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Wikipedia collects record $20 million in latest fundraiser

January 4, 2012 | 11:21 am

Wikipedia-2011-fundraiser

There's something kind of heartwarming about the annual Wikipedia fundraiser, which came to a close Jan. 1.

Each year, the world's fifth-most popular Web property asks its monthly 470 million users to pony up some money to keep the gears turning at Wikimedia's San Francisco headquarters, and each year the world responds by sending donations in varying amounts, from $5 to $500,000.

This year the company raised more than $20 million. The money came from more than 1 million donors in almost every country in the world.

It's the most the organization has ever raised since it started the annual fundraiser in 2003.

"Our model is working fantastically well," Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement. "Ordinary people use Wikipedia and they like it, so they chip in some cash so it will continue to thrive. That maintains our independence and lets us focus solely on providing a useful public service."

Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia, says it will use the money to pay for new hardware, enhance the site's functionality, provide legal representation for its projects, support the large community of Wikimedia volunteers and expand its mobile services.

The organization said that its 2011-12 operating budget is $28.3 million. The rest of the money will come from grants and additional donations collected year-round.

Wikipedia has 20 million articles in 282 languages and more than 100,000 volunteers worldwide who contribute to and vet Wikipedia content.

The site also has a birthday coming up. According to the release, Jan. 15 marks the 11th anniversary of the online encyclopedia.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: A screen grab of the Wikipedia homepage.

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