In a nutshell, what is Wikipedia? And what is the Wikimedia Foundation?
Wikipedia is the world's largest and most popular encyclopedia. It is online, free to use for any purpose, and free of advertising. Wikipedia contains more than 35 million volunteer-authored articles in over 288 languages, and is visited by more than 439 million people every month, making it one of the most popular sites in the world.
It is a collaborative creation that has been added to and edited by millions of people during the past twelve years: anyone can edit it, at any time. It has become the largest collection of shared knowledge in human history. The people who support it are united by their love of learning, their intellectual curiosity, and their awareness that we know much more together than any of us does alone.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Together these sites are the fifth most visited web property in the world. The Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA. You can review our letter of tax-exemption and our financial reports and annual filings.
Our mission is to empower a global volunteer community to collect and develop the world's knowledge and to make it available to everyone for free, for any purpose. We work together with a network of chapters in many different countries to achieve this goal.
If I donate to the Wikimedia Foundation, where does my money go?
Money you donate pays for staff salaries and technology. Even though Wikipedia and its sister projects together reach 439 million people every month, we employ only 276 people; see our staff overview.
Our staff is divided into three program departments: technology (website operations, software development); legal, communications, and community advocacy (public outreach, community programs, legal defense); and learning and grantmaking (supporting chapter programs and growing Wikimedia worldwide). The remainder of our staff work in management, finance, and administration. Your support also pays for servers, bandwidth, and Internet hosting that allow us to keep Wikimedia's projects running and growing.
Above all, the Wikimedia Foundation exists to support and grow the vast network of volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia and its sister projects – more than 80,000 people around the world.
Which projects do you support?
The Wikimedia Foundation supports a number of projects including Wikipedia. We also lead and support the development of MediaWiki, the open source wiki software behind all our public websites.
The Wikimedia Foundation is not affiliated with WikiLeaks.
More information may be found on the page about our projects.
Is the Wikipedia Education Initiative a project of the Wikimedia Foundation?
No. The Wikipedia Education Initiative is not a project of the Wikimedia Foundation. So donations to the Wikipedia Education Initiative do not fund Wikipedia or its sister projects.
How is the Wikimedia Foundation run?
The Wikimedia Foundation has a staff of 276, led by the Executive Director, Lila Tretikov. The staff supports the work of the hundreds 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.
The 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. It is the ultimate organizational authority of the Wikimedia Foundation as defined in its bylaws. See Meetings for published Board minutes and Resolutions for published Board resolutions. The Board is comprised of ten members, with three seats elected directly by the Wikimedia community; two seats selected by the Wikimedia chapters; one Board-appointed "community founder" seat (reserved for Jimmy Wales); and four Board-appointed "specific expertise" seats. The Board is supported by an Advisory Board.
We have an office, located in San Francisco, California (USA), where most of our employees work. All Board members and remaining staff work remotely.
We strive to operate highly transparently, and have published key policies and financial information.
How is the Wikimedia Foundation funded?
The Wikimedia Foundation is funded primarily through
from hundreds of thousands of individuals, but also through several grants and gifts of servers and hosting (see benefactors).
The Wikimedia Foundation receives donations from more than 50 countries around the world. The average donation is quite small, but their sheer numbers have ensured our success. People make contributions year-round, and once a year the Wikimedia Foundation makes a formal request for donations.
We are not considering advertising as a source of revenue.
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/debit card, PayPal, Amazon, or by postal mail. For all other types of donation, please contact us through donatewikimedia.org.
Why doesn't Wikipedia use ads for revenue?
We do not believe that advertising belongs in a project devoted to education, and one that is driven by the values consistent with a balanced, neutral encyclopedia. Our big, global volunteer community (the people who make Wikipedia) have always felt that advertising would have a major effect on our ability to stay neutral, and ultimately ads would weaken the readers' overall confidence in the articles they are reading.
We are not against the world of online advertising, nor are we against other organizations that host ads. We just know ads are not an appropriate thing to find in a project devoted to education and knowledge – and especially one that strives for balance and neutrality.
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; 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:
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 investigation, we set up a method to accept those donations. See our blog post for more information about it.
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?
We receive small donations from people who don't have much money, and we are really, really grateful to those donors.
Unfortunately it is not uncommon for people to use donation mechanisms such as ours to test stolen credit cards to see if they work. Those people typically use a very small amount for their testing: a $1 minimum donation amount seems to deter them.
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)
- Payment method used (credit card, bank transfer, E-wallet, ...)
Please note that some payment methods may not support refunds, or require refunds to be made through the payment method (card) utilised, 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?
Spread the word any way you can! Tell your friends and family. Tell them what Wikipedia means to you. Ask them if they use it and if so, what it means to them. Use this text as the signature file on the bottom of your emails:
We’ve created the greatest collection of shared knowledge in history. Help protect Wikipedia. Donate now: https://donate.wikimedia.org
Join us on social media by following our social media accounts:
How can I contact the Foundation?
If you still have questions or concerns please feel free to contact us. For donation questions you can email donatewikimedia.org