This is a write-up of discussions that took place at the Bamford UK Sprint on October 9th, 2018 and in the aftermath.
To increase awareness and usage of CiviCRM in the UK by better mobilising the energy, skills, enthusiasm and resources of developers, implementers, agencies and end-users to advance the software, its adoption and the wider ecosystem.
Following the Governance Summit in New Jersey, Parvez Saleh (Veda Consulting) considered creating some kind of UK organisation to support individual business growth, focus on local issues unique to the UK and advance global goals of more money and better support for the core team. He presented his feedback on the summit and introduced this idea, which was followed by a group discussion and informal talks over the following days.
It was stressed that this is not meant to compete with CiviCRM Core or any region-specific activities (e.g. Europe- or Scottish- specific) or a possible UK-wide network/coop of Civi devs similar to CiviCoop, but instead the reverse: to mobilise the UK Civi community to build on its strengths in supporting CiviCRM product & core team.
Craig Almond (for part), Oliver Gibson, Rose Lanigan, Dave Moreton, Tim Otten (for part), Aidan Saunders, Parvez Saleh, Nicol Wistreich
Potential areas of focus discussed
Communication with core
To reduce duplicate communication with CT, and speak –where possible and appropriate– with a single voice.
Fundraising for core
Potential to coordinate fundraising for CT projects at a UK level. At a simple level, for very small charities donations in US dollars can be difficult.
Administration of UK events
To coordinate event (CiviCamp, Sprint, CiviCon) administration and promotion, potentially with a UK bank account, and ability to underwrite costs and fund administration. Coordinated presence at UK events (e.g. MozFest, Charity Technology Conference, political party conference etc).
Better coordination & comms in UK community
This could include work/contract availability, skills sharing & collaboration on tenders. This could happen on a dedicated intranet, or across a Matermost Channel, GitLab Project/Group, shared docs.
Marketing & PR
To be able to coordinate marketing activities, such as a UK-specific brochure/magazine, promo videos, stickers/t-shirts/pens/etc for events, forming relationships with UK tech & third sector journalists & publications, general public-relations, ad spend, direct-marketing, etc.
A UK body would be in a stronger position to set up meetings with digital/etc ministers, shadow ministers, charity bodies, community foundations, etc to promote CiviCRM and the range of UK providers.
Parvez mentioned the eligibility of social enterprises and coops for SEIS tax relief; allowing for investments in a UK body & activity to be tax deductability
Standalone webpage / website
There was a range of views on this: there could be a standalone site like https://www.civicrmfr.org/ & http://civicrm.pl/ — or within the main civicrm.org as subdomain or page similar to the planned language pages (/es, /de).
Grants & fundraising
The potential to bid for UK/EU funds, and global foundation funding, which created some debate suggesting this was already handled thru informal collaborations opening up a question of how to divide income from funding raised thru a 'CiviCRM UK group'.
Decisions and discussions made in the open.
Anyone in the UK can join regardless of scale (end user, individual dev/implementer, agency). ie a 'Low threshold for entry' — it shouldn't be restricted only to those who can afford high fees or have advanced knowledge of the codebase.
To represent the needs of those stakeholders.
To support core, rather than overshadow or drain resources from it.
Further discussions & questions
What should be the focus?
How much would be better upstreamed to the new CiviCRM structure when it emerges? How much would be better downstreamed to, say, a UK Coop (also discussed at the sprint) specifically focused around balancing work, support, infrastructure and collaborating on larger projects.
What's the best structure?
What sort of governance model would work?
None, a digitally managed network of UK people & companies.
Membership association, ie no legal status, but ability to get a shared bank account.
Incorporated company / LLC / Community Benefit Society / etc.
What's the best way to organise & mobilise internally?
a section of the current site, ie civicrm.org/uk — perhaps similar to the upcoming /language pages.
What advice might we need to get?
How to distribute work?
If the organisation generated work (thru either received leads or active fund bids or tendering), how would this be distributed?
Could it include Ireland?
Ireland and Northern Ireland have a big, active third sector yet the Civi community is probably not at sufficient scale for them to set up their own national body.
Do we need this?
The UK has more Civi installs per capita than any other country, with a healthy, lively and active community. There is little hunger for an extra layer of bureaucracy in the loose hope that it would advance our own businesses or Civi as community and product; indeed everyone is generally time-poor. The new core governance — and discussions and votes around it - need engagement, and the financial pressures Core faces needs more cash. There's clearly lots a UK-focused body could achieve, so how can it do this without diverting energy/money from the immediate needs of Core or creating a structure that inhibits or unbalances the do-cratic, bottom-up nature of the CiviCRM ecosystem?