Over the last year or so there have been some discussions surrounding setting up a ‘UK Drupal Association/Society’ these have happened both in person, and online. When we talk to most people they seem generally positive about setting one up, and lots of people have lots of ideas about what such an organisation could do.
We really want to work out if there is a need for some kind of central body, and then from those needs, try to work out what that body looks like. This post is an attempt to put our thought process down in words.
Firstly, we openly admit that we probably won’t get this right, and we need to stay agile and able to change and react as quickly as possible.
We aren't trying to take over Drupal in the UK, even if such a thing was possible. The aim of the body will be to provide centralised resources to empower decentralised local Drupal activities.
Over the past year there has been an explosion in the numbers of Drupal events in the UK, we count at least 5 DrupalCamps, and a number of local meetup groups have either appeared or grown significantly. The organisers of these groups face common issues and challenges, and in some cases are solving the same problems over and over. They also develop a great deal of incredibly useful knowledge about organising events and of their local Drupal communities.
However, if today, you decide that you’d like to set up a Drupal meetup group in your area, would you know how to? Would you know what the best places are to advertise it? Or that there's actually a venue right down the road? Could you benefit from talking to people who've worked out good ways to grow local meetup groups?
Many of the events have also been large enough that they have required setting up their own bank accounts, and some people in the community have taken on substantial personal financial risk to put on some excellent Drupal events.
These are some common areas where we think we can benefit each other by coming together and being a little more connected and organised. We don't want to centralise activity, quite the opposite, we want to help people who are geographically (and possibly ideologically) distributed so that they can all benefit from all the individuals who are working tirelessly to serve the Drupal community. We can also streamline the boring things like doing accounts, and having a bank account (more about that later.)
So, we think we can benefit from having a body that does two primary things:
- Connects events organisers together
- Lessens financial and legal burdens on event organisers
We should note that Ireland and Scotland already have their own Associations working hard for their communities, and that not only should we avoid treading on their toes, but we should avoid trying to do things on behalf of their communities.
So let’s be clear here, we’re trying to set something up to cover England and Wales. We suspect though that a number of the existing European associations will come together in some way in a number of years, and we may find that actually we end up ‘working’ together in the future anyway.
We think that currently it's too hard to find out who is out there, who you might want to talk to, and who you should definitely talk to if you want to organise an event, whether that event will happen once a month, or will be a one off.
We think that we could really benefit by having a body that can be visible enough to be known nationally, that way people can be directed to the body, and it can connect them to the most useful people for them to talk to. Basically, it should be a brilliant signposting organisation. "Oh hey, you should talk to this person, because they want to do exactly the same thing as you." The signposting doesn’t have to happen behind closed doors, this can be open, in fact if we can make it open and accessible, then people can signpost themselves.
One of the most helpful things that we could provide to organisers of Drupal events is a bank account into which event income can be collected and expenses paid. It’s relatively easy to get sponsors to pay for some things in isolation, for example you could have a single sponsor pay for the food of a single day of an event, but other items are much harder to assign to a single sponsor, such as hire of a venue. Also some sponsors would rather pay an organisation, than just pay money into someone’s personal bank account.
Having a bank account with large sums of money passing through it creates accounting requirements, financial liabilities, and a responsibility to be transparent - if we could remove the burden of creating and maintaining bank accounts from local event organisers, that would be a worthy goal of an England & Wales Drupal association.
As we plan an association that is potentially handling tens of thousands of pounds a year we feel that its very important to have a body that is representative of the diverse drupal communities that it aims to serve.
We don’t want an association that claims to speak on behalf of all Drupalers in England and Wales, but an association that helps Drupalers in England and Wales. So in theory, if you don’t care about what the association is doing, then you lose nothing by not being a member of it.
Exactly how we represent people is still up for debate, but we think that some kind of membership scheme is needed, enabling members to have a say in the direction of the association.
This could be an incredibly divisive issue, mainly because it could involve money changing hands and people not being able to join etc. and there are many different ideological views at play here, so everyone needs to stay flexible!
We believe that it should be free to become a member as an individual.
We expect that some people will want to financially support the work of the association, and that they should be free to do so.
It’s possible that we’d want to recognise companies as a different kind of member of an association. Companies of all sizes have a huge role in the Drupal community, and they should be able to have input in the direction of an association, but what a ‘corporate’ membership would look like is something that needs feedback and discussion.
We propose having some sort of small leadership team that can do most of the work (remember mostly signposting, and facilitating, not organising events or burning out) and appointing them on a yearly basis. This is a well-worn path that other organisations follow, and essentially means that people who want to do things can be given a role that gives them responsibility, and that they be held to account throughout their term.
Let’s be realistic, these are not going to be glamourous positions of leadership, but positions serving the Drupal community and helping others flourish.
At the beginning, we think that the best thing to do is ask people who seriously want to be involved to ‘put their hand up’ and we’ll set up a formal association with those people as the ‘leadership’, to bootstrap the whole thing, they can put in place the formal processes of exactly how it’ll work in future going forward.
The easiest and ‘lightest’ thing that we could do would be to set up an association, however that wouldn’t limit anyone’s liability, and we are fully expecting to be handling large sums of money, so really don’t want anyone personally exposed to that risk.
We propose setting up the Drupal England & Wales association as a Company Limited By Guarantee (CLG). The advantage of a CLG is that it will provide limited liability, is accountable to it’s members, and needs a lot less work to run than a charity. We can work towards getting charity status later if the association thinks it would be useful and has the resources to implement it.
We think that we need the following things to get going:
- Community acceptance of our thinking - we hope there's enough structure here. We'd love to hear from you about the things we've got wrong, the bits that are right and how you want to be involved.
- A name - Drupal England & Wales is awkward. Please join the conversation with your suggestions so that together we can choose something that represents us.
- People who want to be involved - directly involved, as in doing some work to get things started. Put your hand up if you like hard work
- A company - the people from the previous point will probably form the initial directorship of the company
- A bank account - boring, but easy to get once we have a company
- A constitution - the Scottish and Irish Drupal representative bodies have excellent constitutions which we can adapt to our needs
We are trying to set up an association that will provide real benefit to the Drupal community, and want to start reasonably small and build it up over time. We recognise that we aren’t going to get everything right straight away, and there should be an expectation that the association will evolve in the future based on experience and feedback.
It's not necessary to read through past conversations on this topic to give feedback or get involved, but if you want to do so discussions are archived here:
If you care deeply and have time to get involved directly, you should let us know, so that we can gather people who are interesting in investing time in this.
Thanks for reading!
Written by Steven Jones, Finn Lewis, and Robert Castelo
Where to comment
Add your comments to the general discussion on this very page.
Specific goals and requirements can be discussed in detail here: http://www.drupal.org.uk/forums/drupal-uk-national-association-0
The following people have reviewed the proposal and endorse it:
- Anthony Albertyn (anthonyalbertyn)
- Finn Lewis (finn.lewis)
- Jeff Veit (Jeff Veit)
- Robert Castelo (Robert Castelo)
- Stefan van Hooft (Stefan van Hooft)
- Steven Jones (Steven Jones)
- Tim Deeson (timdeeson)
- Jamie Wiseman (instanceofjamie)
- Hedley Smith (hedley)
- Tim Davison (timdavison)
- George Hazlewood (ghazlewood)
- John Griffin (johngriffin)
- Adam Hill (adshill)
- Tom Phethean (tsphethean)
- Fintan Gavin (Fintan)
- Marcus Deglos (manarth)
- Steve Purkiss (stevepurkiss)
- Philip Norton (philipnorton42)
- Will Hall (willhallonline)
- Alex McFadyen (a_c_m)
- Tim Regester (Tim Regester)
- Cameron Tod (cam8001)
- Leon Tong (leontong.brightlemon)
- Daniel Harper (danharper)
- andy (lazysoundsystem)
- Glenn Barr (kiwimind)
- Dan Smith (galooph)
- Chris Maiden (matason)
- Steve Moorhouse (albany)
- Andrew Macpherson (andrewmacpherson)
- J-P Stacey (jp.stacey)
- Lewis Nyman (LewisNyman)
- Orange Punch (OrangePunch)
- Lin Aldridge (LinL)
- johan gant (johan.gant)
- Graeme Hunter (graemehunter)
- Justine Pocock (WigglyKoala)
- joates (joates)
- James Panton (mcjim)
- Rachel Lawson (rachellawson)
- Stefan van Hooft (Stefan van Hooft)
- Paul Woodhead (PaulWoodhead)
- Adam Elleston (adamelleston)
- Alex Burrows (aburrows)
To add your name to the list please leave a comment saying that you endorse the proposal.
EDIT: Keeping this list up to date has become a significant task in itself, so please don't be offended if you're not listed yet. We last updated this list on: March 6, 2013 at 7:53am