The 2011 Wikimedia Foundation fundraiser brought in a record-breaking USD 24 million from more than one million donors in nearly every country in the world. It has been our most successful campaign ever, continuing an unbroken streak in which donations have risen every year since the campaigns began in 2003. The total number of fundraising days decreased by four days from 2010.

2011 Fundraiser Daily Donations

International localization efforts increased substantially in 2011. Wikimedia volunteers showed their support by translating fundraising messages into over 100 languages to reach hundreds of millions of people. The Wikimedia Foundation integrated with a new payment processor to be able to process donations in 80 currencies, accepting 12 payment methods from countries worldwide.

This year’s campaign highlighted staff and volunteers who help to create Wikipedia. It featured testimonials from volunteer editors in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, India, Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States ranging in age from 18 to 76, explaining why they edit Wikipedia and why they think readers should support the Wikimedia Foundation. The editors helped tell the story of the Wikimedia community as well as reduced the reliance on a single effective message to raise the budget.

In 2011, the banners were turned off for registered users in record time (after 18 days), and for the first time banners were disabled for anyone making a donation.

In 2012, the fundraising team is aiming to improve the campaign significantly by featuring more editors from a wider variety of countries, improving international localization, and expanding understanding of the Wikimedia donor and user base.

Key Facts


Comparison between 2010 and 2011

Metric 2010 2011
# of donations 532,484 1,130,131
Total amount $14,778,708.67 $24,018,004.28
Average donation $27.75 $21.25
Number of fundraising days 50 46
Number of fundraising days for logged in users 39 18
Best day (# of donations; total $) 2010-12-31 (26,144; $790,960.32) 2011-11-16 (65,685; $ 1,237,360.86)
Number of currencies accepted 17 80
Number of payment methods accepted 6 12
Number of days editor banners were displayed 10 34

Note: Currency shown in USD from a donation period of July 1, 2011 - January 6, 2012, including donations under $10,000

Top 10 Countries Donating Directly to WMF

Top 10 countries by total amount donating directly to WMF
Country Total amount Number of donors
US $14,398,721 535,666
Canada $1,334,899 58,141
Italy $1,131,490 77,200
Australia $1,056,337 43,857
Japan $748,258 25,534
Netherlands $549,649 19,345
Russian Federation $442,375 42,693
Spain $425,061 24,303
India $360,468 39,000
Austria $296,684 12,635
Other $3,355,556.73 251,132

Note: Currency shown in USD from a donation period of July 1, 2011 - January 5, 2012

Top 10 Countries Donating to Wikimedia Movement (to WMF or Local Chapter)

Top 10 countries by total amount donating to Wikimedia Foundation or Wikimedia Chapter
Country Total amount Number of donors
US $14,398,721 535,666
Germany $5,430,724 157,034
UK $1,682,151 41,280
France $1,345,933 35,076
Canada $1,334,899 58,141
Italy $1,131,490 77,200
Australia $1,056,337 43,857
Japan $748,258 25,534
Switzerland $556,963 6,491
Netherlands $549,649 19,345
Other $3,355,556.73 251,132

Note: Currency shown in USD from a donation period of July 1, 2011 - January 5, 2012

Most Common Gift Amounts

Gift amount Number of donations
$10 145,930
$20 89,007
$5 80,313
$25 60,517
$50 41,865

Note: Currency shown in USD from a donation period of July 1, 2011 - January 5, 2012



Wikimedia chapters processed payments in four countries during the 2011 fundraiser. Many other chapters and volunteers in numerous countries also participated in the fundraiser by supporting international testing, and providing creative appeals and translation.

Chapter Donors Amount received (USD)
France 35,076 $1,296,315
Germany 157,034 $5,356,187
Switzerland 6,491 $461,838
United Kingdom 41,280 $1,440,668
Chapter Total 233,390 $8,555,008
Wikimedia Movement Total (Donations to Wikimedia Foundation or Chapter) 1,370,012 $32,573,012.28

Note: Some numbers are provisional

Banners and Appeals


In the 2010 campaign, after testing hundreds of banner messages, we saw the appeal from our founder, Jimmy Wales, was the most effective message in compelling readers to donate. Throughout 2011, the fundraising creative team was dedicated to breaking the dependence on Jimmy’s appeal and expanding the range of voices and faces from our community to reach our fundraising goals.

Pre-campaign testing

Interview with Dr. Sengai Podhuvanar

We started weekly testing of fundraising messages in June 2011. Throughout our summer testing, we found new stories from different members of the Wikimedia community that performed on a similar level as Jimmy’s appeal.

We traveled to Wikimania and kicked off our interviewing sprint with over 50 editors and contributors. The story-gathering mission continued throughout the fundraiser to build a global fundraiser with a wide variety of personal appeals.

Just days before the launch of the fundraiser, we made an unexpected discovery that changed all banners used in the campaign. In 2010, we found that banners with a plain white background performed better than highly stylized and colorful banners. We had been testing all new banners with plain white backgrounds based on this assumption. During a pre-fundraiser weekly test, we wrote an appeal with editor Susan Hewitt. Susan sent in a photo her husband took of her in front of a tree in their yard. We weren't able to Photoshop the green leaves out of the background very well, so we tested her banner with the green background. And it performed really well! Susan's green background banner had a 64% increase in click rate than Jimmy's plain white banner. Since we had two variables in this test, we couldn't attribute the high performance to the greenery or Susan herself, so we tested Jimmy with a hastily Photoshopped green background. We used the same photo with a green photoshopped background to control for the effect of the face in the test. Once again, the green background banner came out ahead.

White background Jimmy
Green background Jimmy

We retested the green leafy background against the plain white background a couple more times throughout the fundraiser, and ultimately ran all banners with green backgrounds. There are plenty more banner design ideas to experiment with in 2012, and we're planning to start testing months in advance of the 2012 fundraiser.

Over the course of testing in the summer and fall before the fundraiser, we were able to create several appeals that performed about the same as Jimmy's appeal. In the last couple of weeks before the fundraiser, we were able to incorporate successful elements from the editor appeals to improve Jimmy's appeal.

Fundraiser launch

On November 16, the 2011 campaign launched with our most successful Jimmy appeal. In the first 24 hours, Wikimedia donors worldwide showed their support by donating USD $1.2 million. This is a record number of dollars raised in a single day by the Wikimedia Foundation (previous record was $790,960.32), but the bigger accomplishment is the number of supporters. Over 65,000 Wikipedia users donated in a single day from over 150 countries around the world. Our previous record number of donors in a single day was 26,144 from December 31, 2010.

Editor appeals galore

After one week of running Jimmy's banner and appeal, we switched over to the phase in the campaign where we highlighted stories from many different Wikimedians to help raise the annual budget. Over the next 34 days, we featured appeals from:

What did we learn about what makes for a successful appeal? That authenticity matters. Our successful personal appeals have all been written using people’s own passionate words to tell readers what’s so incredible about Wikipedia and why it is personally invaluable to them. Using that genuine message, we also highlight a few key points:

  • Beauty: Wikipedia is an amazing, beautiful thing run by volunteers doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and for the love of free knowledge.
  • Authenticity: Use genuine language to clearly describe a personal connection to Wikipedia.
  • Tell a story: Clarify people's understanding of Wikipedia and that it needs them to keep the story going.
  • Free and ad-free: People love that it's free to use, free to be used in any way, and ad-free.
  • Importance: We're #5 and everyone uses us!
  • Efficiency: Compared to the other top sites, we run on a shoestring budget.
  • Strong, quick start: The opening line is key. It must be straightforward and compelling.
  • Ask: Tell people where the money goes; be specific and concrete.

Year-end messaging

In the last five days of 2011, we brought Jimmy back and tested a variety of year-end messages, which resulted in a significant increase in donations. We used variations of effective year-end banners from the 2010 fundraiser, which gave us an increase in donations again at the end of 2011. We had two effective banner messages in particular:

On December 31, 2011, we rotated both of these messages in an animated banner. We found this banner in 2010 and once again, it helped us end on a strong note on the last day of the year. We wrapped up the campaign right at 12am on January 1, 2012 – raising $1,110,158 on the last day of the year.

Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, Sue Gardner, wrote a thank you message that ran for four days after the fundraiser.

Please see the test reports section for information on testing analytics. A recap of weekly testing can be found on the meta test updates page.

Testing Methodology and Reports


The campaign is based on constant testing and optimization of different themes, messages, images, and donation form designs. Please see the Testing methodology and reports section for an explanation of the testing and analysis process.

Throughout the fundraiser, we ran several banner and landing page tests a day. Below is the analysis on a very small sample of the hundreds of tests we conducted.

Editor Feedback


Appearing in a banner at the top of Wikipedia is a unique experience. Our 2011 editors have shared their thoughts on the experience.

From Wikipedia donor Akshaya:


It was indeed an awesome fundraiser. As a strong believer in Wikipedia and what it means to the world, I think this is a cause I would want to create awareness for in the future as well.

The first thing that struck me about the campaign was just how passionate all of you are about this. I think having a dedicated storyteller to actually gather stories from different countries is very commendable. I feel this year's fundraiser was better than last year's campaign, in terms of the diversity of backgrounds of featured stories.

I also appreciate how collaborative the process was of getting the final story and pictures. I appreciate the patience shown by you guys, specially Victor, and multiple iterations before going live. As someone who is very hands-on I liked being involved in the process all the way.

It was a great honor to be on a banner on Wikipedia for me. All the attention I got was just a nice add-on. I was quite flattered. I have about 100 requests on Facebook from people I do not know.

I have gotten a few mails from unknown people saying how they liked my appeal. Additionally, a lot of my friends and acquaintances were pushed to donate after seeing my appeal. It was surprising, though, that many people felt I was featured because I may have donated some huge sum of money. Others felt I was randomly chosen. I think many people want to know how these stories are chosen. Also the first thing that people told me was, wow, you are famous. I'd rather have heard them say, hey, it's a great cause you are fundraising for, and it's a great appeal message. But as we already know, a picture speaks louder than words.

In conclusion, I'd like to say that it has been one of the best times of my life, and I shall cherish it. Do let me know if you need any more help/information from me. I am always ready to help.

From Wikipedia editor Alan:


I am so appreciative of the opportunity to have been included in this year's fundraiser and to have been able to play a small role in helping meet the needs of Wikimedia / Wikipedia staying up and running for the upcoming year.

So many friends and relatives, people who knew or never knew what my role has been in building this encyclopedia, have approached me to share their stories of how they have been able to use Wikipedia as part of their lives, be it in education or their daily lives. People I didn't even think knew what Wikipedia was told me that seeing me and my story convinced them to contribute.

From Wikipedia editor Susan:

Editor Susan Hewitt

It was fine. It was fun, actually. There really was no downside. I got a few messages on my user talk page that were a little bit unusual, but other than that it was all good. I would recommend that other people volunteer for it. I did not in any way feel I had sacrificed my anonymity, or anything like that. I had friends and acquaintances that I hardly ever hear from, who live in different countries, contact me after having seen it, and they were all happy about it. People who saw it seemed to really like seeing me on it.

People who knew me only a little bit here in NYC, some of them were very impressed by it. A few people were, I thought, excessively impressed by it and transferred to me the respect they have for Wikipedia itself. I had to explain to people, “No, I don’t work for them, and I am not important, I am just one of many thousands of similar volunteer editors.” A few people told me they gave money after reading my banner and that was great to hear. Also, when people talked to me about the banner, I got the chance to encourage them to start contributing to the encyclopedia.

The experience let me see a few interesting but more trivial things. For example, I now know how many of my friends and relatives use Wikipedia almost every day, and how many of them use it only every other week or less.

It was an amazing feeling to know that the message was translated into many different languages and was read all over the world.

To tell you the truth, this sounds silly, but the thing I got the biggest kick out of was knowing that my photo with the green bush in the background seemed to work so well that you guys gave everyone else a green background too! I am a nature girl and an avid gardener, so that was fun for me to see.

From a Wikipedia editor:

Wikipedia Editor

Being on the banners was, for the most part, really fun. I'm still running into people who say to me, "Hey, weren't you on Wikipedia?" When I volunteered to be on the banners I knew it would possibly attract some negative attention, and unfortunately, this turned out to be true. A lot of my personal information was uncovered and posted on the Internet, but it turned out okay. I also got a lot of support from the Wikipedia community regarding this.

From Wikipedia editor Bruno:


First of all, it was an honour to take part in the fundraiser and I am happy that it reached the goal. Keeping Wikipedia ad-free for another year is crucial to the core values of the project, ones in which I believe. This is a way I still contribute.

Secondly, I got re-connected to many colleagues, particularly via Facebook, who were surprised to suddenly see my face. The impact was quite positive. And, of course, it was fun to be called the "Wikipedia guy" at the supermarket or at the gym. There were many positive words and in some cases it served as an encouragement for my friends to join the "editors' club".

However, for me the most important aspect is related to the interview process, brilliantly conducted by Matthew Roth. It allowed me to stop and to give a fresh look at my personal story, reaching some timely and needed conclusions. This fact might have little to do with the fundraiser but it was this perspective of the fundraiser that left deepest marks in me. After giving so much to Wikipedia, in a very unusual and unexpected way Wikipedia and Matt gave me back a lot. At the end of the process it became clear to me that I had reached a turning-point, and three difficult years were a thing of a past made more bearable by Wikipedia. From that point on, I started looking forward and suddenly plans and projects just popped-up in my mind. It does not mean that I will stop editing but the weight of editing in my life has already changed. This is very positive.

I encourage all the Wikipedia team to keep on doing this great work, assuring you that it reaches farther than we may ever think.

From Wikipedia editor Isaac:

Being Part of the 2011 fundraiser team was a very Humbling experience to me and it has taught me a very important lesson in life: Together, there is nothing we can’t do.

I wanna take this opportunity to thank each and every one who supported the campaign in one way or another. The 20 million USD milestone is a demonstration of the commitment that the people across the world have in sharing free knowledge. This is a happy moment not just to the Wikimedia family but to all those who made it a success. Your contribution will go a long way in expanding Wikimedia Projects, like the distributing of the off line version of Wikipedia in Kenyan schools.

Once again, thank you so much for your generous contribution.

From Wikipedia editor Karthik:

Editor Karthik Nadar

I was happy with many positive reviews, though had bad ones too. I felt like I did something in my life for others; after-all, Life is all about living yourself for others.

The appeal also bought me close to other local wiki editors :)

From Wikipedia donor Rob:

Donor Rob Gindes

First off, the number one thing to me is that before I did this, I knew I used Wikipedia a lot. I even referred to it as "the only place I do research" at least a dozen times in my writing. But I never realized how much that actually was -- Wikipedia is like my lifeline for any kind of knowledge I might need. I use it at work, I use it at home, I use it on my phone, I use it to figure out stuff about Transformers or Thundercats or what happened to Great Western Bank or anything. And once I started seeing someone's face up there every time I went, I started to realize, holy crap, I've seen Jimmy's face a whole lot today.

And the whole process itself was so exciting because I felt like I was part of something really important. I really got to sit down and think about what the people at Wikipedia are doing, and why they're doing it, and it made me really happy because normally I think society is spinning down the toilet at 100 miles an hour, but that there's this group of people -- you guys -- who are like, "What if we put all our effort and determination into making sure everyone in the world could access all of our collective knowledge for free?" And man, that is so cool. I feel like my faith in the human race has been restored.

Story Project


As a result of several months of story gathering throughout 2011, we were able to feature Wikimedians for the majority of the fundraiser.

Please visit the editor bio page to learn about more editors from around the world.

A huge Thank You is owed to everyone who participated:

Abhijit Dutta, Abhishek Hingnikar, Abhishek Suryawanshi, Achal Prabhala, Adel Iskandar, Adrianne Wadewitz, Akshaya Iyengar, Alan Sohn, Aleksander Murshteyn, Alex Jenner, Alex Stinson, Alex Wafula, Alexander Pereira, Alfonso Luna, Ali Sadhik Shaik, Alice Wiegand, Amir E. Aharoni, Andrea Zanni, Andrew Hink, Andrew Owens, Andrew West, Aniruddha Kumar, Annie Lin, Antonio Vernon, Anushikha Benazeer, Arnav Sonara, Arthur Richards, Arun Ganesh, Asaf Bartov, Augusto Fabiano, Balachandran Gopalan, Basil Soufi, Beatrice Murch, Bence Damokos, Benjamin Norton, Borjan Babic, Brian Chapman, Bruno J. Linhares, Carole Tang, Castelo Branco, Cherie Moore, Christine Meyer, Christine Moellenberndt, Christopher Cooper, Daniel Cavallari, Dario Taraborelli, Debanjan Bandyopadhyay, Debashree Dattaray, Delphine Menard, Derrick Coetzee, Deryck Chan, Dominic McDevitt-Parks, Douglas Ian Scott, Dr. James Heilman, Dr. Sengai Podhuvan PhD, Elonka Dunin, Eric Piotrowski, Erik Moeller, Erik Olin Wright, Erol Bakkalbasi, Eugene Eric Kim, Eva Pasarisas, Everton Zanella Alvarenga, Florence Devouard, Galileo Vidoni, Garfield Byrd, Gautam John, Geoff Brigham, Gerard Meijssen, Greg DeKonigsberg, Greg Grossmeier, Hari Nadig, Henrique Andrade, Howie Fung, Ian Baker, Isaac K.Kosgei, Itamar Manosevitch, Ivana Lysholm, James Forrester, James Joshua Lim, Jay Walsh, Jehu Nnaji, Jim Davies, Jonas Xavier, Jonathan Obar, Jose Matthew Manimala, Josh Crain, Judy Mollica, Juliana Bastos, Jurema Oliveira, K. Ravichandar, Karthik Nadar, Katelan Terrell, Kenney Elkomous, Kiril Simeonovski, Leandro Ferrari, Lennart Gultbrandsson, Leslie Tom, Liam Wyatt, Liron Dorfman, Lisa Gorlick, Lori Phillips, Maggie Dennis, Marek Kosniowski, Maria Atilano, Mark Graham, Mark Kenney, Maryana Pinchuk, Matt Senate, Mayan Bar-On, Mayo Fuster, Miguel Angel Garcia, Mike Christie, Mike Lowrey, Mingli Yuan, Mitch Altman, Moka Pantages, Moushira Elamrawy, Neil Kandalgaonkar, Nevio Alarcao, Nimish Gautam, Oliver Keyes, Parul Vora, Patricio Lorente, Pavel Richter, Pepe Robles, Pete Forsyth, Peter Youngmeister, Petr Broz, Pietro Roveri, PJ Hanrahan, PJ Tabit, Pramukh Arkalgud Ganeshamurthy, Priyanka Dhanda, Raimond Spekking, Rajesh Pandey, Ram Shankar Yadav, Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, Raveesh Kumar B, Rob Gindes, Rob Halsell, Rob Lanphier, Robson Correa de Comargo, Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton, Roger Bamkin, Rosie Stephenson, Ruben Hilare-Quispe, Sara Wilson, Sarah Stierch, Saurabh Hinduja, Shashank Duhan, Slobodan Jakoski, Song Kyung Han, Sonia Newton-Shostakovich, Srikeit Tadepalle, Steve Corona, Steve Pruitt, Stuart Geiger, Subhashish Panigrahi, Sue Schmidt, Suma Nadig, Sumana Harihareswara, Susan Hewitt, Taweetham Limpanuparb, Thejesh G N, Tinucherian, Tobias Klenze, Tomasz Finc, Tomoaki Watanabe, Tony Riches, User:AnonEMouse, User:Flonight, User:GorillaWarfare, User:Moni3, Utkarshraj Atmaram, Victor Porras, Victoria Short, Vikash K Thakur, Vinicius Siqueira, Vishwas M Byrappa, Waldir Pimenta, Ward Cunningham, Ward Silver, Xintian Lao, Yan Nasonov and Ziko Van Dijk.

Translation Project

Further information: Fundraising 2011/Translation/Project report
Translation project 2011

Wikimedia volunteers worked for several months leading up to the fundraiser, as well as throughout the fundraiser, to translate messages to reach readers all around the world. More than 1,000 volunteers signed up from our translator recruitment campaign to translate a variety of materials ranging from personal appeals, interface messages, email messages, and support texts, while still maintaining quality control over the translations. A key goal in the project was to make the translation process have a low threshold for participation for the users, so that people could participate even if they weren't well-versed in wikisyntax.

The fundraising team is planning to keep translators engaged throughout the year with early pre-campaign testing to expand the program and prepare for the fundraiser on a continuous basis.

Key numbers
2011 2010
Languages 112 83
Translators signed-up 1100 418
Translators active 1676 (1038 IPs) 361 (46 IPs)
Language coordinators 35 N/A
Number of Jimmy appeal translations 73 48



The 2011 fundraiser saw some major engineering challenges that needed to be solved in order to reach our ambitious fundraising goal. While adding many new features and generally improving the fundraising code bases, the team also strived to achieve high throughput and transparency — both for other members of the fundraising team at large, as well as the Wikimedia/Mediawiki communities more generally. Some project highlights are covered on the 2011 Wikimedia Fundraiser project page on



The team grew a great deal in order to meet the high demands of the annual fundraiser. It was composed of Arthur Richards (engineering lead), James Alexander (business analyst), Katie Horn (software engineer), Ryan Kaldari (software engineer), Jeremy Postlethwaite (software engineer), and Jeff Green (operations engineer).

The engineering team worked very closely with all other fundraising-related teams, generally coordinating primarily with the production team and the 2011 fundraiser leadership. We experimented with some new project management techniques and made other departures from how things are done with other teams in WMF engineering, including becoming entirely self-sufficient in managing all code review and production deployments.

Project Management


Before engineering efforts for the 2011 fundraising began in earnest, the engineering team and a few other members of the broader fundraising team underwent an intensive week-long planning period. With guidance from Thoughtworks, Inc, we defined high-level goals for the fundraiser, defined an initial set of requirements, mapped out risks/strategies/constraints, and organized our team with clearly defined roles and expectations. We took a new approach to tracking requirements and managing development work — we relied on user stories combined with acceptance testing criteria (following principles of behavior driven development to prepare work to be done by the development team).

Story cards (a combination of user story with acceptance criteria) would be prioritized by fundraising leads, and cards would be selected for the development team to work on based on that prioritization for a two-week long timeboxed development sprint. As a team, we would estimate the amount of effort it would take to complete each selected card in a way similar to the classic planning poker; however, we kept it more ad-hoc and informal. If a particular card were deemed to be 'epic', or too large to complete in one development sprint, we would attempt to break it up into multiple cards. The sprint would begin with a backlog of story cards ready for developers to select to work on. Ideally, the cards were prepared well enough that not only were the requirements clear, but the developer would know precisely when he or she was finished with the card. Once done with a card, the developer would push the card into 'testing', where someone would QA the work completed, and he or she would move on to the next card.

At the completion of the sprint, the team would come together and hold a showcase for major stakeholders in the fundraiser. We would show off work completed to give real-time glimpses into our progress. This proved effective at keeping stakeholders in the loop while also helping to identify things that needed to change very early in the development processes rather than at the end, when the cost of change is much higher. We would also spend some time as a team reflecting on how the sprint went — what worked, and what didn't. Things that we identified as "didn't work" would get assigned an owner who would be responsible for overseeing whatever it took to improve that issue over the next sprint(s). Then, the cycle would repeat.

As we completed a few sprints, we started to get a good grasp on how much work we would be able to accomplish in a given sprint — our 'average velocity'. We were able to use this to surprisingly accurately predict when we would be able to accomplish certain milestones and keep realistic expectations amongst the fundraising team as a whole. We relied on a piece of project management software called 'Mingle' to track our work. Mingle made it simple to map out our average velocity and to even create various graphs, such as burn down charts (although we actually used a modified burn down chart called a 'burn up chart'), which made our capacity easily demonstrable.

We also relied on a time-boxed 15 minute daily meeting every morning, called the daily scrum. This meeting was essential at keeping communication clear amongst the team, identifying obstacles, and identifying people to remove those obstacles. This was one of the few regular meetings that developers on the engineering team had to attend — the others being sprint wrap up and planning meetings. The idea was to keep meetings and other disruptions to a bare minimum for the development team, with a backlog of developer-ready work so they could work at their own pace in a fairly self-directed manner, without constant (re)direction, with the ultimate goal of sustainably maximizing the team's throughput and general well-being.

While a lot of this was new for most of the team, there has been general consensus that it was effective and that we likely could not have achieved what we have without it. It allowed us to keep a high level of transparency into the team for other stakeholders, while keeping the developers busy doing what they do best — developing software.

Major Projects Completed

  • Rewrite of DonationInterface to support multiple gateways and many new payment types
  • Numerous enhancements to CentralNotice
    • Change logging and exposing filters to CN users to view change logs
    • Separation of cookie handling for fundraising vs. non-fundraising banners
  • Adaptation of queue2civicrm to support new gateways and payment types
  • Clean up, refactoring, and bug fixing (from the previous year) of our IPN listeners
  • Addition of monitoring features to our CiviCRM-modules

Please see a comprehensive list of additional projects completed.



During the 2011 fundraiser, the WMF carried out a total of three email campaigns and a pre-fundraiser test campaign. In total, 1,332,184 emails were sent, raising a total of $1,590,713 (as of February 2012) from 52,868 donations.

Pre-Fundraiser Test Campaign


Before the kick-off of the 2011 fundraiser, we sent a test campaign to 45,024 past donors who had previously given exactly USD $20. The campaign was also a test of a number of variables. The test showed that (for this particular group) donors who received a shorter email, personalized with their first name and with an ask matching their previous donation, were more likely to donate through the links provided. The lower ask resulted in a smaller average donation, but the increased number of donors led to an increased total donation amount.

Emails Unsubs Opens Clicks Donations Total Amount Avg Donation Donations/click $/click $/email
low ask, no salutation 7,509 29 3,434 745 526 $12,880.00 $24.49 0.7060 $17.29 $1.75
higher ask, no salutation 7,505 31 2,856 561 410 $11,200.00 $27.32 0.7308 $19.96 $1.52
low ask, first name 7,503 39 3,223 794 568 $13,825.32 $24.34 0.7154 $17.41 $1.88
higher ask, first name 7,501 37 3,616 670 493 $13,428.00 $27.24 0.7358 $20.04 $1.83
low ask, long intro 7,506 42 3,188 591 406 $10,432.00 $25.69 0.6870 $17.65 $1.42
higher ask, long intro 7,500 36 3,302 628 422 $11,957.00 $28.33 0.6720 $19.04 $1.63
Total 45,024 214 19,619 3,989 2,825 $73,722.32 $26.10 0.7082 $18.48 $1.67

Email 1


The first email campaign of the 2011 fundraiser was sent out over the course of three days starting 2011-12-15. The email was sent to past donors who had not yet given in 2011. The email was a slight variation on the "Jimmy Appeal", with a lead-in paragraph thanking them for their donation in the past and asking them to consider donating again this year. The ask strings were varied based on the donor's previous donation amount as well the donation's source currency (USD, EUR, BRL, INR, JPY, MXN, and PLN were supported; all others got a multi-currency ask-string). Since the "Jimmy Appeal" had been translated, we were able to send the email in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian. In total, 472,309 emails were sent, generating 31,901 donations totaling $976,862.

Email 2


The second email was sent to current 2011 donors on 2011-12-28, asking them to forward the email to a friend. Although we do not know how many people did forward the email to a friend, the campaign resulted in 4,193 donations for $103,993.34. The campaign was sent in English, Italian and Japanese and delivered to 415,688 recipients.

Email 3


The third and final email of the 2011 fundraiser was sent to past donors who had still not donated during the 2011 fiscal year. Due to the timing of the email (2011-12-30), it was sent only in English only to donors who previously donated from an English landing page. In total, 399,163 emails were sent. In response, 13,820 one-time donations were made for $425,608.46 and 129 recurring donations were made for $1,052.75 monthly.


Emails Unsubs Clicks Donations Total Amount Avg Donation Donations/click $/click $/email
pre-Fundraiser 45,024 214 3,989 2,825 $73,722 $26.10 0.7082 $18.48 $1.67
Email 1 472,309 1,897 44,450 31,901 $976,862.00 $30.62 0.7177 $21.98 $2.07
Email 2 415,688 3,603 22,712 4,193 $103,993.34 $24.80 0.0101 $4.58 $0.25
Email 3 399,163 3,306 23,499 13,949 $436,135.96 $31.27 0.0349 $18.56 $1.09
Total 1,332,184 9,020 94,650 52,868 $1,590,713.62 $30.09 0.0397 $16.81 $1.20



The fundraising campaign received significant media attention. We used social media sites to post updates and interact with users by responding to daily feedback and comments.



A lot of the social media attention surrounding the fundraiser focused on the position of the picture in relation to the title of the Wikipedia article it appeared on. This was both positive and negative:


Fueled ongoing discussion about the fundraiser through social media channels from the beginning to the end of the fundraiser.

Negative: Many of the comments/blog posts/Twitter updates were mean-spirited. It made the person in the picture an easy target of low-brow humor.

Another hot topic about the fundraiser was the introduction of new faces to the banner ads. Brandon Harris was the first non-Jimmy person to be featured in the banner and he received a lot of attention, both positive and negative. Brandon received a request to do a Q&A on Reddit and responded to Twitter comments about him, which helped keep the spirit of the fundraiser positive by humanizing Brandon to the public.

Big News


Brin Wojcicki Foundation donation went viral.

Press Release:$500,000_Grant_to_Wikimedia


End of Fundraiser

Press Release: Wikimedia Foundation Rings In New Year With Record-breaking Fundraiser

Other News


Find the complete list here.

Donor Research


Leading up to the fundraising campaign, we held four focus groups with previous donors, two in Los Angeles and two in New York City.

Please see the findings from the 2011 donor focus groups. For the next campaign, we are planning to expand donor research to gain a deeper understanding of a wider base of international users.



The fundraiser is supported by hundreds of volunteers who are supported by few staff members. For 2011, the staff team included:

  • James Alexander, Business Analyst
  • Charles Barr, Production Coordinator
  • Peter Coombe, Production Coordinator
  • Zack Exley, Chief Community Officer
  • Ryan Faulkner, Data Analyst
  • Peter Gehres, Production Coordinator
  • Jeff Green, Operations Engineer
  • Victor Grigas, Storyteller
  • Jon Harald Søby, Production Coordinator
  • Megan Hernandez, Head of Annual Fundraiser
  • Katie Horn, Software Engineer
  • Bryony Jones, Community Department Program Assistant
  • Ryan Kaldari, Software Engineer
  • Stacey Merrick, Social Media Coordinator
  • Aaron Muszalski, Storyteller
  • Pats Peña, Community Department Operations Manager
  • Jeremy Postlethwaite, Software engineer
  • Arthur Richards, Engineering lead
  • Matthew Roth, Storyteller
  • Joseph Seddon, Production Coordinator
  • Alex Zariv, Production Coordinator

Additional Information