They say that knowledge is power, and starting this week, you can support one of the Internet’s most powerful intellectual resources with Bitcoin. The Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia and over a dozen other free educational-content web projects, announced Wednesday that it has started accepting Bitcoin donations.
- The announcement on the Wikimedia Blog
“It has always been important to the Foundation to make sure donating is as simple and inclusive as possible,” wrote Lisa Gruwell, its chief revenue officer, in a statement.
“Currently, we accept 13 different payment methods enabling donations from nearly every country in the world, and today, we’re adding one more.”
Gruwell said that repeated requests from Wikimedia users spurred the decision, along with the recent guidelines issued by the US Internal Revenue Service on how American companies should report Bitcoin revenue.
The IRS said in March that, for tax purposes, Bitcoin should be treated as property and will be subject to capital gains taxes.
Wikimedia will use popular Bitcoin wallet Coinbase to accept cryptocurrency donations, which will be immediately converted to US dollars to minimize risks related to the currency’s notoriously volatile trading value. The strategy (and the wallet) is the same selected by satellite TV network DISH when it began accepting Bitcoin in May, the largest company at the time to do so.
Founded in 2003 by American Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, the Wikimedia Foundation now employs over 142 people and controls US$48.6 million in revenue, as of 2013.
- Jimmy Wales
Though Wikimedia users expressed approval and excitement about the move, many voiced concern about the donation page’s requirement that users register their full names, email, and post addresses in order to contribute, with several refusing to donate until the registration was removed.
“I was ready to donate some Bitcoin until I saw that we must give our full name and address…let’s not make things complicated here, all you need is a Bitcoin address,” wrote one user, who chose to post anonymously.
“You must remove the address and information collection for bitcoin donations. All you have to do is publish your bitcoin address and your donations will skyrocket,” wrote another. “I will not donate until you do so.”
One user suggested that Wikimedia added the registration page for Bitcoin donations because American non-profit organizations were legally required to collect donor information.
However, according to US law, a charitable organization like the Wikimedia Foundation (type 501(c )(3)) must only report the names of “significant contributors” donating property worth US$5,000 or more, OR donating more than 2% of the organization’s total contributions for the year.
Wikimedia, so far, has not removed the identification requirements for Bitcoin donors or responded to user requests to remove them. Still, the move is a huge win for the Bitcoin community, which has slowly but surely gained acceptance among increasingly massive companies over the last several months.
“Your support enables us to realize the Wikimedia vision – a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge,” Gruwell wrote.
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