|Important Information for AFS Section Conveners|
For many years, the American Folklore Society has supported the work of sections, subgroups of the Society organized around topical interests or demographics; e.g., folk narrative, Latina/Latino folklore, the folklore of women and the roles of women in the field of folklore, or public programs in folklore. The Society's sections provide a collegial home within the Society for those with particular interests in these and other areas; they support and recognize important work through their publications, prizes, and other activities; and their creation and history is an index of the development of the field as a whole. They are a valuable part of the services the Society provides its members and the larger world.
First and foremost, sections of the American Folklore Society are not independent organizations. They are part of AFS, and are governed by overall AFS Bylaws, policies, and Executive Board decisions. This document describes the various responsibilities of sections to the parent Society.
But the parent Society also has responsibilities to its sections. Society sections are eligible for space and time at the Society's annual meeting for paper sessions or workshops, section meetings, and social events. AFS provides several services to sections:
Each section must designate a convener, who is the head of the section, to serve for a term the section decides. Increasingly, sections are designating senior and junior conveners (Conveners maintain contact with the AFS Associate Director, and are responsible for handling general section business and correspondence. Each section must also designate an individual (either you or a separate treasurer) who will receive annual financial statements from the AFS business office.
Your online group directory is the most complete and current list of all who have joined your section using AFS tools, including our online and print membership forms. Any communications directed at section members must include all those members. The best way to do that is to use the "email group" tool on your group home page (see AFS Sections Online, below).
If you are using off-site communications, like Facebook groups or pages, listservs, or just an email distribution list, you are responsible for syncing these disparate groups to your section’s most up-to-date list of members. Contact the Associate Director for help.
If you need to contact only section members who are current in their dues payments, you must request that list from AFS, giving us at least a few days to prepare it.
Most sections charge dues. Sections must charge dues or find sources of outside income that are adequate to their operating expenses. Sections should not charge dues unless funds are needed for activities that will benefit the field of interest; the Executive Director and/or Board must approve initiating or raising dues.
If you decide to pursue outside funding — government or foundation grants, for instance — it is essential that you discuss your plans with the AFS Executive Director as early as possible in the fund-raising process. Since AFS sections have no independent legal status, all grant applications for section activities must be officially approved by the AFS Executive Board and submitted by the Society, not by the section. Since this AFS approval process usually takes some time, and since AFS wants to avoid conflicts between sections' fund-raising activities and its own, it is especially important that you involve the AFS Executive Director as soon as you begin planning to raise outside funds.
Section funds may only be used for activities that support communications (such as newsletters, blogs, journals, AFS web site content, or section-sponsored sessions and lectures at the annual meeting) or professional development (such as prizes, travel support for annual meeting participation, or annual meeting networking or professional development activities), unless a plan for carrying out such activities is proposed to the section by its convener(s) in writing, and is approved by a majority vote of the section's members at least one year in advance.
As of 2015, a section may not spend more than 20% of its fund balance on its activities in any given year, unless a plan for carrying out such activities is proposed to the section by its convener(s) in writing, and is approved by a majority vote of the section's members, at least one year in advance. Ongoing events or prizes that predate 2015 are exempt from this rule.
The AFS Membership Director will provide conveners with section membership and financial reports weeks in advance of the annual meeting and upon request. Please allow one week for processing.
Please be prompt with deposits (i.e., don't hold onto checks until the following March received at the October AFS annual meeting).
All section financial business (checks for deposit, requests for payments) should be mailed to AFS. Alternatively, you can use our online check request form to request payment.
Sections and the AFS Annual Meeting
AFS Bylaws state that Sections must convene as part of the AFS annual meeting each October. In fact, the Bylaws state that sections that do not meet for two consecutive years may have their official status revoked by the AFS Executive Board. After the AFS annual meeting, section conveners must give the AFS Associate Director any updated information on section activities: e.g., the name of a new convener or treasurer, information about a new dues structure, etc.
Sections are eligible for lunchtime meeting space, but they are not automatically assigned a room. You must request meeting space using a Special Event Request form by the annual March 31 proposal deadline.
Sections and the AFS Review
You are encouraged to submit information about your section and its activities to the AFS Review, a feature of the AFS website that presents news and editorial content. Submit the text that you want to see posted to the Associate Director; please consider posting regular updates about your activities, as well as features, news, calls for proposals, prize announcements, etc.
AFS Sections Online
Each section of the AFS has a presence on the AFS website. Section conveners are given administrative control over most of their Section pages, and are responsible for keeping all the content of their pages up-to-date and accurate.
If your section has a web presence elsewhere, or uses other online discussion tools – a Facebook or Google group, for instance, or a listserv – you must provide AFS with that information. In addition, you should update your Section pages to direct members to those resources, and provide details about how they may join.
As of December 2013, any registered member of the AFS online community (this includes "web only" members as well as AFS members) can freely join your online group; all members of the online group are prompted annually to submit dues payments when they join or renew their AFS membership, of whatever type. However, we will not attempt to remove people from the group for non-payment of dues. This means that the online directory of your section will now almost certainly include both dues-paying and non-dues paying members. If you need to communicate with only dues-paying members, contact AFS to obtain a current distribution list; allow at least a few days lead time.
"How to Use this Online Group" is linked to every group homepage and has tips for using the administrative privileges that only conveners have. See also FAQ/Sections/Using Group Tools for general information. Don't hesitate to contact the Associate Director for assistance with the AFS website.
Section Conveners' Group
Use the online Section Conveners' Group to communicate with other conveners, find links to important information for conveners, and an archive of past announcements and discussion. See the "tips" on the homepage for information about how to view other sections' homepages, which may give you ideas about how to use this space. (Sign in, then find it under Groups in the Profile menu; the direct link is http://www.afsnet.org/members/group.aspx?id=85479.)
Several AFS sections award prizes, some of which carry cash awards, to recognize exceptional scholarship, public service, or other achievements in their part of the field. Sections' prize decisions tend to be made either shortly before or during the AFS annual meeting in October.
Section prizes are announced at the annual meeting gatherings of the respective sections. Conveners are responsible for sharing information on prize recipients with the AFS Executive Director, who will briefly announce those recipients at the AFS business meeting on Saturday afternoon.
For checks to be written to prize recipients, the section convener needs to give the AFS Executive Director, in writing, the name, address, telephone, e-mail address, social security number, and professional affiliation of the award recipient; the dollar amount, if any, authorized for the prize; and a brief statement of the achievement(s) for which the recipient has been awarded the prize. For this check to be available at the annual meeting, your request needs to be made by the end of September. Checks can be mailed directly to the recipient at any time.
Use our online check request form to request your prize checks.
Section Annual Reports
The Bylaws also require that to remain in good standing, all sections submit an annual report. AFS publishes section reports in the general AFS annual report published in the early months of each year. Therefore, you must send the AFS Associate Director a brief report by December 31 each year reflecting the past year’s activity, plans for the upcoming year, and any out-of-the-ordinary fiscal activity (e.g., planning a grant proposal, special activities or fund-raising, etc.).
Utah State University keeps the archive of AFS documents. AFS staff will see that the archive receives a copy of all section publications, member lists, and annual reports. Please contact the Associate Director to share other material or questions for the archive.
Section Management Procedures
Sections are largely autonomous in all other aspects of managing their activities and must take responsibility for recording and archiving their own procedures to aid in transitions between conveners. Consider depositing records of decision-making and procedures in your group pages, and/or share copies with the Associate Director.
If at any time you have questions about Society or section operations, or want to discuss the plans of your section, please do not hesitate to contact us.