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Wikipedia fundraiser ends with $20M in the bank

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Those intriguing fundraiser banners have finally disappeared from the pages of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

The site’s fundraising efforts for the year have ended, and the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit behind Wikipedia) was able to gather a record $20 million during the drive.

“We’ve hit our target. Thanks to you,” writes Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner in a post this morning.

“Over the past few months, more than one million people have come together from all over the world to keep Wikipedia and its sister sites alive and flourishing for another year.”

These one million donors come from nearly every country in the world, the foundation said in a statement. Wikimedia Foundation’s communications chief, Jay Walsh, also wrote that this fundraiser was the foundation’s all-time most successful campaign ever.

“The number of Wikimedia Foundation donors has increased ten-fold since 2008, and the total dollar amount raised in the campaign has risen to over $20 million from $4.5 million,” Walsh continued.

The $20 million generated by the 2011 fundraising campaign will be used by the foundation to purchase and install new Wikipedia servers and other hardware. It will also be used to develop new site features, expand Wikipedia’s mobile services, add to the foundation’s legal defense fund and support Wikipedia’s large and worldwide community of volunteers.

The foundation’s total budgeted spending for the 2011-2012 year is $28.3 million. While most of that sum was raised through the on-site Wikipedia fundraising banners, the rest will come in the form of grants from institutions and smaller donations from individuals throughout the year.

The Wikimedia Foundation first began its crowdfunding operations in 2003. To date, it claims it is the only major website supported by its users rather than by advertising.