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Wikimedia Fundraising: Where Is Your Money Going?

By Eric Barbour

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Few people realise that when they think they are donating to Wikipedia (with a ‘p’) they are actually donating to Wikimedia (with an ‘m’). For example, if you are logging in from an IP address based in the UK, even if you are not from the UK but here on business or pleasure, you will be taken to a page owned by Wikimedia UK. Note that: it says Wikimedia with an ‘m’ not a ‘p’, and it says ‘UK’. If you are outside the UK you don’t get the ‘UK’ but you still get the ‘m’.

Wikimedia is not the same as Wikipedia, so you are not donating to Wikipedia. Some of the money will go to Wikipedia to pay the costs of running the enormous server farm which supports the huge Wikipedia traffic. But that is small compared to the sum that Wikimedia spends annually, and in any case you are not supporting the construction of Wikipedia itself, which is entirely written by volunteers. Wikimedia International (the Wikimedia Foundation) has spent lots of money on travel, entertainment, and Sue Gardner’s (and now Lila Tretikov’s) decent salary. But none of this supports Wikipedia itself.

Wikimedia Foundation revenue, expenses and assets Have steadily risen since the Foundation was first established as a Section 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. So far, revenue has always substantially exceeded expenditure in each year, and the Foundation has built up healthy reserves. As of 2012 assets were standing at about $34.9 million, more than one year’s expenditure at 2011–2012 spending levels. By 2014 net assets were up to $53.4 million.

The following table is compiled from the “Statements of Activities” (ending 30 June) in the Financial Reports available here. Note that WMF fundraising was paltry and

…continue reading Wikimedia Fundraising: Where Is Your Money Going?

The Wikipedia Fundraising Banner: Sad but Untrue

By the Masked Maggot and friends

 

We’ve been amused and bemused watching the reactions to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) fundraising campaign over the past couple of weeks. Simply and clearly put, here’s why you should think twice about donating:

Wikipedia is written by volunteers. If you want to give someone a gratuity, try to give it to the people who did the work. The WMF does not write the encyclopedia. While a few pennies (just under 6, in fact) of your donated dollar go to the internet hosting, the vast majority goes to providing salaries, travel expenses, and really nice furniture for the rapidly growing staff of what has essentially become a software company. The software produced has been fairly poor, and has been imposed by the foundation on the volunteers, who really wish the foundation wouldn’t do that.

This isn’t at all surprising to those of us who have watched the development of the WMF over the years. Jimmy Wales, who calls himself the “sole founder”, was actually more like a venture capitalist or a rainmaker: the idea, ideals, and architecture were developed on a philosophy listserv where Larry Sanger (don’t let Jimmy hear you call him “co-founder”) led the effort. The encyclopedia project itself was then taken up by avid volunteers from slashdot and usenet. Jimmy realized that he’d alienate the volunteers if he tried to monetize it, but as it turned out he could make a great living out of it by becoming the spiritual leader and taking paid speaking gigs. Recently, he even got a half-million dollars from a foundation dedicated to giving a good humanist aura to Dubai (the Wikipedians aren’t sure what to think about that).

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The Wikimedia Foundation was set up to

…continue reading The Wikipedia Fundraising Banner: Sad but Untrue