Wikipedia Fundraiser Successful, But Should They Do It Again?

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 03, 2011

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the Wikipedia Foundation has collected over $16 million in donations, which allows the popular collaborative online encyclopedia to operate for the foreseeable future. According to Wales, over 600,000 combined donations were received by local Wikimedia chapters world-wide and by the Foundation itself. The average donation size was about $22. The money raised will go toward funding both the technologythat supports the website and the people behind the scenes who keep things running smoothly.

In his letter to the community, Wales mentions that this is the "very first fundraiser," which seems to indicate there will be more in the future. Network World's Paul McNamara says that would be an unfortunate turn of events. "The bad news [about the successful fundraising campaign], in my opinion, is that the donations will enable Wikipedia to remain free of advertising, despite the fact that the online encyclopedia has become far too big and far too important to be funded by what amounts to an enormous annual bake sale."

While I agree with the sentiment, fundraising has worked as a business model for organizations like NPR and PBS for years. It may annoy the daylights out of listeners and viewers in much the same way Wales' call for donation bothered some, it's a method that works.

McNamara isn't the only one calling for Wikipedia to rethink future fundraising campaigns. Alex Konanykhin, founder of, says, "We believe that boycotting fundraising efforts of Wikipedia might compel it to raise billions via advertising and develop content of significantly better quality. Qualified contributors may and shall be compensated for their time. History has repeatedly proven that free labor is not the best business model in the long run and on a large scale."

Of course, it's anyone's guess what Wales will ultimately decide to do when it comes to refilling Wikipedia's coffers. What's your take on the recent fundraising effort? Good plan or bad idea? Let us know in the comments.