Wikimedia Chapters Association/Place of registration
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Wikimedia 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". 39 chapters currently exist in every continent of the world.
The Wikimedia Chapters Association (WCA) is an umbrella organization for these chapters. The organization was established on March 31st, 2012 in Berlin. The members of the organization are looking for a suitable country to register the organization. With that goal in mind, the following are suggested criteria for choosing a country to host the association:
- Stable political/social system with no immediate or future political instability.
- Low corruption levels, low crime, stability. Unstable political systems might change laws that govern associations.
- Good legal framework for incorporation, where the association can use the charter already drafted with little adaptations; easy to understand incorporation process, low level of bureaucracy.
- How simple is the process of incorporation? Does it require any complex government permissions? How many modifications must be done to the charter to make it suitable? Is it allowed for the charter/bylaws of the association be amended after incorporation? Is there an audit governing body?
- Flexible corporate processes for making decisions/resolutions and undertaking day-to-day governance.
- Can decisions/resolutions be made online? Does the council members or board members (if applicable) have to be of a certain nationality? Does decisions/resolutions require excessive process, like complex notarization?"
- Stable economic system, easy to receive and send funds internationally. No restrictions on being affiliated with organizations outside the country.
- A stable economic system where rules are clear so as to avoid surprises. A healthy market, being able to send/receive foreign funds with little to no government intervention or taxes.
- Tax favorable.
- Desired low to no taxes for non-profits. Is there a VAT on donations from members? income tax? state tax? sales tax? Does the country have agreements with other countries to avoid double taxation?
- Socially progressive (freedom of speech, press, etc). Easy copyright laws.
- At the heart of the association is the idea of free knowledge for everybody. If the country has restrictive laws against universal freedoms then the association can’t fulfill its objectives properly (and might even be perceived as an opponent by the state). Freedom of speech, freedom of association/assembly, freedom of the press, economic freedoms, LGBT rights, habeas corpus/due process.
- International connections, good transportation infrastructure.
- The association would possibly need support from chapters in neighboring countries, and it would be easier for working groups to collaborate if they are close.
- Cost of doing business: Cost of renting offices, costs of labor, cost of services (legal, financial, auditing, administrative).
- Having multilingual nature in day-to-day living (suppliers, taxi drivers).
- Language of business.
- Some governments require official business to be conducted in a specific language, not only through incorporation but when communicating with officials. Must the bylaws, yearly reports, etc. be translated? Will the country require “main/official/government” language?
- Secondary costs: Tax and benefits for staff, any additional expenses for staff members mandated by the government? (social security, child care, etc).
- Invariably the association has a physical presence and with time staff. Wage system, labor laws, taxes paid for staff etc. mandated benefits, social security, child care, maternity/paternity leave.
- Proximity to existing chapters.
The following locations have been presented by the original committee installed in Berlin:
See also: comparison of the possible places.