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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 (


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 best way to do that is to use the "email group" tool on your group home page (see AFS Sections Online, below).

You must have approval from AFS 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. 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

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.

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.

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 received in October until the following March).

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; 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).

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, a member directory, and a tool to email all group members. 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 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

Section Prizes

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 prize management, including the timeline and decision-making procedures, are decided by each section; we recommend that you record these procedures and post them to your online group to make them available to future section leaders.

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.

Conveners (or prize committee chairs) must request prize checks for recipients. Use our online check request form or contact the AFS Executive Director, in writing, with the name, address, telephone, e-mail address, 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.

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.

Conveners or section prize committee chairs may notify winners by email or other means first, but they should also coordinate with AFS staff to create a formal prize announcement letter on AFS letterhead to be sent to the prize winner:

  • Draft the text of the announcement letter; you can start with this prize letter template.
  • Send your draft as a Word doc to; we will create a pdf on letterhead, signed by the AFS Executive Director. If you include the email address of the recipient, we will send the final pdf to you and to the recipient.

We recommend that the text of such prize announcements also be submitted to AFS for publication in the AFS Review. Many sections prefer to save published announcements until after the winners have been recognized at the annual meeting but the timing is up to each section; submit the announcement to the Associate Director when you are ready to have the notice made public.

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 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.).

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, 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.

Jessica Turner
Executive Director

Lorraine Walsh Cashman
Associate Director

Meredith McGriff
Membership Coordinator


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