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Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis


The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation behind Wikipedia, is running their annual fund raiser since October 22nd. There have been numerous complaints that the Wikimedia Foundation did not name a target sum to be achieved or is in other way acting intransparent. There may be good reasons for that:

  • The last fund raiser was "tough" to get through already and raised about one million dollars with $20 average contribution as to what Bruno Giussani reported from Lift '07.
  • The foundation grew from $56,666 turn-over in it's fiscal year 2003/2004 to $283,487 (2004/2005) and $1,066,785 (2005/2006). The 2006/2007 figures are still not reported, but it's safe to estimate that the 4x increase of the previous year has slowed down a bit.(see Updates section below) See for the scarce details.
  • The budget planning for fiscal year 2007/2008 totals $4.611m. The break-down is very rough and little effort is spent to explain the figures to the general public.
  • The suggested donations have been set high at $200 to $40 with marketdroid speak to sell that:
    "If you and 99 other people donate .. $200 – We can ...".
  • It's not very likely a target in the range of the planned budget can be achieved from Joe, Dick and Harry's contributions. Wikimedia may need Larry, Sergey or Mark here. (I'll leave that without links for you to think about :-))

So - to make the best of this - and continue being unnecessarily intransparent, Wikimedia (cough Jimmy Wales, cough) has decided to only list the number of donors as the "progress report".

Their "meter" currently looks like this:

Wikimedia fund raising meter as displayed 03.11.07 around 22:00

You can easily analyse the scale to find that Wikimedia hopes 100.000 people will contribute.

But how much will they raise? What is the average donation (expected)?

The Wikimedia foundation does not give any indication. Nor does it provide any analysis on the fund raiser beyond the "meter" above. So DIY...

Obtaining data

Well, we do have the recent contributions webpage. Twisting the "Filter" at the top of the page to not hide the donations below $5, we can get some nice look into how things are working out...

At 19:30 Central European time, there were 11,585 donations listed both in the meter and on the contributions web page. So that data is consistent.

There were 464 pages of donors(see Updates section below), so a friendly

for i in $(seq 0 463) ; do echo "$i&minimum=0&op=Ergebnisse+anzeigen&form_id=fundcore_browse_recent_contributions_filter_form" ; done > wget_wikipedia.txt
wget -i wget_wikipedia.txt

and we have all 464 pages locally.

Now let's extract the lines with $ numbers in them:

grep "\\$" fundcore_browse\?page\=* > donations.htm

And remove anything that's not the amount itself:

perl -nle 'print for m/\$([\d,]+\.\d\d)/g' donations.htm > donations.txt


Now importing donations.txt as a column into OpenOffice Calc we get a nice set of data to analyse:

  • There are 11,585 donations listed
  • The total amount donated so far is $322,691.26
  • The average donation comes in at $27.85

The distribution is very interesting though. The red bars indicate the number of donations within the given range. The blue bars display the cumulative total.

Wikimedia fund raiser distribution 03.11.07 19:30

As you can see, 1,280 people come it with $0.01 to $5.00. Most donate $10.01 to $20.00. The average mentioned above is skewed a bit by very few large donations. Ten people have put a five or six digit number on their cheque. Nobody has - so far - donated more than $10,000.


We currently see contributions coming it at $28,000 per day from just over 1,000 donors. As the fund raiser is set to run 60 days, the current estimation would be $1.68m to be raised from 60,500 people. So the target of 100,000 contributors is demanding even though the average donation is below Wikimedia foundation's suggestions.

Fun facts

Some random findings from analysing the data:

  • 347 people donated $0.01, 366 donated $1.00.
  • Only Simon Lea has so far donated exactly $3.14. Most probably unintentional, he donated SEK 20.00.
  • Christopher Rauh gave $15.00 and stated "Wikipedia - better that sex (well, almost)". But "sex" is only commented on twice, "love" prevails with 147 comments.
  • Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales gets 16 personal comments, most often praise. He's even declared God by Christopher Brown. A presidency campaign would have one supporter so far. That's just as many as Stephen Colbert and Ron Paul have according to the comments. There are numerous people that offer help on making a better video next time, though.
  • Five people have donated $0.00. Those are errors in the currency conversion because the not converted amounts are non-zero. The error is neglectable within the analysis.

Anybody want to build a live version to analyse the Wikimedia fund raiser continuously? is still available. 3...2...1...


04.11.07 14:28: Because Wikimedia changes the meter on its web pages, I have replaced the live version with a canned copy, so it does not vanish once Wikimedia does not need the old meter style anymore.

05.11.07 10:50: Sue Gardner specifies the fiscal year 2006/2007 at $1.8m on The Talk page for the 2007-2008 budget planning, so the spending increase has substancially slowed from 4x to 1.7x (70% plus).

06.11.07 17:00: The Wikimedia recent donations page now only shows (the last) 400 pages of donations. See this blog entry for details.


Wikiblog on : Wikimedia Fundraising

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Reworded Daniel's article and reposted at Wikiblog.

Daniel Lange's blog on : Wikimedia Fundraiser changes progress meter

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The Wikimedia foundation has just changed the progress meter to track the number of donors.Now every icon seems to represent a 5,000 people increment. So the 100,000 donors target looks still set. Well, actually 95,001 would now fill the last icon on th

Daniel Lange's blog on : Wikimedia Fundraiser Webpage now cuts off at the last 10.000 donations

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The Wikimedia Foundation has changed their donation web pages again. Now they cut off the "Recent contributions" at 400 pages of (max.) 25 donors each. Thus the commands I gave in the Wikimedia Fundraiser analysis article can't be repeated to

Daniel Lange's blog on : Wikimedia Fundraiser Analysis II

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Yesterday, 22.12.2007, the initial deadline for the Wikimedia fundraiser ran out.It has been extended to 03.01.2008 but it's a good time to assess the results so far asyesterday ends the initially planned duration of the fundraiser.As I documented in the


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