What is FSFE's Fellowship?

Joining the Fellowship means to become a sustaining member of the FSFE and it is the primary way, people can identify with and support the Free Software Foundation Europe at the same time.

Joining the Fellowship means to be part of a European wide community that like to help or even engage in the the Free Software movement. It also means to financially support FSFE with a membership fee. In return, you get access to our infrastructure and collaborative tools to use for your own purpose or to communicate and interact with each other.

Fellowship community

European Coordinators Meeting 2013

The Fellowship is a community of Free Software enthusiasts from all over Europe that care about the political and societal aspects of Free Software. It consists of different levels of communication and organisation. There are individual activities, local Fellowship groups, country teams, various mailing lists and global publicity in our planet ...

On the right you can see the structure of the Fellowship community. Please do not understand this structure as an organisational chart you might know from enterprises or other hierarchic organisations. The Fellowship community is much more informal, joining or leaving a team is based on interest and voluntarily. The picture is there to understand the different levels of involvement.

Individual Fellows

A Fellow knows about the importance of Free Software for a Free Society. That is, why he joins the Fellowship and supports the FSFE financially with his membership fee. By joining the Fellowship he becomes a sustainable member and gains access to our systems. He can spread the word and show his connection by blogging on FSFE's planet or using his FSFE email alias, for example. If he likes, he can communicate with other Fellows, join the discussions or start a local group. Of course, all of this is voluntarily. Even if you just look for a good way to financially support the FSFE, then joining the Fellowship is still the best way to do so. You join the Fellowship without any necessity to use FSFE's systems or engage in community activity. At the same time, you help us to lower our administrative costs to a minimum by joining our Fellowship instead of giving the same amount as a single donation.

Local meetings

Many Fellows are interested in real-life meetings with other Fellows. The idea of local meetings first came up in Berlin and nowadays more and more active Fellowship groups are emerging in European cities. These groups mostly consist of Fellows and other people that care about Free Software. Fellowship groups undertake activities ranging from a comfortable beer to running public awareness events. The most important point about these locals meeting definitely is to get to know the people in your area that feel strong about software freedom and to interconnect each other. Group usually decide on their own, if they are fine with socializing or if they also like to mobilize for joint actions. When you sign up for the Fellowship, you will be asked if you like to get in contact with a local group. If you do so, our Fellowship staff will get in contact with you and connect you with your local group - if there is one.

Country team

In some European member states, there are already existing Fellowship country teams. Country teams are Fellows, that communicate and engage on a national level instead of a local one. To do so, they observe legal and political activities inside their country and make a stand or a campaign if necessary. Country teams can have a high impact, for example with asking politicians, visiting conferences or designing country-specific leaflets.

Fellowship representatives

The General Assembly is the highest authority in the organisation of the Free Software Foundation Europe and its Executive Board. Members of the General Assembly are long-time volunteers and activists for the FSFE. But, inside the GA there are also two seats for Fellowship representatives. Each year, there is a Fellowsip election for one of the two seats in that every Fellow has the right to present himself as a candidate. Read more about the elections and the Fellowship representatives inside FSFE's constitution.

As a Fellow, you get

Joining the Fellowship is about making a stand for Free Software and to show support for political and societal activities that care about software freedom. Nevertheless, there are some individual benefits in joining the Fellowship. Besides being part of a community, benefits are access to our systems. As an overview, here is what you get:

  • An @fsfe.org mail forwarding alias, a visible sign of your affiliation to Free Software Foundation Europe.
  • A personal login to the Fellowship website, which includes a blogging platform and a wiki.
  • Access to our instant messaging system, where you can meet other Fellows and exchange experiences.
  • A personalised OpenPGP smart card (version 2), putting you at the forefront of those who are aware of privacy issues, security and digital self-determination.

How to join the Fellowship?

To join FSFE's Fellowship you can easily fill out our online form. You will then receive a mail with further instructions about payment methods and your registration process. Payment can be done monthly or yearly. As a last step, you pay whatever you have stated to contribute as your donation. That's it - welcome to the Fellowship!

Anticipate two weeks from our side for the administrative process, then you will receive your OpenPGP smart card in an envelope with a welcome letter. You will receive the password for your smart card in an extra letter. Afterwards, the administrative process is done. Feel free to engage in a way you like to.

In some countries, the Fellowship membership fee can be deducted from your income tax as a donation. Currently, this is the case in Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Talking about donations: I am just looking for a way to donate some money to the FSFE and I explicitly do not like to be involved in a community or any activities, what do I do? The best way to donate to FSFE is to join the Fellowship. In this way, you keep our administrative overhead as low as possible. And there is no need to engage as a Fellow. All activities are voluntarily and if you just join the Fellowship to financially support FSFE, we are absolutely fine. See also our FAQ for more information. Of course, if you still feel uncomfortable, you can also use our donation page.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the Fellowship, please do not hesitate to contact the Fellowship team. Please, also have a look into the "frequently asked questions"