I follow the project for a few months now, and would like to share my experience with the French status of Association Loi 1901, and how it would work with Funkwhale.
Having a legal entity in France is IMO the best decision to make now, because the community is strongly based in France, as already mentioned in the thread. Association Loi 1901 is very well adapted, as it is very common and can be run with little overhead, and is very scalable.
It is complicated, if not impossible for a board member to earn money from the same Asso. For Eliot (short term, maybe other people on a longer term…) to earn money from the Asso, there are basically 2 possibilities:
- the association can edit a work contract and a salary bill to the developer(s)
- the developers can be registered as Autoentrepreneurs
The second possibility should be better now : if the first possibility is chosen, the entity would have to deal with complicated overhead (déclaration préalable à l’embauche, médecine du travail, taxes, insurance, etc.). The status of Autoentrepreneur would basically covers the overhead. It also means that Eliot would have to deal with the administrative stuff, and not the Association, but it is rather straight-forward and easy.
An association Loi 1901 only needs status to start running, a bank account is not mandatory, nor is an insurance. The status define the way the entity runs : the purpose of the association, the different roles (members, administrators, board, elections, cotisation, etc.). The status usually refers to a code of conduct, that can be modified independently of the status.
The advantage of referring to a code of conduct, is the following: the status need to be voted during an Assemblée générale extraordinaire, whereas the code of conduct can be modified in an Assemblée générale ordinaire.
Parity (or at least female representation) has been discussed in this thread. The status would be a good place to integrate such a “constraint”. However, we have to be sure that it is not too restrictive : what if the first board has women, for instance, but after 2 years one of the board members want to leave and no other woman wants to take over?
Creating the Association
To be created, the board has to submit the status voted by the board during the Assemblée générale, and the Procès Verbal of the first Assemblée générale constitutive. The association will then be registered to the Journal Officiel. It also needs a Siège social (which is not necessarily the place where the mail arrives…)
Then the people who want to join as “simple members” could do it. They don’t necessarily need to be there at the Assemblée générale constitutive.
The question of the membership is also important : who can become a member ? What does this cost ? For how long ? Does people commiting to the code have to be members ? It is not mandatory for funders to be members of the association. As far as I know, members have to receive a member card, and a list of all members has to be kept up to date by the board. It might also be possible that only the board would be member of the association, but I do not think this would be a good solution for Funkwhale, as a strong collective decision process is wanted.
I don’t see any problem for a non-french resident to become member of the association.
Banking and insurance
I don’t agree with that. As far as I know, an insurance is not required all year long. I have been member of board of an association where we would only contract an insurance for the events we were organising (to meet a room for instance…). I don’t really see the need for Funkwhale to contract an insurance, as Eliot would be covered by his status as Autoentrepreneur, and there is no real asset to protect (servers are already protected by the hoster, I would say). If Funkwhale was to organise meeting with its members or conferences or so, then it might be possible to take an insurance just for 1 day or so… The only needed insurance in that case would be Responsabilité civile.
Opening a bank account as an Association Loi 1901 is relatively straight forward and most bank in France offer special services for small entities like Funkwhale would be in the beginning. To reflect the ambitions and the values of Funkwhale, it might be interesting to look for an “ethical” bank, though it can be more expensive than a “normal” bank…
The important thing to check is if the entity would have to pay taxes. I would rather say no, but I’m not sure to what extent.
Furthermore, a common mistake is to think that a non-profit cannot make money at the end of the year. It is not completely true. It only means that the purpose of the entity must not be “make money”, but it’s completely allowed to stock money (even multiple thousand €), just in case… It’s usually the case with Associations de copropriétaires, where a few thousand euros are kept in case the street has to be renewed for instance…
Furthermore, charities in France can emit tax reduction for private persons up to 66% of the funding. If Funkwhale is eligible to it, the process is relatively easy, it just adds a little bit overhead which might be worth doing…
The second point can be discussed, but I think the other 2 are compatible with Funkwhale. It should be investigated deeper…
All in all, I think it is a good step for Funkwhale to get an official entity to structurate its activities and make it more sustainable, as already mentioned in a lot of posts in this thread. If needed/wished, I can help further on this topic. Let me know exactly in which direction to go, but maybe especially on those topics?
- insurance mandatory?
- 66% tax reduction?
- bank account for a Loi 1901? Costs, etc.
- writing of the status
I hope my post was not too messy and could help the discussion further, please let me know if it is not clear enough
PS: I did use quite a lot of French terms, as I don’t find it very relevant to translate those administrative words to English to avoid confusion, I hope it will be fine so…