Wikipedia is a free, collaborative, multilingual Internet encyclopaedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation – wait yes it is non-profit – but half of its users do not know it is. The site consists of 20 million articles (over 3.8 million in English alone) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world.
According to Mani Pande, Head of Global Development Research and Ayush Khanna, Data Analyst, Global Development research report, only about half of Wikipedia readers realize that the site is a non-profit – on average, 47% of readers did not know this. Lack of awareness was especially high in Russia (64%), Brazil (56%) and the United States (56%). Readers in India (61% were aware of Wikipedia’s non-profit status) and Egypt (70%) were the most informed. Readers with a graduate level education were significantly more likely to be aware of this fact. With over 400 million unique visitors every month, this means a high absolute number of people who use Wikipedia without realizing it is a non-profit endeavour.
Interestingly, 28% of readers who had edited Wikipedia were also unaware that it was a non-profit. That said, editors are much more likely to donate – 26% of them have donated, vs. only about 3% of the non-editing readers. In addition, while almost all non-editors have donated three or fewer times, as many as 21% of the editors have donated more than five times. Also, while men were more likely to donate once (44%) than women (36%), women are much more likely to be continued supporters, with 14% of them having donated more than 5 times, compared to only 6% of men.
The study was conducted during the summer of 2011. A 15-minute survey was administered to a total sample of 4,000 participants within the following 16 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, UK, and United States.