New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Is Wikipedia, the world's most popular online encyclopaedia is on the brink of bankruptcy? A questioned that popped up in the minds of thousands of Indian users when they saw a message on top of every Wikipedia page seeking donations to stay afloat. One of the most popular websites in the entire world, Wikipedia has recently started a donation drive in India, asking users to donate a sum of at least Rs 150 or more to help the charitable website keep thriving.

"Hi, dear reader. If you use Wikipedia a lot, this message is for you. We're sure you are busy so we'll make this quick: this Sunday we need your help. We don't have salespeople. We depend on donations from exceptional readers, but fewer than 2% give. If you donate just ₹ 150, or whatever you can this Sunday, Wikipedia could keep thriving. Thank you," a message on top of every Wikipedia page reads.

 

Launched in 2001, Wikipedia has grown exponentially over the last two decades as the website garners billions of page views every month. In July 2020, Wikipedia received 5.2 billion visits on its over 50 million pages, making it the world's eighth most popular website, according to a SimilarWeb report. The website provides free access to knowledge and has become the synonym of knowledge. And as they say, Wikipedia knows all.

 

Is Wikipedia's on the brink of bankruptcy?

When Wikipedia started its donation drive in India, many asked whether a website of this magnitude really needs donations? The answer is yes. Since Wikipedia is a charitable website, it survives on donations from users and corporates. But is the website on the brink of bankruptcy? The answer is no.

Run by non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia's balancesheet looks quite healthy. In fact, its donations have increased many folds in the last seventeen years. According to a report by the Indian Express, Wikipedia raised USD 28,653,256 in donations between 2018-2019 against USD 21,619,373 in the previous financial year. This is a massive jump from just USD 56,666 in 2003. The website's total assets have not gone up to USD 165,641,425, the report said.

Then, why Wikipedia is asking for donations so desperately?

Since Wikipedia is a charitable website, it needs a constant influx of donations to survive. The Wikipedia Foundation had shared a detailed report on its expenditure in 2019. According to that report, the parent organization of Wikipedia spent 49 per cent, which is nearly half of the total earnings, as direct support to the website.

Another major chunk or 32 per cent was spent on training, tools, events and partnership of volunteers while 13 per cent was used to pay the salaries of around 250 staff members across the world. The remaining 12 per cent funds were used for its several fundraising programs. Charitable organizations that run on donations need to have enough cash in reserves for survival in case the donors stop giving funds or any other unforeseen situations. In this case too, while the balance sheet of Wikipedia looks healthy, the website still needs adequate cash reserves to tide over in case of any adverse situation.

 

Posted By: Shashikant Sharma