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How Does Wikipedia Make Money (Business and Revenue Model)

The Wikipedia business model

How Does Wikipedia Make Money?
Here’s what you should know:
  • What is Wikipedia, and how does Wikipedia work?
  • How does Wikipedia make money?
  • Donations
  • Investment Income
  • Wikipedia Store (Selling Merchandise)
  • Wikimedia Enterprise API
  • Wikipedia’s profit and revenue
  • What is the Wikipedia business and revenue model?
  • Wikipedia’s funding and valuation

How does Wikipedia make money if it’s free to use? Here is a full, in depth, breakdown of their four (4) revenue streams and the different products and services they offer, as well as the Wikipedia business model, their profit and revenue, and how Wikipedia works.

What is Wikipedia, and how does Wikipedia work?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia with more than 58 million live articles on the internet in over 323 different languages.

Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia has continuously been ranked in the top 10 websites for the last 18 years receiving more than 15 billion global page views per month.

How Wikipedia works is: Wikipedia is free to read and is written collectively by more than 82 million users that have access to write and edit Wikipedia articles, although less than roughly 300,000 of them are active monthly – which leads to more than 500 new articles being published every day.

Some of Wikipedia’s competitors include Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Encyclopedia.com, and other online encyclopedias.

Wikipedia App in Apple App Store | Wikipedia Business Model | How Does Wikipedia Make Money? | How Does Wikipedia Work?
Source: Apple App Store | Wikipedia

Note: Wikipedia is the only top 10 website that’s a non-profit.

How does Wikipedia make money?

According to Wikimedia Statistics, Wikipedia gets more than 15 billion page views per month globally. So how does Wikipedia make money off of all that traffic if the service they offer is free?

Below is a breakdown of how much money Wikipedia makes and its revenue model. Including all revenue streams and how much they charge for their services.

Here are the 4 ways of how Wikipedia makes money (in 2022):

Wikipedia has a revenue model that makes money in four (4) ways – donations, investments, selling merchandise, and Wikimedia Enterprise API.

#1. Donations

The Wikimedia Foundation, the parent of Wikipedia, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies on donations for income.

In fact, $153.1 million or 94% of of Wikipedia’s total revenue of $162.8 million was raised through its donations and contributions in 2021.

Wikipedia Donations | Wikipedia Business Model | How Does Wikipedia Make Money? | How Does Wikipedia Work?
Source: Wikipedia

Note: 94% of Wikipedia’s total revenue came from donations in 2021.

#2. Investment Income

Wikipedia also makes money through its investments. According to Wikimedia Foundation’s FY2021 Audit Report, the nonprofit profited $4.35 million from its investments to be exact.

The Wikimedia Foundation takes the surplus cash of its revenue and invests it into the traditional short term, mid term, and long term investments made up of corporate bonds, mortgage backed securities, and U.S Treasury securities.

#3. Wikipedia Store (Selling Merchandise)

In addition to Wikipedia’s donations and investment income, Wikipedia also sells its own merchandise through the Wikipedia Store.

Items, such as branded Wikipedia gear and accessories, range in price from $3 to $40.

Source: Wikipedia Store

#4. Wikimedia Enterprise API

In March 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a new paid service, Wikimedia Enterprise API.

Wikimedia makes it clear, Wikipedia’s content is and will always be free to access. This new paid API service is only in addition to. Made for the high volume corporate users that benefit and make money from using Wikipedia’s content freely – such as companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and more.

Wikimedia Enterprise API Pricing:

  • three (3) tiers, starting at $25,000 per year
Wikipedia Enterprise API | Wikipedia Business Model | How Does Wikipedia Make Money? | How Does Wikipedia Work?
Source: Wikimedia Enterprise

Note: This service operates under Wikimedia Enterprise, a for profit organization that runs separate from its nonprofit counterpart, the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikipedia’s profit and revenue

In 2021, Wikipedia reported $162.8 million in revenue.

Note: Because Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (parent of Wikipedia) is a privately held company, they are not required to make their annual reporting, such as Form 10-K’s, pubic.

What is the Wikipedia business and revenue model?

Wikipedia makes money through a few revenue models that they combine within their company, they are:

  • Pay what you want (PWYW) business model
  • Interest revenue model
  • Transaction based business model
  • Business to business (B2B) revenue model

Wikipedia’s funding and valuation

According to Wikimedia Foundation’s Crunchbase profile, Wikimedia Foundation (parent of Wikipedia) raised $144.9 million over 12 rounds – some being in the form of grants.