Despite tough economy, Wikimedia raises $20 million in donations

Wikimedia Foundation is marking the new year with a hefty deposit into its coffers.

The San Francisco-based non-profit group that maintains Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, officially closed its annual fundraising drive on Tuesday. The total amount raised: $20 million.

That’s a record, and a step up from the $16 million Wikimedia raised last year during a nearly two-month-long fundraising effort.

Raising $20 million may seem commonplace by the standards of today’s super-heated venture capital start-up world. But given the difficult economic environment, and some of the struggles that other non-profits have experienced raising money, Wikimedia’s result is notable.

The drive garnered some big-ticket donations, such as $500,000 from Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife’s foundation. But according to Wikimedia, the majority of the pledges came from more than a million ordinary folks coughing up donations in the $20 range.

Google’s Brin, wife donate $500,000 to keep Wikipedia going

Very few have missed Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ picture looming on all of the pages of the user-generated information website.

But that may soon go away, thanks to Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki.

The duo donated $500,000 to the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia and its sister sites, through their Brin Wojcicki Foundation.