Wikipedia may be the most indispensable Web destination that's taken for granted. To remind readers that the free, massive online encyclopedia actually takes money to operate, and might not always be a click away, the site is starting a campaign to drum up fundraising dollars. Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, is aiming to raise $16 million dollars in small donations to keep everything stable and improve the infrastructure of the site. Look for his "Don Draper-esque" expression papering wikipages with a banner ad labeled "a personal appeal."

  • The Only Time Wikipedia Advertises: To Get Users Involved   Matt Hartley at The Financial Post gives some background on this year's campaign. "Normally the Wikimedia Foundation maintains a strict no-advertising policy on Wikipedia and its sister sites, but once a year the Foundation places ads throughout the 'encyclopedia anyone can edit' to encourage the site’s more than 400 million users to donate what they can to help support the Wikipedia Project....Once it reaches its financial goal, the public awareness campaign will encourage users to get involved as writers and editors."
  • They Better Hope That More People Donate This Year  "Last year's wikipediathon only raised $8 million of the needed $20 million to run the site, so this year effort to ask for donations has been doubled," notes Michelle Castillo at Time's Techland. "The 'Personal Appeal' banner that we see was the collective effort of the Wikipedia community. The creators of the site reached out and asked users to help create an ad that would actually get people to donate. Wales sad, Don Draper-esque expression was the most effective at getting people to give up a couple bucks."
  • Where Would We Be Without This Stuff?  Nitasha Tiku at New York's Daily Intel takes stock of the situation: "Considering the nonprofit's funding drive raised only $8 million last year, the next time you look up "list of sex positions" (last year's 69th most popular page), chances are you'll see a banner ad. For those that question Wikipedia's educational utility, "list of Presidents of the United States" came in at No. 68."
  • Wikipedia Now Has a Two-Pronged Strategy  "In the past, we basically just winged it," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to Fast Company's David Zax. "This time, we tried to do a classic marketing campaign, and we think it's going to increase the donations a lot." The writer observes that the organization's campaign is "leaving no one out: NPR-style guilt-tripping for the lefties, and a nice dose of populism for the right."
  • What the Organization Says  From the Wikimedia blog, the release explains why and how the site expects to raise the $16 million needed to keep operating smoothly. "Since 2007 our readership has doubled, with this past September seeing our highest traffic yet. With this incredible feat comes an enormous duty: to maintain the infrastructure necessary to keep these sites free, stable, and running smoothly, while also continually improving the systems and architecture behind them....Since the beginning, our fundraising model has been based on the support of our community of readers and editors – we have received more than 500,000 donations in the lifetime of the Foundation, averaging about $33 each."