have returned at least a half-dozen sites that carefully explain the fraud at Wikimedia Foundation. Sadly, you're like most donors -- too trusting of a highly manipulable reference site, and too lazy to check where you're sending your money?

  10. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Golden somethings

    Surely, if it is a payment on exit it is a Golden Parachute. Golden Handshakes are payments on entry to an organisation.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    C.U.L.T principle

    Cashed

    Up

    Losers &

    Tossers

  12. finisterre

    I feel ripped off.

  13. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    Some "watchdogs" exist

    Better than nothing. Not sure by how much:

    https://www.charitywatch.org/home

    Lately the missus and I keep the charity very close to home so we know precisely where the resources go and - more importantly - avoid further harm. There are kids near you that need a tutor, families that need short term assistance, etc.

    Suggest people read.'Toxic Charity' by Lupton, ISBN 0062076205, 9780062076205.

    And yes I was dumb enough to send my $10 to Wikipedia some years back. Dang.

  14. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    Here's your golden

    Is that rain?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't you ever donate to big company AND the group which is not transparent!

    Here's a lesson for all of you.

    Don't even donate to big group like Wikipedia. They can nag to investors directly.

    Also you should not donate to a group which does not honor "transparency". For example, Liberland. See this wiki for details.

    https://github.com/LiberlandProblems/LiberlandProblems/wiki

  16. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    Meeellionaire$ at it again

    This very morning, 2017 Jul 12, pop-over notices, for example:

    "Dear readers in Canada, today we ask you to help Wikipedia. To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. We're sustained by donations averaging about $15. Only a tiny portion of our readers give. If everyone reading this right now gave $3, we could keep Wikipedia thriving for years to come. That's right, the price of a cup of coffee is all we need. If Wikipedia is useful to you, please take one minute to keep it online and growing. Thank you."

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