Ever since I have been working within Wikimedia, I have tried to understand what the best way to conduct a fundraising was. I mean, what are the tools and definitions people need in order to give and feel safe that they have given in a way that is close to them? For the first time this year, there is some testing being done on what works and what doesn't, which you can follow on the Wikimedia blog.

However, as far as I'm aware, these tests are only done on the English version of Wikipedia, and on the English version of the banners. I am pretty sure not every country/culture reacts to the same messages and it would probably be worth conducting the same kind of tests per language. Anyway.

I am French, I live in Germany and worked for an American organisation with local chapters across the world, which has given me some insight on the impact that Wikimedia as an international reaching organisation could have in different countries and cultures.

The Wikimedia organisations are spreading around the world through the establishment of locally-based "chapters". To this date, Wikimedia counts 21 official chapters, and about a dozen in the making. These chapters are local organisations, legally based in their countries, set up by convinced Wikimedians and people who believe in the cause of spreading free knowledge, and which operate on a local level to promote and support the Wikimedia projects. All of them are non-profit, some of them offer tax-deductibility in their country, all of them are dedicated to furthering the Wikimedia cause. And all of them are closer to the donor than the one in the next country.

To start with, I have observed that donors seem to be more comfortable giving to an organisation they understand. By understand, I mean an organisation that makes sense within their cultural scheme. As a French person, I would say that an "Association loi de 1901", which is the most common non-profit status in France, is something I understand. When you tell me "this is an association loi 1901", I know what you are talking about. This is, I suppose the case with a 501 c3 in the US, or an e.V. (eingetragener Verein) in Germany. Of course this is only about structure, there are many other cultural factors that play a role. It is always easier to check out an organisation which bylaws for example, or goals, or annual report is written in a language one understands.

The activities the chapters support and take part in are also closer to the donor. All of these activities (community animation, Wikipedia Academies, technical support for the projects, conferences and debates, workshops for editors, partnerships with free knowledge organisations etc.) happen within the donator cultural scheme, and the donor can go back to the local website and check out what has been done with their money.

And since we come to the subject of money, the logisitical ways put in place to allow to give money also seem very important to allow the donor to feel comfortable. If you don't think it through, it may seem like a given thing, and our world of Wikimedia projects contributors, with a high proportion of online-savvy people, will probably say "get Paypal" and be done with it.

The thing is, Paypal is only one solution out of many to get donations from one place to the other. And the online payment thing is not something that all cultures or countries particularly find easy, or even trust. I believe the French are not so keen on online payments, at least not with Paypal, and the Germans are not exactly credit card fans to start with. So another interesting thing is that the Wikimedia organisations offer means of supporting Wikimedia which are easier to put into practice for local donors. For example, the Germans can use the "Latschrift" technique, the French and Americans can send cheques, the Dutch can send to a Dutch bank account, the Italians can use Paypal, etc. In short, people can actually find the way to give that is most familiar to them.

The idea being that in the end, on very different scales, with different means and in different places of the world, donations made to any Wikimedia organisation end up being used for the same goal, that of empowering people by giving them access to free knowledge.

So, what's your preferred way of giving? Follow the links below to give close to you (only listed are the chapters with a donation page):