How Wikipedia Makes Money

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is edited and maintained by over 300,000 mostly anonymous volunteers.

The site boasts around 56 million articles in over 300 languages. More than 15 billion articles are read on Wikipedia – every month. 

Founder Jimmy Wales ran adult content sites before stumbling upon the concept of wikis, which allow users to edit websites directly from a web browser.

Wikipedia’s breakthrough came months after its launch when the 9/11 terrorist attack prompted many to search for reliable information on what was happening.

The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation oversees all of Wikipedia's assets and  manages its growing endowment. 

But how does Wikipedia actually make money if it’s completely free to use? 

In 2021, Wikipedia generated $163 million in revenue, most of which came in the way of donations that its users made. 


The treasurer behind the foundation invests portions of the donations into a diverse pool of assets with varying degrees of risk. 


A small percentage of Wikipedia’s revenue is derived from selling branded merchandise such as socks or t-shirts.  


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