Wikipedia reaches $16 Million Goal, But Won't Loosen Up on Ad Money
It's just like the end of pledge week on public television or public radio: the pleading and wheedling for money is finally over. Wikipedia, the go-to site for, well, just about anything you want to know, has finally met its $16 million fundraising goal and every page you hit won't start with a plea from the founder begging for donations.
Pledge drives are a necessary evil in this world if an organization is determined to avoid advertising to generate revenue, but the same drives put a real strain on people who use the services. It's bad enough if you've only hopped on Wikipedia once to get a little background on an obscure British king. But if you actually did donate money to the site, you can't shut off the begging—it continues as if you haven't donated a penny.
"…This year we celebrate Wikipedia's Tenth Anniversary. It's so important that we kick the year off just like this: by fully funding the Wikipedia Foundation's budget to support Wikipedia and all the sister projects as we head into the next decade of work together."
He reports that more than half a million donations averaging $22 apiece were made to the foundation, while local Wikipedia chapters generated another 130,000 donations worldwide.
He goes on to say that Wikipedia is the number five Web site in the world, yet runs with a staff of only 50 people. "The other top Web sites have thousands of people."
This is all laudatory, but one wonders how long Wikipedia can keep it up. By accepting no advertising at all, it's bound to put its users through another painful pledge drive at some point in the future. People get tired of the whining and there are other places to find basic information free of charge. Accepting a donation from a corporate philanthropic arm is not the end of the world. Even, horrors!, Microsoft has been known to give money with no strings attached to organizations dedicated to the public good.Continued on the next page