Wikimedia Foundation reaches $100 million Endowment goal as Wikipedia celebrates 20 years of free knowledge

Flower planted in the ground

As part of the milestone, three new members also joined the Wikimedia Endowment Board, bringing key expertise in nonprofit management and deep knowledge of Wikimedia’s communities and mission

22 September 2021, San Francisco, CA, USA — The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, today announced that the Wikimedia Endowment has reached its initial $100 million fundraising goal ahead of schedule. This early achievement is a testament to the generosity of Endowment donors around the world and provides enduring support for free knowledge. Launched in 2016 to support the future of Wikimedia projects, the Endowment is a permanent fund that helps protect Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects in times of uncertainty and enables long-term investments to support their growth. 

“When Wikipedia first started 20 years ago, no one could predict the vital role it would play in our world,” said Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Wikimedia Endowment Board member. “Wikipedia is our collective legacy, the sum of all human knowledge available to everyone. As we reach this historic milestone, the success of the Endowment ensures that Wikipedia will continue to be a gift from all of us to future generations of knowledge seekers.”

As Wikipedia celebrates its 20th birthday this year, it has cemented its role as one of the most reliable and trustworthy sources of information on the internet. However, the information on Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects still has significant gaps. Women, communities of color, and non-Western languages, among other critical topics, continue to be underrepresented on the site. With this significant achievement, the Wikimedia movement will be better positioned to take on these and other challenges over the long-term. 

Investment income from the Endowment can now be used to support Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. The Endowment Board will be sharing more about its strategy to support the projects in the coming year.  

“Wikipedia is founded on the belief that knowledge is a public good that belongs to all people,” said Lisa Gruwell, Chief Advancement Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Through the Endowment, and the generosity of our donors, we have been able not just to protect this public good for years to come, but also to focus on growth, opening doors to fuel innovation and equitable representation so that Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects reflect the world.”  

The Wikimedia Endowment is governed independently from the Wikimedia Foundation as a long-term, permanent fund to support the future of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity.  Reader donations and institutional grants are used to support the Wikimedia Foundation’s  annual operations, separate from the Endowment. 

New members of the Wikimedia Endowment Board 

As part of this milestone, three new members to the Wikimedia Endowment Board were also announced; they add critical expertise in Wikimedia’s volunteer communities, the Wikimedia mission and values, and nonprofit management. New members include Phoebe Ayers, who currently serves as Librarian for Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, IDSS, and Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustee, and Patricio Lorente, General Secretary of Administration of the National University of La Plata and former Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. The Board also welcomed Doron Weber, an executive with more than two decades of experience in nonprofit management, currently serving as Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

Together, the eight members of the Endowment Board bring a diverse range of skills and experiences to steward the future of the Wikimedia Endowment.  

Creating an independent nonprofit 

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Endowment Board have also announced plans to move the Wikimedia Endowment, currently managed by the Tides Foundation as a Collective Action Fund, into its own separate 501(c)3 organization governed by the Wikimedia Endowment Board. The move will help solidify the independence of the Wikimedia Endowment, allowing its management and investments to be aligned directly to the needs of the Wikimedia projects. The application to move the Endowment to a separate 501(c)3 is currently before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The Wikimedia Endowment’s $100 million milestone is a direct result of the generosity of its donors. The Endowment was first established thanks to a legacy gift by Jim Pacha, who generously donated much of his estate to seed its initial funding. Today, more than 1,400 members of the Wikipedia Legacy Society have committed to leave a portion of their estate to the Wikimedia Endowment. Other Endowment donors who choose to be publicly recognized are listed on our Benefactors page

About the Wikimedia Foundation 

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

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