Lack of donations drives Wikipedia to test massive new ads

Less than 1 percent of Wikipedia’s 450 million monthly visitors donate money to the online encyclopedia, according to a message that’s currently showing up for some users. And that little statistical nugget could help explain why the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit that runs Wikipedia, could be turning to ever-bigger ads in its quest to increase funding.

As one of the world’s most-visited websites, Wikipedia needs little introduction. But unlike other online giants, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, or eBay, Wikipedia is ad-free and relies on donations to operate — each December it runs a three-week campaign to help drive revenue. Last year, it targeted $20 million in the build-up to Christmas alone.