Friday, January 7, 2011
Maybe Wikipedia should run ads....
Wikipedia, which I think we can all agree has become a vital cultural and democratic resource, just finished their 2010 global fundraising campaign (if you didn't donate, here's where you can).
Guess how much they got from our grateful planet?
$16 million. From ALL of humanity.
To put this in perspective for those unfamiliar with fundraising, the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, where I used to work, had an annual campaign of $4.3 million from approximately 18,000 potential donors. So Wikipedia, which has billions of potential donors, only got four times more money? Actor Ed Norton plans to raise more than that in a NYC Marathon fundraiser.
I'm not bringing this up to diss Wikipedia's fundraisers, but to show that a vitally important, and growing, cultural resource is pretty much scraping by. They have server farms all over the planet and these require a LOT of money - at least $10 million a year.
So even though they doubled their fundraising from $7.5 million in 2009 to $16 million in 2010, which is impressive, they running a pretty lean show. What if another recession comes and wipes out their revenue? The people they rent space and bandwidth from don't care who their tenants are, they want $$$$.
Important institutions - libraries, police, museums, schools - either have built-in taxpayer support or advertising campaigns and tie-ins to bring in money, or both. Widipedia has neither, and it's just as important.
Coming from a fundraising background I know how fickle donors can be, and how difficult it is to run a non-profit of any size. Given our reliance on Wikipedia, maybe the "no ads" model is just too risky...