In the rare story where I’m allowed to cite Wikipedia as a primary source, the Wikimedia Foundation officially ceased accepting donations in the form of crypto on Sunday.
“We began our direct acceptance of cryptocurrency in 2014 based on requests from our volunteers and donor communities. We are making this decision based on recent feedback from those same communities,” said Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, Wikimedia’s chief advancement officer, in an online statement. Seitz-Gruwell added that the WMF would be closing its Bitpay account entirely.
The announcement comes a couple of weeks after Wikipedia editors and others active in the WMF community voted to end crypto donations, citing the environmental toll and predatory nature (i.e. scamminess) of digital currency, in April. That final vote tally was 232 to 94, or about 71% in favor of the proposal to deny crypto giving, and followed three months of debate and deliberation.
The main author of the proposal to exit the crypto market was Molly White, AKA user GorillaWarefare. White runs the Twitter account @web3isgreat, where she documents many of the numerous failures, thefts, scams, and schemes happening with “blockchain-based projects,” presumably providing lots of fodder for the argument that crypto is too volatile and disaster-prone to rely on as a regular source of donations.
“I’m really happy that the Wikimedia Foundation implemented the request from its community, and I’m really proud of my community for making what I feel was the ethical decision after a lot of thoughtful discussion,” said White in a statement to Gizmodo. “There are just too many issues with crypto for any potential donation revenue to be worth the cost of helping to legitimize it,” she added.
Other non-profit groups, like the World Wildlife Fund and the Mozilla Foundation have also recently backed away from blockchain donations and fundraising efforts. Mozilla’s decision, in particular, served as part of the motivation and inspiration for the Wikimedia move, as it was referenced in White’s proposal.
In 2021, cryptocurrency accounted for just 0.08% (about $130,000) of the donations received by the Wikimedia Foundation. “It remains one of our smallest revenue channels,” said Julia Brungs, a community relations specialist for the WMF in an online comment in the initial proposal thread. So, WMF will likely be financially fine without bitcoin and ether coming in.
“We will continue to monitor this issue, and appreciate the feedback and consideration given to this evolving matter by people across the Wikimedia movement,” concluded Seitz-Gruwell in Sunday’s announcement. “We will remain flexible and responsive to the needs of volunteers and donors.”
Update 5/2/2022, 10:50 a.m. ET: This post has been updated with comment from Molly White.