Frequently asked questions
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This page lists frequently asked questions about the Wikimedia Foundation. Other questions are addressed at Answers. If you do not find your question answered here or there, please feel free to contact us.
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is the largest collection of free, collaborative knowledge in human history. Millions of people from around the world have written and added to Wikipedia since it was created in 2001: anyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia contains more than 35 million volunteer-authored articles in more than 290 languages. Every month, Wikipedia is viewed more than 15 billion times, making it one of the most popular sites in the world. The people who support it are united by the joy of knowledge, their passion and curiosity, and their awareness that we know much more together than any of us does alone.
What is the Wikimedia Foundation?
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and operates Wikipedia and the other free knowledge projects. All of our work is guided by our mission to share the sum of all knowledge with every person in the world. We keep the websites fast, secure, and available. We support the community of volunteers who contribute to the Wikimedia projects. We make free knowledge accessible wherever you are — on your phone or laptop, on a boat in the South Pacific, or in the hills of Nepal. We help bring new knowledge online, lower barriers to access, and make it easier for everyone to share what they know.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA. You can also review our letter of tax-exemption and our financial reports and annual filings.
What free knowledge projects do you support?
In addition to Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation supports a number of free knowledge projects:
- Wiktionary - a free dictionary
- Wikiquote - a free collection of quotes
- Wikibooks - a free collection of books
- Wikisource - a free collection of primary source materials
- Wikimedia Commons - a free media repository
- Wikispecies - a science based wiki for documenting all the species of the world
- Wikinews - a collaborative journalism site
- Wikiversity - a free educational resource repository
- Wikidata - a structured data repository used by all Wikimedia projects
- Wikivoyage - a free travel information site
- MediaWiki - the open source wiki software behind all our public websites
The Wikimedia Foundation is not affiliated with WikiLeaks.
If I donate to the Wikimedia Foundation, where does my money go?
Donations to the Wikimedia Foundation help sustain free knowledge through Wikipedia and its sister projects for people around the world. Your contributions pay for technology to operate the projects, Wikimedia programs and initiatives, grants to support the community of volunteers, and staff salaries.
Where can I find more financial information?
The Wikimedia Foundation 2013–14 annual report covers the fiscal year from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. The Foundation's annual report shares some of the voices of the tens of thousands of people who make the Wikimedia movement possible. The 2014-2015 Annual Report will be released in January 2016.
The 2015-2016 Annual Plan describes our budget for the current fiscal year. It contains a summary of our strategic goals, financial details on spending and revenue, and detailed explanations and risk analysis.
How is the Wikimedia Foundation run?
The Wikimedia Foundation has a staff of roughly 280, led by Executive Director Lila Tretikov. The staff supports the work of the tens of thousands of volunteers who contribute content to the Wikimedia projects. The Wikimedia Foundation is also supported by countless volunteers participating through committees, as interns, or on an ad hoc basis. Your support also pays for servers, bandwidth, and Internet hosting that allow us to keep the Wikimedia projects running and improving.
The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees articulates the mission and vision of the Wikimedia Foundation, reviews and helps to develop long term plans, provides oversight, and supports the Wikimedia Foundation's fundraising efforts.
How is the Wikimedia Foundation funded?
The Wikimedia Foundation is funded primarily through donations from millions of individuals around the world. The average donation is quite small, but the sheer number of donations we receive have allowed us to continue to serve our mission. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts (see benefactors).
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 tax deductibility for details. Click here for details on how to make a donation via credit or debit card, PayPal, Amazon, and several other methods. If you have any questions, please contact us at donatewikimedia.org.
Why doesn't Wikipedia use ads for revenue?
We are not considering advertising as a source of revenue. We do not believe that advertising belongs in a project devoted to free, reliable, and neutral knowledge. Introducing commercial interests could jeopardize Wikipedia’s reliability as a neutral source of information. Our global volunteer community has always felt that advertising would have a major effect on our ability to stay neutral, and ultimately ads would weaken readers' overall confidence in the articles they read on Wikipedia.
We are not against the world of online advertising, nor are we against other organizations that host ads. We just know ads are not appropriate in a project devoted to education and knowledge – and especially one that strives for balance and neutrality.
What are your plans? Where is this going?
The Wikimedia Foundation’s vision asks us to Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We're serious about this vision. We aspire to not only reach everyone, anywhere in the world, but to include new and diverse voices on Wikipedia. These are some of the activities we're focused on right now:
Operating one the world's largest web properties. At its heart, the Wikimedia Foundation requires operational excellence to continue to keep Wikipedia online and thriving. Our aim is to provide the best possible site experience to everyone in the world, to maximize uptime, and to ensure that all the information in Wikimedia projects is safe and secure.
Photograph: Wikimedia Foundation servers in our Texas hosting facility. (by Victor Grigas CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Providing access to Wikipedia everywhere. We need to make sure that our sites and services support a multi-platform experience, including on mobile. Our work with the Wikipedia Zero program, the program aimed at providing free access to Wikipedia on mobile devices in the Global South, is one of the ways we’re expanding Wikipedia’s reach across the globe.This work is just a start, and we’re constantly looking for new ways to reach more people in more parts of the world.
Photograph: Wikipedia mobile app for Android. (by Sage Ross CC-BY-SA 4.0)
Creating new tools for editors. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to contribute knowledge, and to give volunteers and readers great tools for assessing and improving article quality. For example, one of our latest tools, the Content Translation Tool, has been used to translate more than 30,000 new articles on Wikipedia.
Video: Demonstration of Content Translation Tool. (by Pau Giner CC-BY-SA 4.0)
Supporting outreach and community initiatives worldwide. With the Wikimedia community, we support and develop a variety of events, initiatives, and outreach campaigns around the world. Some are targeted at bringing in new volunteers; some give the community space to reflect and further improve their work. Recognizing the value of people coming together because they are passionate about Wikimedia's mission has been key to our success.
Photograph: Wikimania 2015. (by Diego Delso CC-BY-SA 4.0)
Informing our decision-making with facts and data. The Wikimedia Foundation Statistics Portal provides a wealth of up-to-date research that helps us understand the impact of our work. Research projects provide us with in-depth analysis and experiments, supported by the volunteer-driven Research Committee. Analytics, research, experiments, and forecasts are essential to make good decisions in a complex environment like Wikimedia.
Photograph: Wikimedia Foundation monthly metrics meeting. (by Fabrice Florin CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Everything we do at the Foundation is aimed at providing you, and the rest of the world, with free and immediate access to all the world's knowledge. Join us!
How can I donate via debit or credit card?
To donate using any major credit or debit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express), PayPal, bank transfer, Amazon, and many other methods; please visit our Ways to Give page. Our donation options support many (although not all) currencies.
What other options exist to allow me to donate?
Alternative ways to donate to the Wikimedia Foundation include:
- setting up an automatic monthly gift
- sending a check via regular mail
- making a stock donation
- using your employer's matching gift program
- including the Wikimedia Foundation in your estate or legacy giving plans
- making a Bitcoin donation
Why does the Wikimedia Foundation accept Bitcoin?
The Wikimedia Foundation, as a donor-driven organization, has a fiduciary duty to be responsible and prudent with its money, while striving to provide as many methods of donating as possible. Our donors indicated that they were interested in supporting us through Bitcoin, so after some initial research, we set up a method to accept those donations. You can also read our blog post for more information about donating via Bitcoin.
Are my donations tax-deductible?
Please refer to the information on tax-deductibility for the details of tax-deductions and tax receipts.
Why is there a minimum donation?
Our donations range widely in size, and we try to offer as low a minimum as possible. The minimum donation is helpful in deterring unauthorized uses of financial information.
What is your refund policy?
If for any reason you wish to have your donation refunded, please contact us via email at donatewikimedia.org. We will need the following information in order to process your refund:
- Date of donation (All refund requests must be made within 90 days of donation)
- Amount donated (Donations above USD $10,000 are considered major donations and are subject to the applicable grant agreement between the Foundation and the donor)
- Full name
- Payment method used (credit card, PayPal, check etc.-- please do not include credit card numbers in your email)
- Country of origin
- Reason for the refund
Please note that some payment methods may not support refunds, or require refunds to be made through the payment method (card) utilized, so additional information may be required to process your refund. All refunds will be processed as quickly as possible, but processing times may vary depending on the payment method.
We can only refund Bitcoin donations in Bitcoin. Because we do not store Bitcoins, refunds will be calculated based on the U.S. Dollar amount we received via instant exchange at the time of the donation, using our payment processor's Bitcoin sell rate when the refund is issued. The Wikimedia Foundation is not responsible for any change in value based on fluctuating exchange rates.
What can I do to help you spread the word of Wikipedia?
Spread the word any way you can! Tell your friends, family, and peers what Wikipedia means to you. Ask them if they use it and if so, what it means to them. You can also connect with our social media channels below and share Wikimedia stories with your network.
How can I contact the Foundation?
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us. For donation questions you can email donatewikimedia.org.