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Wikimedia Fundraises to Keep Wikipedia Going

November 22, 2011

One of the most popular destinations on the Internet, Wikipedia, is currently in the midst of its annual fundraising drive through its nonprofit parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation.

It’s certainly a good cause. As someone who has loved encyclopedias ever since childhood, I’ve found Wikipedia to be a rich resource of information about just about anything, and it’s free. So when I received a news release last week about the fundraising effort, I asked Wikimedia what the accounting angle was.

“I can’t speak to core accounting practices, but I really do think Wikimedia Foundation is a pretty remarkable org from an accounting/operations perspective,” said spokesman Jay Walsh. “We run a tight ship ops wise. We’re a 4-star rated nonprofit from Charity Navigator, which speaks to our overall leanness, transparency of operations, and impact. We post all of our financial plans (and Form 990s) and financial reporting, and we strive to communicate about our accounting in the simplest way possible. We have a global audience of volunteers and users, and for many English is not our first language.

“Beyond that our CFO has the unique position in a nonprofit of having to contend with a few dozen global currencies, and this year a fundraise that accepts more currencies than ever,” said Walsh. “So it’s complex, and the need to conduct our accounting to a high, high standard is critical. We also work amongst about 30 volunteer global chapters (all led by volunteers) who we aim to support through inspiring financial best practices, but of course there are also inherent challenges in understanding and interpreting accounting practices on pretty much every continent.”

The effort to pull together Wikipedia is certainly a massive one with a worldwide group of dedicated volunteers, editors and programmers constantly working to improve the network of sites and keep them as accurate and free of bias as humanly possible. While it’s still nice to be able to pull a volume of an encyclopedia off the shelf at the local public library and flip open to a page to discover something new, there’s nothing like being able to search across a resource like Wikipedia on the Internet and find a world of information a click away.

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