5 things nonprofits can learn from Wikipedia's online fundraising campaign | npENGAGE

5 things nonprofits can learn from Wikipedia’s online fundraising campaign

By on Dec 23, 2014


Wikipedia Online Giving Campaign

Every year, Wikipedia runs a fundraising campaign to support its operations. In 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation raised $37 million from more than 2.5 million donors through the foundations’ s online fundraising campaign.

The 2014 online giving campaign just wrapped up and there are plenty of lessons that other nonprofits can learn from Wikipedia. Here are five things Wikipedia does that are worth incorporating into your own online giving campaign:

1. Get to the Point: Wikipedia’s fundraising messaging is concise and to the point. In a few on-screen sentences they are able to convey the impact of a gift and how important it is for people to contribute. The messaging also notes that the campaign is time boxed and they highlight the key call to action message. The right message to the right people at the right time is still a winning formula.

2. Focus on the Donor: The process of giving is simple and very donor focused. Wikipedia supports donations in more than 70 different currencies and 16 payment methods. That’s more than what most nonprofits need to do, but this certainly shows they have done their homework to meet the needs of their global audience. Everything about the online giving experience has been optimized to make it a positive experience for the donor.

3.  Always Be Testing: Wikipedia does a Wikipedia Mobile Friendly Donationstremendous amount of testing that has helped to improve their online fundraising results. Last year, they tested more than 800 different banners that influenced this year’s online campaign. According to Wikipedia, “tests were run in each country to optimize for the local currency, ask amounts, payment methods and language variations.” Nonprofits can directly apply some of the techniques that Wikipedia has validated through testing.

4. Be Mobile Friendly: The Wikipedia online fundraising campaign was also highly optimized for mobile devices. I monitored their mobile friendliness on a variety of different devices during the campaign. They used both a full-screen and partial-screen call to action message that worked well on mobile devices. The donation process was also optimized for mobile devices too.

5. Measure Your Results: The team at Wikipedia is very focused on measuring their results. They understand the profile of the typical online donor and that helps to influence their testing. They set goals and have a project plan to keep things on track. Wikipedia uses metrics to understand how they are doing compared to prior campaigns and to continue trying to improve results going forward.

These are just a few of the things that nonprofits can learn from Wikipedia’s latest online fundraising campaign. It’s never too late to incorporate some of these ideas into your own online fundraising programs.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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