[Wikimediauk-l] Merchandising

0 views
Skip to first unread message

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 13, 2009, 6:04:14 PM9/13/09
to WMUK-L
We've received approval from the Wikimedia Foundation to produce merchandising with Wikimedia trademarks and copyrighted logos on it for sale to our members - anything from mugs and mouse-mats to cufflinks and ties. The plan is to sell them at cost price to members only.

Quick question - what kind of thing would you be interested in buying and which logos would you want to use (Wikipedia globe? Wikimedia? Wiktionery? Complete family? [1])

[1] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_logo_family_complete.svg

Please let me know either by personal reply or just reply to the list.

Regards,

_______________________________________________
Wikimedia UK mailing list
wikime...@wikimedia.org
http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 13, 2009, 6:12:46 PM9/13/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/13 Andrew Turvey <andrew...@googlemail.com>:

> We've received approval from the Wikimedia Foundation to produce merchandising with Wikimedia trademarks and copyrighted logos on it for sale to our members - anything from mugs and mouse-mats to cufflinks and ties. The plan is to sell them at cost price to members only.

Cost price? What is the point of that? Merchandising is a great way of
making money. I don't think the existence of members-only merchandise
is going to get many extra people to sign up. I would be happy to pay
a little extra for my WMUK t-shirts.

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 13, 2009, 6:40:25 PM9/13/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
Hopefully it will be the kind of perk that will attract people who are already active in the projects to become members. As to selling at above cost, the Foundation wasn't too keen on that - worried that we would develop into some kind of commercial arm of the Foundation, which is not really their idea of the role of chapters.

Andrew

----- "Thomas Dalton" <thomas...@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: "Thomas Dalton" <thomas...@gmail.com>
> To: wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
> Sent: Sunday, 13 September, 2009 23:12:46 GMT +00:00 GMT Britain, Ireland, Portugal
> Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] Merchandising

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 13, 2009, 6:57:25 PM9/13/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/13 Andrew Turvey <andrew...@googlemail.com>:

> Hopefully it will be the kind of perk that will attract people who are
> already active in the projects to become members. As to selling at above
> cost, the Foundation wasn't too keen on that - worried that we would develop
> into some kind of commercial arm of the Foundation, which is not really
> their idea of the role of chapters.

Did you point out that selling merchandise is a very common way for
charities to raise funds?

Gordon Joly

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 4:34:55 AM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
At 23:40 +0100 13/9/09, Andrew Turvey wrote:
>Hopefully it will be the kind of perk that will attract people who
>are already active in the projects to become members. As to selling
>at above cost, the Foundation wasn't too keen on that - worried that
>we would develop into some kind of commercial arm of the Foundation,
>which is not really their idea of the role of chapters.
>
>Andrew


Run that by me, one more time?

Why then seek to gain a tax advantage?

Gordo

--
"Think Feynman"/////////
http://pobox.com/~gordo/
gordo...@pobox.com///

WereSpielChequers

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 6:37:11 AM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
With only about 30 members the UK chapter is at a very early stage
with a limited internal market. If you had 3,000 members you could get
some economy of scale and order say 100 T shirts, but with a market of
30 you can expect the price per item to be exorbitant. Producing
ties, mousemats, cufflinks and presumably monogrammed bathrobes for
the minority of those 30 who want such things is at best a distraction
and at worst a drain on resources. Not least because selling stuff at
cost means you have to invest the capital to buy the stuff hoping that
if you sell all of them at full price you will recover your capital.
That ties up capital and sooner or later you will make a loss when you
discover that fewer than ten of your thirty members want a mousemat.

As for recruiting new members, perhaps you would. But you are also
putting off prospective members like myself who would not join an
organisation that is setting itself up to fail.

WereSpielChequers

2009/9/14 Gordon Joly <gordo...@pobox.com>:


> At 23:40 +0100 13/9/09, Andrew Turvey wrote:

>>Hopefully it will be the kind of perk that will attract people who
>>are already active in the projects to become members. As to selling
>>at above cost, the Foundation wasn't too keen on that - worried that
>>we would develop into some kind of commercial arm of the Foundation,
>>which is not really their idea of the role of chapters.
>>
>>Andrew
>
>

> Run that by me, one more time?
>
> Why then seek to gain a tax advantage?
>
> Gordo
>
> --
> "Think Feynman"/////////
> http://pobox.com/~gordo/
> gordo...@pobox.com///
>

> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list
> wikime...@wikimedia.org
> http://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
> WMUK: http://uk.wikimedia.org
>

--
WereSpielChequers

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 9:40:10 AM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 WereSpielChequers <werespie...@googlemail.com>:

> With only about 30 members the UK chapter is at a very early stage
> with a limited internal market. If you had 3,000 members you could get
> some economy of scale and order say 100 T shirts, but with a market of
> 30 you can expect the price per item to be exorbitant.  Producing
> ties, mousemats, cufflinks and presumably monogrammed bathrobes for
> the minority of those 30 who want such things is at best a distraction
> and at worst a drain on resources. Not least because selling stuff at
> cost means you have to invest the capital to buy the stuff hoping that
> if you sell all of them at full price you will recover your capital.
> That ties up capital and sooner or later you will make a loss when you
> discover that fewer than ten of your thirty members want a mousemat.

That is an excellent point. Without a profit margin you are guaranteed
to make a loss if you don't sell everything. Since, as a charity, we
can't take significant risks that means we have to make very small
orders, increasing the price even more.

Brian McNeil

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 9:59:21 AM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
A restriction to "members-only merchandise" is wrong, doubly so with current
low membership levels. When you're talking about a 10k+ member base, then I
can see a point to members-exclusive merchandise; this complementing a range
of items available to the wider public.

I'm also against the 'at-cost' idea. For members, I would say a discount (in
reality, lower margin), is perfectly acceptable. I believe most other
charities that use mechandise to raise funds treat their members and the
public in this slightly different way.

What I would look at is merchandise for the public, with a reasonable
markup. Can WMFUK undercut the cafepress store? If so, then without coming
across as mercenaries, an effort should be made to set up a store on the
WMUK site.

Someone more familiar with the financial planning side of a business should
give input on this. WMUK doesn't have the manpower to manage inventory and
order fulfilment. What companies do other UK charities work with to do this?
What sort of outlay and risks are involved?

I would take it as a given that this would be restricted to UK-only delivery
to avoid trading on the WMF's toes, or that of any other chapters.


Brian.

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 10:09:13 AM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Brian McNeil <brian....@wikinewsie.org>:

> I would take it as a given that this would be restricted to UK-only delivery
> to avoid trading on the WMF's toes, or that of any other chapters.

"Wikipedia" t-shirts should probably be UK-only. "Wikimedia UK"
t-shirts may as well be global, although I'm not sure many people
outside the UK would want one (unless they buy it at a WMUK event as a
momento, I guess, but that would be selling it in the UK, so is
irrelevant).

Isabell Long

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 12:31:32 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Thomas Dalton <thomas...@gmail.com>:

> 2009/9/14 Brian McNeil <brian....@wikinewsie.org>:
>> I would take it as a given that this would be restricted to UK-only delivery
>> to avoid trading on the WMF's toes, or that of any other chapters.
>
> "Wikipedia" t-shirts should probably be UK-only. "Wikimedia UK"
> t-shirts may as well be global, although I'm not sure many people
> outside the UK would want one (unless they buy it at a WMUK event as a
> momento, I guess, but that would be selling it in the UK, so is
> irrelevant).

I'd want one, although I live in the UK now so that makes sense!
T-shirts would be a good idea with just Wikimedia UK written on.

--
Regards,
Isabell Long. <isabe...@gmail.com>
[[User:Isabell121]] on all public Wikimedia projects.
Freenode Community Co-Ordinator - issyl0 on irc.freenode.net
PGP Key ID: 0xB6CA6840

WereSpielChequers

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 1:16:10 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
Whilst mousemats and coffee mugs can be made to the same size, T
shirts need to be made in multiple sizes. And despite what happen at
Wikimania in Buenos Aires, that normally involves the complication of
different garment sizes rather than just printing M, X, or XL on the
same sized garment. If you have to sell the entire production run at
full price in order to cover your costs multiple sizes add to the
complication.

I'm not a fan of merchandising as part of a charities function. But if
it is done it should have the saving grace of having a sufficient
markup to help finance the organisation.

Now what would be cool would be Wikipedia calenders. Flowers, sports
events historical events - we could theme quite a few and they'd make
great gifts. It would also be a good article improvement process as
the nominated articles for the calender would be liable to get good
scrutiny and input whist we discuss which should go in the calender.
OK we would need wmf agreement to do this as a fundraiser sold outside
the membership, but there is a well established charity market for
such things. I for one can think of half a dozen calenders that I
might buy as winter solstice presents for assorted friends and
relatives.

WereSpielChequers

2009/9/14 Isabell Long <isabe...@gmail.com>:

brian....@wikinewsie.org

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 1:44:45 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
> Subject: Re: [Wikimediauk-l] Merchandising

> I'm not a fan of merchandising as part of a charities function. But if
> it is done it should have the saving grace of having a sufficient
> markup to help finance the organisation.

Agreed. It isn't something you can do without seriously considering the
business aspects. There will be issues like waste and unsold stock.


>
> Now what would be cool would be Wikipedia calenders. Flowers, sports
> events historical events - we could theme quite a few and they'd make
> great gifts. It would also be a good article improvement process as
> the nominated articles for the calender would be liable to get good
> scrutiny and input whist we discuss which should go in the calender.
> OK we would need wmf agreement to do this as a fundraiser sold outside
> the membership, but there is a well established charity market for
> such things. I for one can think of half a dozen calenders that I
> might buy as winter solstice presents for assorted friends and
> relatives.

A calendar is a good idea, and one that can be done with a lot of
volunteer input. You need to select articles to feature, or other
appropriate content. For a UK-specific audience you'd have to consider
the anniversaries and holidays to highlight. This can all be done by
volunteers.

In theory you could actually handle the distribution with volunteers
too. If you reliably handle the sales side and get the data for mailing
labels, then you have the finished calendars delivered somewhere and
volunteers handle the process through to getting them in sacks to go to
the post office.

Regardless of how you can involve volunteer labour, you do need a
business plan and know who you are going to outsource work like printing
to. Other UK charities can probably give advice on how they handle such
issues, and I would assume there is scope for working with other
chapters to work out how to best implement various fundraising
merchandise ideas. A reason I'd really support the calendar idea is that
it fits with the WMF principle of sharing knowledge.

Brian McNeil.

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 2:14:07 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 WereSpielChequers <werespie...@googlemail.com>:

> I'm not a fan of merchandising as part of a charities function. But if
> it is done it should have the saving grace of having a sufficient
> markup to help finance the organisation.

It's not a matter of being a fan or not - merchandising is not part of
our function, it can only legally be done for the purposes of raising
funds. Raising funds by attracting more members is a possibility, but
I'm sceptical that it would raise enough funds to be worth the risk of
unsold stock. If there is significant risk (which, without a profit
margin to help absorb losses, there would be) then it would have to be
done through a trading subsidiary, anyway (without the risk it would
fall under the small trading exemption so could be done directly), and
that will incur admin costs.

> Now what would be cool would be Wikipedia calenders. Flowers, sports
> events historical events - we could theme quite a few and they'd make
> great gifts. It would also be a good article improvement process as
> the nominated articles for the calender would be liable to get good
> scrutiny and input whist we discuss which should go in the calender.
> OK we would need wmf agreement to do this as a fundraiser sold outside
> the membership, but there is a well established charity market for
> such things. I for one can think of half a dozen calenders that I
> might buy  as winter solstice presents for assorted friends and
> relatives.

Now, that is a fantastic idea! They would be very cheap to produce (in
terms of money - lots of volunteer labour would be required) so could
be sold cheaply while still having a decent profit margin. It would be
a great way to advertise (extracts from) featured articles - showing
off our best articles could do a lot of good.

David Gerard

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 2:19:23 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Thomas Dalton <thomas...@gmail.com>:
> 2009/9/14 WereSpielChequers <werespie...@googlemail.com>:

>> I'm not a fan of merchandising as part of a charities function. But if
>> it is done it should have the saving grace of having a sufficient
>> markup to help finance the organisation.

> It's not a matter of being a fan or not - merchandising is not part of
> our function, it can only legally be done for the purposes of raising
> funds. Raising funds by attracting more members is a possibility, but
> I'm sceptical that it would raise enough funds to be worth the risk of
> unsold stock. If there is significant risk (which, without a profit
> margin to help absorb losses, there would be) then it would have to be
> done through a trading subsidiary, anyway (without the risk it would
> fall under the small trading exemption so could be done directly), and
> that will incur admin costs.


It's REALLY EASY for a charity to end up with boxes of T-shirts under the bed.

The conditions WMF have put on merchandise, as described here, sound
basically onerous and no different to "no, you can't do it at all."


- d.

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 3:35:02 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
Thanks everyone for their responses. Back to the original questions:

- what kind of thing would you, personally, be interested in buying or
getting as a gift? Tshirts, mousemats, cufflinks?
- how much would you be willing to spend?
- what logos would you like? Wikipedia? WMUK, complete family?

Discussions so far have focussed on very limited sales, order on
demand only. No one wants to spend lots of effort doing this, or
taking any significant levels of stock. I don't think it has any
potential to be a major source of funding so I don't suggest we go
down that route.

We're an association, a group of people with a common interest. The
best way to encourage more and more people to join is to generate an
enthusiasm for what we have in common. Stuff like Wikipedia T-shirts
have a great potential to do that. Please don't pile in to rubbish the
idea before it even takes shape.

Andrew

On Sep 13, 11:04 pm, Andrew Turvey <andrewrtur...@googlemail.com>
wrote:


> We've received approval from the Wikimedia Foundation to produce merchandising with Wikimedia trademarks and copyrighted logos on it for sale to our members - anything from mugs and mouse-mats to cufflinks and ties. The plan is to sell them at cost price to members only.
>
> Quick question - what kind of thing would you be interested in buying and which logos would you want to use (Wikipedia globe? Wikimedia? Wiktionery? Complete family? [1])
>

> [1]http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimedia_logo_family_complete...


>
> Please let me know either by personal reply or just reply to the list.
>
> Regards,
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list

> wikimediau...@wikimedia.orghttp://mail.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediauk-l
> WMUK:http://uk.wikimedia.org

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 3:37:15 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
The main monetary benefits of charity status are being able to reclaim
Gift Aid on donations and reduced rates on expenses like room hire and
paypal fees. These are far larger than any profit on T-shirt sales
would ever be.

Andrew

On Sep 14, 9:34 am, Gordon Joly <gordon.j...@pobox.com> wrote:
> At 23:40 +0100 13/9/09, Andrew Turvey wrote:
>
> >Hopefully it will be the kind of perk that will attract people who
> >are already active in the projects to become members. As to selling
> >at above cost, the Foundation wasn't too keen on that - worried that
> >we would develop into some kind of commercial arm of the Foundation,
> >which is not really their idea of the role of chapters.
>
> >Andrew
>
> Run that by me, one more time?
>
> Why then seek to gain a tax advantage?
>
> Gordo
>
> --
> "Think Feynman"/////////http://pobox.com/~gordo/

> gordon.j...@pobox.com///


>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia UK mailing list

_______________________________________________

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 3:46:49 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
On Sep 14, 11:37 am, WereSpielChequers
<werespielchequ...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> ... but with a market of

> 30 you can expect the price per item to be exorbitant.  
> WereSpielChequers

Vistaprint, for instance, can do a single custom made double sided T
shift for less than a tenner - of course the price comes down the more
you order, but you don't need to have a particularly large order to
make them sellable.

The plan is to have 100 members by next spring, so if we achieve that
our market will be larger!

Andrew

Andrew Turvey

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 4:08:22 PM9/14/09
to WMUK-L
Re-reading my original email and the reaction to it I should clarify:


----- "Andrew Turvey" <andrew...@googlemail.com> wrote:
>  The plan is to sell them at cost price to members only.

"Cost price" isn't a restriction from the Foundation - their main restriction is that it must be either sold only to members or given away for free as publicity. It's up to us what price we sell them at, although if we make significant profit margins there are certain tax and charity consequences which may be better avoiding. Also I don't want members to get the impression we're profiteering. Thinking about it again, cost+20% - which I understand is what cafepress do - sounds about right to cover waste, stock etc.

As I've mentioned before, I don't think the potential volumes justify turning this into a fundraising business. However, I do think it could be a good way to attract new members and give a benefit to existing members.

I love the idea of a calendar, and we already have a potential partner in this with Robbies Photographics - one of the sponsors of the Wikipedia Loves Art event.

Andrew


Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 4:09:05 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Andrew Turvey <andrew...@googlemail.com>:

> Discussions so far have focussed on very limited sales, order on
> demand only. No one wants to spend lots of effort doing this, or
> taking any significant levels of stock. I don't think it has any
> potential to be a major source of funding so I don't suggest we go
> down that route.

The final sale price would probably be lower if we bought a
significant number and added a profit margin.

> We're an association, a group of people with a common interest. The
> best way to encourage more and more people to join is to generate an
> enthusiasm for what we have in common. Stuff like Wikipedia T-shirts
> have a great potential to do that. Please don't pile in to rubbish the
> idea before it even takes shape.

I'll rubbish whatever ideas I want, thank you very much! I'm not
convinced this will attract sufficient members to justify doing it. It
doesn't further our charitable goals so if it doesn't raise
significant funds, we can't do it. By all means, do some market
research and find out for sure, but I think merchandising for profit
is the way to go.

Thomas Dalton

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 4:14:37 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Andrew Turvey <andrew...@googlemail.com>:

> Re-reading my original email and the reaction to it I should clarify:
>
> ----- "Andrew Turvey" <andrew...@googlemail.com> wrote:
>>  The plan is to sell them at cost price to members only.
>
> "Cost price" isn't a restriction from the Foundation - their main
> restriction is that it must be either sold only to members or given away for
> free as publicity. It's up to us what price we sell them at, although if we
> make significant profit margins there are certain tax and charity
> consequences which may be better avoiding. Also I don't want members to get
> the impression we're profiteering. Thinking about it again, cost+20% - which
> I understand is what cafepress do - sounds about right to cover waste, stock
> etc.

Ok, that's better, now we're talking (20% sounds fine to me, 10% might
even be enough - depends on the details). The tax thresholds are in
terms of turnover, rather than profit. For a small charity the small
trade exemption covers us up to £5000 pa. turnover. If we go over that
(which is unlikely with t-shirts and things, although the calendar
idea could be bigger), we can avoid paying tax by forming a trading
subsidiary and having it donate the profits to the charity, it then
giftaids them so they are tax deductible reducing taxable profits to
zero. (This is all entirely legal, the HMRC website even says how to
do it.)

I don't think t-shirts will be a large fundraiser, but we have to call
it a fundraiser in order for it to be legal.

Jarry1250

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 12:16:12 PM9/14/09
to 1 WMUK list
>
> A restriction to "members-only merchandise" is wrong, doubly so with current
> low membership levels. When you're talking about a 10k+ member base, then I
> can see a point to members-exclusive merchandise; this complementing a range
> of items available to the wider public.
I agree. The only thing is to add really is that branded T-Shirts might
be good for WMUK people to wear at (informal) events where they
represent the friendly face of Wikipedia. But the market is far, far too
small at this moment in time. By the way, are there WMUK T-Shirts on
Cafepress? Better to let them handle things at the moment, even at a
premium.

--
Jarry1250
http://en.wikipedia.org/User:Jarry1250

David Gerard

unread,
Sep 14, 2009, 6:18:52 PM9/14/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/14 Jarry1250 <jarr...@googlemail.com>:

> I agree. The only thing is to add really is that branded T-Shirts might
> be good for WMUK people to wear at (informal) events where they
> represent the friendly face of Wikipedia.


Indeed. I actually need to get around to making a homemade Wikipedia
shirt or two I can keep on hand for telly etc!

(Inkjet-printable T-shirt transfers. Great stuff. Suitable to be worn
once or twice, not really washable without *ridiculous* care. Probably
worth spending a little more and getting a one-off done at a high
street print shop.)


- d.

Gordon Joly

unread,
Sep 25, 2009, 6:29:04 AM9/25/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
>
>It's REALLY EASY for a charity to end up with boxes of T-shirts under the bed.

I second that!


http://www.flickr.com/photos/loopzilla/72034640/

Gordo

_______________________________________________

David Gerard

unread,
Sep 25, 2009, 6:56:26 AM9/25/09
to wikime...@lists.wikimedia.org
2009/9/25 Gordon Joly <gordo...@pobox.com>:
>David Gerard wrote:

>>It's REALLY EASY for a charity to end up with boxes of T-shirts under the bed.

> I second that!
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/loopzilla/72034640/


I've only just realised that I missed my chance to say "been there,
got the hundred T-shirts" there.

They were really awful T-shirts too. Terrible design, terrible
quality. I think most of them ended up as hair dye shirts.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages