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The pushback on the mailing list was heavy, but I imagine there is a silent group of less chapter-focused editors who aren't too bothered by this (if they paid much attention to this type of stuff; many are busy editing articles). Some of the comments on the mailing list don't seem quite right - for example, it's not clear to me that user groups cannot have incorporation and bylaws, but rather that they are not required to. II | (t - c) 16:04, 13 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Without commenting too much on the specifics, it looks like the WMF Board is getting a good handle on controlling the movement's finances, which is something it has to do. Willy nilly growth, especially of fixed costs, is a sure fire way to get into financial trouble. We have to make sure that spending money actually accomplishes something for the movement. I think we have enough fundraising ability that we can afford to make a few mistakes, but that is not a good argument for us to go and actually make the mistakes. Reasoning like "The burden of the proof should be on the WMF board to explain why ..." they don't allocate money, has got it exactly reversed. Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:15, 13 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
.......and there are no doubt other editors such as myself that thinks its about damned time that WMF starts to take limiting access to its massive money teat seriously. The funded user groups are, one and all, disgustingly inefficient. Carrite (talk) 19:11, 13 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
that's going a bit far, if they can spend the money efficiently there should be no problem funding them. Smallbones(smalltalk) 19:15, 13 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, there's no problem funding them, and they have no problem spending money. As for "efficiently" — show it to me, that will be the first. Carrite (talk) 06:26, 14 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • "...after considerable post-meeting consultation with the FDC and the Affiliations Committee (AffCom)". I wonder how a brief email saying "we have decided to do this" and a reply saying "we do not agree for these, these and these reasons", with the decision being still unchanged by the WMF-Board, becomes "considerable post-meeting consultation". --Maor X (talk) 19:32, 13 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One thing I don't understand is why it is considered impossible to be an effective non-profit organization without incorporating in Europe? There are tons of effective non-profits in the US that aren't incorporated. In fact, most non-profits here start off as being non-incorporated for a few years first before incorporating. There are even some U.S. non-profits that have been around for decades and still aren't incorporated. Is this claim really accurate or an exaggeration? Kaldari (talk) 23:42, 14 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There might be no general answer to that, Europe is a big place. I can tell you about the situation in Hungary (I am no lawyer or accountant so I might be wrong, but I helped in the founding of WM-HU and looked into the situation a bit at the time): basically you are either incorporated or not an organization. A group of friends who call themselves a user group can go a long way, but it quickly becomes awkward when it comes to handling money. Grant money would have to be stored on someone's personal bank account; unlike a charity they would have to pay VAT on everything (27% currently I think); whoever owns the account would be personally responsible (e.g. any accounting problems would go on his record; if he has a private enterprise, that could loose tax benefits just because it is the same person); if something happens to him, the other user group members might not get to the money easily; if his private assets are seized (a divorce, his enterprise going to bust, whatever) the grant money could be seized as well. Not to mention if he actually had bad intentions, since he owns the account there would be basically no protection, as opposed to an incorporated charity. So as soon as money is involved, a non-incorporated user group is pretty much worthless (and if no money is involved, why bother with the bureaucratic overhead of AffCom recognition in the first place?).
That said, a user group could just incorporate when it is formed, and change its name and bylaws after two years when it seeks recognition as a chapter; that means some extra bureaucracy compared to the current process, but I don't see any serious drawbacks. --Tgr (talk) 09:29, 26 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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