[Foundation-l] A chapters-related question

Thomas Dalton thomas.dalton at gmail.com
Mon Jul 6 14:58:42 UTC 2009

I agree that this is a discussion worth having. Chapters fulfil one
very specific purpose (furthering the goals of the movement within a
certain geographical area), there are all kinds of other useful things
to do which need appropriate tools.

Several people have talked about informal groups signing things
(contracts similar to the chapters agreement, MoU's, etc.). For a
group without any legal structure, this isn't really possible. The
group can't sign anything, just the individuals. For a group set up
for one short term project, this isn't too bad (although it isn't
great), but for a long term thing like the Brazilian non-chapter it
isn't an option because the membership is going to be constantly
changing. In the UK there is a concept of an unincorporated
association where the association (which can have full charitable
status) isn't a legal entity in its own right and any agreements it
makes are actually made with the Board of Trustees as a group of
individuals but there is some kind of legislation that ensures
continuity - when the membership of the board changes, the parties to
the agreements somehow change (I didn't investigate this in much
detail because Wikimedia UK decided to go down the incorporated
route). That kind of association would work absolutely fine as a
chapter (the main disadvantage is that the board are personally liable
for the chapter's debts, including court ordered fines and damages)
and doesn't need a separate framework, but as I understand it there
isn't any such option for Brazil (or, if there is, it is no better
than the alternative).

There is nothing that I can see that would stop an Assoc. of Blind
Wikipedians (or similar) from incorporating somewhere (wherever is
most convenient or legally favourable) and could have local chapters
of its own. It could then sign something similar to a chapters
agreement, although with a different name ("affiliated

Groups that don't want (or can't have) any kind of legal structure can
just sign ad-hoc agreements with the WMF as individuals for grants or
trademarks or whatever for any specific project they may want to do.

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