Sun, Jan 04, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Wikipedia meets its US$6 million fundraising goal


The nonprofit foundation that runs Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia of user-contributed articles, said on Friday it had met its US$6 million fundraising goal for fiscal 2008.

With about six months left in this year’s campaign, the Wikimedia Foundation said it had raised US$6.2 million. A flood of donations came after the site’s founder, Jimmy Wales, posted an appeal for support late last month.

The foundation said about 50,000 contributors chipped in a total of US$2 million over eight days, bringing the total number of donors to more than 125,000.

The money will help improve the software Wikipedia runs on as well as upgrading the servers and Internet bandwidth that accommodate traffic. Wikipedia consistently ranks among the 10 most visited Web sites in the world.

Since its founding in 2001, Wikipedia’s fundraising has expanded quickly. The foundation hauled in US$1.3 million two years ago and US$2.2 million last year.

In March, the site received a US$3 million gift from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, to be dispensed in US$1 million annual installments. Last month the Stanton Foundation gave US$890,000 to make Wikipedia’s editing process more user-friendly.

The Wikimedia Foundation hopes the growth in big-name donors will help improve the encyclopedia’s uneven reputation for accuracy, both by showing that civic-minded institutions are willing to make an investment and by funding programs that increase outreach to new contributors.

Wikimedia spokesman Jay Walsh said expanding the foundation’s Wikipedia Academies would be a major goal this year. The program sends Wikimedia staff to institutions around the world for discussions with experts in different fields, in hopes of drawing more academics and professionals to the site.

In a thank-you note posted on the site on Friday, Wales told donors: “You have proven that Wikipedia matters to you and that you support our mission: To bring free knowledge to the planet, free of charge and free of advertising.”

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