Guidelines for future chapters and thematic organizations
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Note: The chapter and thematic organization recognition processes are currently being reviewed to ensure that all newly approved chapters and thematic organizations are active sustainable organisations. In the meantime, we recommend the user group model for both incorporated and unincorporated organisations. Please contact the Affiliations Committee to discuss what is the best way for you to achieve your goals, and get the help and support you need in furthering the Wikimedia mission the way you want to.
Below are the guidelines for organizations wanting to become a Wikimedia chapter or thematic organization. These are an addition and expansion to the minimal requirements.
While it is not necessary for an organization to fulfill all these guidelines, the Affiliations committee will likely ask for an explanation as to why they cannot or should not be followed in a given jurisdiction. Be sure to prepare the response in advance.
The below guidelines apply equally to chapters and thematic organizations.
As specified in the requirements, involvement of contributors to the Wikimedia projects is essential to the grounding of a chapter.
However, it is crucial that each chapter remains an entity separate from the Wikimedia projects. Chapters are independent organisations that group users of the Wikimedia projects, regardless of their number of edits or roles within the projects, as well as friends and supporters of those projects.
Founding a chapter with "all the admins" in the projects, or "only active contributors" is the wrong way to go. It is possible that people who are not active contributors will be interested in the real life commitment to the Wikimedia movement that chapters enable, while others who are active contributors will not see the necessity for a chapter. Make sure the balance is kept between who is part of the chapter and who is not.
The Wikimedia projects are not the chapter's playground and the chapter should never confer to its members a position of specific power within a Wikimedia project.
The chapter, when possible, should be a membership organization.
While not all legal systems and cultures allow for a membership organisation to be created, we strongly recommend that this model is at least investigated. Membership organisations usually include a board elected by the members, ensuring change and scalability (if a member of the board is not active any more, they can be replaced, for example). We are open to all other forms of association which might arise, but participative structures should be favored.
The chapter, when possible, should be a non-profit organisation, or aim to become one.
Legal requirements to become a non-profit organization may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some will be able to form a non-profit organisation to start with, others will have to go through a certain number of steps to acquire this status. The legal structure chosen should allow for non-profit status.
Name of the organization
The legal name of the chapter should be "Wikimedia [name of country in local language]". (For thematic organizations see the step-by-step guide.)
For the sake of uniformity and clarity, it is suggested that a chapter should follow the naming convention adopted by existing chapters.
If this is not possible for legal reasons, the chapter should at least use the above name as an operating name for all ventures connected with Wikimedia.
- Requirements for future chapters
- Step-by-step chapters creation guide
- Requirements for future thematic organizations
- Step-by-step thematic organizations creation guide
Further recommendations by the Affiliations Committee
For legal and philosophical reasons chapters are set up as organisations legally independent from the Wikimedia Foundation. This reduces the risk of a chapter being liable for something the Wikimedia Foundation is responsible for (e.g. the content of Wikipedia). One way to ensure this independence is to avoid formulations in the bylaws such as "Wikimedia X is a local/national branch/chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation." (Mentioning the goal or objective of supporting Wikimedia Foundation projects or similar formulations are usually fine.)