Thu 8th October 2009, 6:51pm
QUOTE(Cla68 @ Thu 8th October 2009, 10:05am)
QUOTE(GlassBeadGame @ Wed 7th October 2009, 8:32pm)
Most foundation and government grantors want administrative expenses to be about 15%, WMF's is at 26.7%. If WMF grows more responsible (a big "if") this will at first get worse, because right now the non-admin expenses are mostly server/technical related and anything relating to quality or accountability is probably now considered "administrative." (office personal who address "issues" and concerns). If WMF grows more responsible this should be defined as program activity, not administration, and this is where almost all of the growth needs to be directed. A more staff dominated organization is here a good thing.
Actually, that's a good point, and I don't see an easy way to reduce expenses in that area. Moving to Sacramento, Oakland, or Fresno would not necessarily reduce those kind of administrative expenses. If they were located in an area that had a lower cost-of-living, however, wouldn't they be able to offer lower salaries to prospective employees?
All good points. Was the official justification for moving to San Francisco to have close working relationships to cutting-edge software engineers? Frankly, is there a crying need for any kind of top-flight talent other than nonprofit organizational skills for the top jobs (maybe, what, 2-4 really talented people -- at most, a CEO, COO, CIO and a fundraising whiz, but probably just the first and last should be top-flight). Maybe it had to do with fundraising -- to be able to meet big donors interested in tech causes. If that's what you want, the SF/San Jose area would be the place to be, wouldn't it?
Over time, though, Wikipedia's image in terms of some kind of digital-world "glamor" has faded and it's got to fade even more. As it becomes an established institution it's gradually faced with the kind of media scruitiny and public-image environment that most established institutions face: either you don't hear about them much or you hear about them when something goes wrong (which we can expect to happen frequently). You get ratings from places like Charity Navigator, which cast a cool eye over your budget, or scrutiny from other watchdogs. Rich tech people are going to be looking at the bottom line of a maturing organization, and the dazzle won't be there to blind them. Years from now, most of their money is going to be coming from Wikipedia editors responding to fundraising appeals at the top of the web pages. They'll need an endowment by then.
Neither the technology nor web graphics needs (which don't have to be cutting-edge) or the fundraising needs point to high-rent, high-salary San Francisco. Only the self-centered needs of individual Wikipedia poohbahs for self-promotion call for that. If they implemented some kind of system of checking identities of editors, they'd want to hire cheap for that, pointing to a location that didn't have the highest housing costs in the U.S. And shouldn't Wikipedia want a head office that won't be offline the next time a major earthquake hits San Francisco?
I assume they'll be moving.