wiki

Wikipedia is swimming in money—why is it begging people to donate? – The Daily Dot

Summary

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the non-profit that owns Wikipedia and other volunteer-written websites, is about to reach its 10-year goal of creating a $100 million endowment five years earlier than it planned. Its total funds, which have risen by about $200 million over the past five years, now stand at around $300 million. Its revenue has risen every year. In just the first nine months of its current financial year, it has raked in $142 million in donations according to an in…….

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the non-profit that owns Wikipedia and other volunteer-written websites, is about to reach its 10-year goal of creating a $100 million endowment five years earlier than it planned. Its total funds, which have risen by about $200 million over the past five years, now stand at around $300 million. Its revenue has risen every year. In just the first nine months of its current financial year, it has raked in $142 million in donations according to an internal document—and already obliterated its previous annual record.

This news may surprise donors and users around the world who have seen Wikipedia fundraising banners displayed at various times during the past year—including, for the first time, in India. Presently shown to readers in pandemic-ridden Latin America, these banners have created a widespread impression that the WMF must be struggling to keep Wikipedia up-and-running, with tearful-sounding messages like: “This Thursday Wikipedia really needs you. This is the 10th appeal we’ve shown you. 98% of our readers don’t give; they look the other way … We ask you, humbly, don’t scroll away.”

But keeping Wikipedia online is a task that the WMF could comfortably manage on $10 million a year, according to a casual 2013 estimate by Erik Möller, its VP of engineering and product development at the time. So what does the WMF do with all the money? It has used the funds to hire hundreds of additional staff and put money aside for a rainy day. It has ambitious plans to “become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge.” And it is prepared to tell Wikipedia readers it really needs their money when it is richer than ever.

When the WMF announced the creation of an endowment with the Tides Foundation in January 2016, on Wikipedia’s 15th birthday, its goal was to accumulate $100 million over 10 years, as “a permanent source of funding to ensure Wikipedia thrives for generations to come.” 

Just five years later, the endowment passed $90 million, and the $100 million mark, now described as an “initial goal,” will be reached this year. Major donations from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others have been supplemented by legacy gifts—and $25 million from the WMF itself. 

It’s noteworthy that money donated to the endowment is not included in the WMF’s reported net assets ($180 million as of last June) or annual revenue ($130 million). Money the WMF pays into the endowment, however, is recorded under expenditures (“Awards and Grants”). These two facts disguise that the WMF has effectively operated with a far larger surplus for the past five years than its financial statements indicate—they “only” show a $100 million increase in net assets over that time period. In reality, the WMF’s total funds have increased by twice as much.

The endowment is not the only money Wikimedia funnels to the Tides Foundation. Last year, when the WMF literally had more money than it knew what to do with, with community events canceled due to …….

Source: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/wikipedia-endownemnt-fundraising/