OFN Europe the process so far and short-term steps for concluding it

Where and why did we started this work.
In June 2021 and OFN Europe channel was created on the OFN Slack workspace (# OFN-Europe). Some initial conversations around EU funding took place and some very generic meetings where members of the wider EU community engaged more closely. This channel was the first place where the discussion related to planning an European gathering took place.

  • In Nov 2021, the gathering did actually happen in (Porto, Portugal). Among other items in this event, a discussion took place focused on the possibility to create an European representation of OFN.
  • General notes on this discussion can be found here
  • More senior members of the OFN network noted that two attempts for a formation of a representation in Europe had been tried in previous years (one in an EU country and another in Switzerland) but were not successful for different reasons. This was meant to highlight that the idea was not new and indeed the intention to form such a connecting representation of OFN was something that they supported although noting the pitfalls of the past should be avoided (i.e. aspects such as understating this was an endeavor that would take some time and effort, as well relying on good strong contacts of the network and be alert of fade promises of support and funding).

What decisions did we take and How have we arrived to where we are.

  • Since the OFN Task Force started the journey, it was clear the group would be trying to create pragmatic scenarios where the remaining community could debate best options, without much complexity, despite the goal being evidently complex. At the end of the process the community should review and choose one of these scenarios.
  • The scenarios would not try to achieve the optimum answer for all problems and expectations of the network, but rather set a base for some grounding (few) initiatives to take place. Incubating the support to European initiatives and the global team as well as global instances through EU projects. The view would be to create a stable initial organization that has a size adequate to its resources (which could grow steadily in the future if more resources become available).
  • As early as January 2022 a decision was taken to create a short list of countries which would later have a deeper review of their national legislation for the formation of legal entity which would mirror the values of the OFN network as well as follow the examples of already existing instances (i.e. Cooperatives; Associations; Social Enterprises and even Foundations).
  • Any of the short-listed countries should be part of the EU to facilitate access to EU funding, despite representing countries in the wider European territory (such as Switzerland; Turkey the UK etc.).
  • Another narrowing step was to focus on countries that have a stable OFN instance running to provide some anchoring support to a potential new European organization. The list of EU countries running an existing OFN instance were voted. The 3-4 most voted became the short list.
  • The Task Force was divided in smaller groups (the buddies) to speed the overall analysis that was needed, allowing simultaneously the members to research (the short list) geographies they were more comfortable with.
  • To provide some overall coherence and guidance to the different buddy groups, the Task Force created an initial list of criteria which would have to be followed while checking the relevant legal forms in their particular chosen geography. This list had 13 criteria, with 5 being considered top importance; 6 medium importance and 2 desirable (but less important).
  • All the scenarios would be analysed in a matrix composed by: the country short list; relevant legal entities in each; through the 13 key criteria and a scoring system of three levels (5 points for “good”; 3 for “standard”; 1 for “bad”)

What were the scenarios created?

  • After the above work was done there were three chosen scenarios at generally the same status: an Association in Germany; an Association in France and Association in Belgium.
  • note the Belgium case was a last arrival mainly due to the fact that it is the the chosen base of many not-for-profits in the European territory. Like the other scenarios it has it’s pros and it’s cons.

What are the next steps?

  • the process and next steps have been introduced at the OFN Community monthly meeting and OFN Stewardship Circle.
  • A more dedicated session is prepared to be presented for each of these scenarios in an online meeting (pencilled for the 18th of April) where everyone of the OFN Community will be invited and able to ask questions.
  • A vote on most desired scenario will be oppned after the online presention and will remian open until the 25th of April.
  • It is intended that by the next Gathering there will be a chosen scenario, with opportunity to discuss any more specific needs OR details.
  • The Gathering is being prepared with location and Dates to be announced soon.
  • If the above process is successfull, the objective would be to have an organization formalized in May 2023.

What we need from you (the OFN community) now?

  • If this is something that you feel strongly about then please engage as much as possible.
  • Let us know when you might join any of the events. If for any reason you cannot be present, let us know of any questions, concerns, suggestions or event backing to any particular option on Discourse (below) OR Slack (# ofn-europe).

I am tagging some people here, but probably forgetting Or not finding everyone’s tags. Hence please add those who you feel should be involved as well.

@NickWeir @lauriewayne1 @lin_d_hop @Rachel @tschumilas @dthomas @Kirsten @Evonne @DavieP @matt @enricostn @mikel
@ste @Bato @Petros_OFN_GR @hhomann @franciscomartinez @berengere.batiot
@Jo_daSilva @julian_p @filipefurtado @DavidGiovannini @konrad @sigmundpetersen @luisramos0