Does Wikipedia Need More Donations?

Despite its annual appeal, the Internet’s favorite encyclopedia isn’t struggling.

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If you visited Wikipedia earlier this month, you couldn’t miss the banner along the top begging for donations. They do it every year, even though The Register says the money’s not needed…

In 2006, the foundation had just three employees, and operated on a budget of $3m. It was amateurish, too. In 2007 evaluators at Charity Navigator gave WMF just one star (out a possible five) for efficiency (a fact deleted from WMF’s Wikipedia page). The Wikimedia Foundation hired a convicted felon as its chief operating officer to look after its books while she was on parole. The executive’s convictions included cheque fraud and unlawfully wounding her boyfriend with a gunshot to the chest.

Today the foundation is a very different beast. It’s cash-rich – with a headcount of 119, 53 per cent higher than 2010/11 – and raised almost $35m in the last donations appeal. The architect of the latest highly aggressive funding drive is Sue Gardner, executive director of the WMF.

To be clear, Sue Gardner is not the “convicted felon” mentioned in that first paragraph: that’s Carolyn Bothwell Doran, who left in 2007.

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