It is quite hard to believe, but the first real discussions about the founding of our Oregami association already took place in January 2012, i. e. some 20 months ago. And founded it is not, yet! So what were we up to all this time? And why do we want an association hosting this project at all? A little retrospect shall give these information, furthermore we want to give a little perspective on the future. MobyGames faces them, TheLegacy faces them [German], thematically different web sites also face them [German] - always the same old problems. Caused by the experiences with other database projects we committed ourselves quite early to one basic principle for Oregami: maximum independence from individuals. First and foremost, this principle should be applied to the legal base of the project, too. The legal manifestations we saw with other game databases (private, half-commercial, commercial) had, in our opinion, one crucial disadvantage: all these projects were legally run by a single person or company, two at the most, which left us with big questions about the future-proofness of their data. What would happen when this single person would lose interest, when this single company would be sold or become insolvent? What future would arise for these projects then?

If you think about a solution to this problem, a German association nearly suggests itself. In contrast to other legal forms of operation there's many advantages involved here, advantages we listed on our association page, not too long for easier reading. When considered in the context of independence from individuals, one attribute was of highest importance to us: a German association, and the Oregami project with it, couldn't be taken over against the will of the members. Even a sale of the Oregami data, driven by an eventual wish for personal gain of the members, would make no sense because every asset of the association would be bound to its objectives and assignments and, therefore, the money couldn't be distributed to the members. Furthermore, a German association always stays capable of acting because of the possibility to easily replace board members by election.

If we added the German non-profit status to this legal form of operation, we also would have done everything we could to pool the financial risk. Donations and member fees would be tax-deductible for people required to file a German tax return, and the charter-imposed obligation of spending the association's assets for its objectives only, combined with a transparent and mandatorily audited financial accounting, would enable members and donators to exactly see where their money is headed. This should build trust, and convince the people out there not contributing time and money elsewhere, too. Of course we understand that a German non-profit association causes a significant administrative burden like member administration or accounting. But there's just no legal form of operation without disadvantages out there.

Inspired by all these thoughts, our resident association adept crafted a charter draft for Oregami's legal base that on one hand incorporates all important rules from the sample charter provided by German financial authorities [German] as well as from the German Civil Code (BGB) [German], but on the other hand renders the subject easily manageable and graspable. Soon after we assiduously collected and incorporated feedback from our community, among other things we integrated the digital lifestyle into our charter (email and chat) and made some of the wordings even more easier to understand. The next big step was presenting our charter to the Association Register (approval of possible entry) and to Financial Authorities (approval of possible non-profit status). To our knowledge, there's just no German role model for an association wanting to maintain a non-profit video gaming database as of yet, so we faced quite some demand for charter changes to fulfill the slightly outmoded visions of the institutions. But ultimately and finally, we now have a rule set for our governing organisation [German only, sorry] which can be introduced to the Association Register and which enables us to become a German non-profit.

But what's next? First things first, we will need at least seven people wanting to meet up for founding our association. We currently plan to collect a minimum of 12 Euros a year for member fees [German only, sorry], so that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Three people from the circle of founding members will need to campaign for the managing board, namely for the functions chairman, substitute chairman, and treasurer. Furthermore, we will need to identify an auditor. The first elected board will face the following tasks and challenges:
  1. Setting up the association with the Association Register and Financial Authorities
  2. Setting up member administration (esp. entry form)
  3. Setting up the online infrastructure for formal meetings of the members and the managing board (safe chat room)
  4. Opening up a bank and PayPal account
  5. Setting up financial accounting
  6. Transfer of the hosting of and crafting of a website for the association
  7. Implementation of the 10 transparency criteria of the "Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft" [German only]
That may sound like a whole lot of work, but there's no hurry to get it done and it will be pleasing to finally get things off the ground. We are definitely looking forward to it, and we will keep you updated about further developments right here in this blog. Stay tuned!