Web Culture

Wikipedia Has Millions In The Bank – Why Beg For More?

Mihir Patkar 18-12-2014

If you have been on Wikipedia in the past few days, you must have noticed an appeal from co-founder Jimmy Wales. It comes up every December, like clockwork. The world’s largest publicly-edited encyclopaedia needs donations, from you, to keep running.


But does it really?

Earlier this year, the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia) raised over $140,000 in its first week of accepting Bitcoin donations, according to Coinbase. That’s a significant amount of money, but the annual fundraising drive’s goal this year is to raise $20 million in the month of December.

What Does Wikipedia Need The Money For?


Like any website, Wikipedia has server costs, administration costs, staff costs, and more. For a website the size of Wikipedia, these costs are tremendous. It claims nearly half a billion unique visitors and over 20 billion page views every month. Wales calculates that raising $48 million over the course of the year pays for “less than a penny per person [visiting the site] per month.”

The Wikimedia Foundation’s 2014-2015 Annual Plan clarifies that the total operating budget calls for $58.5 million in spending, including $8.2 million in spending allocated for grants. These grants are spent in growing the community and content, although it doesn’t state the exact places that this money is spent.


The bulk of the expenditure goes towards better engineering and infrastructure. The new Wikipedia Android beta app (read our review Android Finally Gets The Wikipedia It Deserves: Meet The New Wikipedia Beta It's surprising that despite there being so many great Android apps out there, there has not been a decent Wikipedia app so far. Well, all that changes with the new Wikipedia Beta! Read More ) is a great example of the end result of this work. The staff is also planned to increase from 191 to 240.

Then there are initiatives like Wikipedia Zero, which serve Wikipedia at no cost to the user, especially useful in developing countries. Wikipedia Zero has been quite successful, serving 65 million page views per month, far higher than the 35 million estimated by the organization.

Wikipedia is transparent in saying it exceeded the planned revenue targets in previous years and expects to do the same this year. Of course, this has meant Wikipedia has plenty of reserves already. This currently stands at $28 million in cash and $23 million in investments, which the foundation explains as a decision to have a minimum of six months worth of total spending, in case of emergency.

Everything Might Not Be As Transparent As It Seems



What Wales says can create the picture that internet hosting is the major cost. But the Wikimedia foundation spends only about 6% ($2 million) on it. You know what gets the same amount of money? Travel and conferences.

“There is also a huge bucket for ‘other operating expenses’ totaling nearly $12.5 million — some of which certainly pays for expensive downtown office space in San Francisco,” writes Gregory Kohs, editor of Wikipediocracy.

Critics of Wikipedia often point to how much money is spent on “movement entites”, which are organizers who arrange for workshops and events to celebrate Wikipedia. On offer to the attending writers is just soda and pizza, Kohs says.

If you think Wikipedia should spend more money on the people who make and manage the content, you aren’t alone. Sue Gardner, the former executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, raised some “significant concerns” last year before she left the organization:


I believe that currently, too large a proportion of the movement’s money is being spent by the chapters. The value in the Wikimedia projects is primarily created by individual editors: individuals create the value for readers, which results in those readers donating money to the movement… I am not sure that the additional value created by movement entities such as chapters justifies the financial cost, and I wonder whether it might make more sense for the movement to focus a larger amount of spending on direct financial support for individuals working in the projects.

Gardner also called for more accountability of these movement entities who request funds, to clearly define success or failure.

The Case For Donating To Wikipedia


So why should you donate to Wikipedia when it could be cutting costs and tightening its belt? Wales reasons that it’s important to invest in engineering and innovation, which leads to things like the new visual editor, supporting more languages, or making mobile apps.

Most people love Wikipedia because you can learn something new every day with Wikipedia 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are... Read More . Wired journalist Emily Dreyfuss wrote about her reasons to donate, which echo the frustration felt by many readers when they see Wikipedia begging for money, but also why it’s a good idea to donate nonetheless:


Wikipedia is the best approximation of a complete account of knowledge we’ve ever seen. It’s also the most robust. The most easily accessed. And the safest. It exists on servers around the world so, unlike the library at Alexandria, it can’t be burned down.

But it could be cached. It could be left to stagnate, neglected and forgotten. Worse, it could become the rarefied domain of the monied elite, like so much information before it. I’d hate to see that, and hate it even more if I’d been part of it. So, fine, Jimmy Wales. I will do my part.

NYMag also interviewed four people who donated to Wikipedia, to find out why they did it despite knowing they could still use the site.

And then there are people like Jim Pacha, who donated his entire estate to the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Case Against Donating To Wikipedia


There are enough people who believe Wikipedia doesn’t need your donations any more.

The cash reserves aside, it’s argued that the site’s potential to generate revenue hasn’t been tapped. While Wikipedia is staunchly against advertising (for the potential conflict of interest in the authenticity of its content), there are other revenue models that could be explored. Wikipediocracy’s Kohs makes a case for licensing content to sites like Google, which use Wikipedia’s material in its search results–and makes money off it through advertising. Similarly, you can even make your own books from Wikipedia How To Make Your Own Books From Wikipedia Read More , a service that the foundation could offer at a small price.

Not everyone is against the idea of ads, though. ZDNet’s Stephen Chapman is fine with seeing ads, or coming up with any other revenue model that is sustainable. His logic, at its core, is compelling:

You know… while Wikipedia is certainly something special, it’s not so special that it can’t be easily replicated by someone who could do it better and make a killing doing so. If Wikipedia fails to meet its monetary requirements, then the idea of Wikipedia and the information therein is all out there, just waiting for someone else to come along and do it all again in a different, more easily sustainable manner.

Gardner’s desire to spend more money on the contributors has resonated with many people. One of them is Newsline’s Mark Devlin, who urges readers not to donate because “your money goes to a group of incompetent programmers and a management team that jets around the world for ‘outreach’.”

Will You Donate To Wikipedia?

This is not a phenomenon that is just going to go away. Right now, Wikipedia is looking for donations at donate.wikimedia.org. And there are other charities you can text to donate.

Still not sure if you’re going to donate to Wikipedia? Check out these Wikipedia edit wars Wikipedia's Edit Wars: The Funniest, Weirdest, and Greatest Wiki Fights Edit wars happen when people can't make up their minds on Wikipedia. Here are ten of the most famous disagreements. Read More or use these tools to discover interesting articles 5 Tools to Make Wikipedia Better and Discover Interesting Articles Wikipedia can be a great place to discover interesting new topics. Find new Wikipedia articles to read about with these tools. Read More to see what you might be missing without Wikipedia.

Image credits: Pixabay/OpenClips, Fabrice Florin, J Aaron Farr, Niccolo Caranti, Sarah Stierch, Frank Schulenburg

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. MD LEE
    November 14, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    I donate everytime they ask. It's simple, costs about a good cup of coffee and they keep it free. If you can buy starbucks, you can donate. How they decide to spend that money - it's their prerogative. It's a donation. If they decide to throw a red bull party - so be it. God knows short of stealing a library or buying a set of encyclopedias will you get the amount of information available in Wikipedia - even then it's not guaranteed to be current. So be kind, donate.

  2. James Algie
    December 31, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I donate £10 to Wikipedia every year. I do so thinking that if I didn't donate, then Wikipedia would not have the funds to carry on. When I really think about it, Wikipedia is really a must on the internet, the powers that be, cannot and I am sure will not let this essential part of the internet collapse. Then why in this day and age do we have to be asked for donations to keep such a vital part of the internet going. Surely there must be a way to run Wikipedia profitably, look at the amount of people using it, and when you start to think about it, it doesn't make sense..........

  3. Julie
    December 14, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I did make a modest contribution to Wiki. Years ago I paid a small fortune for my set of World Book Encyclopedias. I do not have a problem contributing to a service I use just about every day.

  4. Thaniell
    December 11, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Is this article written by Wales? Cause all the arguing against donating seems so flawed, I'm now more convinced I should donate than before. And I wasn't to before.

  5. John R Puckett
    December 5, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    I have and will contribute to Wikipedia. Value given for value received.
    How they spend it need not parallel my beliefs or business planning.
    If I perceive that it is not a good value, I will cease to contribute.
    So far so good Wiki!

  6. Danish
    April 13, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I believe that the begging business model is flawed. No one likes donating hard earned money, and they shouldn't have to.
    There should be an alternative, respectful and sustainable approach to financing non-profit charity type business.
    I am currently exploring this and other social flaws including the current democratic system in my upcoming ScienceFiction book about a civilization located far far away.

      May 8, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      So I guess you believe in the advertising model

  7. Vik
    March 16, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I have donated to the wiki. I hate advertisements on my web pages. I appreciate that there is no spam on wiki-pages. We are supporting so many businesses we do know like or do not know about daily, why not to donate some money for something that is good for the global community and something you use.

  8. john crowley
    December 31, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    One charity listed in the other charities I will not donate to is red cross. they came to a neighbor of mine years ago at a fire and gave her coffee and some blankets to stay warm....... She got a bill for the blankets. Sorry if this is a bit off topic.
    I will probably donate 5 bucks for wiki. Pepperoni on the pizza would be nice. Reading below, many of the comments are about bias. Show me a completely unbiased report, and I will show you something written and composed by a robot(non-human)....

  9. N.M.Curtis
    December 3, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    This might sound like I am a complete skeptic, but I haven't donated because I envision my email address being sold and/or being bombared by additional emails from Wiki asking for $$$$. That's probably not what would be the case, but I would be interested to know if that has been the case with any others of you who have made a donation. Thank you for any input that could be provided.

      May 8, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      This has not been the case for me

  10. Sparsh
    November 7, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I have been donating $5 every year. I know there are a lot of reasons on internet why you should and you shouldn't donate and there are lot of other charities you can donate too.
    But I think just $5 an year is nothing as compared to knowledge I gained over the years. I trust the sites security and happy of not seeing annoying ads popping up from all directions and hiding the text which I am reading.
    Everyone has their reasons but for me its a Thank You note for the vast knowledge shared everyday to everyone in the world :)

  11. Esse Quam Videri
    November 1, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I use this site many times a week. Why not throw a little green their way?

    I am fine with the people who do not want to donate but I don't particularly care for those who try to push their opinion, either way, on others.

  12. C2016
    June 9, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    No, they do not deserve any more money! Damn ^%($ site won't even load! Why don't you try fixing that, Jimmy, you lying, sleazy, money-grubber!!

  13. BC
    June 3, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    The operating cost figures stated here are minimal for an organisation of ubiquitous presense and paying significant travel and event costs are necessary for a future looking organisation. I think that it is the most useful resource on the Internet, but before giving a donation (which I will on response to this post) I would like to know what the salaries of key staff are to confirm it is non-profit. Kind regards.

  14. Raoul
    April 14, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Happy to contribute a $ 35,-- annually for a service that outreaches.
    It's my single source of reliable info, at three clicks away.
    Please continue the good work you do.
    Thumbs up!

  15. Bharadwaj
    March 30, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Interesting piece. As a disclaimer, I have been donating 100 SEK (about 12 - 13 USD) per month for the past couple of years. Why?

    1. It helped me immensely during my college days - assignments, exams, thesis and what not. I could get a quick overview of any topic, any time, for free and without any annoying ads. This was in mid 2000's and there weren't as many resources as Wikipedia. It is like giving back something!

    2. Secondly, because I can afford it now. It is similar to games. I used to download all games from torrents when I was studying and couldn't afford any. Now, I buy each and every game, movie and video. Probably a moral issue, but well!

    3. If my donation helps them to have something better to eat than pizza and soda during the workshops, then why not!? I don't expect them to live out of their basement and working in their pyjamas. Little bit of luxury is not a problem for the amount of effort they put in to share so much information!

    At this current age of biased information overload, it feels safe to know that there is probably one site which still presents an 'almost' unbiased view of any topic in the world.

  16. Fiona D
    December 12, 2015 at 4:18 am

    $3.00 to Wikipedia. A tool I rely on several times a week. I don't care too much what how they spend their money, its a thank you - the price of a good cup a coffee.

    • HeyMan84
      February 23, 2016 at 5:10 am

      AGREED!!! Fiona you are cool. This was the first comment I read and I was expecting something way different in the boards (I like reading those too). I worked at places that make a lot more than that I can't help but think Wiki probably is providing jobs for (just a guess) 40 or so families. I use it a lot and I'll pay $3 too. Who cares.

  17. mousa
    March 9, 2015 at 9:04 am

    the guy wich is founder of WIKI let him have some fun. because he helped alot of people in the world then the so called school system did.

  18. Arun Kumar
    December 31, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Mihir, Asking for donations and charity is not equal to begging.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 2, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Semantics :D

      Defn: Begging or panhandling is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation

      • Archer
        December 31, 2016 at 5:32 am

        "with little or no expectation of reciprocation?" .. one has to be an ungrateful person of the highest degree to say that Wikipedia hasn't helped him on her as a reliable source of information.

  19. adam v
    December 27, 2014 at 2:56 am

    I once emailed the wiki people and suggested that they charge corporates, businesses and high profile individuals a small fee for being published on wikipedia. they wrote back and said that they will never charge a fee for being on wikipedia and i said oh well soo sad to hear .. i would suggest charging corporates at least as they can, in most cases, pay for the advertising that wikipedia gives them for free.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 27, 2014 at 5:34 am

      Well, it's not advertising if it's information, right? If Wikipedia were to charge these corporates and use that as a revenue model, what's stopping these corporates from telling Wikipedia not to publish negative information about them? If you go to any major corporation's Wikipedia page, there is usually an entry on controversies; some even have entire sub-wikis dedicated to controversies. You can't have that if your money is coming from the same source.

  20. Devildog13
    December 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Ted, You are NOT alone! I do not see a reason to donate There is a very gray connection wiht Google. As google is well know for hiding results - you get what they want you to see - I would never trust a googl result. So google all it's various sites i can discover are blocked in my windows host file. I just do not trust wikipedia for their relationship with google. I use ixquick and duckduckgo for results. Sometimes I use Ixquick's Startpage to widen the net. I do find I often then get a google result/re-direct which get's terminated by my host file. So if i were to pay anything, I would defiantely go to a well vetted true encyclopedia company like Brittanica. I would trust their results to be factual, and no undercurrent of marketing bullshit.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 27, 2014 at 5:32 am

      What's this gray connection/relationship with Google that you're talking about? Could you back that up in some way?

      • Joe
        December 8, 2015 at 7:22 pm

        Google donated $2 million to the Wikimedia Foundation, and it is clearly dodgy. When Google "donates" it involves yourself in your company, Google donations operate like International Aid, with strings attached. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/blog/2010/feb/18/wikipedia-google

        • bim bam wikipedia shill
          December 10, 2015 at 10:45 pm

          he asked you to back it up retard

  21. Ted
    December 22, 2014 at 7:01 am

    I guess I will be in the minority of the posts here and say I will NOT donate. Why? Because it is not my go-to for information. I should qualify that: It is not my DIRECT go-to for information. I do not type "www.wikipedia.org" for information. Never. I do a search (on DuckDuckGo) and oftentimes, a link to a Wiki page is the first hit. Did I request that? No, this is a function of the search engine and the webpage's metatags' efficacy. I sometimes go to that website, often I don't. This is different from, say, donation requests for national public radio stations. I DO directly, by purposeful choice, select a radio station and listen to it. I did not get to the station by a radio search engine. This would be equivalent to me typing "www.wikipedia.org," which as I said, I NEVER do. I even have a preset on my car radio for that public radio station. (I do not have a bookmark for Wikipedia.)

    Though Wikipedia has a lot of information and at times a lot of information on a particular subject (sometimes it doesn't), reliability, validity, and accuracy are in question. But you may say, "That's true for anything you find on the web!" Well, thank you!--you just justified my reason for not donating to yet another "source" on the web! :)

    IOW, if Wikipedia went away, I would survive. Heck, the world would survive. If you're putting out a "free" service for people to use, then don't ask money for it.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      This is actually one of the freshest perspectives I've heard about this debate. Thanks for sharing, Ted!

      I do get your point. To put it as an analogy, if you bought an encyclopaedia and referred to it, it's worth the money. If an encyclopaedia is available in the library and that's what someone points you to for research, then is it worth donating money to?

      IMO, the question here then becomes about paying for a library membership. You're entitled to all the wealth of information in the library through that. What's the equivalent of that for the internet? Your ISP charges?

    • Steven
      December 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      This is a foolish outlook. Wikipedia is able to have a more neutral stance of the information that is published here. The ultimate issue with other information published on the internet is that money is always the motive. Please correct me if you're wrong, but even non profits and other websites ultimately have shareholders and managing members to please. And not please like warm fuzzies, but through monetary gain. That is an absolute fact.

      Wikipedia has a wealth of information that is non biased because THE PEOPLE publish it. If someone strays too far to one "side", there will be others to get it back in line with the neutral perspective.

      If you don't want to donate, that is absolutely fine. Go back to your radio that you choose to listen to. But I gaurantee you, the information you hear on the radio has underlying motives. When millions are on the line and thin profit margins keep pushing our world economy, people sell out. You're being fed opinionated information, propoganda at it's finest when you listen to the radio stations. It's silly and hypocritical for you to say that you go out of your way to use the DuckDuckGo search engine to somehow protest Google (ha! like they care), but then you listen to the most money hungry individuals on earth (those that have radio/news/tv media channels).

      Your post holds no validity. Just don't want the rest of the sheep to read what you say and totally fall in line with it.

      Donate to Wikipedia. It's a good cause. It's allowing them to further inform the people. After all, knowledge is power.

  22. William
    December 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Mihir Patkar, MakeUseOf should be proud of you as you are responding to all these comments. AWESOME. I won't donate to Wikipedia until they figure out a way to make sure what's inputted is more accurate. I'm a political junkie and come voting season, there have been issues of people going in and changing the content on politicians. I don't care what political party anyone is but we need accuracy. When I used to write, I would use Wikipedia but always as one source because when putting your name on something, Wikipedia is not the best content to depend on because of the potential for errors. I do believe they need to put the money into the people and grow that and not into posh headquarters and things like that. Just my take. It's an anecdotal take based on my experiences, so I don't claim to be write, just passing on based on what I've seen. Correct me if I'm wrong please. :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      I think the thought process behind the posh headquarters and other such indulgances is "you have to spend money to make money"--which works for several huge corporations like this, just that I don't see Wikipedia making money with this yet :D

  23. Mert
    December 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Best way to monetize and be useful for wikipedi is refering books.

    If I am reading an article about quantum physics on wikipedia, it can show me related books in the end the page, perhaps because I am more interested in the topic then being an anti-advertising.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Affiliate commissions, you mean? Not sure that would get enough, especially since a lot of Wikipedia has citations to free resources and to scientific papers which many people won't want to read.

    • Lx
      January 1, 2017 at 10:33 am

      another problem with that is that it creates potential conflict of interest bias in the article content; favouring the advertised product(s).

      not to mention undue & unearned "credibility" for whoever pays the most to have their book listed on the article about the same subject

    • Lx
      January 1, 2017 at 10:57 am

      re: licensed

      wikipedia is already licensed, as OPEN SOURCE.

      that means it is free to use.

      for EVERYBODY.


      those are also the terms on which everybody CONTRIBUTES THEIR MATERIAL to wikipedia. including me.

      so, no, the could not just "license their content to google or somebody".

      google could voluntarily give them (more) money; say maybe a penny per click or view or somesuchlike thing...

      but wikipedia is FREE.

      that is a big part of the mission here.

      also; any kind of "deal" would create/increase conflict of interest & potential bias in covering google (or whichever entity such a deal was made with).

      ...which is not to say that i do not disagree that the wmf administration of the project is increasingly dubious; especially their ever-increasing budgets & payrolls, & their questionable choices of priorities in expenditures.

      or that the wikipedia community process is a godawful mess; both as peer review, & operation & application of rules.

  24. Vangelis
    December 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I find Emily Dreyfuss' reason for donating quite adequate.
    You people who disagree obviously including you Mihit Patkar I guess you would prefer to have ads instead of fund raising. Have you ever seen any serious encyclopedia having advertisements? If wikipedia had Nike Inc. advertisements do you think the article on child labor allegation would exist?
    So do you accuse that the people working there or the founder might earn significant amount of money? If you dont like ,even, the idea you're free to stop using this website. You can turn to the old encyclopedia hardcopies or you can just google whatever you are interested in. Do you think it will yield the same results of informing you on the subject you re looking for?

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 21, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Not sure where you got the idea that I disagree :)

  25. Nicole
    December 21, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I will not donate to Wikipedia as it was caught publicly offering a "PR Service" coupled with the website's strong ties to the pharmaceutical companies. There are much better organizations in need of financial resources. If any of this information is news to you, Sharyl Attkisson discusses it in her book, "Stonewalled".

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 21, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I actually haven't seen anything about these strong ties to pharmaceutical companies causing a problem. This is one of the articles I read about it: http://scienceroll.com/2011/02/23/can-pharma-companies-edit-wikipedia/

      Is there anything in Stonewalled that is beyond this? I doubt I'll actually read the book, so if you could inform me a bit, that's be great :)

      • Marcus
        December 7, 2016 at 6:01 pm

        You definitely work for wikipedia. Only workers have enough time to respond to almost every post that sides with giving them money

  26. John Williams
    December 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Some people spend many hours a day on Facetube, twittering on about kittens and celebs while drowning in spam and adverts. For the non-brain dead among us there is Google search, Amazon, The BBC , TED and Wikipedia. I donate about 20 dollars a year to Wikipedia. I consider it my subscription to the biggest repository of useful written stuffs on the internet. I don't care how much money they have. I just want them to keep on Wiki -ing forever.

    Apple, MS and Google also have sturpendous piles of money. Some of it was mine. I gave it to them because they gave me really useful stuff. Wikipedia is no different.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Google, Apple and MS are corporations whose aim is profits. Wikipedia is a non-profit organization. Does that factor into your decision, or do you think, "useful data is useful data, the intentions don't matter as much"?

      • Cameron
        December 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm


        If we want products from a company like Microsoft, and we are not required to pay for those products, then we can be sure that Microsoft is, in some way, getting something from us, the users, when we use their products. This is probably information. Microsoft's intention is likely to collect information and use it and analyze it to help make other products that people *do* pay for, or targeted advertising (Google is the master of this), etc.

        For-profit businesses are motivated to do stuff for us because when we use their products, we are doing something for them. Tit-for-tat. Somehow, we *will* be giving value to these companies, whether it be directly through money, or indirectly through our data, which in turn has value once analyzed. We don't have much choice in this regard.

        Wikipedia does not require value from it's users. Wikipedia puts out a product, and people use that product. For the most part, Wikipedia isn't really able to collect that much profitable information about the people using it's product. Wikipedia doesn't engage in targeted advertising, so even if it *did* collect information on which pages we look at and for how long, it isn't being used to make money off us, the users.

        But Wikipedia is a huge company. Many many people use it's services. And the for-profit hosting websites, the many talented programmers and engineers making sure Wikipedia stays free for all, etc, are *not* free. Remember that even people working for non-profit organizations at least have to make a living wage, or even a comfortable wage. Do you really want expert professionals to be worrying about whether they can afford rent payments? I hope not!

        Despite all of this though, nobody is required to pay to use Wikipedia. Be you a poor student with nothing to your name, studying hard to make something better for your future, or a billionaire CEO of a Fortune 500 company, nobody is required to use Wikipedia.

        As others have said, if everybody who uses Wikipedia collectively decided to never again donate to Wikipedia, either it would die, or it would very quickly have to find a for-profit way to support itself. Clearly, that hasn't happened yet, but it could happen. Even so, we the users are still not required to support Wikipedia.

        So if you want to give to Wikipedia, do so. If you don't, don't. It is really as simple as that.

        When it comes to Wikipedia, the major difference, is


  27. Mary Ann
    December 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I donated $20 this year because I use it a LOT. When I do internet research I usually start with Wikipedia to get an overview and more importantly, to get specific and accurate search terms to move on to more academic sites. If I find a journal article that is going to cost me $35 to access, I will go back to Wikipedia with the key words in the article abstract to see if it is likely to be useful to my current research topic. Wikipedia is a valuable resource to me and I can afford to donate a bit so it feels like a small donation is reasonable.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Totally get that. I'm trying to get a perspective of how much money people are willing to donate, so if you don't mind sharing (and you're under no compulsion to do so): What would be the maximum you donate? Why $20, and not less or more?

  28. YellowApple
    December 20, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I'd be more willing to donate if they weren't burning so much money on physical Bay Area locations. The Bay Area and the "Valley" (of the Silicon variety) are both overpriced and underwhelming; there's literally zero reason to base operations out of either of those places other than "lol evry1 els iz ther lol". They probably wouldn't lose a whole lot by selling those expensive offices and picking up something in Sacramento (which is only 2 hours away and much cheaper) or Reno (which is another 2 hours away and even cheaper); Reno in particular is on the cusp of a massive tech boom, from what I can tell.

    I'd also rather not be paying for "outreach" programs, either. Wikipedia is a household name at this point, and it's become one almost entirely due to word-of-mouth; more formal advocacy is just a waste of money.

    I get that they have costs. I also realize that the bulk of those costs are self-inflicted.

    That said, I really do *want* to donate, provided that money is actually going somewhere useful. I've found Wikipedia far more valuable than any other encyclopedia (hell, probably more valuable than all other encyclopedias - every volume, every edition - combined).

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 8:22 am

      I'm not too sure about the real estate bit, but in terms of spreading the word, I think it's still important. Wikipedia is a big name, yes, but it needs to draw out contributors from local languages if it's truly going to be a global force. To do that, these outreach programs would be necessary, I think.

  29. Pat Choy
    December 20, 2014 at 5:45 am

    I find that quite a few of my internet searches end up at Wikipedia, so I don't mind donating. It's like paying for services rendered. If there were ads, however, I'd use an adblocker and probably not donate anymore because it would look like they already have a sufficient revenue stream. And yeah, I'd think some of their entries would be biased in favor of the advertisers so not as trustworthy.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 6:05 am

      So you're happy with the system the way it is right now, yes? Just out of curiosity, how much do you donate?

  30. Andrew Jordan
    December 20, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Some charities are more interested having a good time. After reading your article I will not donate. No need for fancy offices or even in San Francisco the highest Sq. Ft. Cost west of New York.People donate to advance Wikipedia not the people

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:49 am

      I was actually not making a case for donating or not donating :) It was an attempt to just present facts and opinions of different people, and see what comes out of it.

  31. Larry Statham
    December 20, 2014 at 2:37 am

    I have donated to Wikipedia in the past and will continue to do so. Very few resources on the Internet provide the information value that Wikipedia offers. You can learn at least the basics (and often more) about anything from Wikipedia in a straightforward format. Its self-policing nature provides better accuracy and less bias than most other sources. Added to its ease of use and regular updating, I turn to Wikipedia first when I want to learn something. Then I go on to more specialized sources armed with enough background to make sense of them and winnow the bias, if necessary.

    Just like National Public Radio (in the USA), value should be given for quality service received. Wikipedia needs our ongoing support to continue to improve and maintain its unbiased approach to information access. Everyone should contribute - if not monetarily, by spending time writing or editing articles.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:48 am

      The "if I can't contribute info, I should contribute money" line of thinking is something many people tout. The common criticism is that with that philosophy, you are equating the money with the content. However, as we have seen, a majority of the money isn't used for the content makers.

  32. Rhonda Lea Kirk Fries
    December 20, 2014 at 1:41 am

    My perpetual donation is $3/month. I picked that number based on my use of Wikipedia. I rely on it for quick answers and a broad overview of my current topic of interest. It is not my main source for information, even if it is the first place I look most of the time.

    Annual fundraising is nowhere near as annoying as daily ads would be. Yikes. How could anyone think that ads would be a good idea?

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 4:31 am

      Rhonda, would you mind sharing how you landed on that number? You said $3/month based on your usage. Is there some sort of calculation you used to figure out that $3/m is the right amount for you?

  33. Leah
    December 20, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I donated a dollar a few years ago. Yes, just a dollar. Unemployed I didn't feel I could give a lot but something, anything, I thought was necessary since I use the site so much. I've donated via goodsearch as well so there's that, but it's only like $2 or something. Hey, I use the site a lot and they don't advertise so why not give them a few dollars. They aren't hard up for money, but like I said, I use it a lot.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 4:30 am

      When it comes to donations, I don't think the amount matters as much if it's coming from a good place :) You didn't donate out of a feeling of guilt, you donated because it's a resource/cause you believe in. There's no reason to be apologetic about it "just being a dollar"--that's still a lot more than several millions on the internet.

  34. Doug
    December 20, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Well, I try to make it revenue neutral. I sell something I don't need in order to donate to something I use, in this case, Wikipedia. That a good enough answer for you?

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:46 am

      That's a great answer! :)

      And actually, a solid plan for anyone else who wants to donate to charities.

  35. Steve
    December 20, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I've donated to them for the last couple of years. They provide a valuable service and I don't want the ads.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Does knowing the above financial situation change your mind in any way?

  36. D Harries
    December 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    It's priceless. I use it all the time. How about a freemium service with cookie control.

    You get asked if you haven't donated in at least one year, otherwise the cookie turns the banner off if you donate regularly.

    We all use it.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Makes sense. Or as someone else pointed out above, you sign in and donate. If your account is among those who donated, no ads for you.

  37. Jaff
    December 19, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Wikipedia saves my as* more times I can remember.
    I want them to be rich. Take my money *throws money*

  38. robh
    December 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I don't see a problem with a model used elsewhere - you get ads with the free service but by paying a little you get an ad-free feed.

    I'll not be donating again because I would expect an email to say "thanks" and then maybe an offer of an occasional newsletter. When I donated last year I got no acknowledgement. Surely they could manage a simple (automated) bit of courtesy.
    An (occasional) newsletter would make me feel I was somehow part of the circle of interested parties and supporters and would serve to make me more inclined to donate again.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 20, 2014 at 4:43 am

      That's actually really good feedback, robh. I'm with you, I would want acknowledgement and some sort of benefit; maybe even a receipt for tax purposes?

    • Sean
      December 22, 2014 at 1:24 am

      The thank-you letter serving as a tax invoice is generated automatically and I have never missed one in any of my multiple donations. Therefore it is much productive to just check your spam folder or request a new one rather than complaining!

      And Mr Mihir Patkar, you obviously never donated to Wikipedia no matter how much Wikipedia has in reserve. Otherwise, you would have received receipts and given better advice rather than making inaccurate accusation towards Wikipedia

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 22, 2014 at 4:28 am

      I live in India, the donations aren't tax-deductible here :) In the US, from what I understand, it's donations above $100 that are tax-deductible: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donations_FAQ#If_I_make_a_donation.2C_how_do_I_get_my_tax_receipt.3F

      Also, I'm not making any points against or for Wikipedia. This is one of those issues I really don't have a strong opinion on, so I'm looking for as much information as possible. Sorry if you thought I was being biased, that wasn't the intent.

  39. Doc
    December 19, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I think Wales runs the fundraiser every year simply because it's become a habit, rather than actually looking at cash reserves and actually deciding how much funds are needed. It's easy to tell yourself that a catastrophe could happen and rationalize banking huge amounts of cash "just in case."

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      That's exactly the argument that Wikipediocracy and other critics are citing. I have to say, I kind of agree. How do they protect themselves against one of those "just in case" scenarios though?

  40. RJ Blain
    December 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I donated. I use the site, I benefit from the site, and I feel they have earned at least a few of my dollars.

    Nothing is free, and knowledge is priceless.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      You're all right with donating even though most of the money isn't being spent on the content of the site itself, which is what I presume you benefit from?

    • Jim Franck
      December 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      I gave. They provide a great service. Free! How they spend their money is up to them but, as long as the service is valuable and conflict-free, I'll support them. Hell, all of you spend a heck of a lot more on government corruption, fraud, and waste than what Wiki is asking for. By gov't standards, Wiki is one of the greatest deals going, not to mention, useful!

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 23, 2014 at 4:35 am

      Fair point, Jim! In that context, it seems trivial to give a few bucks :)

  41. Andy Johnson
    December 18, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I'm not a fan of bell-ringing begging, or interrupting my path to get my attention (think street clipboard) beggars. All in all, they haven't tapped resources that are a) not begging or b) selling content/access to players that do sell ads. But Ads on Wikipedia itself isn't a good idea. Now while I really don't care because I personally run ad blocking software, I still stand by the clean look. Now if a SERVICE provider, IE, host, etc wanted to donate and have a link at the top of the Wikipedia page, I don't think that would raise any conflict of interest. #No Brainer

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      I disagree. ANYONE who gets a banner is a potential conflict of interest. If someone is an advertiser on the site, how do you know that their Wiki entry isn't getting some benefits? That's the basic issue most people have with newspapers/media in general. Wikipedia wants to skirt that.

  42. Jo
    December 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I already did. Have for a few years. Will probably continue to do so. Don't want ads there. It helps a lot with the historical context research (as a beginning step) for my genealogy research. I pay for Ancestry.com & for NewspaperArchives.com & others I find useful, it only seems right to also donate to this useful resource.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Fair enough. How much do you donate to Wikipedia, compared to Ancestry.com and NewspaperArchives.com?

  43. Keith
    December 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    The internet is already so flooded with ads, I'd rather donate a few bucks a month.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Free + ads < Paid? You might be in the minority, my friend :)

      Out of curiosity, how much would you donate per month?

  44. Rob
    December 18, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I've always been tempted to donate to wikipedia, but never done so. In the past I've worked with charities to help them become more sustainable, with the ability to fund themselves through more commercial operations. Wikipedia has a springboard better than most could even imagine for this purpose- if they want some ideas, give me a shout. So, in my view, donations are just the 'easy' option for them, but not necessarily the best.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Just for argument's sake, what would those commercial options be for them?

      Keep in mind, they've specifically said they want to avoid advertising and any similar conflict of interest.

  45. John
    December 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Wikipedia's potential to generate revenue from advertising is the key reason why I refuse to donate.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      So you'd be okay with seeing ads in Wikipedia?

      I ask because Adblock and other such extensions can be a big factor in not being able to make enough money from ads.

  46. dragonmouth
    December 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    "Wikipedia Has Millions In The Bank – Why Beg For More?"
    It's much nicer to have $hundreds of Millions, or even $Billions. :-)

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 19, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Haha well yeah. But the question is, does it really need it, when it claims to be a "by the people, for the people" institution?

  47. Paul R
    December 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I contributed to Wikipedia. I gave $20 a couple of years ago. I use it more than the copy of Encyclopedia Brittanica, digital edtion (which is also worth buying) that I paid about 20 for on amazon, so I don't mind supporting a great cause.

    But the constant, never-ending appeals do annoy me greatly. I found out that if you use AdBlockPlus, you can block them by installing the Fanboy's Annoyance List filter. I did this a week ago and haven't seen an ad since.

    Regardless of how much money they have in their coffers, there is nothing wrong with contributing to them--they do provide a great service. I just wish they would give contributors a login that would allow them to view Wiki adfree. But now that I have AdBlockPlus working, I don't even need that.