As an independent nonprofit library, the Internet Archive is powered by donations from individual users, and every little bit helps. But have you ever wondered how your donations are used? Or what impact your giving has on our work? The contributions we receive are crucial to continuing our mission—here are a few ways they help!
The Internet Archive builds and maintains all of its own infrastructure, rather than contracting it out. Right now we’re holding more than 70 petabytes of data, including millions of books, hundreds of millions of webpages, and thousands of collections focused on everything from video gaming to opera music. That’s a lot of storage space!
The donations we receive help us purchase servers, provide bandwidth, and pay the electricity bills, so that anyone, anywhere, can access our resources. This year our systems have seen more use than ever before, and we were able to make some upgrades thanks to the generosity of our patrons. Your donations allow us to serve more than 1.5 million visitors every day!
All those servers need people to build and maintain them. The website needs programmers to develop it, the collections need archivists to organize them, and our patrons need librarians to answer their questions. We employ 150 people around the world to scan books, build software, maintain data centers, acquire new materials, and find ways to make the archive better for our users. That’s a small staff for one of the world’s top 300 websites—and in 2020, they’ve stretched even farther by working remotely to keep the archive online. Most of our employees could make more at a profit-driven company, but they’ve chosen instead to work at a nonprofit where every dollar counts and the mission comes first.
Most importantly, the generosity of our users is used to fund our work! These projects include the Wayback Machine, a crucial tool for preserving the history of the web. In an era of disinformation and misinformation, having documentation of what’s being said and who’s saying it is absolutely critical—and your donations help us keep the record straight.
We also use patron contributions to run the Open Library, a free, digital lending library of over 4 million eBooks that can be read in a browser or downloaded for reading off-line. It costs us just $20 to acquire, digitize, and preserve a book forever, making it available to readers around the world—and thanks to the contributions from our patrons, we’re always adding to the stacks!
Other projects that your donations fund include the Decentralized Web initiative, the TV News Archive, and our preservation of open access journals. We also use donations to help acquire, transport, and digitize special collections—such as ephemera from the Tytell Typewriter Company, the Marygrove College Library, or a dizzying array of 78 rpm records.
How to Help
If you’d like to make a donation to the Internet Archive, we’d greatly appreciate your support! Your contribution helps us survive, thrive, and keep growing. In addition to our online donations portal, there are several other options for how you can give. If you would like to make a securities donation or receive information about estate planning, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even donate using cryptocurrency!
If you’re unable to donate at the moment—or if you’ve already given—there are still ways you can lend a hand. Using Amazon Smile and setting the Internet Archive as your preferred charity will mean that we get a small donation every time you make a purchase. If your employer matches charitable contributions, you can easily double your impact—check your company here! And if you’re looking for more small ways you can help out, check out this blog post on how to make a difference right now without leaving the house.
We’re so grateful for each and every person who chooses to contribute to us. Thanks for your support, and enjoy the archive!