Wikipedia’s Plea For Money – How Much Money Do They Need Want?

This is an opinion-article about the non-profit organization Wikimedia Foundation (a.k.a. Wikipedia) and takes a skeptical, perhaps cynical view of the yearly pleas for money by Wikimedia Foundation and one of the more well known founders Jimmy Wales.   In fairness to Wikipedia please know this article is biased and unbalanced like most of the stuff mainstream media calls “news”.

I used to be young and naive and like a pendulum swings from one extreme to another I find myself cynical and distrustful.  This is my third “Why Does Wikipedia Need Your Money” rant article.  The first two ( 20102011 ) were written because I felt there were better places to donate money to make the world a better place and this one is for the same basic reasons including the fact that readers have requested an update for 2012.

Wikipedia Fundraising Has A Professional Feel For 2012

Let’s start out giving credit where it is due, the fund-raising effort on Wikipedia is much less obnoxious looking than it did in prior years.  In comparison the fund-raising banner for 2012 might even be considered professional in appearance.  The yellow pull-down-tab look is a welcome change from prior years in which we had Jimmy Wales looking at us and putting us on a guilt trip for not donating but don’t let the fancy new look trick you into skipping the due-diligence before donating.

New and more professional looking fund-raising look for 2012

Wikipedia and James Wales Need Donations of Money

Compared to the old banner we’ll never forget

Wiki Plea

What Does Wikipedia Want Your Money For?

It is clear that Wikipedia has more than enough money for operations but before covering that we should ask what will Wikipedia do with your money should you decide to donate it.  Persons donating money to Wikipedia should be aware that Jimmy Wales is using the Wikipedia’s name to influence public opinion on issues that are outside the scope of the foundations mission statement and are therefore misuse of the donated money.

One case in point is reported on NBC News where Mr. Wales was publicly supporting a British student wanted in the US for running an illegal content sharing website.  I tend to side with Wikimedia and Jimmy Wales on the controversial issues so far but it isn’t about whether I agree or not it is about using the non-profit organization (like a library or private park as Mr. Wales would say) for his own personal agendas.

Wikipedia NEEDS More Money Do They?

According to Jimmy Wales Wikipedia needs your money to pay for servers, power, rent and staff like other companies that run large websites.  Mr. Wales implies that they need a lot of money because their site serves millions of people on a staff of 150 people.  My website serves a couple hundred thousand people on a staff of zero and a hosting budget of $108 and I have to create my own content.  Wikipedia runs the software and servers while a global volunteer community of 85 million people create 23 million articles for Wikimedia foundation!

I’d be willing to bet Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook) could run Wikipedia using Amazon Cloud Services and a couple dozen highly compensated (like Wikipedia’s developers) and talented developers.

OK, let’s just trust Wikipedia for now and see how much they have now and how much they need.

How Much Does Wikimedia Want?

The latest fund raising banner says $3 bucks should be enough if everyone reading donated and the same banner said there were 450 million readers so that works to roughly $1.7 trillion dollars.  I can’t imagine they want this much but they seem to love cash.

How Much Money Does Wikimedia Have and What Are They Worth?

Around $21.9 million in CASH and cash equivalents according to the 2012 balance sheet about double the cash they had in 2011.  Wikimedia Foundations’ net worth increased from $26 Million in 2012 to $36 Million in 2012


How Financially Sound is Wikimedia Compared to For-Profit Corporations?

All amounts are in Millions of dollars based on most current balance sheet data.  The GM & Pfizer 2012 numbers taken from quarterly reports as yearly reports are not final.  Wikipedia still has financial health that rivals that of General Motors & Pfizer combined!  Wikipedia’s net worth increases slowed from nearly 100% to around 50% yearly.   The slowdown in net-worth is likely attributed to the fact that Wikipedia found a way to burn-cash faster in 2012 ($29 M) to nearly double what expenses were in 2012 ($17 M).  

One could argue that the loss of either GM or Pfizer would be more detrimental to society than the loss of Wikimedia foundation but we aren’t here to debate that issue.   The point here is that Wikimedia Foundation is flush with cash yet  they continue whine about needing money.

Not only is Wikimedia financially flush, they hurt for-profit companies by competing for thousands of Ad-Words to improve SERP position.

Company 2009 2010 2011 2012
Wikipedia $8.6 M $15.4 M $26.1 M $37.2 M
General Motors -$23.9 M -$7.4 M $-0.9 M $4.3 M *
Pfizer  -$20.3 M -$13.6 M -$16.7 M -$9.8 M *

* From Wikimedia Foundation financial statements for 2012 as prepared by KPMG.

How Is Wikimedia Spending Donated Money Now?

Let’s just say if you can get a job working for Wikimedia you will be doing better than most.  The Wikimedia employees enjoy above average salaries and they get to spend extraordinarily high amounts travelling the world and attending conferences.

Here are some statistics based on the 150 employees at Wikimedia

Average Salary & Wages Per Employee:  $78,330

Average Special Event, Travel & Conference Expense  Per Employee:  $22,812

Don’t you love non-profit organizations?   They are one of the BEST places to work.

Wikipedia – A Temple For the Mind

Wikipedia brags about keeping the site advertisement free and being a “temple for the mind”.  The very same temple for the mind being used to push Jimmy Wales’ political agendas or sway public opinion about a developer accused of running illegal websites.  Why don’t you just run the ads Jimmy nobody really cares?

Just a little about me…

Let me say that I am all for donating to charity and helping others.  I even made my own a plea for donations once on this site via blog post.  My plea, to get people to help the Red Cross with the crisis in Japan happened to around when I was on the bench and times were rough.  This website got shut down (for a few days) because I could not afford the $19 (now $9) hosting fees.  My point… I do have compassion and believe in charity.

Some Word Fun…

Wikipedia Implores you to send Loot Yearly


Pronunciation(ˈwīlē)  —adj.
Skilled at gaining an advantage, esp. deceitfully.

crafty – sly – artful – tricky – canny – shrewd

A Suggestion

Put the darn ads on Wikipedia nobody cares.  You’ll generate so much revenue from the ads that you won’t know what to do with it, being a non-profit.  The ad below this paragraph is a 336×280 one of the higher paying banner ads and one of the most obtrusive but it is hard to pass up.  This site averages an embarrassingly low click through rate and less than one click per day because audience is well-educated and associated with very lock click rates. One ad-click like the one below can pay a website owner around $1 per click and for some keywords up to $5.  A site like Wikipedia would get millions of visitors so even with a low CTR (click through rate) they would make a lot of money.  Then maybe take some of that money and spread it around the world where it is needed most.

[adrotate banner=”16″]


Rich (aka DisplacedGuy)

p.s.  To my beloved readers. I have avoided topics related to politics and other sensitive areas until now.   I apologize if this offends anyone.


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