Since its emergence in 2001, we all became extremely dependent on Wikipedia. For most of us, Wikipedia is an online library that has every answer to our questions. From students to teachers to any inquisitive human, Wikipedia has become a necessity and at the same time a blessing.
But recently, the whole world was alarmed when Wikipedia started asking for donations from its users. The users were shocked and startled when they saw a red and white banner on the top of every wiki page asking for donations to keep the site up and running. The message read as “We ask you, humbly: don’t scroll away,” the message, now pinned atop every Wiki page, reads.
“We depend on donations from exceptional readers, but fewer than 2% give. If you donate just Rs 150, or whatever you can…Wikipedia could keep thriving. Thank you.” Well, this is not the first time that Wikipedia has started the fund-drive but many of the users started questioning why one of the world’s most popular websites needs a donation to survive.
As per the Similar Web, Wikipedia.org was the eight common sites in the world and has 5.2 billion visits in the July.
According to the founders of Wikipedia, it’s mission is to ensure that everyone in this world has access well as share in the free knowledge. The spokesperson of Wikipedia Foundation (Wikipedia’s parent organization) said that “ unlike other free websites, Wikipedia has never changed its business model. It has never relied on selling ads and has remained one of the few successful free sites on the Internet. You must have observed that there are no advertisements or sponsors that are carried on wiki’s page.
The website has a team of around 250 employees and 250,000 volunteers across the world. In the time-span of 20 years, Wikipedia is a repository with 50 million articles in around 300 languages. The donations help in paying the salaries to its staff members but the volunteers contribute their services to the website for free.
SO WHY IS WIKIPEDIA ASKING FOR DONATIONS
To provide free information to its users, Wikipedia uses a network of volunteers, contributors, editors, and engineers to expand its information and to make it available to users across the world for free. As Wikipedia doesn’t carry any advertisements or sponsors, the only source for funding remains the donations made by its readers.
A very little source of revenue is generated from selling the merchandise which includes notebooks, pencils, and t-shirts having Wikipedia brands. It has also many corporate contributors. Remarkably, last year, Amazon donated $1 million to the Wikipedia Foundation. So, due to fund-raising and corporate donations, there has been an exponential rise in the assets of Wikipedia. Also, as per the website, has the total asset of $165,641,425. Due to this, many people have criticized it for asking for donations.
When this question was askedthat why Wikipedia needs donation despite having enormous funds, its spokesperson replied that “As a website that hundreds of millions of people have come to rely on, we must ensure Wikipedia remains accessible, up to date, and relevant for its readers.”
In 2019, a detailed report was shared by the website, which revealed that about 49% of its annual financial gains were spent as direct support to the website; 32% was used for training, tools, events, and partnerships for its network of volunteers; 13% was spent to recruit and pay its staff members, and the remaining 12% was used for its various fundraising initiatives. It is a charitable organization; therefore, it has to ensure that it has adequate cash reserves for the adverse situations so that tomorrow if a donor suddenly decides to pull out, it has Funds to maintain itself.
“We hope the public in India, and in other countries, will consider making a contribution to Wikipedia with the same goal, and with an eye towards the future; it’s also the reason why our messages are written in that spirit,” said its founder.