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This document is intended to be an easy to read introduction into the process of chapter creation. While it probably is not exhaustive and does not take into account differences between jurisdictions, it is the first stop for anyone thinking of forming a Wikimedia Chapter.
Please note that in some circumstances it may be possible (or necessary) to go about chapter creation in some other way. You might want to consult the Chapters committee about variations in procedure.
Step 1: Gather the people
At the very fundamental level, chapters are about people – a group, bound geographically, which wants to contribute to and support the Wikimedia projects as a whole in a way which includes other means than editing.
The laws of your country may require a given number of people to participate in the creation of a corporation. Make sure that your group has the required number of people before proceeding.
Step 2: Write the bylaws
This is by far the most important part of chapter creation.
The bylaws (statutes, or whatever the name of this document is in your language) should define the goals and objectives of your association in time and space. They should be precise and to the point. Avoid definitions which are either too vague or too restrictive.
When writing the bylaws you need to take several factors into account (in the order given below):
- the laws of your country
- Wikimedia Foundation's requirements for chapter creation
- the primary goals of your organization should be in line with those of the Wikimedia Foundation, i.e. to promote free content and support the Wikimedia projects.
- where possible, a non-profit status (or a status that allows you to tend towards non-profit)
- avoid ties to political statements/groups that do not fit within the scope of Wikimedia projects
- Wikimedia Foundation's guidelines for chapter creation
In order to make sure that those are observed, we advise you to inspire yourself first from bylaws of other organisations in your country and then adapt those to the Wikimedia requirements and guidelines. Do not try and translate existing Wikimedia chapters' bylaws, as legislation differs from one country to another and what seems evident in one country may make no sense in another.
If you have a lawyer in your group, make sure he/she is a strong part of the writing process, remember that you are ultimately responsible for the legal compliance of your organisation with the local laws.
In every part of this process, do not hesitate to ask the Chapters committee or existing chapters' members for advice.
Step 3: Submit bylaws to the chapters committee for approval
When your bylaws are ready (but before you do anything that would make the association official, like opening a bank account, holding a founding assembly, registering with your country's authorities etc.!), you should translate them into English and submit them to the Chapters committee for approval.
The Chapters committee might ask for a lawyer approved translation of the bylaws, in which case it will provide the necessary budget to translate the bylaws.
The chapters committee will review your bylaws and then will submit them to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation to approve the creation of your organization as a Wikimedia chapter.
The details of this process are given in the Chapter approval process document.
Once you have received the approval of the Wikimedia Foundation, you can go on and register your association as per is standard in your country.
Note that at this stage various agreements may be signed between the Wikimedia Foundation and the chapter as it is being created.
Step 5: Get some money
By this time you will probably need some money. You may have to pay registration fees, set up a bank account, etc. The first source of funds should be the community behind your organization (e.g. if you have set up a membership organization, now is the time to collect membership fees).
If you require more money than you can reasonably hope to gather from your group, you can ask the Chapters Committee to provide you with some additional funding to get you on your way.
Step 6: Go!
All done! You can now go about chapter business and promote Wikimedia projects in your country.
If you want some hints about possible projects, you can always look at what other chapters have accomplished or are currently doing.
Remember, you can always ask the Chapters committee as well as other chapters for help.