Bristol-based trustee of Wikimedia UK has spoken of his delight that the organisation has been given official charitable status. The Charity Commission approved Wikimedia UK, the UK membership organisation supporting Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, as a registered charity last week. The news comes as this year’s global Wikimedia fundraiser begins today. Wikimedia UK aims to raise £1million to support Wikipedia and its sister projects. The Charity Commission’s decision means that for the first time British donors to Wikimedia will be able to make their donations go further with Gift Aid. Speaking to Bristol24-7, Steve Virgin from Wikimedia UK said: “This is great news for Wikimedia UK, and Bristol, where Wikimedia UK is highly active with two local directors and a vigorous volunteer community. We can now claim Gift Aid on donations for the fundraiser that starts in the next few days, and the extra funds will help us to do more in Bristol.”
Leading charity law specialists Stone King LLP, who advised Wikimedia UK on the successful application for charity status, said the registration was “a milestone in the development of charity law in England and Wales”. “Wikimedia UK’s registration as a charity is a significant step toward the updating of charity law to reflect developments in modern communications and the evolution of user-generated content,” they said. “The promotion of open access to content and user-generated and -enriched content has not, until now, been recognised as a charitable purpose. Stone King and Wikimedia UK are therefore delighted that the Charity Commission has made the bold and wholly justified step that acknowledges the profound contribution that properly managed and regulated open content makes to society.”
Bristol has been active in the Wikimedia project, hosting an international conference on fundraising and working with the University of Bristol to create a student ambassador for the organisation. Earlier this year, the city hosted the only global public speaking engagement of co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales during the encyclopedia’s 10th birthday celebrations.