Next steps for the IFAJ Foundation

IFAJ Treasurer Adrian Bell, who has responsibility within the Presidium for overseeing IFAJ’s adoption of a formal legal entity, revealed that the Foundation would take the form of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), a recently introduced UK legal structure that combines the best features of commercial and charitable bodies.

-The CIO structure brings with it several advantages for us as an organisation, for all IFAJ members, and for the future trustees of the Foundation, says Adrian Bell.

– It’s a much simplified regulatory regime and addresses some of the key concerns raised by IFAJ members during the discussions and consultations over the last couple of years.

-We’ve had to find a way that allows the Foundation to be run as an independent charity, balancing that with the need for IFAJ to retain a degree of control over its activities. Thus with the CIO, we will see the 11 trustees of the Foundation elected by the IFAJ delegate assembly, while IFAJ members will retain their voting rights over the IFAJ Foundation, for example for any changes in its constitution or objectives.

 

Adrian Bell is now working with IFAJ’s UK legal team to draw up the constitution for the CIO, based on draft bylaws that were approved at the IFAJ Congress in July. This will be distributed to member guilds and associations for examination and discussion with their executive representatives.

-It’s our hope that we’ll have this done before the end of the year, or early in January 2019, he says.

-In parallel, we’ll be working on a draft set of ‘Articles of Association’- the UK terminology for a company’s constitution – for IFAJ Ltd, the vehicle that will take on the administrative side of IFAJ’s work: Global Office, membership services and so on.

-The Articles should largely be a word-for-word transposition of the current IFAJ Constitution, but if – perhaps for legal reasons – we find we need to change wording, we’ll need to seek approval from IFAJ members.

-Thanks to the 2015 revision of the Constitution, we can now do this via a telemeeting. So we’ve provisionally scheduled IFAJ’s first Delegate telemeeting for early May, which will give us time to distribute any proposed changes to members, address any queries, and then move to adopt the Articles ahead of the 2019 Congress.

 

Completion of the IFAJ Foundation and IFAJ Ltd will deliver many advantages.

-Having a charitable organisation at the heart of IFAJ will open up new sources of funding, and provide benefits to our existing partners who have supported us over many years. While IFAJ Ltd gives us the much-needed legal entity for reasons of finance, transparency and governance, says Adrian Bell.

-These changes will mark a further step-change in IFAJ’s reach, ambition and effectiveness in supporting and developing the mobilisation of agricultural information and knowledge throughout the world.