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updated 11/5/2008 6:06:43 PM ET 2008-11-05T23:06:43

The nonprofit group that runs Wikipedia launched its annual appeal to donors Wednesday, seeking $6 million to cover the costs of the volunteer-created Internet encyclopedia. That figure would be a threefold increase from what the campaign raised last year.

This fundraising campaign is set to last until Jan. 15, Wikipedia's eight-year anniversary. This is the first year the San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation has set an explicit financial goal.

Wikipedia, one of the most popular online reference tools, is free and does not post ads, so it counts on donations to keep operating and growing. To advertise the campaign, Wikipedia is posting banners on its pages that users can click on to donate. So far, the campaign has pulled in one-third of its goal, $1 million of which came from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Wikimedia Foundation's executive director, Sue Gardner, said that like others in the nonprofit sector, she is concerned about how the sluggish economy could hurt donations. But with supporters around the world, she said, "I think we are buffered and insulated a little bit by the breadth and depth of our donor pool."

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