If you’ve checked out Wikipedia lately, you’ll notice that there’s a large, dramatic picture of a man named Jimmy Wales at the top of each page. This guy is the founder of Wikipedia, and he wants you to give the Wikimedia Foundation some money to keep the lights on at Wikipedia.
So why does this squinty, temple-veined, bearded man want your money? Wikipedia is completely free, with no advertisements or sponsorships. Wikipedia needs donations to keep running, and since almost a third of the Internet-connected world uses Wikipedia every month, it needs a decent amount of cash to stay free.
Aside from what is, in my opinion, a very genuine and valid call to action for donations, Jimmy Wales really offered himself up for the internet’s endless humor with this latest marketing move. But you know what’s crazy? Wikipedia has seen 15 times as many donations with the Jimmy Wales “personal appeal” message compared to their next most effective fundraiser!
Wikipedia provides data from their fundraising campaigns publicly, and David McCandless of informationisbeautiful.com created this fantastic infographic to show the difference in effectiveness.
And in case you were wondering, Wikipedia’s least successful fundraising campaign in the last year was their “Thanks for the brain massage.” campaign which resulted in only 19 donations.
Wikipedia’s Fundraising Committee puts a lot of thought into each campaign, and they’ve documented the details of their many campaigns on their What we’ve learned so far page. They’ve conducted focus groups, surveys, and have continued to improve their results by making data driven conclusions (very cool for us data nerds).
But of course, the best part about Wikipedia’s newest fundraising campaign is what the internet has done with it. You can add Jimmy Wales’ terrifying visage to any website with the Jimmy Wales Google Chrome extension (with some great pictures at TechCrunch). Dustin already did the honors of christening Techerator with Mr. Wales.
And finally, I’ll leave you with what I found floating around Twitter:
(Image courtesy @yesthatkarim)
I'm convinced Jimmy Wales spends money he raises on more headshots.
heard the wikipedia ads do better with jimmy wales' face on them... so i'm adding jimmy wales to my business cards.
Still no Beatles songs in the iTunes top 10. If the current promo isn't working, maybe they should put Jimmy Wales' face on top?
personal appeal to jimmy wales: stop staring into my soul
CEILING WALES IS WATCHING YOU NOT DONATE