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