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Important Information for AFS Section Conveners
For many years, the American Folklore Society has supported the work of sections, which are 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. All AFS 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:

  • It keeps membership records for sections and provides contact information to sections to communicate with their members.
  • It couples section renewal with AFS membership renewal in both online and print renewal forms.
  • It keeps accounting records for each section that brings in income (e.g., from section dues or outside funding for section activities) and incurs expenses (e.g., for publications or prizes).
  • It provides digital space and communication tools specific to each section on the AFS website (
  • It provides administrative support for key phases of section prize management.


Each section must designate an AFS member to serve as convener, acting as the head of the section, to serve for a term the section decides. 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 named treasurer) who will receive annual financial statements from the AFS business office. (See also “Section Convener Succession” below.)

Section Communications

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; bear in mind that this group probably includes members who have joined the online group but who have not paid dues. Any communications directed at section members must include all those members. The only way to do that is to use the list that is maintained by AFS staff.

As of 2019, it is possible for section members to email the entire group, but you must contact AFS staff for assistance

You must have approval from AFS staff to create any off-site communication platform or resource, including any channel used for discussion, like a listserv or Facebook group, or any platform to disseminate information, like an independent website. In addition, you must give administrative privileges to each channel, and share information about how to access them. Once established, you are responsible for keeping any off-site groups in sync with 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.

Section Finances

Sections must obtain funding adequate to their operating expenses before making payments or pledging to make payments.

Sections may not raise funds in any fashion without approval from the AFS Executive Director and/or the Board. This includes any and all methods of raising funds, including initiating or raising dues, seeking donations, or offering any goods or services for sale. Fund-raising will not be approved unless it can be demonstrated that the funds will support activities that benefit the field of interest in the present or within five years.

If you learn of a source of outside funding — government or foundation grants, for instance — communicate as soon as possible with the AFS Executive Director to work together on a fund-raising plan. 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 other activities is proposed to the section by members 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 undertake annual spending initiatives or spend more than 20% of its fund balance on its activities in any given year without the approval of the Section (see below) and of the AFS Executive Director. Annual spending commitments must be demonstrated to be sustainable for at least five years without infringing on the Section’s cash reserve (at least one year of annual operating expenses). To seek an exception to this rule, section members must submit a written proposal to the section at least one year in advance. To pass, the proposal must obtain approval by a majority of votes cast in an online/mail-in ballot. 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 received in October until the following March).

Use our online check request form to request payments; the form requires you to provide information about the payment (the amount, the delivery method, the timeline) and about the recipient (their name and mailing address are always required; ask recipients to call AFS to give their SSN or TIN if the amount to be paid is more than $600). (Note: Do not use the check request form for section prizes; instead, submit your prize payment information using the system described below under “Section Prizes.”)

No payments, except section prize payments submitted using the section prize winner form, will be issued unless they are submitted using the online check request form.

AFS assesses a 10% management fee for all financial transactions to defray administrative costs.

Changes to section dues take time to implement, and can only go into effect September 1 or January 1. Notify AFS staff immediately if your section wishes to change your dues amount; we must receive your request by December 1 for January implementation, or by August 1 for September implementation.

Sections and the AFS Annual Meeting

AFS Bylaws specify 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. We need your input about your meeting needs, as well as your commitment to convening the meeting. Therefore, 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 has a presence on the AFS website. Conveners are given administrative control over most of their pages, and are responsible for keeping all the content of their pages up-to-date and accurate.

  • Each section has its own public page, which can be found in the alphabetical list (; this page represents the section to the world at large. You must review this page every year; you can sign in to edit the contents of this page at any time. Think of this as a channel for information for potential new members, people who have not yet joined your section. For example, you should provide information about your activities, your prizes and your publications, if any, in this public space. (See also public section information at and
  • We provide each section with private online group space that is restricted to group members only. This space provides web pages, file and photo sharing, online discussion tools, and a member directory, which allows you to email group members individually. This is the right place for things like your meeting agendas and minutes, discussion of plans or projects, and any other resources that concern section members only.

    Conveners have administrative control of this space. All members of the section can access this space by signing in, then clicking on the section name when it appears under "Groups” in their Profile menu.

    The online group home page is the "welcome" page to all your new members; new members will be delivered directly to this page after they click on "join section" in the online section  membership path. Keep this page up to date with this is in mind. At minimum, your group home page should include:
  • current convener names and contact information
  • instructions about how to subscribe to any off-site communication tools used by your group (eg, Facebook, listservs, email distribution lists)
  • some welcome or guidance about what new members should do or expect
  • links to your public pages, if appropriate (eg, your prize description)
  • Each dues-paying Section is listed in the "Online Store,” where new or returning members can pay their annual dues at any time (not just at AFS membership renewal time, though that is also an alternative). Section conveners should send corrections or changes to this text to the Associate Director. (Free sections are no longer listed in the online store; members should instead join at Sections/Join AFS Sections at

 If your section already 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 and update your section pages to help section members find and access those resources. In addition, you must give administrative privileges to each channel, and share information about how staff can access them. Once established, you are responsible for keeping any off-site groups in sync with your section’s most up-to-date list of members.

You must have approval from AFS staff to create any new off-site communication platform or resource, including any channel used for discussion, like a listserv or Facebook group, or any platform to disseminate information, like an independent website. Once established, you must follow the steps noted above concerning sharing access with AFS staff and section members.

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

Section Prizes

Several AFS sections award prizes to recognize exceptional scholarship, public service, or other achievements in their part of the field.

All AFS section prizes should include, at minimum:

  • A letter of recognition, drafted by the prize committee, prepared on AFS letterhead by staff, and signed by the AFS Executive Director. Prize committees can draft their own letters, which can be submitted to AFS staff as a Word doc.
  • They may also use this prize letter template, but they should add text to explain why the recipient was selected as the prize winner.
  • An announcement in the AFS Review and AFS social media channels
  • An announcement at the AFS Annual Meeting, either in the section’s business meeting, the AFS business meeting, or both
  • A prize check, as indicated by the terms of the prize, which can be picked up at the AFS Annual Meeting or mailed to the recipient at any time

Note that AFS staff cannot initiate any of these actions without input from section prize committees, though staff will implement these actions once prompted to do so.

Section prize committees must coordinate closely with AFS staff concerning prize management. When conveners are not themselves responsible for section prize management, they must make sure that the prize committee chairs are informed of these administrative essentials.

As of 2020, AFS staff uses a prize management system to track section prizes and their winners, which will make it easier for staff to support section efforts, thus helping to share the burden in managing prizes. The system depends on prize committee chairs to:

1) Submit the prize “call for submissions” at

  • It’s important that this is the first step; once the prize is posted in the AFS Review, AFS staff will share it in AFS social media, and contact the prize contact person to let them know they can share the prize information in their own channels.
  • The form offers a short list of submission deadlines. Committee members can choose the deadline that best fits their process, but they should understand that AFS staff must be informed of the winner by October 1 in order to arrange an announcement and payment in time for the AFS Annual Meeting.

2) Submit the prize winner at This form prompts for information that will allow us to issue payment, prepare a letter of recognition, and announce the winner in the AFS Review, all in accordance with the section’s preferences for timing and methods. Use this form, rather than the check request form, to initiate prize payments.

For 2020, managing applications is left to the section prize committees, though we hope to expand the management system in the future to handle that phase as well.

In all other respects, section prize committees have discretion in determining the timeline, criteria, and decision-making procedures, and are responsible for recording their procedures and sharing them with the section, which is particularly important for succession in committee service. Files can be saved in the section’s members-only group space.

Section prizes that are offered as travel support are typically made contingent on attendance at the annual meeting. In such cases, checks should be ordered to be picked up upon arrival at the meeting.

Section Publications

A few sections have publications; the sections are responsible for managing those publications and documenting their management process. Section publications are typically managed by their editors, in cooperation with AFS staff; conveners are responsible only for: supporting editors and their succession and ensuring that the management process is documented and AFS financial protocols are observed.

Print publications that are mailed annually to dues-paying members are on a calendar-year cycle; members who pay in a given year will receive the issue(s) with that publication year. Typically, an annual issue should be mailed in the first month or so of the following calendar year. Editors should give AFS staff at least two weeks’ notice when they need a subscription list.

Editors of all section publications, print or open access, should use AFS communication channels, with AFS staff help, to promote new issues as well as issue calls for submissions.

Section Annual Reports

The AFS Bylaws require that all sections submit an annual report. AFS publishes section reports in the general AFS annual report published each spring. Therefore, you must submit this annual report form 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.).

Failure to submit annual reports may be grounds for de-activating a section’s online group and revoking section status.

AFS Archives

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 Convener Succession

Sections determine their own rules concerning succession, and they are largely responsible for managing the process. Ideally, new conveners will be selected near the end of one calendar year, probably at the annual meeting, and they will begin work immediately on section activities for the coming year; out-going conveners are still responsible for submitting the annual report on the activities of the past year.

Sections are responsible for notifying AFS of changes in leadership as soon as possible after new conveners are selected, preferably by the end of November. When notified of a change in conveners, AFS will immediately:

  • Give the new convener admin privileges for the section online group.
  • Add the new convener to the list of group representatives on the section's online group main page.
  • Add the new convener to the online conveners' group and to the afsconveners-l listserv, which AFS typically uses to contact all conveners.
  • Send a welcome message when these steps are complete.

At the same time, new/current conveners should update all other section information, especially your public-facing section page; see

AFS will also remove out-going conveners from the contact list, conveners' group, and remove the convener title and admin privileges from the section group; typically, assuming we are notified of the transition October through December, these steps will be taken in January after the past year's annual report is in.

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. Keep instructions in your shared group space for future use, especially to aid in leadership succession, and send records of past activities to Utah State University. Consider depositing records of decision-making and procedures in your group pages, and/or share copies with the Associate Director.

Revoking Section Status

According to AFS Bylaws Article X, Section 6, a majority of the Executive Board may revoke a section’s status if a section fails to meet at the Annual Meeting for two years, fails to submit annual budgets or reports, or can be shown to have been conducted in a manner contrary to the purposes of the Society. Repeated or egregious violations of these financial and administrative guidelines may also be considered grounds for revoking section status. 

Sections may also lose their standing because of inactivity. Members join sections in order to participate in an intellectual community; they pay dues to support activities in a section’s area of interest. Inactive sections do not meet these basic expectations.

Sections that are inactive for two years may be invited to disband. Sections may be considered inactive if:

  • conveners don’t submit an annual meeting room request by March 31.
  • conveners don’t use the online group email at least once per year.
  • conveners don’t submit an annual report by December 31.
  • conveners don’t reply to staff emails in a timely manner.
  • no section members are willing to serve as convener.

Dues-charging sections may be asked to suspend dues collection if, in a three-year period, they don’t deliver at least once on an activity that requires financial support.

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.

Contact the Executive Director for most financial matters, the Membership Director for membership and section balances, and the Associate Director for assistance with these or any other matter.

Jessica Turner
Executive Director

Lorraine Walsh Cashman
Associate Director

Meredith McGriff
Membership Coordinator


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