[Foundation-l] Jimmy Wales donation appeal

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Wed Dec 24 01:59:27 UTC 2008

2008/12/23 effe iets anders <effeietsanders at gmail.com>:
> Up to now, I kinda liked the fundraiser. Although they are very shouty for
> what I'm used to (I dislike the red button for instance and the somewhat
> agressive tone), I think this last change in message could use a *little*
> step back. Please use a slightly smaller font, an slightly less shouty text.
> To me it really reads like " wow, now we're really desperate, PLEASE COME
> READ THIS ** APPEAL". I would really appreciate it if this last banner would
> be done a little less in a way that comes to me (justified or not) as
> "typical American"...

Within the last 24 hours, we've raised a total of $283,859. That's
more than 10 times as much as we made during a typical weekday in the
last few days of the fundraiser, and the single highest day on record
for community gifts. We don't know yet how steep the inevitable
drop-off will be, but it's obvious that the appeal is working beyond
everyone's expectations.

I think it's worth noting that this tenfold increase has been possible
without the use of additional pixel real estate, without scrolling
marquees,  interstitials, or other serious interruptions of the
Wikipedia reader/editor experience. All it took were less than 60
characters of text on each page in a highly visible font, linking to a
personal appeal that makes our case in more detail.

We should ask ourselves why it is that based on the previous
sitenotices, 9 in 10 people who would be clearly willing to give to
us, did not do so. There seem to be at least three principal reasons
for that:

* The previous messages were below the visibility threshold for most
people: They considered them to be an unimportant part of the page
that should be ignored.

* The previous messages did not, clearly enough, make a case for
giving. They appealed to people who instantly "get" the non-profit
donation model, but not to those for whom Wikipedia is essentially the
same as any other website. The appeal directly addresses this
distinction, to the satisfaction of a great number of people.

* Because it's a personal appeal, rather than an impersonal donation
message, the letter seems more likely to resonate with people.

Regardless of how the numbers will hold up, it's clear that these are
important lessons to take away: The appeal, compared to some of our
other site-notices, was trivial to implement. It's more important to
communicate clearly and in a personal manner what we're trying to do
than to focus on widgets & designs.

Yes, more so than before, this appeal communicates a sense of urgency.
As it should: We still have a revenue gap of $1.75M to just cover our
expenses for the fiscal year (let alone increase our reserve). We're
in the middle of the worst financial crisis in our lifetime; companies
are failing or laying off staff around us. If people's reaction is "I
don't want Wikipedia to go away - I better donate", that's not a bad

Obviously we should try to work out any remaining display glitches.
And I'm sure over time we'll find a "happy medium" when it comes to
aspects like font size, color, etc. But more importantly, we should
try to translate this appeal into as many languages as possible, as
it's currently just running in the English language wikis.
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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