Fundraising/2020-21 Report

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report header image

Introduction

Over the course of fiscal year 2020-2021[1], Wikipedia continued to provide free knowledge to a world shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, and our enduring commitment remained to provide reliable and neutral information for the world. As people spent more time at home and classrooms moved online, traffic to Wikipedia significantly increased[2]. Despite the challenging circumstances our global community faced, we received more donations during this fiscal year than ever before, and readers around the world broke records with their support. We run fundraising campaigns in over 30 countries across the globe and last year we communicated with our donors in 39 languages. With each gift we receive, our gratitude is heartfelt. As much as this report illuminates our methodology and gives concrete numbers on the money raised, it is also a celebration of the readers, philanthropists, grant-making bodies, and our beloved community of volunteer editors. Without all of you, our work would not be possible. You’re the reason Wikipedia turned 20 this year!

Key Stats

Donation Totals by Continent

Donations by Continent From FY2021 Wikimedia Fundraising Report
Note: All amounts are rounded in USD[3]. Anonymous donations and donations made offline, totaling $4.57M USD, are not included in the continent-specific breakdowns.

If you would like to help translate fundraising messages or provide feedback on how we localize our messages in each region where we fundraise, please email [1] to get involved.

Donation Totals by Sources

$154,763,121 USD raised from over 7.7 million donors

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Revenue Raised by Channel
The above figures are expressed in USD and reflect gifts received during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, excluding commitments for future donations. Major Gifts are donations of $1,000 USD and above, though the yearly total includes gifts under $1,000 that still fall under Major Gifts, such as donor-advised funds. “Other” encompasses several categories including the Wikipedia app, portal, sidebar and additional channels.[4] Chapter Gifts include reader gifts made through Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Switzerland.


Our revenue increased by 24.7% this year.

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Total Revenue by Fiscal Year
Note: All amounts expressed in millions and rounded in USD. For more information about the work of the Foundation, please see the 2020-2021 annual plan.


We received 41% more donations in the 2020-2021 fiscal year compared to the previous year.


Our average donation size decreased by $1.64 USD.

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Average Amount by Fiscal Year
Note: All amounts rounded in USD.


Key Stats: English Campaign

Our English language campaign fundraiser — the most extensive campaign we run each year — spans six primarily English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and New Zealand. This campaign generates nearly 50 percent of all revenue earned per year.

We continued to see support from a wide base of individual donors in these countries. The average donation amount is around $15 USD[5], and over half of donations are less than $10 USD. Supporting Wikipedia remains an accessible choice that millions of people around the world decide to make. We know that not everyone can afford to give — which is exactly why Wikipedia exists. Our mission is to make sure free knowledge is available to the world, for everyone, everywhere.


Online Fundraising English Campaign
Banners and Email:
Share of Revenue by Source
Fiscal Year 2020-2021

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Revenue Share by Source

Online Fundraising Fiscal Year 2020-2021

Part of the job of the Wikimedia Foundation is to ensure that the freedom and independence of the projects is never compromised. The majority of the funding for the Wikimedia Foundation comes from a large number of individual donors around the world. This model preserves our independence by reducing the ability of any one organization or individual to influence our decisions. Further, this model aligns directly with our values, creating accountability with our readers; we use their donations to meet their free knowledge needs. You can read more about how our revenue model protects our independence in the Wikimedia Foundation’s guiding principles.

Across emails, banners, and the Wikipedia app, our content strategy strives to achieve the right balance among:

  • Awareness: we educate readers about what's unique about Wikipedia, how it works.
  • The need: the bulk of the Foundation’s revenue comes from readers around the world donating to our online fundraising campaigns. Our messages underline the crucial need of reader donations.
  • Usefulness reminders: readers choose to become donors primarily because Wikipedia is useful to them.
  • Aspirational language: we invite people to join our mission and help us build a world where knowledge is free for everyone.
  • Gratitude: we use the fundraising messages to express the heartfelt gratitude we have for volunteer communities, our readers and our donors.

The fundraising team relies on various data points to inform content strategy. Feedback from reader and donor surveys, community feedback groups, donor focus groups, social media sentiment, and donation rate performance all contribute to shaping our fundraising messages. We use fundraising campaigns as an opportunity to inform readers about Wikipedia, while also raising the funds needed to support the Wikimedia movement. The team is committed to continual improvement while adapting to changing situations, performance, and feedback.

Here are a few examples of messaging used in our banner and email appeals:

“Most people donate because Wikipedia is useful. If Wikipedia has given you $2.75 worth of knowledge, take a minute to donate and help us create a world with more equal access to knowledge everywhere.”

“The heart and soul of Wikipedia is a community of people working to bring you unlimited access to reliable, neutral information.”

“Wikipedia is different in that it doesn't belong to the highest bidder, the advertisers, or corporations. It belongs to you, the readers, editors, and donors. You’re our community, our family. You’re the reason we exist.”

“You were among the extremely rare readers who made a donation to invest in a future where everyone can access fact-based and unbiased free knowledge. I can't thank you enough. In just 20 years, Wikipedia’s community has built an encyclopedia with more than 56 million articles in 300+ languages, serving hundreds of millions of readers worldwide.”

“You are one of those rare exceptions.”

Here are a few examples of messaging used in our banner appeals:

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Desktop Large Banner
FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Desktop Small Banner

Connecting with new donors

A year ago, we started fundraising in India to connect with Wikipedia readers there and invite those who are able to support Wikipedia with a donation. Readers in India visit Wikipedia more than 900 million times each month, the fourth highest number of views from any country.[6] Not only do readers in India access Wikipedia in large numbers, Wikipedia editors in India are integral and valued contributors to the encyclopedia, which is available in 23 of the languages spoken across India. In 2020, Indian volunteer contributors ensured that neutral, reliable information about COVID-19 was available across Indic languages on Wikipedia.

In fiscal year 2020-2021, we received over 500,000 donations from readers across India. We used this first campaign in India as an opportunity to share our messaging to Indian readers and understand what would resonate. When questions arose about why we were fundraising in India, we published a blog post clarifying why we were asking readers to consider a donation, and how donations support Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects. We further refined our fundraising messaging through this process to be clearer and more meaningful to readers. We were deeply humbled by the generosity and eagerness with which readers in India gave.

In this era of globalization where the word "free" has become synonymous to "30 days trial", Wikipedia has been supplying us with terabytes of information along with downloadable links, related articles, and translating the entire piece of knowledge into different languages as per the reader's convenience. In return, all Wikipedia has ever asked is an occasional header query: 'please improve this section if you wish'. If this is not an example of an immensely noble act of selflessness, then I don't know what is.

- Donor in India

Recurring donations

One of our big goals this past year was to continue building our monthly recurring donation program. The vast majority of donations are single, one-time gifts. To bolster the Wikimedia Foundation’s long-term stability, we added a feature at the end of the donation experience to let people know about the option to donate on a recurring monthly basis. In fiscal year 2020-21, we raised over $20 million in recurring revenue, an increase by over 60% year over year.

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Monthly Convert

Celebrating our 20th birthday with our donors

In addition to sending a personalized thank you email from Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, after each gift, we run a thank you campaign to share our gratitude with our broad community. This year, we sent our donors a birthday themed email to celebrate 20 years of Wikipedia and all the humans who make it possible.

FY2021 WMF Fundraising Report Thank You Email

Conclusion The outpouring of love we received from all corners of the globe, from millions of people, meant so much to us. It is inspiring to see how many people contribute to our vision to create a world where the sum of knowledge is free for everyone.



Major Gifts and Foundations

Major donors give $1,000 USD or more to the Wikimedia Foundation, or give in other specific ways. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, our major gift donors increased their giving from $14.8 million USD to $18.4 million USD, which was 23% more than the previous year – a significant development that helped accelerate the Foundation’s mission.

All told, Major Gifts donors comprised almost 23,000 people: More than 2,000 people and institutions gave $1,000 USD or more, while more than 20,000 others contributed through donor-advised funds and other methods that also fall under Major Gifts.

The people behind these gifts, many of whom choose to be recognized on our Benefactors page, personify the spirit of giving that’s so important to Wikimedia’s mission – as with Katharine Pierce, who we profiled in the Foundation’s most recent annual report, where she said: “I have heartfelt appreciation for Wikimedia’s focus on extending crucial access to learning – for the enhancement of human dignity, spreading the light of knowledge, the excitement of discovery – to the furthest corners of the earth.”


Matching Gifts

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, donors made over 43,000 gifts to the Wikimedia Foundation through corporate philanthropic programs. In these matching gifts and payroll-deduction programs, employers match employees’ individual gifts to the Wikimedia Foundation, doubling or even tripling the original donation amount.

These gifts totaled $1.8 million USD and included both employee-generated gifts and employer-matched equivalents from companies such as Google (which collectively donated almost $500,000 USD), Microsoft (over $230,000 USD), and Apple ($130,000 USD). Revenue through the program increased by 15.6% from the 2019-2020 fiscal year.


Wikimedia Endowment

In January 2016, we created the Wikimedia Endowment as a long-term fund to help ensure the future of Wikipedia and our other free knowledge sites, setting an initial goal of raising $100 million USD by 2026. On June 30, 2021 – the last day of the Wikimedia Foundation’s fiscal year – we surpassed the goal, for which we are incredibly grateful to our Endowment donors! Reaching this initial milestone means that the Endowment can start fulfilling its purpose: providing a long-term revenue stream for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.

In the nonprofit sector, endowments are considered an important part of proactive financial planning for organizations that aspire to fulfill their mission for the foreseeable future. While organizations look to annual fundraising and other revenue streams to support their day-to-day operations, they look to endowments to support their goals and mission for the long term.

We raised $18.9 million USD to the Wikimedia Endowment in the past year and reached $102.5 million USD. We received a $1 million contribution from Amazon, eight fulfilled legacy commitments, and 1.2 million other gifts. Legacy gift commitments are an important part of the Endowment, and during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, 1,085 donors made legacy gift commitments, bringing the total number of Wikipedia Legacy Society members to almost 1,450. Legacy giving is a way of collecting pledges for future donations, most commonly through gifts in wills and beneficiary designations. We have partnered with FreeWill, a free online tool to create a legal will in the United States, to make it easy for those who wish to make a legacy gift to the Endowment.

Many of our Endowment donors and legacy donors choose to be recognized on the Endowment website’s Benefactors page or as members of the Wikipedia Legacy Society.

To learn more about the Wikimedia Endowment’s governance and policies, visit the meta page.

From Our Supporters

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the Donor Relations team responded to over 190,000 donor inquiries in 39 languages from donors worldwide. Many of these donors reached out to us to express their gratitude for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects and tell us more about why they decided to support our mission. These messages from our donors provide valuable feedback that informs our fundraising strategy and guides our creative process. We are including some of their comments below:


"I am 85. Wikipedia is a blessing for me and my husband. We talk about things and whenever we have a question, Wikipedia has an answer for us." - Donor in the US


"Wikipedia is a unique entity that continues to add value in the lives of me and my loved ones. I feel that the crowd funded nature of wikipedia's balance substantially contributes to wikipedia's immaterial values. Whenever I have money and wikipedia is in need, I will contribute." - Donor in the Netherlands


"I didn't know this year was the 20th year of Wikipedia, congratulations! I learned so much from Wikipedia, it's a treasure not just for me, but for everyone in this world. [...] But one man can only do so little to help, I just hope there will be more Wiki readers like me to support Wikipedia every year. Apology for my English! I'm not an English speaker. Anyway, Best wishes to Wikipedia!" - Donor in Japan


"Dear Wiki, you are my best friend. I mean it." - Donor in India


"Wikipedia is so important and severely overlooked as one of the greatest things the internet world-wide has ever had. It's an absolute blessing and the fact that there are no ads, and that you remain neutral, is a breath of fresh air when so much of our internet is crammed to the brim with ads and opinions. It makes me feel warm inside when I read the messages you guys put on pages, so politely asking for donations, and your emails." - Donor in Australia


"Despite the circumstances that the world is going through, it was an honor to contribute with this grain of sand, to the great beach of knowledge that you represent." - Donor in Peru


"Thank you for allowing me to be part of something so great, as to be able in small part to contribute to that which is dear to me. It is a breath of fresh air to see the network used for the intended purpose, to bring people to greater knowledge. Education was a limited resource to me growing up. It gives me pleasure to know that others will benefit through your efforts!" - Donor in Sweden


"You’re welcome, the truth is the cornerstone of humanity. Keep building." - Donor in Ireland


"I am a writer but I am also in a wheelchair. It's difficult for me to get to the local library due to my method of transportation. Wikipedia has been a lifesaver for me because of this. So, if we didn't have it, I'd be lost. Libraries are better, but Wikipedia runs a good second. Thank you." - Donor in Canada


Report Talk Page

Thank you for reading our annual fundraising report. Please visit the 2020-2021 talk page for any questions or leave comments about the report. We are happy to share information about fundraising at the Wikimedia Foundation and look forward to your feedback. We will respond to comments and questions to the best of our ability.

Footnotes
  1. The 2020-2021 fiscal year ran from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
  2. In fiscal year 2019-20 we saw an average of 16.4B pageviews/month across all language Wikipedias. In fiscal year 2020-21, this number increased to 16.9B pageviews/month
  3. The figures represented from prior years may exclude canceled donations. The amounts listed in this fundraising report do not conform to the US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and differ from revenue reported in our Independent Auditors’ Report and Internal Revenue Service Form 990 Tax Return.
  4. “Other” may include donations from the Wikipedia sidebar, Wikimedia Foundation’s “Ways to Give” page, Wikipedia app, portal banners on www.wikipedia.org, social media platforms, and also some checks, anonymous, spontaneous (e.g., visiting donate.wikimedia.org directly), and offline donations.
  5. The average donation is calculated by looking at the total revenue raised from the countries included in the English campaign - United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand - divided by the total number of donations received from these countries from July 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021 through the following solicitation channels: email, desktop and mobile banners, the Wikipedia app, the Wikipedia website sidebar, and the portal banners on www.wikipedia.org. Major Gift-specific solicitations (including Annual and Event appeals) were excluded.
  6. Traffic stats can be viewed on Wikimedia Stats and are from June 2021 in this report.