In the 20 years since Wikipedia was born, it has grown to become a valued and beloved knowledge destination for millions across the globe. Now with over 55 million articles, its growth has been fueled by a global volunteer force and donors who explore and visit the site regularly. Supported by contributions from readers around the world, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, works to ensure the site remains accurate and ad-free, while supporting the free knowledge infrastructure that makes 18 billion monthly visits to the site possible.
Reader support has allowed Wikipedia to celebrate 20 years as the world’s only major website run by a nonprofit organization. We continue to rely on this generosity as the need for accurate, neutral information, created in the public interest becomes ever-more acute. Here are five reasons why you should support free knowledge work:
- Ensuring the long term independence of Wikipedia and other projects that keep knowledge free
“Wikipedia is a unique entity that continues to add value in the lives of me and my loved ones. I feel that the crowd funded nature of Wikipedia’s balance substantially contributes to Wikipedia’s immaterial values. Whenever I have money and wikipedia is in need, I will contribute.”Donor in the Netherlands
Part of the role of the Wikimedia Foundation is to ensure that the independence of Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects is never compromised. The majority of the funding for the Wikimedia Foundation comes from millions of individual donors around the world who give an average of $15 USD. This model preserves our independence by reducing the ability of any one organization or individual to influence our decisions. It also aligns directly with our values, creating accountability with our readers. You can read more about how our revenue model protects our independence in the Wikimedia Foundation’s guiding principles.
Our legal and policy teams also work to uphold our independence, protecting our projects from censorship and advocating for laws that uphold free expression and open up knowledge for anyone to use. Support for this work is essential to securing everyone’s right to access, share and contribute to knowledge-building.
- Keeping Wikipedia safe, secure and inclusive
Wikimedia values — transparency, privacy, inclusion, and accessibility — are built into our technology. Just around 250 engineering and product staff at the Wikimedia Foundation work with our servers to ensure our projects are always available. That means one technical employee for every four million monthly Wikipedia readers!
As technology platforms increasingly deal with new threats and risks from bad actors, we develop tools and features that protect editor privacy, maintain security, and respond to attacks. We also work to improve our projects, making them more accessible to people with disabilities, or those who primarily access our sites on mobile. Wikipedia projects are built with the intention to keep bandwidth costs low for readers, so that it’s easy for anyone, anywhere to enjoy their value.
The open source software maintained by our engineers in cooperation with volunteers around the world, MediaWiki, powers our projects and supports more than 300 languages, many more than any other major online platform. This empowers our communities to make content accessible in more languages than you will find on any other top ten website, and it puts our software on the leading edge of global outreach.
- Supporting the global Wikimedia volunteer community to help fill knowledge gaps and improve our projects
Supported by Foundation grants, Wikimedia volunteer and affiliate campaigns continue to make notable contributions to the free knowledge movement.
For example, some affiliates are working to add new media files to Wikimedia Commons, the world’s largest free-to-use library of illustrations, photos, drawings, videos, and music:
- In Europe, Wikimedia UK’s partnership with the Khalili Collections, to share more than 1,500 high-resolution images of items from across eight collections, now sees the uploaded images getting more than two million views per month.
- Additionally, this year’s Wiki Loves Africa campaign resulted in over 8,319 images and 56 video files contributed by 1,149 photographers. The campaign challenges stereotypes and negative visual narratives about Africa. Since the collection began in January 2016, over 72,300 images have been loaded to the platform under a Creative Commons license and have been viewed 787 million times.
With paywalls and price tags increasingly placed on content, the growing collection of free use files on Wikimedia Commons is becoming even more vital to our efforts to expose people around the world to new sights, art, and cultures.
- Building a future for greater knowledge equity
Our vision is to create a world in which every human can share in the sum of all knowledge. We know that we are far from achieving that goal and that large equity gaps remain in our projects. From content drives, to inclusive product design and research, there are several ways Wikimedia projects work to advance knowledge equity to ensure diverse, more equitable, accessible and inclusive initiatives. Our Wikimedia in Education initiative, for example, promotes equity in education by expanding access to linguistically and culturally relevant open educational resources, and provides opportunities for teachers and students to participate in knowledge production. In 2020, the Foundation joined UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, allowing us to discover new ways to support education for people and communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Making sure you know that we use your donations responsibly
The Wikimedia Foundation has a two-decade-long track record of using resources efficiently, transparently, and in service of impact — which is why independent nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator gives us its highest overall ratings for accountability and transparency. It’s also why nonprofit research organization GuideStar gives us its Platinum Seal of Transparency. We remain committed to making the best use of donor funds to support Wikipedia.
We invite you to support our mission. You can make a donation to Wikipedia at donate.wikimedia.org. For more information about the Wikimedia Foundation’s fundraising program, please see the 2020-2021 Fundraising Report. For additional information about donating, see our list of Frequently Asked Questions. Thank you!