Process for forming a new branch

Check with the AAUW Membership Department for the current version. This was current as of July 2008.

Thank you for your interest in forming a new branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW.) AAUW members belong to a community that breaks through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a affair chance.

This document is a guide through the branch formation process, and all forms as well as reference materials are attached to this guide for your convenience.  Throughout this process you will need numerous documents listed below, however, we will remind you through each phase of the process when to use which documents.

Branch Formation Required Document List

  • State Board Approval for Branch Organization
  • Branch Formation and Naming Policy 205
  • Model Branch Bylaws (Select Model Bylaws or Working Rules)
  • Working Rules for Organizing Branches (Select Model Bylaws or Working Rules)
  • Petition for Branch Recognition
  • Checklist for Recruiting New Members (reference)
  • Sample letter for recruiting individuals (reference)
  • Charter Member List/Branch Officer Form
  • New/Renewal Additional Dues Remittance (ADR)

Phase I:

Work with your AAUW state membership vice president (MVP), who can offer you a wealth of information on AAUW and who can help you form a branch organizing team, recruit members, and complete the necessary paperwork to form a new branch.

Recruit a core group of three to five individuals. Involve them in organizing your new branch by educating them about AAUW’s mission and current initiatives. After they are familiar with AAUW, have them recruit 10 more individuals. We have attached a checklist for recruiting new members reference document. The total number of individuals needed to start a branch is 15.

Complete the attached State Board Approval for Branch Organization Form. Be sure to include the proposed name of your potential branch. Also review the attached Branch Formation and Naming Policy 205. Send the form to the state MVP, referenced above. After the state board of directors votes to grant approval for your branch, the form is signed by the state president and MVP and sent to the Association.  Once the Association receives the form, you will receive notification to proceed.

Required Phase I Documents

  • State Board Approval for Branch Organization
  • Branch Formation and Naming Policy 205 (reference)
  • Checklist for Recruiting New Members (reference)
  • Sample letter for recruiting individuals (reference)

Phase II:

Form task forces for bylaws completion, membership marketing, and program development.  The next three steps highlight the objectives of each task force.

Decide if your branch will operate under bylaws or working rules for the first year.  If you choose to operate under bylaws, complete the model bylaws (fill-in-the-blanks).  If you choose to operate under working rules, a sample copy is also attached.  Notify the Association bylaws chair of your choice, submitting two copies of model bylaws or notice of plan to use working rules.

Identify potential members and begin recruiting. Make a special effort to recruit women and men who represent a cross-section of your community in terms of age, race, cultural  background, abilities, religion, sexual orientation, and occupation. (You must have at least 15 individuals eligible for membership to be recognized as a branch. To be eligible, an individual must have an associate’s or equivalent baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally accredited institution. Should you have fewer than 15 eligible individuals, you can form a satellite of another branch. Later, once you have a stronger membership base, you can choose to become a branch).

Plan your programming by asking where members interests lie. Discuss the community’s needs. Be sure to plan a small project that will spur your group into community action.

Required Phase II Documents

  • Model Branch Bylaws (Select Model Bylaws or Working Rules)
  • Working Rules for Organizing Branches (Select Model Bylaws or Working Rules)
  • Checklist for Recruiting New Members (reference)
  • Sample letter for recruiting individuals (reference)

Phase III:

Select your group’s officers. Then complete the Charter Member/Branch Officer Form so your group receives important AAUW leadership publications and notices. (The officers you initially choose may be temporary. Once your group becomes larger, you may choose to elect new officers. Just be sure to notify AAUW of new officers so they will receive AAUW leadership mailings. You can use the Officer Change Form to notify AAUW of new officers.)

Send the Charter Member/Branch Officer’s form along with the Petition for Recognition documents to AAUW. Also send a copy of the these documents to your state president. The following forms, included in your branch formation materials, must be completed for your group to be recognized as an AAUW branch:

  • Petition for Branch Recognition
  • Charter Member List/Branch Officer Form

In addition to the forms mentioned above, the Membership Toolkit for your Branch Membership Vice President and a Finance Toolkit for your Branch Finance Officer, are available on the website for downloading.

Required Phase III Documents

  • Petition for Branch Recognition
  • Charter Member List/Branch Officer Form

Phase IV:

Congratulations you are in the home stretch! At its next meeting, the AAUW Board of Directors will vote to officially recognize your group as a new AAUW branch. Soon after, you’ll receive a recognition letter, certificate, and a $50 award grant.

After you receive approval from the AAUW board it will now be time to begin collecting dues from your new members. All dues for state should be submitted to the state using a copy of the NEW/Renewal Additional Dues Remittance Form. Then send the state finance officer a copy of the Charter Member/Branch Officer’s Form and state dues for each branch member.

If your branch is opening a bank account, before doing so, you will need an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and you will need to complete an IRS Form SS-4. We know that IRS can be a challenge, but if you follow the quick tips below and read the attached materials from IRS you should be fine.

When completing the IRS’s SS-4 use these help tips:

  1. Begin with the application
  2. View additional materials, select continue
  3. Choose “other non-profit/tax exempt”, select continue
  4. Read and select continue
  5. Read and select continue
  6. Enter banking purposes
  7. Enter responsible party
  8. Select individual

We have embedded the necessary links below for your reference.,,id=102767,00.html

Required Phase IV Documents

  • New/Renewal Additional
    Dues Remittance (ADR) Forms (copy to send state with state dues and the original to AAUW with national dues)


As you grow your branch, you will find the AAUW website a great resource.  We have attached a key links in the AAUW Member Center that will help you grow your branch.

Membership Resources

Membership Matters and Tips & Tactics the monthly MVP Highlights

Membership Campaigns

Membership Tool Kit

Member Services Database

Additional Dues Remittance (ADR) Forms

Continued contact with your state membership vice president will help your group move toward completion of all requirements.

Institutional members – NOT

Proposed Article IV Membership and Dues

Section 1. Composition. Any individual or institution who supports the purpose and mission of AAUW may become a member of AAUW. The provisions set forth in this section are the sole requirement for admissibility to membership.

I’d delete the “or institution”. We’ve gone a long way to keeping it simple. Let’s do that!

I’d add a separate article that says that institutions may affiliate with AAUW (as “partners”? some other word?) and give the board the authority to define the terms of such an affiliation. [Businesses as well as educational institutions, etc.] But I’d remove institutions from any notion of “membership” except, perhaps, to say that a requirement of the affiliation is that the primary contact must be a member (in the ordinary, people, sense).

I’ve seen conflating institutions and people get us into hairy issues with how the data is stored on members. In my experience, C/U representatives  (the people) are the ones who can provide real benefit to the organization — through the branches, through their other contacts on campus, etc. — and we need to connect with them as people, not just through their institutional affiliation. For instance, it needs to be clear that C/U representatives can join branches — this gets less clear if it is “Mega State University” instead of “Professor Jane Doe” who is called the “member”.

8/18 update: Other open discussions are occurring on the web. No need to keep this “private”.

Care and feeding of volunteers

My branch president forwarded the following:

We were really intrigued by a chart we saw that showed the vast differences in volunteer retention among the 50 states, ranging from a high of 76.4 percent in Minnesota to a low of 47.2 percent in Mississippi. It seemed to us like there must be some pretty solid managerial tools that can be used to get those numbers closer to the Minnesota range, so we called on Robert Grimm, director of research and policy development for the Corporation for National and Community Service a couple of weeks ago. He pointed to the fact that one out of three people who volunteer in a year don’t volunteer at all the next year. “We have a leaky bucket in volunteering,” he said. “About 21 million people who volunteered in 2005 didn’t volunteer in 2006.”

What’s to be done? Grimm had a few ideas:

  • Volunteers have to be challenged to use their skills effectively; it’s just silly to use a trained social worker to stuff envelopes.
  • Regular opportunities to volunteer – rather than sporadic ones – tend to keep people interested and engaged.
  • Organizations that screen and match their volunteers, provide recognition for their volunteers and have some kind of individual on staff to manage the volunteers do best at retaining these helpful people.
  • Volunteers will thrive if they report to someone who demonstrates that they’re important to the organization. Many organizations give volunteers to a lower-level employee, which leads them to believe they’re not seen as an important resource.
  • It can be very helpful to offer some training or professional development for the volunteers.

Food for thought … Original source:

Initial reaction to Ronni’s document

Ronni sent a long proposal to the list, and I can’t say that I’ve absorbed all of it yet. But here are some initial reactions.

The model we’ve been using in NC breaks the state activities down into 6 areas:

  1. Advocacy (includes international, ed. equity, etc. as well as public policy)
  2. Events
  3. Communication (newsletter, web site, public information)
  4. Membership/Leadership development
  5. Fundraising
  6. Administration (e.g. prepare the budget, compile the officer directory, handle bylaws and policies)

When I describe this model to the branches (“The Branch as a Bookshelf” PPT , PDF) I encourage adding another area:

  1. Action

After reading (but not, I’m afraid, entirely digesting) Ronni’s document, I’m wondering about an alternate structure that would apply to the states as well as branches (or local presences as well as larger groups, in the “new speak”).

  1. Advocacy – efforts to change the world through persuasion
  2. Action – efforts to change the world through events, education, research
  3. Communications
  4. Fundraising
  5. Human resources (bad name)
  6. Administration

#5 needs more attention and is not really different from the “membership/leadership development” group that we’ve got.

My thoughts on this are, in part, informed by the Good to Great model – and particularly the issue of how to get “the right people on the bus” in an organization such as ours.

Okay, but the next step is to use a model like the one proposed to help define what groups get to use the name AAUW. Would it make any sense at all to have, say the branches commit to filling all 6 roles? Can we define a way for groups to sign up for a lesser commitment (say just #3 and #1 – a group of half a dozen folks who commit to staying up to date with AAUW issues and publishing letters to the editor over the AAUW name) and still call themselves an AAUW group? What would they offload (to whom?) if they did this?

It’ll take more thought, but it may be a workable way to add flexibility, encourage stakeholders to concentrate on what they do well, and still allow for some control over who’s allowed to use the AAUW name.