Thinking about ways of managing ourselves, but also formal or non-formal structures that will allow us to develop relationships of trust and put us in a position to compete for funding
#GOVERNANCE What kind of organizational form should CivicWise use? Globally & Locally? Non-profit & Profit
Hello Fausto, in order to catch up and to start to be tune up with all you, I will try to express an idea.
In my opinion CW has to take “advantage” of the members and the fact that we are from different countries. In that way, CW has born global and I think we have to make CW an hybrid between local and global. Maybe my answer is cliché, but we have to find a way to consolidate ourselves and at the same time, make CW more visible. That will enable us to gain trust and confidence and be in the position to compete for funding.
But the question to be answer is: how do we articulate that?
Hello @agatin, I agree with you! We should be glocal, an hybrid between global and local. We have to work hard on it and get good advise. I’m thinking that we should have a global organization that works promoting the general identity and objectives of the community. At the same time we can let local circles create their own formal structures if they want, if not they can use the global organization as a formal and legal identity.
So far I really don’t know if we should be for profit or not for profit. What do you think about cooperative. I asked for some advise about cooperative and apparently it takes time to shape one.
I’m also wondering if could be useful create a first simple legal structure in order to manage all the little things that know we are managing some of us personally, like we domain or web server. As @Ana_COCHO suggested we even can’t start to crowdfund ourself if we don’t have a formal structure.
@urbanohumano I do agree with you. Legal entities can be different in different countries. I think that maybe the best idea will be to have a global non-profit entity that promotes the CW brand and also, local entities, some profit some non-profit depending on the case…
In any case I think we need expert advice on that topic.
In my opinion, I think it cannot be anything else but “glocal” as it is already.
I like the idea of becoming a cooperative. That implies to seek for profit but following a set of rules and ethics, apart from a shared ownership of the project itself.
Regarding the legal structure, I think it can be useful too, but it could arrive together with the organizational one.
I help run an organisation that is transnational (glocal) and we’ve experimented with different structures, using a mixture of national legal structures for each country, and a European Economic Interest Group structure which connects legally the local organisations (ie to share assets). There is also an international association status in Belgium you can use. If there are legal forms which work with glocal forms of organisation like we are developing, I would love to discover them!
I think that the people from My Society (UK org) can help in thinking about org structure. They are based in the UK but mainly operate globally with their own international arm as well as third parties. Will try to get in contact with Tom Steinberg (Director), if anyone has a direct contact with him, please let me know!
The people form NESTA in the UK can help with advice on this issue.
Another alternative could be B Corps (Benefit corporation) where the economic return is basically a means to achieve a social or environmental objetive, rather than an objetive in itself. This is actually a type of legal entity in the US, I dont think this option exists in the UK, will research. In Argentina, an enterprise can be certified as a B corp given certain conditions that are periodically reviewed (controlled). Also interesting because part of the idea is that consumers (cityzens) can express objections if they feel that a B corp is actually not acting as one. Should see the details about this but the concept is the same as whistle blowing that was mentioned somewhere else. Interesting because this sets it appart from other type of certifications.
Also, there are some organizations which are build as “umbrella” organizations to provide the legal framework that new groups dont have. Res non verba in Argentina is an example of this. They provide legal and accounting services, and try to promote similar projects so that complement/ help each other (charge a % of donations received). Maybe something like this in the UK? The idea is that after the initial stage, these groups develop their own legal entity once they are more settled and developed, avoiding wasting time and money initially when so many things can change.
And finally, could be good to study in more details the Open Knowlege Foundation and how they organize. Here is a link to the different parts of their community (local groups are related but informal, and chapters are formally part of OKF) http://wiki.okfn.org/Community
I think it’s important to have a form that’s agile, flexible, doesn’t require too much reporting/documents and stressed the difference with a normal for-profit company.
Last Wednesday I presented Civicwise to Urbanistas London and asked the audience for suggestions and advises. Lots of people suggest the CLG form (company limited by guarantee).
Apparently it is the most used one for organisations similar to ours, social enterprises and non-profits. It allows the non-profit status but allows to generate revenues, employ people and distribute profits.
We’d have to find out if it can operate internationally but they said that Impact Hub, which is an international network of co-working spaces uses it so I guess it might.
Anyone has heard of it or has experience with it?
On the governance issue, personally I’d strongly recommend an LLP over a CLG.
There are a lot of benefits, chief amongst them: a). tax transparency, and b). you can define your own constitution (Member Agreement) and aren’t limited by memorandum/articles
It’s also cheap to set up and the member can be located anywhere in the world (as long as the offices are located in the UK).
I think what @tav suggest is interesting but I’m afraid that LLP form is not a non-profit form. I really think we need to be a non-profit.
During the hangout on Wednesday we discussed a bit further the legal options. Doing some in depth research on the Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG) I found out that it is a simple form that basically states that the organisation has a social mission - hence why it is the most preferred by social enterprises. On top of that, it is possible to add the Community Interest Company form, which is a reinforcement of the community-oriented purpose.
More details on CLG and CIC can be found in the following links:
The only important question I could not find an answer for is whether the CLG and CIC - both UK legal forms- have restrictions to operate globally. Does anyone know?
I’ve just discovered the the Edgeryders Community, which is a great reference for us, is using the legal form that @orsola suggested. So another reason to go ahead with it!
I also fund this site with simple instructions > http://www.communitycompanies.co.uk/guaranteecompanies.shtml
Some of you, like @rita, already know Edgeryders Communty
That’s a good news @urbanohumano!
In the next days I’ll find the check-list of steps to do to register it, the info and documents we need to provide and I will post it here