I’m sorry to tell you that Zack Exley has decided he wants to leave the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), although I am glad to say he’s planning to continue contributing his prodigious creative and analytic talents to our fundraising. As of August 30, Zack will no longer be Chief Revenue Officer, but will instead be a part-time consultant and advisor to the WMF fundraising team, in addition to other consulting work he’s planning to take on.
We all owe Zack enormous thanks and praise.
The year before Zack joined us, the WMF raised USD 16 million in donations, and three years later that has more than tripled to USD 56 million — and we are doing it in a way that’s 100 percent consistent with our mission, vision and values. The many-small-donors model preserves the Wikimedia movement’s independence by preventing over-reliance on a small number of people, it enables the WMF to focus on readers and editors without having their needs drowned out by other stakeholders and it makes us the largest amount of money at the smallest-possible cost. Zack has earned his place in the histories of Wikimedia yet to be written: For the past three years, he has been the single person most responsible for funding the growth of resources for the global movement.
Zack is leaving the WMF fundraising team in terrific shape, and I’m very happy to announce I’ll be promoting into the position of Chief Revenue Officer the deputy head of the department, Lisa Seitz Gruwell.
Since Lisa joined in 2011, both Zack and I have come to heavily rely on her leadership, managerial and strategic abilities. Lisa has been responsible for foundations and major donors as well as being Zack’s deputy, and over the past two years she and her team have significantly grown revenues without increasing the costs to the organization. This is a big deal: Most non-profits need their non-fundraising staff to participate in fundraising efforts, and it’s to Lisa’s credit that her team has figured out how to raise money without that. Lisa is widely respected and trusted. I look forward to her leadership and am confident she will continue Fundraising’s track record of success.
We are also promoting Megan Hernandez, who has been the behind-the-scenes creative talent of our last two online campaigns. She will become Director of Online Fundraising, leading all our online work. And we are promoting Sara Lasner to the role of Development Director, where she will lead the foundations and major gifts team that has been Lisa’s responsibility. Congratulations to Megan and Sara.
Our fundraising strategy will not change. We will continue to focus on the many-small-donors model, supplemented by unrestricted grants and major gifts. Everything takes effect immediately, except Zack’s official departure, which will be August 30. He won’t be at Wikimania, but people in the San Francisco Bay Area will get a chance to see him when he comes to town in early September. And of course we’ll continue to see him afterwards, in his new relationship with us.
I’m very confident in the trio of Lisa, Megan and Sara to lead fundraising for the movement, and I’m delighted Zack will continue to lend his guidance and creativity to our campaigns. Please join me in thanking Zack for everything he has done for the Wikimedia movement and for his continued involvement. And congratulations to Lisa, Megan, and Sara on their well-deserved promotions.
Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation