What is the OpenAustralia Foundation?

As we promised earlier, we’ve now put the constitution online of our newly formed charity. This document describes in gory detail the rules of operation of the charity. Probably the most important part and certainly the most interesting are the “objects” which describe the big-picture guiding principles for the foundation’s actions.

We worked with our lawyer over the last year to find the legal structure that was right for us. From the outset, it was clear to us that the Foundation should have full charitable status as it aims were comparable to other public institutions with charitable status.

The challenge was that the OpenAustralia Foundation is really a new kind of charity, with information at its core. What we had to work out was where we fitted in the current charity law.

So, imagine a library of the future, without books on shelves, where all the information is freely accessible online. Imagine, if the tools and software for manipulating that data was part of the library too. Well, that’s what OpenAustralia Foundation is.

It was heartening to see that the tax office understood and agreed with our conception of a national online digital library. They granted us deductible gift recipient (DGR) status which means that any donations you make to the Foundation are tax deductible.

We also wanted to make sure that we could do all our administration online and not send round bits of paper that require physical signatures.

We’re really happy with the result, but we still think the constitution is overly long-winded and filled with legalese. We’re keen to make it more concise and meaningful. If you have skills or ideas in that area we’d love to hear from you.

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One Comment

  1. LegaleseSpeaker
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Hi Matthew and cohorts. Love what you’ve been doing at OpenAustralia. I’m no coder but I’m fluent in Australian legalese, so I’m glad to have a chance to make a relevant comment on your work. You need all that legalese. Do not try to make it more concise or more meaningful. That is not the purpose of your constitution, it is a standard legal document with good reasons for each clause (I only had to skim the very standard headings to check that, I didn’t even bother to read the clauses). If you want to create a concise and meaningful document, you can work on a mission statement or similar, but don’t mix it up with the constitution. Congrats on the tax status. Well done. Cheers.

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