GNU/Linux Matters non-profit to run GetGNULinux websites
Myself and Gustavo are happy to announce the set-up of an association to run the GetGNULinux.org website and all its translations. It is a non-profit organisation named GNU/Linux Matters. You can read all about it in the bylaws[pdf, 600K], which contain all the important information.
Do you wish to take part in moving the GetGNULinux project along? We warmly invite you to become a member!
- Why an association?
As we keep growing and becoming a successful advocacy project, we need an official status. This association is going to be the backbone of the GGL project.
When contacting people and companies, instead of being "Bob who contributed pieces to a website", we can be "A member of GNU/Linux Matters, an international registerd non-profit organisation".
People can trust us more easily. We know where we are heading.
- What is an association?
An association (precisely "Association de Loi 1901" in France where it will be set-up) is a legal body - a "corporation" in the original sense. It can own things, sue, be sued, have a bank account, etc. A real legal citizen.
* It cannot be owned. It cannot have shareholders. It cannot operate for the financial benefit of its members, although it may operate for their benefit generally (for example, a bicycle club association).
* The bylaws are registered in the Government Records ("Journal Officiel", JO) and any change to the bylaws must be declared to the Government (otherwise they are not valid).
* The association can be dissolved by decision of Government.
* Members cannot be forced to be/stay members.
* The association must be non-profit. There is no exact definition (limit to funds or spendings, etc) of "non-profit"; but generally money should not be accumulated, nor be given away to individuals.
* It cannot keep finances secret.
* It can be required to pay tax if it has financial activity where there are competitors. For example, selling GGL T-shirts is tax-free, but activities such as advertising may be taxed.
* It can employ people. Tax has to be paid on it (more precisely, "charges", social security, contribution to retirement funds, etc, etc,) at approximately 60% (i.e. you pay someone 100â‚¬, then pay Gov. â‚¬60). Both regular salaries and one-off payments are acceptable.
- Any disadvantages?
* An association makes things slower. It takes a huge amount of time to manage, decisions aren't as quick. We are bound to the law in many aspects, for example financial accounts which must be extremely clear.
* By law, we have to have French bylaws and will be subject to French law. Sorry, I (Olivier) can't afford regularly traveling to the US or England, things have to be where I live.
* We'll need 1-2 months of patience before we are fully registered once the official documents are submitted.
* If we want to be able to partner with companies and/or receive subventions, we will probably need to receive an official certificate from the French administration that we are of "General Interest" ("dÃ©claration d'IntÃ©rÃªt GÃ©nÃ©ral", that is, that we don't operate for our own benefit). Obtaining it takes... 6 to 9 months. Welcome to France :-S
- Why such an internal organisation?
I know that many people may frown over the internal organisation of the association.
The main point to understand is that we are by no means trying to rally a large number of people. GNU/Linux Matters is not about representing GNU/Linux users, it's about active advocacy.
As such, we went for a very simple structure with few (~12) members. Gustavo has many excellent ideas for a more advanced internal organisation. I hope to re-write the internal organisation (not the rest of the bylaws) in 2-3 months, as hopefully people are willing to take different, more interesting positions in the association.
The underlying philosophy right now is: Keep It Stupidly Simple. By experience within other 1901 associations, I know that managing large numbers of members takes a huge amount of time; and I want to spend mine advocating, not doing politics/management.
I want the decision-taking to be strong, so the structure is "vertical" (lots of "power" in the Board of Directors, not really a democratic organisation). Rest assured however that anyone is welcome to undertake any task, if it makes sense for the association.
- Who should be a member and why?
Myself and Gustavo have arbitrarily given ourselves the titles of President and First Secretary. These positions will be subject to vote once a year.
If you are willing to help even just a little with the association, then you might wish to become a member of the Advisory Board. There is no precise expectation from members.
The requirements are:
* To be over 16, write in English, give real name & address;
* To fully understand and accept the bylaws, and have basic appreciation of where the association is going (see the Future of GGL and Big Field discussions).
There is no membership fee.
Members will participate in the votes, however, we still intend to discuss most issues right here in the forum and take account of non-member views!
Members must also consider that they take some responsibility for the stands and actions of the association. This could, although it's highly unlikely, include legal matters.
The bottom-line is: we are not trying to federate many people. Only to be a well-organised advocacy group. You are invited to be part of it!
This is it!
We hope you will show interest in the association. If you have comments, questions, criticisms about it, we are all ears.
Unless there are major modifications to these bylaws, the registration process (including submission of translated bylaws) will be completed before the end of the month, and the association will be fully registered by the end of March.
Don't hesitate to contact us directly (olivier or gustavo at getgnulinux.org) if you wish.
Thanks for your attention
Olivier and Gustavo.