Wikipedia puts a face on donation

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales.

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Kai Ryssdal: Wikipedia has hit a big financial milestone: it raised $16 million in just six weeks. That's its entire fundraising goal for the fiscal year -- twice what it raised last year. It came in small donations, $20 or so each, from hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia users all over the world.

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports the success just might have something to do with the face of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.


Mitchell Hartman: My teenage son lives on Wikipedia, researching vampires and werewolves. And at the top of every search lately there's been Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales -- not a werewolf exactly, but with piercing eyes and definitely in need of a shave.

Lucy Bernholz: Putting Jimmy Wales' face up there was incredibly effective because it then became 'donate to get rid of his face.'

Philanthropy expert Lucy Bernholz says there was even a Twitter campaign to 'Donate now and spare us more face-time with Jimmy.'

Other faces from Wikipedia also appeared in the ads; the site found that real people were more likely to inspire charity. A volunteer editor for the Indonesian-language site, for instance, explained why the world needs this free online encyclopedia. Which, unlike Google and Facebook, has no advertising, says Caroline McCarthy at CNET.

Caroline McCarthy: It's a cause that a lot of people believe in, and by keeping it a non-profit, the company has gained a lot of followers who are big believers in free information and spreading knowledge.

And in that vein, Kai -- here's a shout-out for your face. You know what to ask 'em for.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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