During difficult times, we discover a lot about ourselves. We also find out who our friends are. In 2020, millions of people found a good friend in Wikipedia.
Some folks, like me, were stuck at home making sense of a changed world. Others were out there keeping the world running. But all of us could turn to Wikipedia — regardless of where we were or what we were going through.
“Dear wiki…. You are my best friend. I mean it.” — Wikimedia Foundation Donor
Wikipedia is the world’s only major website run by a nonprofit organization:the Wikimedia Foundation. Our charitable mission ensures everyone can access and share knowledge for free.
Wikipedia is not a commercial website driven by profit or advertising incentives. Instead, it is supported by donations (most around $15 US) from readers like you. If Wikipedia is useful to you, we humbly ask for your support.
More people than ever read Wikipedia in 2020, driven in part by the coronavirus pandemic. People depended on Wikipedia for critical, accurate information about COVID-19, viewing pandemic-related articles more than 532 million times. During these tough times, people also used Wikipedia for fun, such as exploring the sport of extreme ironing or the science behind cute aggression.
“We are seniors, both in late 80s. … Coronavirus made us stay home. FREE Wikipedia leads the way for old and young, rich and poor. Wikipedia keeps us informed, entertained, and well occupied. We want to thank you very much.” — Wikimedia Foundation Donor
Regardless of why you may use Wikipedia, everyone has the same access to the same information. There are no advertisements or algorithms influencing the content you see.
Just as important, Wikipedia’s commitment to neutrality, reliable sources, and community moderation ensures that you receive trustworthy, unbiased information on pressing topics. During the 2020 U.S. presidential election cycle, volunteers like Molly White, a software engineer, kept Wikipedia current and protected it from disinformation.
For nearly 20 years (Wikipedia’s birthday is January 15!), our global community has brought our mission to life. These hundreds of thousands of volunteers work tirelessly to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to knowledge — for free. For example:
- Climate researcher Femke Nijsse reviews Wikipedia’s climate change article every day to check every new revision for accuracy.
- Physicist Jess Wade has written nearly 1,000 Wikipedia biographies of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ scientists.
- Sandister Tei contributes to Wikipedia articles about COVID-19’s impact in her home country of Ghana.
Their efforts carried Wikipedia through the ups and downs of 2020. And they’ll be ready for whatever comes next.
“There’s an old saying, ‘Take care of those who take care of you.’ Wikipedia takes care of me, as a trusted friend and resource. People, like me, who use and love your platform are happy to send a donation.” — Wikimedia Foundation Donor
As a Wikipedia reader, you may wonder why you should donate to the Wikimedia Foundation and where your money goes. The truth is, the great majority of our annual budget comes from donations averaging about $15 US.
This financial model enables Wikipedia to remain neutral, trusted, and free from commercial interests. Your donations support:
Technology that keeps Wikipedia fast, secure, and reliable across the globe
We operate an international technology infrastructure that rivals the world’s largest commercial websites. Your support powers vital engineering work to protect your privacy and keep Wikipedia’s servers running.
Donations also ensure people can access Wikipedia in their preferred languages. Did you know most major websites support an average of 50–100 languages? Wikipedia supports roughly 300 and counting.
Donations reinforce volunteer efforts to keep Wikipedia neutral, accurate, and well-sourced. We work with volunteers to build tools that protect against vandalism and identify unsourced information.
Compared to other top websites with thousands of engineers, our mandate is to do a lot with a little. Around 250 people work in engineering and product development at the Wikimedia Foundation. That works out to only one employee for every four million monthly readers of Wikipedia!
Global policies that protect and advance access to information
The Foundation’s policy and legal work ensures that all readers can access, share, and create knowledge. This work defends our volunteers from the threat of reprisal, and upholds our commitment to free expression.
We advocate for free licenses and open source software. We support copyright laws that allow people to share knowledge broadly. We fight against censorship and protect everyone’s right to speak and learn. Your support ensures everyone has equal access to Wikimedia projects.
Community-led projects to set knowledge free
Some of Wikipedia’s best ideas come from users around the world. The Foundation helps make those ideas a reality.
We collaborate with Wikipedia volunteers around the globe to support their ideas and help them bring more free knowledge to the world. Every year, about 10% of our budget is specifically dedicated to supporting community projects that enrich, grow, and improve knowledge on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is supported by its readers — people who find it valuable and want its success to continue. In light of 2020’s many hardships, we recognize that many people cannot donate right now. But we are grateful that readers continue to use Wikipedia as a go-to information resource. We have always been free. We don’t make anyone pay to access Wikipedia.
“The world needs your service. Keep up the work you all do. Knowledge is the future. It has to be. Without this service, the world has no central place to state, question, argue and update. You are invaluable.” — Wikimedia Foundation Donor
Right now, we are relying on the readers who can afford to help. For almost two decades, the world has looked to Wikipedia for reliable information, and it has consistently delivered.
Now, will you be there for Wikipedia?
As Director of Online Fundraising at the Wikimedia Foundation, Pats Pena leads the strategy and execution for Wikimedia’s digital donation experience.