Wikimedia Foundation Duty Entertainment Guidelines
The following are Wikimedia Foundation guidelines for duty entertainment. Please refer to the Purchasing and Disbursement Process policy for guidance on submission of expense claims and on the approvals process. Please refer to the Travel Policy for guidance on expenses that are specifically travel-related.
Definition of duty entertainment
The phrase "duty entertainment" refers to expenses incurred for food, beverages and general entertainment or thank-you acknowledgments. It includes, for example, costs associated with tickets, taxicabs to events, thank-you flowers or gifts, entry fees, etc. Typical examples of duty entertainment might include flowers sent to a donor, lunch with a job candidate, or attendance at a networking function. It is not intended to be frivolous or purposeless spending: it is always to be used in pursuit of the Foundation's goals and best interests.
Duty entertainment does not encompass food and beverages provided as part of normal working operations: for example, catered lunches or snacks provided as part of meetings in the office. It also does not include meals provided for staff who are working extended hours, involved in training or staff development sessions, etc. Those expenses are classified under meeting expenses.
Duty entertainment also does not include normal travel expenses for individuals. For example, a person eating in a restaurant while traveling on Foundation business, would have that expense processed and classified under travel, not duty entertainment.
Examples of allowable duty entertainment:
- A board member takes a major donor to dinner.
- The Executive Director sends flowers to a major donor.
- The CFOO takes a direct report to lunch for a performance check-in.
Statement of policy
In general, the purpose of duty entertainment expenditures is to enhance the overall reputation of the Wikimedia Foundation with donors and other stakeholders, and to enhance staff and volunteer engagement and development.
The Wikimedia Foundation is largely funded by donations from the general public. Therefore, all duty entertainment expenses must be reasonable and must be able to withstand public scrutiny. In general, the Wikimedia Foundation requires its representatives to exercise good judgment when incurring duty entertainment expenses. If in doubt as to whether a particular expense is advisable, we ask Foundation representatives to consult in advance with the Executive Director or CFOO.
In general, the use of Foundation funds for duty entertainment is discouraged, with the following exceptions:
- Expenses tied directly to fundraising (e.g., cultivation or stewardship of donors and potential donors). These may be incurred only by board members, the Executive Director, the Deputy Director, or fundraising staff. All other fundraising-related duty entertainment expenses must be approved in advance by the ED, DD, or fundraising staff.
- Modest expenses tied directly to staff development (e..g., an annual or biannual lunch with a direct report or intern). These may only be incurred by the person's supervisor, not by a colleague.
- Modest expenses tied directly to staff engagement (e.g., cakes for birthdays, flowers for significant life events). These may only be incurred by the person's supervisor, not by a colleague.
- Modest expenses tied directly to volunteer engagement (e.g., lunch with a volunteer, provision of modest refreshments for a meet-up).
As a charity, the Wikimedia Foundation aims to maintain a modest profile, and its marketing/sales activities are limited. In general, Foundation representatives are discouraged from incurring duty entertainment expenses related to our business relationships, including those with consultants, contractors and service providers.
Procedures and Guidelines
- Please see the Purchasing and Disbursement Process policy for guidelines related to submission of expense claims and the approvals process.
- It is the responsibility of the person incurring the expense to ensure the expense is reasonable and for legitimate WMF business. If unsure whether an expense is allowable, it is the responsibility of the person incurring it to request clarification in advance.
- It is the responsibility of the person incurring the expense, when submitting it for approval, to provide the names of all participants (e.g., those present at the dinner or event), and a brief rationale for the expenditure. Both are to be kept on file by the accounting department, and will not be made publicly-available.
- It is the responsibility of the person approving the expense to ensure the expense is reasonable and is legitimate WMF business, and that names of participants and a brief rationale have been provided with the expense submission.
- It is permissible to expense alcohol, within reason. Alcohol provided as part of a social function (e.g., a fundraising event in the office) must be approved in advance by the ED. Provision of alcohol must comply with relevant law.
- At any gathering, only the most senior person present is permitted to expense. For example, only the ED can decide to expense a gathering including the ED, CFOO, office manager and accountant. At the same gathering minus the ED, only the CFOO could make the decision to expense.
- Staff are not permitted to expense gatherings with peers without prior approval. So, a gathering of the head of communications, head of business development and general counsel, may only be expensed with prior approval from the ED or CFOO.
- Duty entertainment expenses will be monitored on an ongoing basis, and, if they are deemed excessive, reimbursement may be denied.