Wikipedia, Fundraiser Extraordinaire

Definition: Fundraising or fund raising (also known as “development”) is the process of gathering voluntary contributions of money or other resources, by requesting donations from individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies. — Wikipedia entry

How many of you received fundraising solicitations in December? How many did you receive just in the month of December alone? As you can imagine, I have been added to many mailing lists. Some organizations I give to, others I enjoy receiving if for no other reason than to see their handiwork for future reference.

There was one year-end request from Wikipedia (yes, they have  a nonprofit foundation to help fund operations) that caught my attention not only to talk about it here, but to also donate for the first time to the Wikipedia Foundation.

See the full text of their online appeal below:

“Last chance:  

Readers in the U.S.,  we will get straight to the point: there are only a few hours left before midnight tonight to help Wikipedia. To maintain our independence, we will never run ads. We depend on donations averaging about $15. Only a tiny portion of our readers give.

If everyone reading this donated $3, we could keep Wikipedia thriving for years to come. The price of a coffee is all we need. It’s a little awkward to be asking this on a Sunday, as we’re sure you are busy and we don’t want to interrupt you. But there’s never an easy time to remind people that giving to Wikipedia not only supports a service you frequently use, but it helps keep a neutral internet alive and thriving.

We can’t afford to feel embarrassed, asking you to make a donation — just like you should never feel embarrassed when you have to ask Wikipedia for information. We do it in the pursuit of open knowledge that’s always ad-free, never tracks your data, and is never sold off to corporate big-wigs. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about, if you ask us.

When we made Wikipedia a non-profit, people warned us we’d regret it. But if Wikipedia became commercial, it’d be a great loss to the world. Wikipedia is a place for you to learn, not a place for advertising. It unites all of us who love knowledge: contributors, readers and the donors who keep us thriving. The heart and soul of Wikipedia is a community of people working to bring you unlimited access to reliable, neutral information.

Please take one minute to help us keep Wikipedia growing. Thank you.”

Genius, right?!  Regardless of your opinion of Wikipedia, you have to admire how they: 

… gave the reader an average gift amount to help anchor the need.

… gave the reader social proof, or the feeling of belonging to something bigger than oneself.

… gave the reader reciprocity; you give, you get the free service of Wikipedia.

… gave the reader the feeling of urgency, even a fear of missing out on the opportunity to “stick it to the man”, or in their words, corporate “big-wigs”.

… helped frame the need to the reader, allowing them to feel part of the solution.

… kept it light hearted, but sincere.


I gave the “coffee amount”, or $3 plus another $1 to help cover my debit card processing. Perfect letter? Maybe not, but it was perfect for them. I may not have given much, but I guess it helped because I was able to search for the definition of “Fundraising” today. For free. And I will probably will again next year, too.