Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Fundraiser 2011

Wikimedia Fundraiser Concludes with Record Breaking Donations

Our annual fundraising campaign reached a successful conclusion today having raised a record-breaking USD 20 million from more than one million donors in nearly every country in the world. It is our most successful campaign ever, continuing an unbroken streak in which donations have risen every year since the campaigns began in 2003.

Wikimedia Foundation websites serve more than 470 million people every month. It is the only major website supported not by advertising, but by donations from readers.

From Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation,

Our model is working fantastically well.

Ordinary people use Wikipedia and they like it, so they chip in some cash so it will continue to thrive. That maintains our independence and lets us focus solely on providing a useful public service. I am so grateful to our donors for making that possible. I promise them we will use their money carefully and well.

The number of Wikimedia Foundation donors has increased ten-fold since 2008 and the total dollar amount raised in the campaign has risen to over $20 million from $4.5 million.

Funds raised in this campaign will be used to buy and install servers and other hardware, to develop new site functionality, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects, and support the large global community of Wikimedia volunteers. The Wikimedia Foundation’s total 2011-12 planned spending is 28.3 million USD. The bulk of that is raised during the annual campaign and the remainder comes throughout the year in the form of grants from institutions (such as the Sloan Foundation) and many other small donations year round.

This year’s campaign highlighted staff and volunteers who help to create Wikipedia. It featured testimonials from volunteer editors in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India, Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States ranging in age from 18 to 76, explaining why they edit Wikipedia and why they think readers should support the Wikimedia Foundation. More than 100 volunteers translated the banners and appeals into dozens of languages, reaching hundreds of millions of people.

A special thanks goes to all the contributors who work on the fundraiser year-round, the editors who helped tell their story, the translators who helped spread the message of the fundraiser, Wikimedia foundation employees, and to the readers of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects for their support.

With over 20 million articles in 282 languages, Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia in human history. Over 100,000 volunteers work on Wikipedia and its 10 sister projects (including projects like Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks, and Wiktionary), furthering the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission to freely share the sum of all human knowledge. On January 15, 2012, Wikipedia will celebrate its 11th anniversary.

Jay Walsh, Communications


Who is Asking You to Donate to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation?

You might be asking yourself, “Who are those people in the banners on Wikipedia?  Why are they asking me to ‘please read an appeal?’”  They are members of the Wikipedia community and they believe strongly in the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation.  Some are employees of the Wikimedia Foundation and some are volunteers; editors, contributors, and users of Wikipedia without whom Wikipedia would not be what it is today.  The people in the banners asking you for money to support Wikipedia are real people who believe in spreading free knowledge throughout the world.


Brandon Harris is a Senior Designer at the Wikimedia Foundation and he has worked at Wikimedia since the Spring of 2010. He was raised in Huntington, West Virginia, and he has spent most of his adult life in San Francisco, CA. He is aggressively passionate about his work and loves feeling like he is making the world a better place. He listens to heavy metal, plays guitar, and hosts an ongoing RPG night.




Susan Hewitt is originally from England and has lived in the US for more than half of her life.  She does volunteer work of different kinds, she loves to write (including Wikipedia articles, of course!) and she loves to teach. She also enjoys doing field research and writing papers on mollusks. She is fond of swimming and being in the ocean. At home you might find her reading a stack of science magazines or studying Buddhism. She thinks the most important thing any of us can do is try to make the world a better place for everyone else.



Karthik Nadar is from Mumbai, India.  He is a student and he works part-time.  His favorite part of his job is he has enough time to contribute to Wikipedia.  He contributed a lot to the 2011 Mumbai bombings article, including adding a picture he took after a bomb blast. In his free time, other than editing Wikipedia, he enjoys playing the drums and playing cricket.  He also enjoys photography.




User GorillaWarfare is a student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.  She began editing Wikipedia when she was in high school and currently she mostly focusses on anti-vandalism editing on Wikipedia.  Her main interest is Wikipedia and she considers it to be more of a hobby than volunteer work.  She remarked that some people think it’s a “weird way to spend her time,” but when they see what she is actually doing, especially with anti-vandalism, “they almost see it as kind of a game where I’m reverting the bad guys.”




Bruno Linhares is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Ph.D. in Practical Theology.  In all of his many activities, he finds research to be the most enjoyable part for him.  He enjoys reading about aviation and 20th Centrury world literature and journey accounts.  He enjoys film and he goes to the movies every week.  He also enjoys walking, hiking, and photography.





Dr. Sengai Podhuvanar is fom Chennai, India.  He is currently retired after having many jobs:  he worked on a rural farm, as a school teacher, as a state-appointed journal editor, and as a PhD expert on indigenous Indian games.  He “was born a poor farmer, and still considers [himself] a farmer with a single plow.”  Currently he enjoys his retirement by  reading, writing, taking walks and adding lots of his knowledge to Wikipedia.




Maryana Pinchuk is a Community Organizer at the Wikimedia Foundation. She works with editors to support the growth of all the Wikimedia projects. Her favorite thing about her job is getting to work with an international team of “brilliant, crazy, fearless people who are completely rabid about the goal of sharing knowledge with everyone in the world for free.” She is originally from the Ukraine and has spent time living in many places in the US including Seattle, New Orleans, Boston, and Mississippi. She is a fan of going to bookstores and picking up classics and science fiction, and she likes motorcycle riding.



Basil Soufi was born in Washington State, spent the first few years of his life in Saudi Arabia, then moved to Canada, and later moved to California.  Basil realized the power of Wikipedia when, in 2004, a high school assignment led him to Google “John Kerry.”  The encyclopedia in his home library was printed in 1993 and did not have much information on John Kerry who was not as notable at the time.  He needed current information that can be found on the Internet but he also needed an encyclopedia, so Wikipedia fit the bill.  Basil speaks several languages including Arabic, French, and English and he owns and operates a diversified media company.



Alan Sohn grew up in Lawrence, NY, lived for a decade in Manhattan, and then moved with his wife and children to Teaneck, New Jersey. It was the article for Teaneck that was Alan’s first experience with Wikipedia, launching thousands of new articles and over 300,000 Wikipedia edits.  Aside from his passion of editing Wikipedia articles, Alan has a penchant for puzzles, both in his work as a financial systems analyst, and crossword puzzles, namely the famous NYT crossword puzzle.  Alan plays in a softball league with one of his sons, has coached his kids in various sports, and spent 3 years as a bicycle commuter riding 16 miles daily from NJ to NYC.





Akshaya Iyengar is from India.  She grew up in Solapur, a city in Maharashtra state.  She moved to the US for graduate school and now lives and works in Seattle, WA.  Akshaya is a Software Developer for a technology company.  She likes the fact that the software she writes is directly used by many, many people.  In her free time she enjoys ballroom/latin dancing, playing the guitar, and solving jigsaw puzzles.




Aniruddha Kumar is from New Delhi, India.  He is is a blind Wikipedia editor who finds it important that Wikipedia remain ad-free because he does not have to waste time listening to advertising text on the site.  He also likes that there is no barrier of nationality, ethnicity, religion, caste, or gender for editors or readers of Wikipedia; it is information for all written by all.  He is a research scholar in Jawaharial University, New Delhi.  He enjoys the art of winning a debate and convincing others to see his point on topics, spreading information, and eating tasty food.




Ward Cunningham is computer programmer and the inventor of the wiki. He is a founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. ( and currently resides in Oregon, USA.  Read more about him on Wikipedia.






Isaac Kosegi Kips is from Kenya and he’s a recent graduate from Egerton University in Nakura, Kenya.  Isaac is a Wikimedia volunteer and his major project is distributing offline versions of Wikipedia to several schools in Kenya that do not have Internet access.  He is also working on improving Wikipedia in Africa’s native languages.  When he is not editing Wikipedia he loves to read, and he loves soccer.






Stacey Merrick
Social Media Coordinator

5 Reasons to Donate to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation

The annual Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser brings in critical revenue so that Wikipedia and its sister projects can remain freely available to people around the world. Funds raised in this campaign by Wikimedia and its regional chapters will be used to maintain Wikimedia’s server infrastructure and improve software, expand global reach, and provide direct support to a global volunteer community. The Foundation’s total 2011-12 planned spending is $28.3 million USD.

Let’s be clear about what Wikipedia is in relation to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF).  The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and several free knowledge projects: Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikimedia Commons, and MediaWiki. There are many other wiki projects, but WMF operates those 10 and that’s it.  So, when you donate to Wikipedia you are actually donating to the Wikimedia Foundation or its international partner organizations, the Wikimedia chapters.  Wikipedia is by far Wikimedia’s largest project, but the other projects have the same mission: give free knowledge to the world through a global collaborate effort.
So why should you donate?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. Two words:  Free knowledge.  Three more words:  For the world.  Francis Bacon first coined the phrase, “Knowledge is power.”  If everyone in the world no matter who or where they are has access to knowledge, imagine the great things that can happen to humanity on a global scale.   WMF is working towards bringing knowledge to every corner of the earth. There are more and more Wikipedia articles popping up on Wikipedia pages around the world in over 250 languages.  Did you know that in many different countries there are Wikimedia chapters supporting volunteers who work on Wikipedia in their language?  Wikipedia is also working on a mobile project that is making Wikipedia easier to view on portable devices, sometimes without paying for bandwidth.
  2. Wikipedia is ad free. The Wikimedia Foundation does not accept government grants. Wikipedia does not contain an ad on any page of the entire website.  What does that mean?  Wikipedia can be neutral and has no obligation to be biased towards an advertiser or government.  Just like you would not like to be inundated with advertising in a library or classroom, Wikipedia remains ad-free to keep its pages a sacred ground for learning and sharing.
  3. You use Wikipedia.  Wikipedia did not get to be the 5th largest website in the world by not having visitors to the site. People are using Wikipedia. You are using Wikipedia.  Why not donate to something you use? The Wikimedia Foundation understands not everyone has money to donate, but if you can afford to donate, your money goes to help keep Wikipedia growing into an increasingly vast source of information accessible to an increasingly larger number of people.
  4. Wikipedia is bringing up-to-the-minute knowledge to us in a way that we have never seen before.  Before the internet as we know it, it was not possible to get up to the minute information about most things, especially in an encyclopedia.  For example, when it was released that Pluto is actually a dwarf planet, Wikipedia was updated with the new information immediately and that information was available to anyone with access to a computer, for free.  With Wikipedia, there is now a collaboration of people working together to create content that is updated with up-to-the-minute current information so you can get new information instantly.
  5. Wikipedia is a global collaboration.  Wikipedia does not employ people to add or edit articles, the articles are created entirely by volunteers around the world.  When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that people from all over the world can work together to share knowledge.  It is one of the easiest ways to volunteer for a huge global project, and anyone who has access to a computer can do it from the comfort of their own home.

Are you curious about exactly where your donation money is going?  You can see the public record of Wikimedia’s budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.  Remember:  free knowledge for the world.  Donate today.

Stacey Merrick
Social Media Coordinator

Fundraise differently

What I love about the annual Wikimedia Foundation Fundraiser is that it proves all the cynics wrong. By traffic, we’re the #5 web property in the world, serving 422 million people last month — 12 billion times. But we are funded entirely by voluntary donations. No government grants, no corporate sponsors, no ads. Each year, we ask our readers to pitch in “$5, $10 or $20 to keep Wikipedia free” and, so far, they’ve always met the need. When we reach the goal, we stop asking.I wish more top websites did this. So many new kinds of sites have woven themselves into our lives and communities, isn’t it sad that they must work to expose us to as much advertising as possible and sell our personal information to stay in business? Why is it that only one top website, Wikipedia, is supported directly and voluntarily by its users? I would love to see our funding model become an realistic option for future start ups hoping to embed themselves in daily life.This blog is where the Wikimedia Fundraising team and our friends and collaborators will discuss how we actually run the fundraiser. Every day brings new — often surprising — lessons that will be of interest to fundraising professionals and marketers. Another thing I love about our fundraiser is how frequently it overturns various marketing and fundraising dogmas and uncovers exceptions to iron laws of human nature preached by pop social science. Maybe Wikimedia donors are just different. Or maybe the approaches we’re free to experiment with in our unique context are revealing that there’s a better way to engage one’s audience.

Our fundraiser officially begins in November, but we’ve been testing new approaches each week for the past few months — form designs, banners, and new appeals from Wikimedia volunteers and staff. We’ve also been having great adventures in revamping our open source technical infrastructure and preparing to accept hopefully hundreds of new global payment methods and currencies.

We’ve got a lot to report on already. Please stay tuned and help us succeed this year with comments, suggestions and your own experiences in fundraising.

Zack Exley,
Chief Community Officer, Wikimedia Foundation