The Story of WikiLeaks and Revenue via Donations

Photo by Sean MacEntee / Flickr

Yes, a group that is dedicated to being open and transparent has murky finances. Even Julian Assange has admitted to noticing the irony. In a recent Daily Beast story from earlier this summer, they wrote about how WikiLeaks is being used to generate revenue for Assange and Snowden, both who really need the money. Legal fees alone are probably very high.

Paying for the Information Revolution

WikiLeaks decided to take on Snowden – the NSA leaker. The move caused their donations to increase quite a bit. In 2012 they reportedly brought in just under $100,000. After taking Snowden’s cause on, they’ve increased to over $1,000 a day. While that $100k seems like a lot of money, WikiLeaks operating costs in the same year totaled $510,197, quite a bit more than they brought in via donations.

WikiLeaks makes money in many different ways. People may send a personal check to some location in a country somewhere in the world while others may use virtual currency like Bitcoins. They even have agreements with some retailers – like those who sell t-shirts – to get some of the proceeds made by the merchandising efforts. This results in a trail of money that is very difficult to track.

According to Assange, this is intentional. And as we already mentioned, the irony isn’t lost on him. WikiLeaks also has other “celebrity” clients they’re helping, like Bradley Manning, who was convicted of sending documents to WikiLeaks. But raising money isn’t as easy for them as you might think.  PayPal, Visa, Western Union, and even Bank of America has banned them from doing business.

Still, a lot of people donate, and many do so anonymously for one reason or another. WikiLeaks’ finances are handled by Wau Holland Foundation. WHF was formed back in 2001 by members of the German Chaos Computer Club, which is one of the world’s oldest hacker groups. They accept anonymous donations for WikiLeaks all the time. While most amounts they receive are small, one American donor (who is remaining anonymous) sent them $50,000 in one go.

However, recently donations for the group were down. That is, until they took on the Snowden situation. Since then donations have climbed to higher levels. Assange and others still say they’re not making enough money for everything they need to do. WikiLeaks has made some information of theirs available online, like one of their Operating Budgets for 2012.

As the world becomes even more inundated with news and information, it’s important for everyone to be transparent – even the watchers who are watching the watchers. If you have an opinion about WikiLeaks, Assange or even Snowden, leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Author Bio:

Sheila Kurdinger likes to buy gold coins online. When not conducting business transactions or making investments in precious metals, he enjoys writing interesting articles and guest posts to share with the rest of the Internet.