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Congratulations and some worried thoughts

If you are a member of CS, undoubtedly you have received an email from Casey Fenton himself  announcing the new 501(c)3 status. The email seemed a bit confusing, because the envelope he’s holding is obviously the application to the new status, but then it seems implied CS is already a 501(c)3? I have no idea how fast the US bureaucracy works, but it seems awfully fast from application to acknowledgment. Is CS applying for it or is it already a charity? Is the outcome guaranteed?

However, congratulations are in order. After 3 years of talking about it and no less than 100 hours of work by Casey himself (a full two and a half weeks!), they were finally able to get the right papers in order. Phew. Good news is that CS is now eligible  for grants and your donations will be tax deductible (if you live in the US). There is money to be made!

Since we can take at least a bit of credit for speeding the process up, basically by shaming Casey into action, here are some of the things I would like to see CS take up:

  1. Reduce the operational cost and significantly reduce the cost of “verification”, far beyond the sliding scale idea. There is absolutely no obvious need to be collecting and spending such a large amount of money. It is almost the anti-thesis of an organization that is based on free and voluntary lodging and low-cost traveling.
  2.  Finally make the organization reflect the community. Get rid of the heavy US centric distribution in the leadership team. Organize elections.
  3. Set up localized non-profit organizations, to allow the same financial and legal “benefits” for European CS-ers (the largest community in any case) and to allow a better local functioning.
  4. Open up, become at least a bit more transparent. Get rid of the multitude of private groups. Publish meeting agenda’s, publish regular and non-PR reports.
  5. Give back to the world. Share the code that so many people have worked on voluntarily or payed for by the community back to that community and to the world at large.
  6. Cooperate. Finally get over your pride and cooperate with HC and BeWelcome. Not a single one of the users benefits from the fragmentation and competition between the different hospitality organizations.
  7. Learn to be humble. Learn how to admit mistakes when you make them instead of lying about it or covering it up. Talk to people like the OCS-ers, even if every fiber in your body seems to struggle against that. You fears are unfounded.

My 7 wishes for CS in 2008.


6 Responses to “Congratulations and some worried thoughts”

  • Congratulations Pickwick you did it !!

    Now all I need to see if the certificate and links to it on the .gov website. Once I see it there .We can congratulate casey .

  • I thought the email was quite clear that CS was applying for 501(c)(3) status. I did think it was interesting that Casey went to such length to claim that they are currently a legal charity in New Hampshire, which I’m not convinced is true.

  • Casey is stating that CS is a “legally recognized and official charitable non-profit corporation in the US state of New Hampshire.” Unfortunately there is no reference, and all information that has been found so far on the NH website does not confirm Casey’s statement.

  • I think Casey is just confused about his tenses.

    In the first paragraph he writes: “we announce the submission of our application” and yet in the second paragraph he writes: “Currently, CouchSurfing International, Inc. is a legally recognized and official charitable non-profit corporation in the US state of New Hampshire.”

    Clearly the second paragraph should have been started in the future tense: “Couchsurfing, inc will (hopefully) be an official charitable organisation. (Etc etc.)” Although I now understand (thanks to Callum) the confusion: It does look like they think they are one already.

    Worse still, it appears Matt Whatley is still giving Casey “experienced” legal advice, which is pretty dubious considering the obvious disasters he was involved in earlier (remember him copying an NDA off the web?). First he’s a “tax ninja” and now he’s an “international non-profit lawyer”. Jeez, that guy is making quite a career!

  • Thomas “remember him copying an NDA off the web?”
    That was not Matt whatley …..

  • As far as I understood charitable organization and 501(c)(3) are two seperate things. An organization can be
    1) a charity in NH and a 501(c)(3),
    2) a charity in NH and not a 501(c)(3),
    3) not a charity in NH and a 501(c)(3),
    4) not a charity in NH and not a 501(c)(3)

    Since I have not seen any signs that Casey’s second paragraph is anywhere close to the truth, #4 is the current situation of CouchSurfing. If the 501(c)(3) application is accepted it will be #3.

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