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08 November 2011, 15:17

Wikimedia UK gets charitable status

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Wikimedia UK – the chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation that covers the United Kingdom – has been registered as a charity by the Charity Commission. Charity law specialists Stone King LLP, who advised Wikimedia UK on the application, described this decision as “a milestone in the development of charity law in England and Wales” as it marks "a significant step toward the updating of charity law to reflect developments in modern communications and the evolution of user-generated content".

The announcement comes before the launch of the annual global Wikimedia Foundation 2011 fundraising campaign. The Wikimedia Foundation – the non-profit organisation that operates and supports Wikipedia – is fully funded by donations. In each year's annual drive it asks its readers to "pitch in '$5, $10 or $20 to keep Wikipedia free'" until the fundraising target is reached.

Each year Wikimedia posts its annual report; this gives details of its long term strategic plans and the previous year's achievements, as well as financial information covering donations. Wikimedia has over 400 million users and is supported directly by donations from its large community. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, decided to run Wikipedia on a non-commercial basis as he felt that was in keeping with his vision of the service as comparable to a public library or park.

The Wikimedia Foundation is based in San Francisco, California. As the foundation has grown and gained widespread use, the foundation has granted chapters in many countries, including the UK. Each country then raises funds through donations to help fund the existence of their chapter and the foundation. The UK Wikimedia Charter aims to raise £1 million for this year's drive.

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