Movement affiliates FAQ
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This page is an attempt to answer some of the frequently asked questions about Wikimedia chapters.
- 1 General questions
- 2 Chapter-Foundation relationship questions
- 3 Chapter creation questions
- 4 Other questions
What are local chapters?
Local chapters are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a specified geographical region (country). Like the Wikimedia Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally".
What is the point of having chapters?
Chapters exist to further the goals of Wikimedia. They do so by engaging in a wide range of activities, which includes but is not limited to the following:
- Promoting the Wikimedia projects so that new and different people join them or use them (academics, scientists, college students, schools, libraries etc.)
- Investigating and negotiating partnerships on a moral or financial basis to support the Wikimedia projects.
- Helping outside organisations use Wikimedia content, possibly for their own benefit (eg. help publishers of local history Wikireaders, of a Wikipedia DVD in a given language)
- Organizing local and national events and initiatives (eg. participate in trade shows, set up Wikipedia parties, give lectures etc.)
- Taking care of PR and lobbying in a given country, give the press an interlocutor in their own language and culture.
- Enabling (where applicable) tax-deductible donations in the country they are based in.
- Promoting Free Content and wiki culture in their respective territory.
Are chapters based on language or geography?
Chapters are based on geography, though this does not exclude people outside of a particular area from joining a chapter of their choice, depending on their language and affinity. In countries where there are several official languages, the local chapter should not be based on only one language, but include interested people from the different official languages.
Which chapters exist?
See the most up to date list of existing and prospective chapters.
Chapter-Foundation relationship questions
Who co-ordinates matters between chapters and the Foundation?
The Chapters committee.
They should be the first point of contact for all chapter-related matters, including but not limited to submitting bylaws for approval, requesting funds from the Foundation and signing any formal agreements between a chapter and the Foundation.
Do chapters legally represent the Foundation?
No, the chapters do not represent the Foundation legally. They are separate and independent legal entities, only liable for the work they accomplish in their jurisdiction.
Various agreements might be signed between each chapter and the Wikimedia Foundation, for example to allow them use of the name and logos, but chapters do not represent the Wikimedia Foundation, no more than the Wikimedia Foundation represents any given chapter.
How does fundraising work with chapters and Foundation?
As separate legal entities, the Wikimedia chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation need to respect the laws of the countries they are in regarding the way they fundraise and what they do with the money raised. As such, it may be that a simple exchange of cash from one entity to the other is allowed or isn't by the local tax authorities. In the end, all chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation share the same goal, that of promoting and supporting the Wikimedia projects. Chapters, like the Foundation, are bound by their bylaws to make sure that goal is achieved, their money must be spent towards that goal.
What if local law enforcement contacts a chapter for user information?
You (the chapter) tell them:
The Wikimedia Foundation hosts the Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites worldwide. A Chapter is a stand-alone, independent organization formed by local people who use Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. A Chapter is not governed, owned or operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. The Chapter has no responsibility with respect to running the Wikipedia or other Wikimedia sites, nor does it have access to user information. The Wikimedia Foundation is the appropriate entity to direct all official requests for user information. You can contact them at:
Wikimedia Foundation c/o CT Corporation System 818 West Seventh Street Los Angeles, California 90017
Primary Contact: Michelle Paulson, Associate Counsel Phone: +1 (415) 839-6885 ext. 6608 Facsimile number: +1 (415) 882-0495
Email: legal <at> wikimedia.org
We understand that the Wikimedia Foundation does require a U.S. subpoena before it releases user information, but we encourage you to talk to them directly to understand their process.
Chapter creation questions
Who can start a new chapter?
To initiate a new chapter you should have experience in contributing to any of the Wikimedia projects, and probably be able to contribute in the language of the country you reside in and wish to start a chapter for. Of course one person is not enough to create a full fledged organization, so you have to be ready to motivate and gather more active contributors from your country who are also interested and willing to participate in all the work that comes along with the creation of a legal entity.
It would help a lot if at least one of these persons is already involved in discussions regarding the Wikimedia Foundation, and at least one person has some kind of experience in legal issues.
For the creation itself you should be a group of between 10 and 20 people (if you can find more, that's fine, of course), even if your local laws require a smaller number.
What legal form should a local chapter have?
In countries where the status is applicable, the local chapter should have non-profit status and follow the local legislation for such organisations.
All existing chapters (as of January 2007) are member organisations, allowing interested individuals to join the chapter as voting members, but the final legal form should be chosen in the view of best fulfilling the goals similar to those of Wikimedia.
What arrangements need to be made with the Wikimedia Foundation?
This is better explained in the Step-by-step chapter creation guide. In any case, you will want to take a close look at the requirements for future chapters and the guidelines for future chapters to have a clearer view of the whole process and expectations to become a Wikimedia chapter.
How much are the membership fees?
- See also Wikimedia chapters#Existing chapters
Membership fees are up to each chapter to decide. Currently the membership fees for individuals range from not mandatory membership for the Serbian chapter via "1 PLN (about 0.25 €) or more per year" for the Polish chapter to a fixed 35 € per year for the French chapter. Some chapters have special discount fees for students, the unemployed, etc.
Some chapters also chose to establish a fixed fee for corporate members (eg. for Wikimedia Deutschland that fee is 100 €) while others have decided to establish these on a case-by-case basis.
Where can I find out more about each local chapter?
Each existing chapter, and some of the planned chapters, have a mailing list and a website where you can find out more. See Wikimedia chapters#Existing and planned chapters for details of these.
You may find the information on their websites or mailing lists. Occasionally, chapter representatives are invited to meetings of the Board of Trustees to give feedback, and this can be read about via the meeting notes at Wikimedia:Meetings.
You might also want to ask the chapters committee.
Where can I ask additional questions?
If you have questions that are not covered in this FAQ, please contact the Chapters committee.