The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, had expenses of $27 million this past fiscal year, and raised $38.5 million to support them.
The only nonprofit organization within the world’s Top 40 Web sites — Wikipedia is at No. 5 — the site serves 19 billion page views per month. But it operates on a sliver of a budget compared to everybody else.
What’s surprising when you delve into Wikimedia’s annual report, which it released this week, is that it actually does operate on the tiny donations it collects via funding drives through those familiar interrupting banner ads on its site.
Between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, Wikimedia had $35 million in donations and contributions, or 91 percent of its total revenue. There were more than one million donors. But the number of people who donated $1,000 or more is so short that it can fit (in small type, to be sure) on a single page of the annual report.
Wikimedia spokesman Jay Walsh said in an email that the foundation would soon be announcing the results of its current fundraising campaign, which was apparently more efficient and effective than those of years past.
He added that the two big Wikimedia investments of the past fiscal year were Wikipedia Zero, where telcos like Orange, Telenor and Saudi Telecom have waived data fees for customers accessing Wikipedia, and efforts to improve the site’s “visual editor” in order to be more accessible to new and more diverse contributors.