This page lists frequently asked questions about the Wikimedia Foundation. Other questions are addressed at Answers. If you do not find your question answered here or there, please feel free to contact us.
What is Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is an online collection of knowledge. Volunteer editors from around the world write Wikipedia. It is a collaborative creation created in 2001: anyone can edit it, at any time. Editors collaborate to write about virtually any topic, from ancient history to science to the arts. Wikipedia is available in hundreds of languages and has over 45 million articles. Wikipedia is completely non-profit, independent, and maintained by everyday people like you. You do not require approval or special qualifications to edit.
How does Wikipedia stay reliable and neutral?
Wikipedia's volunteer editors make reference to reliable publications that support what Wikipedia contains, so readers can verify the facts at source. For content to remain on Wikipedia, it must be written from a neutral point of view and attributed to sources that are reliable. Editors also use mechanisms like bots and monitoring tools to regularly review edits made to Wikipedia. Through these efforts, Wikipedia stays reliable and neutral. Wikipedia is based on an open model, so its content is constantly evolving, growing, and improving over time. You can also follow the discussions that go into changes. Unfortunately, vandalism of Wikipedia articles does occasionally occur. However, the vast majority of editors contribute in good faith. Most vandalism on the site is removed quickly, often within seconds.
What is the Wikimedia Foundation?
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia, the other Wikimedia free knowledge websites, and its mission of free knowledge for all. We do this by keeping the Wikimedia sites fast, secure, and available to all, defending Wikipedia and our volunteer editors from legal threats, building new features and tools to make it easy to read, edit, and share knowledge from Wikimedia sites, and by supporting the communities of editors who contribute to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites. We also help bring new knowledge online, lower barriers to access, and make it easier for everyone to share what they know.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.
What are the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects you support?
In addition to Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation supports a number of free knowledge projects, including:
- Wikimedia Commons – a freely-licensed repository of images, video, and media files
- Wiktionary – a free, multilingual dictionary
- Wikiquote – a resource of quotations from notable people and creative works
- Wikibooks – a collection of books which includes annotated texts, instructional guides, textbooks, and more
- Wikisource – a collection of primary source materials, as well as translations of source texts
- Wikispecies – a species directory, which covers Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and other forms of life
- Wikinews – a collaborative news resource, where anyone can contribute reports about events around the world
- Wikiversity – an educational repository devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels of education
- Wikidata – a collaborative, multilingual structured database which powers information used across Wikimedia projects
- Wikivoyage – a travel information guide for locations around the world
- MediaWiki – the open source software behind all Wikimedia websites
Is Wikipedia, or the Wikimedia Foundation, affiliated with WikiLeaks?
Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation have no affiliation with WikiLeaks. Although both use the term "wiki" in their name, they have always been completely separate and unaffiliated projects.
How is the Wikimedia Foundation funded?
The Wikimedia Foundation is funded primarily through donations from millions of individuals around the world. The average donation is about $15 USD, and we are grateful that so many people find value in Wikipedia and want to sustain its future. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts (please see our benefactors page for more information).
The Wikimedia Foundation has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States. Donations made from other nations may also be tax deductible (see tax deductibility for more details). See Ways to Give for details on how to make a donation via credit or debit card, PayPal, Amazon and several other methods. If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why should I donate and where does my money go?
Over the past 20 years, Wikipedia has become a trusted source of information that millions of people rely on every day. With more than 6,700 pageviews every second and more than 350 edits a minute, Wikipedia is one of the top 10 websites in the world, and the only major website run by a nonprofit organization, the Wikimedia Foundation.
Unlike other top websites, Wikipedia is not funded through advertising, nor does it rely on selling data about users for profit. Instead, Wikipedia is supported by its readers - people who find value in Wikipedia and want to continue to support its success, with the average donation being about $15 USD. This financial model enables Wikipedia to remain neutral, trusted, and free from commercial interests.
Here are just some of the ways we use donations to sustain Wikipedia and free knowledge:
- Providing top-notch technical infrastructure for a global website - To meet the needs of Wikipedia readers around the world, we operate an international technology infrastructure comparable to the world’s largest commercial websites. This includes hosting costs like keeping our servers running, as well as significant, ongoing engineering work to make sure Wikipedia is reliable, secure, loads quickly, and protects your privacy.
- Ensuring you can access Wikipedia in every language on every device - Donations also allow us to dedicate engineering resources to ensure that you can access Wikipedia in your preferred language, on your preferred device, no matter where you are in the world — from a dial-up modem to a brand new smartphone. Most major websites support an average of 50-100 languages — Wikipedia supports roughly 300 languages, a number that grows every year. When you break it down, we have about one employee for every four million monthly readers of Wikipedia.
- Supporting community-led projects to increase access to trusted information - We collaborate with Wikipedia volunteers around the globe to support their ideas and help them bring more free knowledge to the world. Every year, about 10% of our budget is specifically dedicated to supporting community projects that enrich, grow, and improve knowledge on Wikipedia.
- Defending and protecting free knowledge around the world - The Wikimedia Foundation’s policy and legal efforts help ensure that everyone has the right to access, share, and create knowledge, while defending our volunteers from threat of reprisal, and upholding our commitment to free expression and open knowledge. We advocate for free licenses and open source software and work to make sure that copyright laws are built and reformed so that people can share and use knowledge more broadly. We also fight against censorship and protect the right of everyone to speak and learn freely. Support for this work is vital to giving users everywhere equal access to Wikimedia projects.
Wikipedia’s fundraising requests seem urgent, despite the Wikimedia Foundation’s sizable reserve. Why do you need additional funding?
We are fortunate to have a reserve. These are not funds that we use on a day-to-day basis; they can only be accessed in exceptional circumstances, such as an economic crisis. Wikipedia and its projects are critical resources that the world relies on daily. Our reserve funds are intended to ensure that we can remain sustainable even if the worst eventuality occurs. Our operating budget and annual plan are developed through an open, transparent process, subject to feedback from Wikipedia volunteers and Board approval. The details of our budget and plan are always available to the public for further review.
Staff compensation is part of your operating costs. Can you explain how this is determined?
Altogether more than 250 people work on engineering and product at the Wikimedia Foundation, handling technology infrastructure for more than 20 billion monthly pageviews. Compared to most major websites, we do a lot with a little. Additionally, approximately 100 staff work on our community support and grantmaking; partnerships with global organizations to make knowledge more freely available; and legal and policy work that helps advocate for copyright reform, prevent censorship and uphold free expression, and ensure that privacy and security policies in countries everywhere protect our readers and editors.
We know that salaries vary across the world and we hire in very competitive markets. At the same time, we are a non-profit. As such, we make an effort to be fair, adjusting for inflation and income inequality, while providing equitable compensation to all.
How can I donate?
There are several ways you can donate to the Wikimedia Foundation to support Wikipedia and free knowledge. The most common are using any major credit or debit card (VISA, Mastercard, Discover or American Express), using PayPal, via bank transfer, and via Amazon. For other ways to contribute, including via an automatic monthly gift, check or money order and payroll deduction, please visit our Ways to Give page. Many currencies are accepted.
Are my donations tax deductible?
Some donations to the Wikimedia Foundation may benefit from tax deductible status. Please visit our tax deductibility page to learn more.
What is your refund policy?
- Full name of donor
- Date of donation — All refund requests must be made within 90 days of donation
- Amount donated
- Payment method used — Do not include credit card numbers in your email
- Country of origin
- Reason for the refund
All refunds will be processed as quickly as possible, but processing times may vary depending on the payment method. Please note: Some payment methods may not support refunds or require refunds to be made through the payment method (card) utilized, prompting additional information to process your refund.
Donation banners are designed to show to donors that have enabled cookies on their browser, and to hide after the banner is shown a few times or after a donation. Hiding, however, depends upon a cookie that we insert in the browser. Banner hiding won't work if you clear your browser's cache, delete cookies, or change browsers or computers.
There are several options available to you to hide the fundraising banners in the future:
- If you click the X or Close button on a banner, it will hide for one week. Please note this behavior does not apply to the first banner you see, but every banner thereafter.
- If you return to the 'Thank You' page it will give the cookie a chance to reinsert. If you read Wikipedia on multiple devices, please visit this page on each of them to suppress the banners.
- You can also create an account on Wikipedia - banners are not typically shown to users who log-in to Wikipedia accounts. More information on creating an account can be found here.
Why have I received a fundraising email even though I have already donated recently?
If you have received a fundraising email even though you donated recently, this generally is for one of several reasons:
- We have more than one email address for you in our records;
- You donated within a day before our emails were sent: the scan we use to filter out recent donors is unable to catch donations made the day before the email send;
- You donated by either a method that is slower to reach our system, like a check or a bank transfer, or a method that we receive in aggregate (without your email address), like PayPal Giving Fund, Amazon Smile, or Humble Bundle.
If you would like to unsubscribe an email address, you can click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the fundraising email, or send an unsubscribe request to email@example.com. We generally send fundraising emails around a year after your most recent donation. We send a very low number of emails to donors, relative to other nonprofit organizations. If you donate in response to a fundraising email, we will not send you donation request emails again until around the same time the next year.
Why are there no ads on Wikipedia?
We are not considering advertising as a source of revenue. We do not believe that advertising belongs in a project devoted to free, reliable, and neutral knowledge. Introducing commercial interests could jeopardize Wikipedia’s reliability as a neutral source of information.
We are not against online advertising, nor are we against other organizations that host ads. We just know ads are not appropriate in a project devoted to education and knowledge – and especially one that strives for balance and neutrality.
Where can I find more financial information?
The Wikimedia Foundation's Annual Report covers the previous fiscal year. The report shares some of the voices of the hundreds of thousands of people who make the Wikimedia movement possible.
The Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan describes our budget for the current fiscal year. It contains a summary of our strategic goals as an organization, financial details on spending and revenue, and detailed explanations and risk analysis.
What is the Wikimedia Endowment?
The Wikimedia Endowment was created in 2016 to serve as a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to support the operations and activities of the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. Donations to the Wikimedia Endowment are held in a separate fund and invested to grow over time. The Endowment fund is managed by Tides Foundation and overseen by an independent Advisory Board. Once fully funded, the Endowment income will be distributed to provide critical funding to Wikipedia and its sister projects, providing security, confidence and trust in Wikipedia’s offerings and mission for years to come. You can learn more about the Wikimedia Endowment at wikimediaendowment.org.
What are the plans for Wikimedia's future? Where are you going?
At the beginning of 2017, the Wikimedia Foundation launched a global discussion to define the future of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement by the year 2030. We call it Wikimedia 2030. Throughout the process, we asked ourselves questions like, where might we want Wikipedia, and the Wikimedia movement, to go next? What opportunities and challenges lie ahead of us? What trends in technology, education, information, and access will shape our future?
Based on this discussion and our research, we are uniting around a direction that will help us build a more sustainable, resilient, and engaged movement that anyone who shares our vision can join. We will adapt to the shifting trends in technology, to ensure we meet the needs of our users and continue to provide reliable, transparent, and neutral information. We will invite new voices to join us and ensure that anyone who wants to share knowledge on Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites can do so. And we will advocate for the policies and values that have allowed Wikipedia and its sister sites to thrive. This direction asks us to be bold and experiment in the future, as we did in the past, and it remains rooted in our mission of free knowledge for all.
To read more about Wikimedia 2030 and the direction for our future, please visit 2030.wikimedia.org.
How can I participate in Wikimedia?
Firstly, thank you for your interest in supporting Wikipedia! We understand that not everyone will be able to donate, and that’s okay. Wikipedia will always be free for everyone, and there are several ways that you can contribute to Wikipedia beyond making a donation.
- You can read and use Wikipedia as your source of trustworthy information across more than 300 languages.
- You can make an edit on Wikipedia - if you want to fix a mistake on an article or add a citation to a trusted source, please do so! This guide is helpful for getting started on your first edit.
- Are you a photographer? Consider sharing your photos for anyone to reuse on Wikimedia Commons, which powers many of the images you see on Wikipedia articles. Learn more about how to upload photos here.
- You can follow Wikipedia and Wikimedia on social media and share stories that are meaningful to you. Check out @Wikimedia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and @Wikipedia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Are you a developer? You can contribute code to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia sites. This guide for new developers is a helpful place to get started.
How can I contact the Wikimedia Foundation?