[Talk-GB] Know any nonprofits that have relocated from UK to elsewhere?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed Feb 20 21:13:57 UTC 2019


On 2/20/19 21:00, Dave F wrote:
> Would you care to state the reasons?

Even before Brexit, there were two issues that often popped up:

1. The fact that the UK doesn't have a form of incorporation that is
well suited to a nonprofit like ours. Every nonprofit, even the
relatively new CIC (which OSMF is not, but OSM-GB is), falls under the
relatively heavy-handed rules of the Companies Act which is written to
(also) govern big corporations, and it shows. In our concrete case, for
example, the Companies Act requires that every member can request the
details (including residential address) of every other member, including
former members of up to 10 years ago. This may be ok for an average UK
organisation, but many OSMF members found this inappropriate. If you're
from China where mapping is frowned upon, would you want your identity
available to the party executive who also joins? Hence we created the
"associate member" category. But "associate" members are second-class
members in the eyes of the companies act and may not, for example, vote
on AoA changes.

Additionally, any member decision-making that does not happen at a
physical meeting of members is difficult to model with the Companies
Act. The way we currently run our AGM and election is essentially by
declaring that when you vote through OpaVote, what you really do is ask
someone to proxy-vote for you at a meeting that physically happens

Other countries - e.g. Germany, Switzerland but I'm sure there are more
- have forms of incorporation for associations that are easier to
handle, and more amenable to being international and online.

I'm happy to hear examples to the contrary; it would be great if I had
misunderstood things. I've read the relevant bits of the UK companies
act multiple times, albeit with non-lawyer eyes.

2. Compared to at least Germany where I know the procedure, but likely
also compared to quite a few other countries, it is exceptionally hard
to get and retain charity status in the UK. This, however, would help in
acquiring donations world-wide. I always say "we're a nonprofit but
we're not a charity" which is true, but many funding sources are only
available to charities.

The looming Brexit adds to this a healthy dose of GDPR lunacy (personal
data about EU citizens being processed in a non-EU state!) as well as
the huge question whether our ODbL can even be enforced if we're
incorporated in a country that doesn't recognize "sui generis" database
protection. It is of course totally unclear if Britain leaving the EU
would mean they ditch database rights, but they might.

Finally, with most of our income in EUR, using the GBP currency for our
official accounting does meanwhile seem a bit quaint, and again the
currency ups-and-downs that accompany Brexit have undesirable consequences.

Of course, moving the organisation would open a huge can of worms and
it's certainly not something to be undertaken lightly - if ever. Other
options exist, like creating subsidiary organiations elsewhere, or
simply stick with it.

Nonetheless, it can't hurt to know your options.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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