WMUK risk discussion

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This page is kept as an archival reference.
If you want to raise a point about it, please start a discussion thread on the community forum.

As part of the process of developing Wikimedia UK the board asked the Chief Executive to look at what he saw as potential risks to the organisation.

His list, which is no in a particular order, was discussed at the Board meeting in Monmouth in April 2012 and it was agreed that it should be shared with the wider community for their input.

So please feel free to contribute. Please discuss this, add your own risks, disagree with these and chew them over on wiki or at the AGM.

  1. Reputational risk - Wikipedia and sister sites become discredited and usage declines.
    • Not a risk that is particular to one country or language version but it could happen. How do we preserve our reputation and protect ourselves?
  2. Financial risk - we run out of the funds needed to support our plans.
    • This could be through an over-ambitious programme or a reduction in our fund-raising success. What would we do if we needed to reduce our costs?
    • Mitigation strategy:
      1. Shift fundraising from annual donations to direct debit, thus improving financial predictability and resilience to bad news during the annual fundraiser.
      2. Don't let longterm commitments such as staff dominate the budget, keep a large proportion for adhoc grants and projects which can be reigned back in difficult years.
      3. Pay for capital goods up front, don't enter into leasing deals.
  3. Organisational risk - the UK community fractures with disagreements between its members and constituent parts.
    • This is a real issue in the voluntary sector. The best charities have good working relationships between trustees, volunteers and staff. All parts of the community, from the chair of trustees to someone making their first edit, should feel they have a role to play and a voice in how WMUK develops.
  4. A collapse in the editor base would mean a dive in quality.
    • A key international concern. How do we maintain a flow of enthusiastic and gifted new editors and how do we keep them? One of our strengths is the way we keep entries up-to date if we fail to do this confidence in our websites could fade.
  5. Schisms with the foundation.
    • There can always be tensions between individual chapters and the Foundation. Sometimes differences of opinion are heartfelt. How do we make sure that disagreements are resolved and good working relationships maintained?
  6. Decrease in diversity of editor base.
    • A key issue for the whole movement. Whether we are talking about gender or geography how can we fulfill our mission and reflect the world we serve?
  7. Our bank goes bust.
    • A large proportion of our annual income comes during the annual fundraiser, so there is likely to be a time of the year when bank failures would cause us some difficulty
    • Mitigation strategy:
      1. Use more than one bank.
      2. Only use very safe banks.
      3. Consider advance payment to the WMF as a way of reducing our risks by reducing the funds that we sit on.
  8. fraud and embezzlement. With only four staff it can be difficult to ensure separation of duties.
    • Mitigation strategy:
      1. Make sure trustees have read access to the accounts, and that significant expenditure requires a trustee's authorisation