- The Huffington Post wrote on February 6 that Wikipedia donors are most likely to be from India: . Is that true? Where do most donors live? Where does most of the money come from?
Wikipedia and the other projects rely on the generosity of donors from all over the world. In 2011, money was donated from over 200 different countries. Donors from India have certainly been generous in their support, with 39,000 people investing in the mission. However, India is not the country that produces the most donors to support Wikipedia and its sister projects.
It seems that this misunderstanding may arise from some confusion about a recent survey. The Wikimedia Foundation surveyed readers, not donors, and the readers who responded were asked about their willingness to donate. In their responses, readers from India (42%) expressed the strongest interest in donating to Wikipedia. This does not, however, reflect the actual demographic distribution of donors to the movement.
In 2011, most of the donors to support the movement were located in the United States of America, with 535,666 people donating. Other countries with a high number of donors - over 39,000 - include Germany (more than 160,000), Italy (77,200), Canada (58.141), Australia (43,857), the United Kingdom (more than 45,000), and Russia (42,693). The United States is also the country that donates the largest amount of money, with donations totaling $14,398,721 USD in 2011. Germany was second in dollar amount. While all of the figures may not yet be in for the fundraiser that was held at the end of the year, as of this writing their total tally for 2011 is $5,430,724 USD. Also filling out the top five were the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, where donations totaled $1,682,151 USD, $1,345,933 USD and $1,334,899, respectively.
(Thanks to the Head of Annual Fundraiser Megan Hernandez for her assistance with this response. Dollar amounts are taken from the still evolving chart "2010-2011 Fundraiser by Country". Numbers are preliminary and may change, as not all bank transfers and checks have been tallied. Precise figures for numbers of donors throughout the year are not currently available for some areas where local chapters conducted fundraising, but in Germany and the United Kingdom the numbers known exceed 39,000.)
While certain countries may have greater numbers of donors and may collect higher amounts, the Wikimedia Foundation recognizes and appreciates the contributions of individuals everywhere. Its mission is global, and its supporters are global as well; whether one donor in Djibouti or 6,500 in Poland, $5 USD in Tonga or $748,258 USD in Japan, every donor and every dollar represents commitment to our shared dream of a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Finance: The difference between charging for services and asking for donations
What's the difference between selling Wikipedia and asking for donations? Are the projects really "free" if you ask for money from people who read it?
The Wikimedia Foundation's core mission is to encourage the growth, development and distribution of educational materials and to provide these to the public free of charge. The Foundation does not want to limit access to these educational resources to those who can afford to pay and are in fact always looking for more ways to get the information out there, even to people who do not have access to the internet. The difference between asking for donations and charging for Wikipedia and the other projects is that the donor model allows the Foundation to gather enough revenue to continue offering the projects without requiring payment. People can contribute financially if they are able and so inclined, but if they are not in position to pay can continue to access the resources for free.
Foundation: Where does the Foundation stand on the "Stop Online Piracy Act"?
Because the Wikimedia Foundation is based in the United States, it is subject to U.S. law, and the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act has caused a lot of conversation amongst the volunteers who support our projects. The Foundation has been asked by several to clarify its position on the bill, and General Counsel Geoff Brigham released a statement on the Wikimedia Foundation blog detailing some of his thoughts about it and its potential impact.
Finance: Why don't you advertise?
The Wikimedia Foundation is occasionally asked why it doesn't turn to advertising to raise the money it needs.
The Foundation is not against the world of online advertising or against other organizations that host ads, but it does not believe that advertising belongs in a project devoted to education, particularly one that is driven by the values consistent with a balanced, neutral encyclopedia. The global volunteer community has always felt that advertising would have a major effect on our ability to stay neutral and that ultimately ads would weaken the readers' overall confidence in the articles they are reading. Even if advertisers put no pressure on us to slant articles to their favor, readers may fear that they exert an influence, consciously or otherwise.
In addition, the Foundation has strong views about reader privacy. Current models for web advertising are inconsistent with these, particularly contextual advertising, which reads the content you are viewing. The Foundation also thinks it intrusive to deliver ads to readers based on their geography.
If you'd like to read more about the history of discussions about advertising Wikipedia - including both pros and cons - the volunteer community has written a page about it at Wikipedia:Advertisements.