Wikipedia Needs a Business Model not Donations - plead-for-business model

Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, recently made a plead-for-donations for his extremely successful website (hat tip to Victor Lombardi).

Dear Jimmy Wales, this looks really desperate and I think it's the wrong route you are going down! A great website, such as yours, should not have to rely on the mercy of donors. I would suggest you try to find a better business model, because donations are just not sustainable... Look at the lessons of long standing not-for-profit organizations: They are relying less and less on donations.

With your foundation you are hoping to raise $6 million through your annual campaign. With such a valuable and successful website, I think you would better focus on your core competencies rather than fund raising. You have the assets to build a successful business model and still fulfill your vision. 8 years of track record, 275 million monthly visits to your website, 11 million articles in 265 languages and your 150'000 volunteers merit more than the mercy of donors.

Please learn lessons from companies like Google. Based on advertising they have contributed just as much to trying to make knowledge universally accessible than Wikipedia. Ok, you don't want to use advertising, because your volunteers think that could compromise the content. Well, I think you have a much larger range of possible business models to explore than just one built on advertising based revenue streams. I think you should launch a plead-for-business-models rather than a plead-for-donations.

I don't want to give you any recommendations - you and your board are smart enough. However, if I were to find money to fulfill Wikipedia's vision I would look into other business models that are complementary to your overall not-for-profit goal. Examples:

  • Licensing Wikipedia's technology to for-profit-companies
  • Hosting other Wiki's (similar to what WordPress does for blogs)
  • Membership fees like Amnesty International has

Here Jimmy Wales' plead-for-donations:

Personally, I don't really believe in donations. Some of the organizations that I find most astonishing and have achieved a huge social and economic impact are not at all donation-based (some take donations, but it's not at their core). Here I'm thinking of Grameen Bank, Grameen Phone, Kiva or WISE.

Any other suggestions for Wikipedia business models?