Fundraising/2013-14 Report

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The Wikimedia Foundation raised $51 million USD in the 2013-14 fiscal year, including $37 million from more than 2.5 million donors through the foundations' s online fundraising. Online funds were raised through desktop, mobile and email campaigns worldwide, making this Wikimedia’s most successful fundraising campaign to date. The overwhelming majority of the Foundation's funding comes from individual Wikipedia readers from all over the world giving an average of $15 USD. Campaigns were run year-round in different countries for approximately two weeks per country. The team expanded A/B testing of banners to approximately 100 countries and 50 languages.

Donations help the Wikimedia Foundation maintain server infrastructure, support global projects to increase the number of editors, improve the software that supports our projects, and make Wikipedia and its sister projects globally accessible to millions of people.

Key Facts[edit]

Metric 2013-2014
# of donations 2,666,167
Total amount $51,070,659.50
Average donation including donations over $10,000 $19.14
Average donation for donations under $10,000 $14.97
Best day (# of donations; total $) 102,177; $1,458,000
Number of currencies accepted 70
Number of payment methods accepted 16
Number of banners tested 800+
Number of donations from email campaigns 161,565
Amount raised from email campaigns $4,374,764.56
Number of emails from readers that received a response from WMF 39,232

Note: Currency shown in USD from a donation period of July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014.

The total number of donations broken out by different donation amounts.
Biggest online fundraising day
Wikimedia Foundation Donation Map 2013-2014
The total revenue broken out by the portion coming from different donation amounts.

Fundraising Banners[edit]

Fundraising banners communicate the key facts about Wikipedia to compel readers to donate via an easy online process. Millions of Wikipedia readers around the world want to donate to support the project. It is the fundraising team's job to show informative reminders and to provide a convenient payment process to readers worldwide.

Wikipedia online fundraising is based on constant experimentation. A/B tests are run to optimize the design, message, and user experience of our fundraising banners with the goal of raising the budget, while limiting the number of banners each reader sees per year. Only a tiny portion of readers donate -- therefore, we must always be improving our methods.

2012 vs 2013 Fundraising Banners

Year-round, we tested more than 800 banners worldwide. During our year-end English campaign, we tested over 250 banners live on the site within about two weeks. Over the course of a year, we ran hundreds of tests of many different individual variables, making improvements each month. At the end of the year, the combined effect of all these individual changes had a 92% increase in the number of donations over the previous year.

Year-round online fundraising

The 2013-2014 fiscal year was the first year the team experimented with year-round fundraising. This does not mean that readers saw banners every day of the year. Banners were shown to a low percentage of users for limited impressions, typically just one to three banner impressions per reader per year. We also ran full campaigns with banners displayed to all readers for roughly two weeks.

Over the past four years, the fundraising team has succeeded in reducing the number of fundraising days to limit the disruption of the reading experience. In 2012, the campaign was only nine full days, the shortest fundraiser we've ever had. There are many Wikipedia readers who would be happy to donate who could completely miss a campaign of this length if they don't happen to visit Wikipedia in those nine days. We aim to educate all readers about Wikipedia through our fundraising messages. By displaying banners to readers at a limited level year-round, we are better able to reach each reader. This new continuous fundraising schedule enables the team to test new material and make progress every week to improve the performance of our banners throughout the entire year, instead of just a couple of weeks a year.

In previous years, the team ran banners in all countries and all languages in a year-end campaign. We've refined this schedule to better focus and optimize our fundraising abilities in each country. A full campaign was run in major English countries in December. Throughout the rest of the year, full campaigns were run internationally for roughly two weeks per country. This was the first year of the Foundation's year-round fundraising and there are still improvements to make. We will be refining the schedule in the next year.

International online fundraising

Throughout the year, campaigns were run internationally in roughly 80 languages. Tests were run in each country to optimize for the local currency, ask amounts, payment methods and language variations.

Mobile fundraising

Wikipedia's mobile readership has grown rapidly over the past couple of years. In 2013, the fundraising team began running mobile fundraising messages. While mobile fundraising presents great challenges, it also opens up a whole new opportunity for readers to donate in new ways. 2013 saw just the beginnings of mobile fundraising optimization experiments. Below are just a couple examples of these experiments.

Mobile Banner Text Test
Mobile Donation Amount Test

What’s next[edit]

The team will continue to run A/B tests year-round to find more effective ways to motivate our readers to donate while educating them about Wikipedia. The schedule of year-round international campaigns will be refined over the next year.

As Wikipedia’s mobile traffic increases, our efforts in mobile fundraising increase as well. We will rapidly expand our mobile A/B testing and technical development for new mobile payment methods.

Increased effort will be placed on our email campaigns. Every year as our donor database grows, our email program grows and makes up a more significant portion of the budget.

The bulk of the budget currently comes from desktop banners. The optimization of desktop fundraising will continue to be a major focus for the team. We will add technical improvements to facilitate the donation process internationally with the implementation of local preferred payment methods.

Educating Readers[edit]

Knowledge for Everyone, the documentary about the class who wrote the open letter requesting free access to Wikipedia. Also view on YouTube.com here and Vimeo.com here.
Sinenjongo High School students read their open letter. Also view on YouTube.com here
MTN South Africa responds to Sinenjongo High School. Also view on YouTube.com here.

A primary goal of the fundraiser is to educate all Wikipedia readers about the Wikimedia movement. For many readers around the world, primary access to the internet is via mobile. However, mobile data costs are a significant barrier to internet usage. Wikipedia Zero was created so that everyone can access all the free knowledge on Wikipedia, even if they can't afford the mobile data charges.

This year, our storytelling took us to South Africa to document a high school class who wrote an open letter on Facebook requesting free access to Wikipedia on their cellphones so that they can do their homework. In late 2013, we published a short video of the students reading their open letter and three months later, MTN South Africa (one of the mobile providers addressed in the students' open letter) signed up for Wikipedia Zero and published their own video in response. In mid 2014, we published a short documentary film about the class and created an online petition as a way to distribute the film, giving our users a way to engage with the story and further spread the message.

Reader Feedback[edit]

Here is what a few of our readers had to say about our petition:

Paulina Sanchez, Mexico
"This would be such a great tool for all the children here in Mexico. Many children here lack access to computers or don't have the money to pay for time at an internet cafe. This would be a great way for them to access information for homework, their personal interest, and their educational growth. I hope that this will come to be in Mexico and all around the world as well."
Enock Seth Nyamador, Ghana
"Internet access shouldn't be a barrier to free knowledge access."
Dammer Stefan, Germany
"Knowledge is the basis of every free decision and every intellectual development. The only permanent way of making the world a better place is to increase public access to impartial information. I hope I can contribute a slight support to this project with my signing."
Stanley Maphpsa, South Africa
"Education is a greatest tool for the reduction of poverty for the most vulnerable children, their families and communities. We are asking WIKIPEDIA to participate in this and make a future for children. Cellphones with Wikipedia is the way to go"
Ivan Vukovic, Serbia
"I consider Wikipedia to be THE most important piece of collective human knowledge which, if made available to all people free of charge, would give everyone equal opportunity to learn, develop and prosper. Please, give everyone an equal, free access to Wikipedia, so we can move towards a world of knowledge and understanding!"
Hussain Mirza, United States
"Free access to Wikipedia on Mobile Phones isn't just about providing a free application - it is about giving each and every one of us, no matter where we are, the ability to tap into a growing reservoir of humanity's collective knowledge, and ultimately the tools to make a difference in our world."
Zoyisile Booi, South Africa
"It is vital that this becomes a global drive and make sure that those that cannot afford airtime or bundles on a regular basis are accommodated especially when they have to research things for school"

Quotes from our Donors[edit]

Here is what a few of our donors had to say about Wikipedia:

  • "Giving to Wikipedia is like donating to a friend who helps you out on the Internet."
  • "College books cost students hundreds of dollars and yet most use wikipedia for most of their information. This is the case for me and is why I donated."
  • "I like the democratic aspect of the project."
  • "You are my mobile library."
  • "I would rather make a small donation, than allow ads and corporate influence that may lead to intentional bias of information"
  • "Best thing that ever happened to mankind."
  • "I like that wikipedia stays (mostly) neutral. I like my information like I like my oysters - raw and fresh."
  • "'Wikipedia' is short-hand for all the differences between my generation and my parents'. Freedom and ease of information is the most incredible gift that the technology revolution has brought us. We had an enormous encyclopedia in our house when I was a child - shelves of volumes. Dad was always encouraging to use it, but we resisted. There was something so forbidding about those books. Discovering Wikipedia was a revelation. All this information, for free! Being able to just click links rather than laboriously checking the index, finding the right book... Every time I look something up on Wikipedia, I learn so much more. You could stay on forever, reading more and more, taking in the world page by page... We've all played the Wikipedia game! Thank you Wikipedia. I love you."
  • "It's more like the electric light - when I want 'light' on something, I turn it on"
  • "I love that I can explore any subject on Wikipedia. When Nelson Mandela passed away, I looked up his Wikipedia page. From there I clicked into the Apartheid and about the ethnic groups involved. I learned about the language of Afrikaans, which I had never heard of before, and some of the key activists and politicians in ending Apartheid. There is such a wealth of knowledge available on Wikipedia and I appreciate that it's free and available to all."
  • ''Education is something no one can ever take away from you. I grew up very poor in the projects of Cleveland, Ohio. The librarians used to limit the amount of books I could take out a week to five (5). I would go home and escape, diving into book after book. I love Wikipedia. It takes me around the world. Thank you so much.
  • "I'm sitting in a cafe in Greece learning all about the country of Montenegro, where my unplanned summer backpacking trip through Europe seems to be taking me next. Wiki has been with me all the way!"
  • "I am constantly using it for informal research and reference, but it's greatest impact has been on my children. My 9 year old daughter has an enormous hunger for knowledge, and so i am constantly reminded how much Wikipedia means to me as a father - that i am able to share in the process of learning with my kids, and ultimately teach them how to learn. Wikipedia has made is so simple, and i am extremely thankful."
  • "Wikipedia has leveled the playing field for family game night! Now no one can "make up" statistics or names of guiness record winners and such during our games. There is always a phone with Wikipedia coming to the rescue!"
  • "mainly provides historical precedent for a lot of what is happening today---I just used "The Long Depression"(1873-1896) & "The Great Depression" (1929-1941) for a major newspaper comment to compare with current 2008 crash & today's lingering similarities! Cheers!"
  • "You're having a discussion and two persons don't agree about a fact? You all turn immediately to your phone, asking wikipedia to decide between one and the other. It sometimes saves relationship!"
  • "In medical school I learned more anatomy from Wikipedia's wonderful hyper-linked Gray's Anatomy articles than I did from the classroom."

Fundraising Team[edit]

The fundraiser is supported by hundreds of volunteers who are supported by few staff members. For 2013-2014, the staff team included:

  • Caitlin Cogdill, Fundraising Program Associate
  • Peter Coombe, Fundraising Production Coordinator
  • Jonathan Curiel, Development Communications Manager — Major Gifts and Foundations
  • Elliott Eggleston, Software Engineer — Fundraising Tech
  • Anne Gomez, Fundraiser Project Manager
  • Jeff Green, Operations Engineer — Special Projects
  • Lisa Gruwell, Chief Revenue Officer
  • Victor Grigas, Storyteller, Video Producer
  • Megan Hernandez, Director of Online Fundraising
  • Katie Horn, Lead Software Engineer — Fundraising Tech
  • Sara Lasner, Development Director — Major Gifts and Foundations
  • Rosie Lewis, Development Associate — Major Gifts and Foundations
  • Patricia Peña, Sr Global Fundraising Operations Manager
  • Jessica Robell, Global Fundraising Coordinator
  • Sherah Smith, Software Engineer — Fundraising Tech
  • Josh VanDavier, Donor Services Associate
  • Caitlin Virtue, Development Director — Major Gifts and Foundations
  • Matthew Walker, Software Engineer — Fundraising Tech
  • Adam Wight, Software Engineer — Fundraising Tech

Additional information[edit]