Australia’s peak body for Linux and open source software, Linux Australia, will change its constitution and financial year arrangement this month and has committed to offering free memberships for anyone interested in the organisation’s programs and events.
Linux Australia is an incorporated organisation in the state of NSW and operates as a non-profit, not a charity.
During special meeting in Sydney on August 29, Linux Australia (LA) will put forward a motion to replace its current constitution with the NSW Fair Trading Model constitution which falls under the Associations Incorporation Act of 2009.
President John Ferlito told TechWorld LA will change the financial year of the organisation to start on October 1, which is better suited to auditing requirements.
“If NSW Fair Trading hadn’t changed the rules we probably wouldn’t have made the change,” Ferlito said.
“An organisation more than $250,000 in revenue needs proper financial auditing which must be presented to members [so] changing the financial year to October gives us three weeks over the holiday period to do the audit and present it at the AGM, which is usually at Linux.conf.au in January.”
Linux Australia will also apply changes to the constitution to allow for the renewal of free memberships.
Ferlito said the default constitutional rules say a person ceases to become member if the person doesn’t pay membership fee, but as LA doesn’t charge fees it was impossible to deregister people.
“The month before the AGM we will e-mail all members to click on a link to renew their membership,” Ferlito said.
“In 2009 we did a survey about the membership fee and found people are prepared to pay upwards of $100 to $150 as people ‘want to donate’, but people also said membership should be free as it’s in the spirit of open source.”
Without complicating the membership with free and paid tiers, Ferlito believes the best option is to give people the option to donate as part of the annual conference registration.
“We are a non-profit, but most of the revenue goes into the conference,” he said. “Auditing costs three to four thousand which is not that bad for us, but could be a burden for other organisations.”
Call for papers for the 2012 Linux.conf.au, to be held in Ballarat, Victoria is closing at the end of this week.
Elections for LA president are held at the AGM and Ferlito says he will run and take the position again if voted in.
“The majority of what we do is run conferences, but there is a lot more we can do in terms of advocacy,” he said. “The people who are part of this community are very busy and you can also get caught up with administration which unfortunately doesn’t move us forward.”
Ferlito said it is becoming increasingly difficult for Linux Australia to administer itself with volunteers and may need to consider hiring people part time to do advocacy work.
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