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Wikipedia raises $20 million from one million donors

Wikimedia Foundation

Another fundraising banner? No, this is a thank you note.

If you use Wikipedia — and please, don't try to tell us that you don't — you probably noticed those annoying fundraising banners with personal messages from volunteers begging you to donate to keep the Internet-based community alive. Well, they're gone. You must have heeded those notes and dipped into your wallets, because the Wikimedia Foundation has announced it's hit its target: a record-breaking $20 million, from more than one million donors.

The foundation is the the nonprofit organization that hosts Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects (usch as Wikimedia Commons, Wikibooks and Wikitionary), and its executive director, Sue Gardner, posted the last of the banners we'll see in awhile (we hope) as a thank you note.

She hasn't put the grand total on the message she sent out to the community, but the foundation sent us a message this morning with more details:

It is the Wikimedia Foundation’s most successful campaign ever, continuing an unbroken streak in which donations have risen every year since the campaigns began in 2003.

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

“Our model is working fantastically well,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “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.” 

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

If you're wondering what they do with all that money, they told us it is going toward buying and installing "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."

And who were all those people who were pleading for your money? They were volunteers editors culled from the many countries that contribute to WIkipedia, ranging in age from 18 to 76. (Not like there aren't a lot to choose from, with over 100,000 volunteers.) About 100 volunteers translated the banners, which reached hundreds of millions. 

If you gave, pat yourself on the back. You've done your part to keep the behemoth, with over 20 million articles in 282 languages, in play. On January 15, Wikipedia celebrates its 11th anniversary

As if we could imagine life before it. (Just remember, it's a good starting place, but follow the footnotes!)

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