Head over to Wikipedia on Monday and you’ll see a familiar sight: a big, bold banner asking US users to donate some cash. Once again, it’s the time of year where the Wikimedia Foundation — the nonprofit behind the free, openly editable online encyclopedia — asks its millions of readers to lend a few bucks in an effort to help keep the site free of ads.
If this chart from Statista is any indication, those requests are working. In the past fiscal year, Wikimedia received more than $80 million in donations and other contributions. That’s a far cry from the roughly $2 million the organisation received in 2007.
So if Wikipedia is a nonprofit, and it doesn’t pay its writers, and it’s already bagged a ton of cash, why does it keep asking for more?
Well, for one, hosting a site as massive as Wikipedia costs money. Note the red bars — as the site gets bigger, that cost only goes up. Second: reserves. Building up a big emergency stash isn’t terribly uncommon in the nonprofit world; the idea is to keep some spare cash handy in case things tank down the road.