The Wikimedia Foundation, parent organization of Wikipedia and other super-wikis, closed out its annual fundraising campaign with another record-breaking haul. The campaign raised $20 million, about 71% of its planned operating budget this year. Donations have risen every year since the campaigns began in 2003.

Wikipedia serves more than 470 million unique visitors every month, and it doesn’t pay for all that bandwidth with advertising. This annual fundraising campaign provides the bulk of Wikimedia’s funding, and the rest comes from gifts and grants like the one Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki made for $500,000 in November.

Wikimedia’s planned spending this year is $28.3 million. The funds raised in this campaign will go toward key operating costs like servers and other hardware, as well as expanding mobile services, covering legal costs and supporting volunteers around the world.

As usual, creepy Jimmy Wales pics adorned Wikipedia pages throughout the campaign. This year’s pleas also featured volunteer editors from all over the world. You may find it creepy, but these sultry faces and their hilarious juxtapositions must be working.

“Our model is working fantastically well,” says Wikimedia’s executive director, Sue Gardner. “Ordinary people use Wikipedia and they like it, so they chip in some cash so it will continue to thrive.”

As the volunteer-run encyclopedia has grown, it has shown signs of stress. Editorial work has fallen behind, held back by a difficult markup language and some snooty veteran editors. But Wikipedia is an irreplaceable online institution now, and the ongoing success of its fundraising campaigns proves it. If Wikimedia can scare us into donating to keep its vast resources alive and ad-free, more power to it.

Check your browser history. How many times did you visit Wikipedia in the past week?