What is the mission of the Foundation ?
The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Foundation provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity.
See also our mission statement.
Are you a charity ?
Wikimedia is a non-profit charitable corporation organized under the laws of Florida, USA. Fully audited, The Wikimedia Foundation is now listed as a charitable organization at Guidestar and its partner sites. The Wikimedia Foundation has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States.
Which projects do you support ?
WMF supports Wikipedia, the famous online encyclopedia, among the 15th most visited websites in the world end of 2006. From the founding of Wikipedia in January, 2001, and the incorporation of the Wikimedia Foundation in June, 2003, our growth has been staggering. The English-language Wikipedia, our first project, has expanded from 135 thousand articles at the time of incorporation to 1.5 million articles today. 12 other languages boast Wikipedias of over 100,000 articles of their own.
However, the Foundation also operates several projects beside Wikipedia, such as Wikimedia Commons, the repository of free images and other media, which surpassed 1 million images in november 2006. Wiktionary, the free dictionary, has 8 dictionaries with more than 50,000 entries, three of which have more than 200,000 definitions. Wikisource, an original source repository, is nearing 150,000 pages of content. Wikiquote (quotations), Wikibooks (collaboratively written books), Wikinews (citizen journalism), and Wikiversity (curriculum development) all continue to grow along the same trendline.
Overall, our projects have more than 7.8 million pages, 2.2 million images, and 5 million registered accounts.
Wikitravel, Omegawiki and Wikia are not projects supported by the Foundation.
How is the Foundation run ?
The Wikimedia Board of Trustees manages the nonprofit organization and supervises the solicitation and disposition of donations. The Board of Trustees is the ultimate corporate authority in the Wikimedia Foundation Inc. (article IV, sec. 1 of the Wikimedia Foundation bylaws). The Board has the power to direct the activities of the foundation.
This site includes a complete list of notes from Board meetings till the end of 2005.
In 2006, we switched to a dual system, featuring both meeting minutes (usually not published), and resolutions. We also set up a collection of committees and hired our first Executive Director, Brad Patrick in june 2006. Most of the interaction between board members, staff, committee members, developers and community happens online, on our wikis, on mailing lists, through electronic chat (irc). We however have face to face opportunities, during Wikimania (our annual conference), during board retreats or real life board meetings.
Much to the amazement of most, we only have one office, located in Florida (USA), where 4 of our employees and 1 board member are working. All other board members or staff work "at home". The staff is made of 6 people (end of 2006); however most people helping are volunteers (including board members).
At the end of 2006, major changes in the organisation took place, with a total of 4 board members in 3 months, change of the chair of the Foundation, set up of an advisory board, bylaw revisions etc...
More information about Foundation activity may be found at
Who are the members of Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
In June 2004, an election was held for two user representative Board members. Following one month of campaigning and two weeks of online voting, Angela Beesley and Florence Nibart-Devouard were elected to join the board. They were reelected the following year in july 2005.
In July 2006, Angela Beesley announced her resignation and in September 2006, Erik Möller was elected as her replacement.
In december 2006, the Wikimedia Foundation added two new board members, Kat Walsh and Oscar van Dillen. Tim Shell chose to resign from the board and is replaced by Jan-Bart de Vreede.
As of january 2007, the list of board members is
- Florence Devouard
- Kat Walsh
- Michael Davis
- Erik Moeller
- Jimmy Wales
- Oscar van Dillen
- Jan-Bart de Vreede
Biographies and terms of current board members may be found at Board.
How does the Foundation serves its mission ?
First, the Wikimedia Foundation owns the Wikimedia servers along with the domain names and trademarks of all Wikimedia projects and MediaWiki. It generally supports all the costs of having the projects up and in working order.
Note: Contributors retain the copyright to their own content and free licenses, such as the GNU FDL, are used on these projects prevents anyone from controlling the content.
Besides, the Foundation plays an important innovative part in further developing the projects, connecting people, promoting collaboration with other parties etc...
In particular, each of our projects has unique technological requirements, which are met by our small but efficient team of software developers. The highest priority in 2007 will be a renewed focus on quality assurance. This will include mechanisms to identify trusted versions of content such as Wikipedia articles.
Ensuring success in all endeavors of the Foundation will make it necessary to collaborate with organizations and companies around the planet. Our financial planning includes professional staff who will pursue such strategic partnerships, as well as coordinate our growing network of chapter organizations in various countries.
How is the revenue spent ?
Overall, the lion’s share of WMF expenditures support our programs. Foremost are our expenses for the hardware and bandwidth that keep our websites up and running.
The single greatest expenditure for WMF is hardware, followed by hosting and bandwidth costs. The WMF has seen its inventory of computer hardware increase steadily to meet demand. Here is a frequently updated status of this hardware : Wikimedia hardware status.
The main reason for the increase is our growth in traffic. At the end of year 2006, Comscore listed “Wikipedia Sites” as the number six site in the world, measured by unique visitors (*). Wikipedia, our flagship website, received about 285 thousand page views per minute. The WMF is concerned about the capitalization and operational commitments necessary to keep these systems running reliably. These costs alone will exceed $2.5 million dollars in year 2007.
(*) Excludes traffic from public computers such as Internet cafes, mobile phones or PDA access.
Domain registration and trademarks is another part of Wikimedia's expenditures. The Foundation already owns some of its active and secondary/tangentially-related w:en:domain names, while others are still free or already owned.
Due to the increase in office staff, administrative costs increased. Overall, however, the allocation of expenses for fundraising is low, due to WMF’s reliance on online donations for the majority of its revenue. WMF does not engage in “direct mail” terrestrial advertising campaigns. Given WMF’s position online, it makes sense to communicate and ask for donations in the same virtual space. To date, it has been effective.
Costs have been kept very low in the past three years, in particular because the largest majority of people helping are volunteers.
Where does the money come from ?
As of January 2006, Wikimedia is funded in most part through private donations, but also through several grants and gifts of servers and hosting (see benefactors).
The WMF receives donations from more than 50 countries around the world. Most of the donations which support WMF come from English-speaking countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia). Over half of these donations are anonymous. Though individual donations are relatively small, their sheer numbers have ensured our success to date
The Wikimedia Foundation aims to increase revenue by finding alternative means of support, including grants and sponsorship or selling WikiReaders (textbook or pdf version of articles from Wikipedia). There has also been discussion of selling a print version of a significant portion of Wikipedia, such as a "Wikipedia 1.0" project.
For the time being, we want the Wikimedia projects to remain free of advertisements.
The Wikimedia Foundation has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States. Donations made from other nations may also be tax deductible. See deductibility of donations for details. Please see our fundraising page for details of making donations via PayPal, MoneyBookers or by postal mail. For all other types of donation, please contact the Wikimedia Board at board at wikimedia.org.
Do you have audited financial statements ?
Our financial statements have been audited for fiscal years 2004, 2005 and 2006 by Gregory Sharer & Stuart  and are compliant with generally accepted accounting principles.
Links to the financial statements and management letter:
What is planned for year 2007 ?
Wikimedia Foundation continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Its board faces a organizational and financial challenge to maintain Wikipedia a top website on the planet, to also supports the various needs of the other projects, to meet with the ever-increasing demand for the online educational content created by the community of editors and contributors, and to succeed in its goal to make the gift of knowledge to the largest number of people on Earth.
2006 was very much a transitional year, during which we first created the committees (january 2006). In june 2006, the Wikimedia Foundation hired Brad Patrick as general counsel and interim executive director, where he would oversee its staff and operations and lead the search for a permanent executive director.
In october 2006, a board retreat was held in Frankfurt, with board members, staff and several community members, to brainstorm on the future of the Foundation .
The Wikimedia Foundation announced a reorganisation of its Board of Trustees, with I, Florence Devouard, replacing Jimmy Wales as Chair of the Board , . One of my biggest focus for year 2007 will be the reorganisation of the Foundation (revision of bylaws, new executive director, expansion of the board, set up of an advisory board, clarification of Foundation and Chapters relationships, improvement of committees...) to ensure the Foundation will make its best to fullfill its mission according to the shared vision .
The motto for year 2007 is sustainability and reliability.
We wish to engage board members, staff, editors, committee members, developers, chapter members, to help create not only content, but also to help create a sustainable infrastructure for our projects. Part of this work is on its way and the effort will be pushed further in the coming months. The board retreat in october  was the opportunity to draft a strategic plan and to define a first set of actions from the Board. In the next weeks , various steps were achieved such as a first board expansion, the release of audited financial statements, the creation of an agreement between Wikimedia Foundation and chapters), and bylaws update ()..
Year 2007 will start with a great fundraiser, which will include the opportunity to have donations made to the Foundation matched by generous individuals and companies who support our efforts. With our audit complete, Wikimedia Foundation is now listed as a charitable organization at Guidestar (www.guidestar.org) and its partner sites, which will extend our visibility in the not-for-profit community.
We'll make you see "what it takes to run Wikipedia for a year". Anonymous visitors will also be reminded that Wikimedia Foundation is a *charitable organization*, something which distinguishes us from the YouTubes and MySpaces spoken in the same breath as Wikipedia as the "Web 2.0" vanguard. We aren't for sale. We can not be bought by a company, any more so than the Red Cross or Amnesty International.
How to contact the Foundation ?
See the "Contact us" page for details.