Grants given to Wikimedia Foundation

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Being updated to reflect reality as of 2009

If we want to move forward, Wikimedia can not rely purely on donations from users of the site. We need grants; and over the past few years, we have started to receive large grants from individuals and foundations.

Other pages dealing with grants are in Category:Grants.

Supporting grant applications by community members[edit]

WMF supports community grant applications in a few ways:

  • Letters of support, especially for research proposals
  • Support with grant-writing itself

WMF can also serve as the distributor of a grant to individuals, as was done with a 2008 Mozilla grant to support free video development.

Grants received[edit]

Successful applications[edit]

Lounsbery Foundation[edit]

In January 2005, we were granted $40,000 by the Lounsbery Foundation. Our grant application specified we would spend this in the following way:

  • to cover our daily operations,
  • to enable us to launch our new Wikispecies project, and
  • to continue to improve our existing projects.

(when is the last time we thanked them old grantors?  :)

Topical grants[edit]

  • for WikiJunior creation
  • for Theora improvement & integration with MediaWiki (Mozilla)

Grants without application process[edit]

Grants in progress[edit]

Archived grant ideas[edit]

these may still be valid for future proposals

Older discussion and process (2005)[edit]


  • Gather a team of motivated people, who will later on form a cross-project committee. (See Grants department.)
  • Develop and budget precise and well thought out project plans. (1. A plan for attracting consultants for future projects, orgs who want to collaborate with us, and a board of advisors. 2. A plan for a longer-scale project focused on world history, for instance...)
    • Projects, its history, its size and mission, and its current activities.
    • Resumes for its board members, and for active contributors who are potential project coordinators for specific projects.
    • Resumes for contributors who are potential consultants for various projects (technical & software consultants, translation consultants &c.)
    • Resumes for other potential project-related employees (e.g., a librarian)
  • Research standard practices for editing, peer review, archival storage, dissemination, &c.
  • Research competing and complementary resources -- encyclopedias, textbooks, online references...
    • Make a running comparison of Wikimedia projects with these related projects, to clarify our role in the grander scheme of things to potential grantors.
  • Appoint a grant coordinator from the committee. This official position will coordinate grant writing. Users with experience of grant writing in various countries will be beneficial.
  • Develop a formal budget to show what we intend to do with the grant money.
    • Build the costs of overhead into the grant proposals.

Potential problems[edit]

  • From whom should we accept grants? How do we deal with potentially controversial sources of funding? (e.g. the Gates Foundation, National Lottery, Ted Turner, tax-funded government grants). By consensus? By voting?
  • Do we accept grants with strings attached? How do we deal with perceived strings, even where there are no formal strings?
  • We need to be careful about becoming dependent on any one funding source in order to avoid having to compromise our goals, such as NPOV, to meet what a donor asks of us.
  • We need to know if the Wikimedia Foundation has been granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS in order to qualify for some grants.
  • Many US government grants require 1:1 matching funds from non-government sources.

Problems Outside the U.S.

Obtaining grants for the Foundation outside of the U.S. could be difficult. Setting up local Wikimedia chapters could help. For example, Wikimedia Deutschland will be more likely to find funds within Germany. A future British Wikimedia Chapter would have more success of finding funding within the UK.

Possible sources of funding[edit]

See Grants/Potential grants for a full list

Ideas to work on[edit]

Proposed ideas should be specific projects, not general needs like hardware funding.

  1. Providing schools with Wikipedia on DVDs.
  2. Publishing dead-tree subsets of WM content (e.g., WikiReaders).
    • Drawing from Wikipedia, Wikiquote, Wikisource and Wikibooks
    • Defining an ideal corpus for a specific subject, filling in any gaps in current Wikipedia coverage in a few major languages, and publishing in those languages.
  3. Paying a translator to translate articles for a new language Wikipedia.
    • To develop critical mass in a language-community.
    • To translate a central corpus (which must be defined) into a target language.
    • See above (on publishing)
  4. Obtaining computer terminals with an installation of Wikipedia for schools in a developing country.
  5. Teaching students to research and collaborate via Wikipedia -- supporting a subset of Wikipedians geared towards working with students (students of translation, of digital library science, of targeted fields), creation of educational materials to supplement the Wikimedia projects, &c.
  6. Encouraging photographers in rural or war-torn parts of the world to record the world around them (cf. Belizian)


Possibly off-topic for this page: While I think grants are more appropriate than corporate sponsorship, what we should really try to do in the long run is set up an endowment fund, a chunk of invested money that gives the foundation a steady income. That way, we'd reduce our dependence on any form of outside income. The problem of course is getting this money in the first place, but when we do acquire any large chunks of money (through grants or donations,) we should think about setting aside some of it to begin an endowment fund. Isomorphic 14:17, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don't think this is off-topic at all. An endowment fund to support a project is one thing that a grant application can be made for, rather than a specific raft of short-term expenditures. +sj+ 06:49, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
This is actually an excellent idea. Some banks will offer 2% or better on normal savings accounts. We would need $5 million in order to make $100,000/year pre-tax (if there is any on a non-profit like this). Another option is bonds with an annual yield--they tend to have a higher rate than normal savings accounts but are harder to set up/get money out of. If we had a 4% rate from a bond we'd only need $2.5 million, which is somewhat more achievable. We obviously couldn't achieve this with normal fundraising. We could go to the normal benefactors in society: ludicrously rich people with charitable foundations. The Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, DuPont, Heinz foundations are all potentials. The only problem is getting time with these people and convincing them our cause is worthy--a long shot. The other problem is that if the nest-egg is only big enough to cover yearly costs, there will be no growth. The nest egg ought to be big enough so that the annual yield is substantially greater than our costs, allowing for reinvestment of the yield into the endowment, such that the endowment can slowly grow as well. So, if we had a $5 mil. nest-egg, at 4% yield, resulting in $200,000 a year, and spent $100,000 a year, we could reinvest the other $100,000 back into the endowment each year.

Grant-writing assistance and other links[edit]

  • There is a purchasable CD-ROM that lists all relevant information about thousands of charitable foundations in the U.S. that give money to many different causes. I just looked up Interest:Technology and came up with 283 hits. Education is huge, and there are many other categories. We should look in to either purchasing a copy of this disk or at least obtaining as much information as possible from it. Another point to consider is that if we were to send out letters of inquiry with a WP packet (including basic promotional materials) to all of these organizations, postage alone would be prohibitive. ... Danny 23:32, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)

See also[edit]

Related financial pages: