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Wikipedia’s Plea For Donations – Why Do They Need Donations?

27 November 2010 | 7 comments | Jobs, Mortgage, Recent News

Did I Read That Correctly – Wikipedia Needs Donations?

If you have been to Wikipedia lately, which I’ll assume yes because it is pretty much impossible to NOT be there, then you have seen the personal plea for donations from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Wiki Plea

Wales said, “I got a lot of funny looks ten years ago when I started talking to people about Wikipedia.”

You got funny looks then, well you deserve funny looks now.


Why Does Wikipedia Need Donations – Emphasis on the WHY?

According to the plea, Wikipedia needs donations to cover its operating expenses of about 6 million dollars per year which pays the salaries of its 23 employees, as well as the additional costs of managing the website. Wales says:

Your donation helps us in several ways. Most importantly, you will help us cover the increasing cost of managing global traffic to one of the most popular websites on the Internet. Funds also help us improve the software that runs Wikipedia — making it easier to search, easier to read, and easier to write for.

Wikipedia NEEDS More Money Do They?

Okay, before we get our credit cards out let’s just do the due diligence first.   It’s a good cause and all, but we should really make sure they really do need it. (sarcasm intended)

Let’s look at the Balance Sheet First

Balance Sheet Test – FAILED

Balance Sheet Data ( Source Data )

  • Net Worth June 30, 2010: $15,425,177
  • Net Worth June 30, 2009: $8,602,135

Wiki has a Net Worth around $15.4 Million

Let’s be good citizens and continue the due-diligence.  I’ve heard varying reports of the number of employees, however the report that I trust was a Wiki source and it said 24 employees and that they wished to double that number next year. So my search for the need for cash will assume 24 employees.

Wikimedia Foundation Triva

The foundation is exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and from state income tax under Chapter 220.13 of the Florida Statues and Sections 23701(d) of Revenue and Taxation Code of the State of California.

What is Wikipedia spending money on now?

Interesting Summary Data

  • Travel Expenses per Employee: $19,860.96
  • Average Employee Wage & Salary: $146,180.67
  • Internet Hosting Costs $1,056,703 yet they received .5Million in donated hosting and bandwidth
  • Mysterious Expense Called “Operating” with no other details: $3.846 Million up by over 300% from 2009

So where were the increases from 2009 to 2010?

“Operating”?  Expense was the biggest expense increase at over 300% from 2009 to 2010

$1.2 Million in 2009  more than tripled to $3.8 Million in 2010

The one expense that they don’t provide detail on bloated by 300%

** keep in mind we’ve already paid the lease, wages & salary, hosting, losses on lease sublet, in-kind expenses, Travel, and “Other”

Brand New Expenses for 2010 – Stuff They must have needed

Special event expense: $70,407

Awards & Grants: $208,662

Supporting Details of Data Above

Travel Expenses for 2010: $476,663

$19,860.96 per employee!

Higher than 99% of the real corporate world (e.g. NON non-profit organizations), the one that Wiki competes against for SERP position.

Wages & Salary

Salary & Wages for 2010: $3,508,336 of which was broken into three categories Projects, G&A, Fundraising however it was all recorded as Salary and Wages

Salary & Wages for 2010:

$146,180.67 Average Employee Salary

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

Why We Should NOT Donate to Wikipedia?

The economy is in the trash, people are being thrown out of their houses in record numbers, the jobless rate is at an unsustainable rate, the US government has gone so far into debt that they have surpassed the threshold at which not any government with paper currency has EVER recovered.

If we were to experience minor “above average” inflation, the GDP would be catastrophically negative.  At average inflation rates GDP decrease is… unthinkable.

I’m no economist, but when I see reports coming out from professors at Harvard warning us Americans that debt should be our number ONE concern then I’m going to listen to them and not the snake oil salesman we’ve got working in D.C.

If you’ve got the stomach for the full report here is the link, Entire Harvard Economic Report

When looking at these charts you’ll notice they are broken into 0-30% Debt, 30-60, 60-90, and > 90%.    We (USA) are well beyond 90% and into unchartered territory.   I quote from the report, “Seldom do countries simply ‘grow’ their way out of deep debt burdens”.   I’m am normally an optimist but how can you find optimism in that?

Lets end my personal RANT with Mr. Wales final plea for money… blah, blah, blah

Each year at this time, we reach out to ask you and others all across the Wikimedia community to help sustain our joint enterprise with a modest donation of $20, $35, $50 or more.

If you value Wikipedia as a source of information – and a source of inspiration – I hope you’ll choose to act right now.

All the best,

Jimmy Wales

Founder, Wikipedia

Thanks for the Wiki Mr. Wales.  By the way, you should have done your homework before the plea, sincerity is one of the most difficult things to fake.

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.  Then maybe take some of that money and spread it around the world where it is needed most.


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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  1. Mike November 29, 2010

    Amen brother! Apparently there are at least two of us who were wondering why the plea. Unfortunately I am not one that feels we can’t live without Wikipedia. Sure it’s nice to check stuff out, but honestly if it is something I have to be sure about, I always find another reference. Forget that academic institutions don’t allow Wiki quotations, there is just something, rather icky-like quoting Wikipedia.

  2. jo November 30, 2010

    Like many organizations, Wikipedia is a start-up. They have established proof of concept in their English Wikipedia, but they are now looking to scale out to include every country or language in the entire world and every kind of knowledge which can be captured online. Their mission is pretty bold, expansive, and radical and is simply not reflected in their past operating expenses. It’s venture capital, guys. Get with it.

  3. X December 1, 2010

    I would like to know how exactly donating to Wikipedia relates to U.S. government debt. Would donating to Wikipedia increase U.S. government debt?

    • DisplacedGuy December 1, 2010

      The headline for that paragraph was “Why we should not donate to Wikipedia”, and what I was thinking is that if we donated any money maybe it should be to pay down the national debt, to improve the chances that our government collapse, and world economy collapse might not happen. Wiki competes with normal taxpaying businesses for advertising, technology, bandwidth and to make matters worse Wiki, is in my humble opinion abusing the non-profit status. So in a small (very very tiny) part it does relate by hurting taxpaying business but it wasn’t my main point. I was really ranting about two things, the other being the national debt.

      Your point is taken, I admit there is no measurable relationship between donating to Wiki and the national debt. I didn’t properly convey my thoughts in that paragraph and apologize to my readers.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Any comments, even criticism are appreciated.

  4. Registered nurse December 14, 2010

    What a great resource!

  5. jobs in atlanta georgia December 20, 2010

    While we’re on the subject of Wikipedia’s Plea For Donations – Why Do They Need Donations? – The Displaced Guy, It is only but natural to acquire concerned about a fantastic job opportunity, since it isn’t an easy chore to appear for any job. There was a time when a job hunter literally needed to turn into a hunter as a way to catch the kill. 1 had to wake up early and get in line for many interviews. Even just before that, a job seeker had to sift via various classified advertisements within the every day newspaper or undergo a record with the jobs out there at that time.

  6. Kim December 28, 2010

    I agree with you 100%, when I first saw the “plea” I thought why????? But of course scrounging around for money from the needy and giving it to the rich has ALWAYS been the way of the world….. ENTER ROBIN HOOD PLEASE!


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