Legal entity advice for community tech project

I’ve been working on for some years, and we think it might be time to form a legal entity, and perhaps some people here have some useful insight/tips/recommendations.

If you don’t know it already, it’s a community organising platform :people_holding_hands::people_holding_hands::people_holding_hands::people_holding_hands::people_holding_hands::people_holding_hands: with the proposition :point_right: Start a group, become a community Karrot is a free and open-source tool for grassroots initiatives and groups of people that want to coordinate face-to-face activities on a local, autonomous and voluntary basis.

Some important aspects:

  • the team are spread around Europe
  • historically we operated within a money free context
  • we receive various small grants now, which go a long way
  • we also receive small amounts from some groups that use the platform, and might extend that in the future
  • we don’t sell services, potentially in the future we might, but not really in our “model”
  • I personally would be interested in a broad membership organisation, where users, team members, and other interested people can be a member
  • everything will always be open source
  • need to be able to get bank account that can deal in Euros
  • we are exploring a “Community Supported Software” model (think: CSA for software)

From my research, I lean towards UK Co-operative Society entity, on the basis that:

  • org is to benefit members, and can have wide membership
  • community shares sounds potentially interesting concept
  • seems to best reflect reality?

Would be happy for any freeform input, or specifically:

  • do you know of a digital platform of a similar nature with a legal entity I can get inspiration from (ideally with a contact/connection I can follow up)?
  • any input on non-UK European entities? co-ops or otherwise…
  • any major hassle I can avoid, because you already experienced it?
  • any recommended and values-aligned experts you can point me to? (we can pay!)

Alternatively a fiscal host and opencollective is another option, so happy for any suggestions there.

Also hi :wave: to all the cotech folks! :heart:


Sounds like a great plan @nick :slight_smile: !

I’d suggest contacting South West Co-operative (formally Somerset Co-operative) as they have a great set of model rules and would be able to help with registration.

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Thanks for sharing, this looks interesting!

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Hi @nick - sounds like things in karrot world are moving along. I guess I’m wondering what the key drivers are nudging you towards incorporation other than the bank account thing. More than happy to share what I’ve learned over the years and offer some input. Let me know and we can set up a call, or if you’re up this way we can meet up.

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good question. it is largely money-related:

  • receiving and re-distributing money gets awkward without an entity + bank account
  • eligibility/participation in different funding calls, e.g. EU consortium bids

I actually like the idea to legally/officially bring in a wider set up people into the ownership + governance of the platform too. better representing the intention. (although probably not enough on it’s own).

… also can enhance the perception of things moving along :rofl:

I am brewing a trip Up North actually, late jan or feb … so let’s see if I can get that together, and I can pop in… otherwise I’ll be glad to learn over a call :+1:


good idea! someone I know in Bath was recently working with Alex Lawrie, so a good reminder to nudge them…


Solid stuff! Seems like Open Collective covers you in all needs, from what you’ve written here. I feel like not registering a legal form is probably fitting the model of Karrot anyway? Folks like use OC extensively to support street level organising of food co-ops.


Furthermore, the CSA software model (!) is more sustainable than any diabolical EU funding (been there). I feel that would be a larger breakthrough in terms of organisation than registereing an entity. We need more examples of communities who use software supporting the software. You could probably lean on other registered entities to carry you through on consortium efforts. They often need grassroot energies to legitimise them, so back scratching ensues.

Good luck!


Yup, thanks good idea too! I found the fiscal host that co-operation town use too → Fiscal hosting – The Social Change Agency - I’ll contact them.

We also contacted for the same purpose (Center for the Cultivation of Technology - Open Collective) - but no reply so far.

So, happy to hear about other fiscal hosts!


Totally! I think the reality is a hybrid model… use both.

I’m hoping at some point we have something written up about a CSA software model (inspired by Gemeinschaftsgetragenes Wirtschaften – Aus Produzierenden und Konsumierenden wird eine Prosument*innengemeinschaftFrom Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to Community Supported Everything Else (CSX))

I would not undertake a consortium effort from my own initiative, … but there is some potential motivation adjacent to us. Let’s see! Might be the end of me, haha.