January 2, 2012; Source: Technorati | We loved Wikipedia’s end-of-year fundraising campaign! Anyone using Wikipedia over the last few months knew what they would see on any given day, no matter what topic they looked up: at the top of the page was a distinctive fundraising banner. The front of the banner featured simply a photo of someone who contributes content or works on the site in some other way, along with an invitation to open a note. The note was a personal appeal from the person in the photo, and an invitation to donate. The people in the banner circulated, as far as we can determine, daily.

These distinctive banner ads have helped the eleven-year-old Wikipedia raise $20 million from 1 million donors. Of course, the site attracts 470 million unique visitors each month, and is available in 280 different languages. It also has 100,000 volunteers

“When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different,” founder Jimmy Wales said in a recent fundraising appeal. “We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.”

Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which handles the fundraising, said in a news release that the model of going to users for funding is working “fantastically well.” “Ordinary people use Wikipedia and they like it, so they chip in some cash so it will continue to thrive. That maintains our independence and lets us focus solely on providing a useful public service.”—Ruth McCambridge