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Who are Wikipedia’s donors? Answers from the readers study

We recently concluded our annual fundraiser, and it was a great success. With over one million individuals pitching in from almost every country, our donors are a diverse and interesting group in themselves. While we don’t directly collect demographic or other information from our donors, we used our readers survey as a means of understanding who our donors are, and what motivates them to donate to Wikipedia. Please note that these results are from a sample of our reader population, not drawn from actual donor data.

a. Only about half of our readers realize that Wikipedia is a non-profit, editors much more likely to donate
b. An appeal from Jimmy is a popular reason for donating, but people in different regions are motivated differently
c. About one-fourth of our respondents said they would donate; readers from US, Egypt and India most likely to do so
d. Readers cite affordability as the biggest reason for not donating

a. Only about half of our readers realize that Wikipedia is a non-profit, editors much more likely to donate

A lot of our readers are simply unaware of the fact that Wikipedia is a non-profit entity run entirely on donations from the general public. On average, 47 percent of our readers did not know this. Lack of awareness was especially high in Russia (64 percent), Brazil (56 percent) and the United States (56 percent). Readers in India (61 percent were aware of Wikipedia’s non-profit status) and Egypt (70 percent) were the most informed. Readers with a graduate level education were significantly more likely to be aware of this fact. With over 400 million unique visitors every month, this means a high absolute number of people who use Wikipedia without realizing it is a non-profit endeavour.

Interestingly, 28 percent of readers who had edited Wikipedia were also unaware that it was a non-profit. That said, editors are much more likely to donate – 26 percent of them have donated, vs. only about 3 percent of the non-editing readers. In addition, while almost all non-editors have donated three or fewer times, as many as 21 percent of the editors have donated more than five times. Also, while men were more likely to donate once (44 percent) than women (36 percent), women are much more likely to be continued supporters, with 14 percent of them having donated more than 5 times, compared to only 6 percent of men.

Donations made towards Wikimedia Chapters were similarly scarce – only about percent of our readers have ever donated. Again, editors (22 percent) were much more likely to donate to them.

b. An appeal from Jimmy is a popular reason for donating, but people in different regions are motivated differently

The top two reasons for donation specified by readers were I felt a small donation would be welcomed (37 percent) and I saw an appeal from Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder) (34 percent). While 61 percent of Canadian donors thought of donations as a way of contributing since they don’t edit, 75 percent of Russian readers donated because they saw Jimmy’s appeal. Interestingly, as many as 15 percent of the donors were motivated by appeals from others on social networks.

Base: 4000. F6. What prompted you to donate money to Wikipedia?

c. About one-fourth of our respondents said they would donate; readers from US, Egypt and India most likely to do so

As mentioned earlier, many readers aren’t aware of the non-profit status of Wikipedia. After reminding our survey participants that Wikipedia 1. is run by a charity 2. doesn’t use advertisements and 3. has the mission of promoting free knowledge worldwide, 24 percent of them said they would donate to Wikipedia. Readers from India (42 percent), Egypt (33 percent) and US (33 percent) expressed a stronger desire to donate. Portuguese speakers (33 percent) were also tending more towards donating. Respondents from Germany (13 percent), France (11 percent) and Japan (15 percent) were relatively less prone to donate. As expected, editors were much more inclined towards supporting the cause, with 49 percent of them saying they would donate.

d. Readers cite affordability as the biggest reason for not donating

About 46 percent of those readers who do not donate said this is because they cannot afford to make a donation. Awareness is one possible explanation – the most common donation amounts from the 2010 Fundraiser were $20, $5 and $10 respectively. (Stats for 2011 aren’t available yet, but early indicators suggest these were the most common denominations this time as well.) The high value of the dollar may also have an effect, with 68 percent of Japanese readers and 57 percent of Indian readers citing affordability as a reason. However, about 60 percent of UK readers also cite this reason.

Base:4000. F8. Why have you chosen to not donate to the Wikimedia Foundation? Please choose all that apply.

 

Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research

Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development

We recently conducted an online survey of Wikipedia readers, limited to 250 participants each in 16 countries. This is the eighth in a series of blog posts summarizing our findings. If you are interested, you can find out more about the methodology of the survey here.

11 Responses to “Who are Wikipedia’s donors? Answers from the readers study”

  1. frank says:

    It is really annoying to try and see what people think about his blog post and find out that only 1 of 8 comments is not from a bot. Is there any way you could avoid this?

  2. Samir Shah says:

    Yes, affordability is the main reason for not donating, at leat for me. If I could, I would.

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