Google’s Latest Philanthropic Interest: Wikipedia [UPDATED]
During its recent fund-raising campaign, the Wikimedia Foundation–the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia–raised $8 million, exceeding its original goal of $7.5 million. Now the foundation has exceeded it further still thanks to Google (GOOG). The search giant has donated $2 million to Wikimedia. The contribution was first announced in a tweet yesterday by founder and board member Jimmy Wales.
In an official statement this morning Wikimedia said it will use the new funds to “support core operational costs…including investments in technical infrastructure to support rapidly-increasing global traffic and capacity demands.”
So what’s in this for Google? Search traffic. Google is a top referring site to Wikipedia. Indeed, according to a 2008 study from comScore (SCOR)–the most recent I could find–(see table below; click to enlarge) Google was the top referring site to Wikipedia. With its own social encyclopedia effort, Knol, failing to gain the sort of traction it had hoped for, it seems Google has taken a new tack and begun backing the incumbent.
Wikimedia Foundation announces $2 million grant from Google
Donation will support capacity investments in Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects
SAN FRANCISCO, CA February 17, 2009 — The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that operates Wikipedia, today announced that it has received a $2 million (USD) grant from the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. This is the Wikimedia Foundation’s first grant from Google. The funds will support core operational costs of the Wikimedia Foundation, including investments in technical infrastructure to support rapidly-increasing global traffic and capacity demands. The funds will also be used to support the organization’s efforts to make Wikipedia easier to use and more accessible.
“Wikipedia is one of the greatest triumphs of the internet,” offered Google co-founder Sergey Brin. “This vast repository of community-generated content is an invaluable resource to anyone who is online.”
Wikipedia founder and Wikimedia Foundation board member, Jimmy Wales, also commented on the Google gift. “We are very pleased and grateful. This is a wonderful gift, and we celebrate it as recognition of the long-term alignment and friendship between Google and Wikimedia. Both organizations are committed to bringing high quality information to hundreds of millions of individuals every day, and to making the Internet better for everyone.”
The two organizations have a long-standing working relationship. Most recently, Google and the Wikimedia Foundation have partnered to support translation of Wikipedia content into key languages with relatively small Wikipedia editions. Google’s Translation Toolkit supports direct online translation of Wikipedia articles, and has been used by Google in Wikipedia translation pilot projects with speakers of Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili.
Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, offered: “It is wonderful that Google has stepped forward as a major supporter of a global, non-profit information commons. With this generous grant, we will be able to fund additional operations and development work to increase access and contributions to our free knowledge projects globally.”
Wikimedia’s support comes primarily from individual donations made by regular users of Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation completed its 2009-10 fundraiser in January. During the drive, 240,000 individuals donated more than $8 million, representing three quarters of its planned revenue for the fiscal year.