If you happened to look up a term on Wikipedia sometime during the past few weeks, then you probably noticed a box at the top part of the page with a photo of someone from Wikipedia as well as a label saying, Please read: a personal appeal from (insert person’s name here). If you haven’t bothered to click on that link yet, allow me to give you the lowdown on what these personal appeals are all about—trust me, they’re worth your attention.
The individuals providing their personal appeals vary—they could be from a Wikipedia contributor, author, programmer, or even founder Jimmy Wales himself. All their written statements have one common theme, though: The Wikipedia family is asking for donations.
Wikipedia is a great source that provides a ton of information for free. It’s the number 5 website on the web, and it receives billions of page views per month. Wikipedia has 95 people in its staff and 679 servers that make it possible for us to download pictures, data, and do ample research without paying a cent and without having to see annoying ads. And while the passion and goodwill of millions of Wikipedia contributors and editors are certainly immense, the reality is that the website also needs money to be kept up and running. Servers need to be maintained, staff members need to eat, and it takes dough to help grow and develop the organization. Since the people behind Wikipedia are committed to keeping it ad-free, their main source of revenue has to come from users of the free encyclopedia. This is why Wikipedia is counting on our goodwill to help sustain the website.
The great news is, making a contribution to the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit org that operates Wikipedia) is quite easy and painless. You can enter the amount that you wish to donate or select from pre-set amounts of either $10, $15, $25, $30, $50, $75, or $100 and choose to contribute using your credit/debit card or Paypal. Alternatively, if you’re REALLY committed to the foundation, you can choose to set up a recurring donation which you can cancel any time. Want to pay by check? Simply send it to the Wikimedia Foundation PO Box in Washington, DC. (Their complete mailing address for checks is: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 98204 Washington, DC 20090-8204 USA).
The Wikimedia Foundation also accepts donations via payroll deductions, so if you own a company and you and your employees wish to donate, simply send the necessary paperwork to their PO Box in Washington, DC.
For more instructions on how to contribute, as well as further information (including tax deductible info,) visit Wikimedia’s Ways to Give page.
I have to admit, before reading the personal appeals of Jimmy Wales and other contributors, I haven’t really thought about what it takes to run Wikipedia. This free encyclopedia has certainly given me A LOT of help and knowledge, but that’s not the main reason why I decided to send a donation. Truth is, Wikipedia is one of the few sites nowadays that simply provides a service to its users without having to sell out. That, to me, is reason enough.