Donations up revenue stream by nearly one-sixth, may allow new public service ventures

The Wikimedia Foundation, the group behind Wikipedia, started accepting donations in Bitcoin (BTC) last week.  According to Coinbase, an industry group and tracking firm, Wikipedia racked up $140,000+ USD worth of Bitcoin donations in its first week; up about one-sixth over its average weekly donation rate.
It's taken the Wikimedia Foundation a while to consider Bitcoin trustworthy enough to accept it.  But the world's most popular cryptocurrency has proven its mettle standing strong even in the face of tough issues like international regulatory scrutiny and the collapse of Mt. Gox.
Coinbase says the fit between Bitcoin and the Wikimedia Foundation is a natural one.  It writes:

We were particularly excited to enable the Wikimedia Foundation to accept bitcoin donations because we feel that the decentralized, inclusive nature of Wikipedia is well aligned with Bitcoin and we wanted to help the Bitcoin community contribute to the democratization of information... For donors worldwide, bitcoin is a convenient donation method that ensures 100% of donated funds go to the cause. Donors can also enjoy significant tax benefits by donating bitcoin. 

Wikipedia was founded in 2001.  Today, Wikipedia is the world's largest online encyclopedia, home to over 4.63 million English language articles, plus millions more are hosted in 286 different foreign languages.  Its English language articles are viewed 9.09 million times an hour -- close to 80 billion English language page views a year.  The site is sixth in the world in terms of traffic according to web traffic statistics firm Alexa.  It reaches 431 million users per month.
Wikipedia Logo

Most of the article generation and editing is carried out by the site's 80,000+ volunteers worldwide.  But hosting and coding the site isn't free.  It's managed by the San Francisco, Calif.-based Wikimedia Foundation which had 231 current employees and ~$15.98M USD in salary obligations in 2013.  Hosting costs roughly $2.55M USD a year; hardware, legal, and other expenses consume another $10.02M USD.
Fortunately the Wikimedia Foundation has a healthy flow of donations to fund its unprecedented effort.  It received $44.67M USD in 2013 -- roughly $860,000 USD per week in donations.  The Wikimedia Foundation did make it clear that it plans to convert Bitcoin donations eventually into more liquid traditional currencies, but it appears that Bitcoins are already becoming a key part of Wikipedia's funding stream.

Bitcoin has weathered a storm of legal and corruption concerns. [Image Source: Bit-Square]
The organization will need the extra help.  It's currently in the midst of expanding a major new initiative, Wikipedia Zero, whose goal is to expand Wikipedia in developing nations with poor internet and knowledge access.  First launched in Malaysia in 2012, the effort has since expanded to 350 million users in a number of other countries, including Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Under the program, co-funded by global cellular network companies, users in these regions can read and edit Wikipedia pages without data charges.  Given the steep data rates in developing nations' wireless networks, this is a terrific endeavor, albeit an expensive one.

Sources: Coinbase, via Neowin

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