AFS Procedures—Program Planning and Financial Planning

Program Planning and Financial Planning


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A. Definitions

  1. Reserve Fund – The goal here is for AFS to have a contingency Reserve Fund equal to one-year operational budget, as defined by the average of the last three years.  This Reserve Fund shall be composed of liquid funds to cover the evolving needs of the Society and invested funds to provide growth of the overall fund.
  2. Overhead Rate – The annually calculated rate, approved by the U.S. Government, used to estimate the value of Headquarters administration costs. In fiscal year 2004, the approved AFS overhead rate was 33.07% of direct costs. (Exceptions to this rate may be granted through negotiations and must be approved by the Executive Director.)
  3. Special Projects – Refers to any new project not already approved within the Operational Budget.

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Financial Policies

  1. Operational Budget

The policy of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is to maintain a balanced calendar-year operational budget as a minimum. Preferably however, each year there will be a contribution to the Reserve Fund.  This budget is presented to the Governing Board for approval at its meeting during the preceding year’s Annual Meeting.  Modifications to this budget, based on more recent data, may be presented to the Midyear Governing Board for approval.  In addition, during the Midyear meeting, the Governing Board approves any changes to the membership dues and prices of major products and services.

In principle, the cost of AFS products and services should be covered by the revenues accrued from these products and services.

  1. Special Projects

Support for short-term projects, outside the general operational budget, can be sought provided the following guidelines are observed:

  1. Special projects must contribute to achievement of the Society’s major goals.
  2. The Society will charge an overhead rate covering Headquarters costs to all funding proposals except where the granting entity has an explicit policy to prohibit it (in which case we will assess whether direct administrative costs can be included or if the Society wishes to absorb these costs).
  3. Special funding can be sought both to expand current approved activities and to initiate new approved activities. Pass-through projects handled on behalf of AFS units or external parties shall include at least Society administrative costs, i.e., an agreed-upon overhead cost.
  4. Any single project, with projected expenses in excess of $100,000 must have Governing Board approval. No project should be undertaken until a business plan is approved by the Executive Director and the Governing Board.
  5. The Executive Director, in concert with the leadership of the committee of reference, may establish a special project, so long as the above guidelines are followed.
  6. There will be at least an annual update on special project finances. This will be part of the Executive Director’s report to the Management (and Budget) Committee.

3. AFS Meetings and Symposia (See also the AFS Meetings Manual)

The following principles will help ensure successful meeting planning:

  1. Bids to host a meeting are submitted in a competing environment. Hosts may be AFS Chapters, other Society units, or provincial/state agencies.
  2. The Society normally advances funds to the host organization (Local Arrangements Committee) for meeting planning.
  3. Costs of a host planning team attending a previous year’s meeting may be paid from meeting revenues–advanced by the Society–if there is no other way for them to attend.
  4. The return to the Annual Meeting budget of net trade show from that meeting will be 20% of the net.
  5. At a minimum, the AFS Annual Meeting must break even or better.
  6. Complimentary rooms provided by hotels, if any, are used by Headquarters and host equally.
  7. In the event that a unit forgoes a regularly scheduled meeting to host an AFS Annual Meeting, 10% of net revenues will go to the host. Other units (such as a Division) that choose to co-locate their meeting with the AFS Annual Meeting, may also receive 10% of the net (or some similar amount negotiated and agreed upon in writing). The rest of the net revenue goes to the Society. AFS, at its own choosing, may require an audit of annual meeting income and expense.
  8.  Because the Society assumes financial liability for its meetings, the Executive Director must approve the meeting’s budget before presentation to the Governing Board for final approval. Once a budget is thus approved, any significant expenditures beyond what is already approved must gain the approval of the Executive Director.

4. Fiscal Relationships with Units

Because the Society is legally responsible for unit obligations, the following policies apply:

  1. Unit secretary-treasurers shall send minutes, including member-audited financial reports, to the Executive Director within 30 days after the unit’s annual business meeting.
  2. In the unlikely event of Society insolvency, unit assets may be called on to satisfy obligations.
  3. Units with a three-year average annual gross income exceeding $25,000 are required to file an IRS return (form 990) with a copy to the Society’s Director of Finance and Administration.
  4. Checks issued by the Society should be cashed as soon as possible. After 12 months the Society will send a reminder to cash the outstanding check. If after 18 months the check is not cashed, the Society will inform the recipient that it has stopped payment and the Society will send a check in that amount to the Division, in the case of a divisional entity, or will return that amount to the Society treasury if it is not issued to a divisional entity.

5. Reserve Fund and Dedicated Funds:

These funds are managed separately from general operational and special project budgets.

  1.  In 2004, a Reserve Fund policy was set to have a goal of one-year operational budget (using the previous 3 years average).
  2.  In 1988, A Publications Endowment Fund was established by a fee of $2.00 per book sold. The purpose of this fund is to support the publication of Society and unit publications for which outside support is not available.
  3. The J. Frances Allen Scholarship Fund is a dedicated fund created for the purpose of providing at least one $2,500 scholarship annually to a deserving woman doctoral candidate.  The fund balance is currently sufficient to achieve this objective without invading the principal.
  4. The Skinner Memorial Fund is a dedicated fund created for the purpose of providing travel scholarships for students to come to the AFS Annual Meeting.  The fund currently supports travel without invasion of the principal.
  5. The Snieszko Fund is a dedicated fund created in 1988 with funds from a bequest from Stanislaus and Julia Snieszko for the benefit of the AFS Fish Health Section.
  6. The Carl R. Sullivan Fisheries Conservation Award Endowment is a dedicated fund created in 1991 to support the annual purchase of the “Sully” award.  The interest may be expended for the award but the principal may not be invaded.
  7. The Carl R. Sullivan Memorial Endowment is a dedicated fund to support AFS membership dues for non-North American fisheries scientists.  Providing funding is adequate, each “scholarship” member is to receive an AFS peer-reviewed journal of choices.

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Possible Financial Pitfalls

When you plan special projects, it is useful to state potential pitfalls,

  1. New Missions. The Society must hold completely to its defined mission and objectives in order to preserve and enhance its impact.  The more effective the Society becomes, the more tempting it will be for members to try to use the organization and its influence for their own purposes, drawing it into issues, battles, and projects that do not contribute to achievement of the mission.
  2. Overextension (“Mission creep”). Attempting to respond to the never-ending list of important activities that do fall within our mission is also a potential pitfall.  Even if we can avoid becoming involved in the individual priorities represented by our units and members, we could still get into serious trouble by trying to respond to all the appropriate ideas that alert members and others will urge on us.
  3. Fragmentation. In addition to getting ourselves badly overextended, we could be inclined to try to do so many different things at once that we will not do any of them well, will lack focus, and will have limited capacity to accomplish the big things.

Finally, over caution in avoiding pitfalls could lead to lack of action and failure to realize opportunities.

(from a 1992  Executive Committee report)

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Investment Objectives and Guidelines


These Statements of Investment Policies and Objectives set forth AFS’s plan for effectively managing and controlling the Society’s investments and fixed assets. For policy purposes, these tangible assets are divided into three categories: Long-Term Investments, Short-Term Money, and Fixed Assets for each of which there is a separate statement.

The statements attempt (1) to identify appropriate risk postures, (2) to state the expectations and objectives for all categories of assets, (3) provide asset allocation guidelines that are consistent with the risks and the objectives, and (4) establish criteria for monitoring and evaluating the performance results of the investment.

Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives: Long-Term Investments

This Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives governs the management of the American Fishery Society’s investment assets categorized as Long-Term Investments. The investments in this category include both Donor Restricted Funds and Governing-Board Designated Reserves and other funds. This Statement shall remain in effect until modified as conditions warrant by the Governing Board.

The responsibility for ensuring the implementation of the policy and guidelines set forth in this statement rests with the Executive Director, Investment Committee and Management Committee.

A. Financial and Investment Objectives

The Long-Term Investments have the dual purpose of providing a reserve for the support of the operations and continued development of AFS in financially stressed circumstances and so long as the identified requirements for reserves are met, serving as an endowment that provides current short-term funding for special activities identified by the Governing Board.

Implicit in this objective is the financial goal of preserving and enhancing the inflation adjusted purchasing power of the Long-Term Investments.

The objective of the Long-Term Investments is to attain an average annual real total return (net of investment management fees) of at least 5.0% as measured over rolling five-year periods.

This objective should be achievable within risk levels defined by this policy.

B. Spending Policy

The Investment Committee working with the Executive Director will currently specify the amount that may be drawn annually for endowment spending from the Long-Term Investment. However, the actual transfer of any funds from the Long-Term Investment to short-term investments requires the authorization of the President.

C. Investment Management Structure

The Executive Director, with the advice of the Investment Committee, is authorized to place the Long-Term Investment in mutual funds. Such mutual funds will have a 5-year track record well above the average for mutual funds of that type and no more than 1/4 of the Long-Term Investment will be in any single mutual fund or mutual fund family except that a larger fraction may be in an index fund based on the Standard and Poor’s index or similar broad indicator of the market. Management of the Long-Term Investment may also be delegated to investment managers who are given full discretionary powers under the guidelines provided in this policy and supplemented by instructions from the Investment Committee through the Executive Director. Such investment managers will be appointed by the Governing Board with the advice of the Committee and the ED.

The Committee will report at each meeting of the Council the performance of the Long-Term Investment and its managers. It is understood that when Long-Term Investment funds are invested in mutual funds or commingled funds, the Committee will accept the guidelines of the fund(s) and managers chosen.

D. Portfolio Composition and Asset Allocation

To achieve its investment objective, the Long-Term Investment Fund will be divided into two major sub-components: An “Equity Fund” and a “Fixed Income Fund.” The purpose of dividing these investments in this manner is to ensure that the overall asset allocation between these two asset classes remains under the regular scrutiny of the Investment Committee (and ED) and is not allowed to become the residual of separate manager decisions.

The Long-Term Investment will be diversified both by asset class and within asset classes (e.g., within equities by economic sector, industry, quality, and size). Moreover, the Equity Fund will be placed with managers who have distinct and different investment philosophies. The purpose of such diversification is to provide reasonable assurance that no single security, class of securities, or specific investment style will have a disproportionate impact on the Long-Term Investment’s aggregate results.

The purpose of the Equity Fund is to provide a total return that will provide for growth in principal and current income to support any desired spending requirements while increasing the purchasing power of the Long-Term Investment’s assets. AFS recognizes that the pursuit of these long-term objectives entails the assumption of market variability and risk.

The Equity Fund should normally represent 80% of total Long-Term Investment assets at market value. Although the actual percentage weighting in the Equity Fund will vary with market conditions, it will be closely monitored whenever levels exceed 90% or fall below 70%. Should the allocation move outside of these ranges, additional funds will be transferred as needed to bring the overall asset mix back within the policy range.

The purpose of the Fixed Income Fund is to reduce the overall volatility of the Long-Term Investment returns and to provide a hedge against the effects of a prolonged economic contraction. The Fixed Income Fund should normally represent 20% of the total Long-Term Investment assets at market value. Although the actual percentage will fluctuate with market conditions, levels below 10% and above 30% will be closely monitored by the Investment Committee.

In general, the Fixed Income portfolio will be diversified among different sectors of the fixed income market. Up to 15% of the Fixed Income Fund may be invested in quality ratings of below BBB. However, the overall average quality must be “AA.” With the exception of obligations of the U.S. Government and its agencies, no purchase will be made that will cause more than 5% of the Fixed Income Fund to be invested in the securities of any one issuer. The Fixed Income Fund may be invested in actively managed mutual funds to the extent that the Investment Committee deems appropriate.

Additions to principal will be allocated to investment managers by the Investment Committee (through the ED) following the general rule that new cash will be used to rebalance the total Long-Term Investment in the direction of the 80%/20% equity/fixed income ratio. It is anticipated that shifting assets among managers will occur infrequently.

E. Performance Objectives

In addition to the overall objective of a real return of 5% over 5 year rolling period the following performance objectives are expected to be met by the fund and its individual components.

The total fund is expected to outperform the performance of a blended benchmark comprised of the returns of the following investable indexes in the weightings indicated: Wilshire 5000 80% Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index 20%.

Equity managers are evaluated versus appropriate passive, fully-invested benchmarks regardless of the level of cash assets held by the investment manager. Assets held by equity managers are thus, considered 100% equity investments for purposes of asset allocation targets, and performance comparisons.  The objectives of the Fixed Income Fund are to outperform (net of fees) the Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond index.

F. Risk Tolerance

Risks taken should be generally limited to those attendant to fluctuation of the market in the form of assets employed.

G. Monitoring of Objectives and Results

Both the mutual fund accounts and the individually managed portfolios will be monitored for consistency in each manager’s investment philosophy, return relative to objectives, investment risk as measured by asset concentrations, exposure to extreme economic conditions, and market volatility.

The Investment Committee will regularly review managers in order to confirm that the factors underlying performance expectations remain in place. They may request that the investment manager(s) be present in person or by phone at periodic meetings to present their portfolios and results to the Investment Committee.

All objectives and policies are in effect until modified by the Management Committee and approved by the Governing Board. If at any time a member of the Governing Board, Management Committee, Investment Committee, Executive Director or investment manager believes that an established policy or guideline inhibits the investment performance of the Long-Term Investment, it is that individual’s responsibility to clearly communicate this view to the Chair of the Investment Committee and ED.

Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives: Short-term Money

A. Definition of Category

Short-Term Money includes all Cash and Cash Management Accounts. These are expected to equal or slightly exceed Current Liabilities minus Current Assets plus anticipated needs for capital over the next 12 months. Responsibility for management of the Short-Term Money is delegated to the Executive Director. The Executive Director may retain outside management for these funds.

B. Purpose of Funds

A large fraction of these funds are required to pay the Society’s bills over each 12-month period.

The amount in this category of funds varies through the year as the Society’s income is seasonal and concentrated in the November-January time frame, whereas the Society’s expenses are more evenly spread throughout the year.

C. Risk Tolerance

This operating cash must be completely liquid and not subject to significant market (interest rate/duration) risk or credit quality risk. The remaining Short-Term Money is required to cover liabilities that may arise for prepaid orders, subscriptions, and employee benefits. Likewise, these funds should not be exposed to market or credit risk.

D. Return Objectives

The objective is to maximize return consistent with insulation from capital loss. The return on the first $1 million of such funds should compare favorably with widely used money market fund averages. The surplus over the first $1 million will be measured against the return on U.S. government notes of 2 years maturity.

E. Authorized Securities

Types of securities authorized for Short-Term Money include: bank accounts including checking, savings and time deposit accounts, U.S. Treasury bills and other short-term government paper, commercial paper, and other cash equivalents with an average rating of AA and a maturity of two years. The estimated requirements for the operating cash portion are to be kept in bank accounts or invested in cash equivalent securities.

F. Monitoring of Objectives and Results

Individually managed portfolios will be monitored for consistency in each manager’s investment philosophy, return relative to objectives, investment risk as measured by asset concentrations, exposure to extreme economic conditions, and market volatility. Portfolios will be reviewed by the Investment Committee on a twice yearly basis.

The Investment Committee may request that the investment manager(s) be present at periodic meetings to present their portfolios and results to the Committee. In either case, the Committee will regularly review managers in order to confirm that the factors underlying performance expectations remain in place.

All objectives and policies are in effect until modified by the Management Committee and approved by the Governing Board. They will be reviewed at least annually for their continued appropriateness. If at any time a member of the Governing Board, Management Committee, Investment Committee, Executive Director or investment manager believes that an established policy or guideline inhibits the Short-Term Money investment performance, it is that individual’s responsibility to clearly communicate this view to the Chair of the Investment Committee.

Statement of Investment Policy and Objectives: Fixed Assets

A. Definition of Category

Fixed Assets include Current Fixed Assets (Land, Building and Leasehold Improvements, and Equipment) and the related borrowing and lease purchases, all included in this package for purposes of policy and management. Responsibility for management of the Fixed Assets is delegated to the Executive Director.

B. Monitoring the Funds

The fixed assets are never expected to be made liquid. Under no circumstances is the amount of the non-liquid reserves to go below zero nor is it expected to reduce markedly in any given year.

Transfers between Short-Term Money and Long-Term Investments

Transfer of any money from Long-Term Investments to Short-Term Money may be made only on authorization by the President and ED. A schedule of Long-Term Investments will be prepared in advance of each Governing Board meeting for the Investment Committee.

The Investment Committee will review the operating cash projections and whenever there appears to be more than a nominal amount above projected requirements in Short-Term Money will transfer the appropriate amount to Long-Term Investments.

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Planned Giving Program


  • To position the American Fisheries Society for launching a planned giving initiative for the future of the Society.


  • To remind Society members of the importance of making a will;
  • To introduce the idea of making a planned gift to the Society;
  • To identify a group of AFS members who might make a bequest to AFS; and
  • To continue to cultivate any interest expressed or commitment made by members to remember AFS in their will.

Action Plan:

  • Identify a member group to spearhead this effort. The Past Presidents’ Advisory Council is committed to lead this effort with support from AFS staff.
  • Identify previous and future planned gifts. Prepare a list of donors who have made a planned gift to AFS in the past.  Also prepare a list of those members who have notified AFS of their intention to make a planned gift.
  • Identify prospects. Review all donor files for planned giving prospects; examples are 30-year and 40-year members, Golden Members, Life Members, Past Presidents, and donors of large gifts.  Compile a list of prospects and provide this list to the Past Presidents’ Advisory Council for their review and additions.
  • Identify for each possible donor a personal member contact who would spearhead the effort personally.
  • Write an article on planned giving. In 1989, AFS Executive Director Carl Sullivan wrote a nice article for Fisheries on bequests to AFS.  A similar article should be prepared as a kickoff event to the planned giving program.  It could be presented under the name of the Chair of the Past Presidents’ Advisory Council or the key person spearheading the planned giving effort for the PPAC.  When published, there should be a response card included in Fisheries for the convenience of members who wish to respond or seek additional information.  Reprints of the article should be distributed at AFS annual meetings, unit events, symposia, AFS trade shows and similar gatherings of members.
  • Create a bequest recognition group. This concept will be introduced in the Fisheries article on planned giving.  Past Presidents, Officers, and/or Governing Board Members could be invited to join as charter members of this group; this group may be helpful in identifying, evaluating, and cultivating prospective donors.
  • Design a brochure with tear-off reply card. This brochure would be included in the first mailing to prospects after the appearance of the article on bequests in Fisheries; this brochure could accompany reprints of the article in future distributions.
  • Develop letters and enclosures for use in mailings to prospects:
  • Prepare letters on AFS letterhead from the Chair of the Past Presidents’ Advisory Council or the key person spearheading the planned giving effort for the PPAC to introduce the program and to encourage members to request more information.
  1. Prepare an enclosure such as a reply card upon which the member may insert his/her name, address, telephone and check off appropriate boxes to indicate interest, to request information, or to make a commitment.
  2. Enclose a confidential, postage-paid reply envelope in mailings.

2)  Create a Thank-you letter when a planned gift is made; acknowledge the gift in the AFS annual report, with permission of donor.

3)  Create a Follow-up letter when no response has been obtained by a certain date.

  • Create ads on planned giving. These should be small, bold ads for insertion in Fisheries to encourage members to remember AFS in their will.
  • Schedule an annual mailing. This mailing of planned giving materials should coincide with a brief ad or a promotional article in Fisheries.
  • Monitor results. The AFS staff and the Past Presidents’ Advisory Council will monitor results to determine appropriate follow up with prospects (information response, personal visits by volunteers, and other forms of interaction).
  • Maintain contact with bequest donors. The Past Presidents’ Advisory Council and AFS staff will stay in touch with bequest donors, continuing to provide them with information on AFS so that the donor is made to feel appreciated and valued for his/her commitment.


The Society will have identified, approached, and cultivated those members most likely to be interested in making a planned gift to the Society and will have uncovered future sources of revenue.  This effort also may result in more life income gifts from the targeted group of AFS members.

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New Initiatives


AFS New Initiatives are strategic projects that enhance member and unit services while advancing the major goals and mission of the AFS.  These projects may be one-time activities or may entail the creation of new services and activities that later become routine operations (e.g., leadership development grants, new journals).


In 2005, the Enhancement of AFS Value Committee was appointed to develop recommendations for AFS services and activities that could be accomplished under the increased financial security of AFS.  Under the guidance of the committee, the AFS Governing Board identified services and activities to enhance member services, aquatic stewardship, and information transfer and outreach.  Three projects were selected for further pursuit:

  • The development of an open-access, electronic journal dedicated to marine and coastal fisheries,
  • The support of AFS leadership development (through a grant for Governing Board members’ travel to the mid-year meeting), and
  • The enhancement of public outreach by expanding the scope of AFS staff (through the hiring of a policy and public outreach coordinator in Bethesda).

These initiatives have now become routine operations and will not be affected by subsequent considerations of new initiatives.

General Overview:

New initiatives are focused on either membership services or unit services, but share the strategic goal of maintaining and enhancing AFS relevancy.  Initiatives are identified from a variety of sources; some initiatives may generate funds, some will be revenue neutral, and some will entail continued costs.  The Executive Director in concurrence with the AFS Officers will identify the total amount of funds available to support each type of new initiative – i.e., funds available to support new unit services/activities, and total funds available to support new membership services/activities.

Unit services:  Initiatives for unit services provide seed money for activities or services to assist units in reaching their strategic goals and in carrying out their business.  Seed money will be returned to AFS after a period of time not less than 1 year, but not to exceed 3 years after completion of the project or activity.  Requests for funds to support meetings should adhere to the AFS policy on Support for Meetings (Section 12.11, under Section 12, Operational Policies and Procedures).

Membership services:  Ideas for initiatives for membership services may come from various sources, including focus groups, membership surveys, units, individual members, and AFS staff.  These needs should be activities or services that are not available elsewhere.  Providing services to meet these needs becomes an investment in our future, with the desired outcome being the retention and recruitment of early career professionals and students to AFS, and maintaining our relevancy as a professional association.

Operational Guidelines, Unit Services:

The purpose of this section is to establish guidelines for the identification, selection, and implementation of new initiatives to support unit services.

Application submission process

The Executive Director will send the application and guidelines for preparation and submission of applications to unit Presidents (Division Presidents may forward material to Chapter Presidents).  The Executive Director will also suggest an upper limit for individual requests.

Successful applications will include a brief narrative describing the strategic goal of the initiative, the need for the initiative, how the success of the initiative will be measured, the amount requested, and a description of how and when funds will be generated to return the seed money.  Units submitting single requests that encompass multiple tasks will be asked to prioritize tasks in the event that a full request cannot be granted.

To ensure equal consideration, applications will be due January 5 (or the first business day after the 5th), with funding outcome to be determined no later than 15 February.  This will avoid units seeking funds for the same initiative at the mid-year Governing Board meeting (in the form of a motion with budget implications).

Completed applications will be submitted electronically to the President with copies to the Executive Director on January 5th.

Selection criteria

The Governing Board will screen the applications and make the awards; late applications will not be considered.  The screening process is general, seeking to ensure that seed moneys will be repaid and that the activities proposed are consistent with the AFS mission.  Screening and Governing Board voting may occur electronically.  Applications approved for funding will be those that make a strong case for the unit’s ability to recover funds.  All approved applications will be funded.  However, if the total funds requested across units exceed that available, then approved awards will be funded to ensure representation across Divisions and among Sections, and to facilitate funding of initiatives from units that have not received prior funding.

Reporting requirements

Units funded through this process are required to submit progress reports to the Governing Board in time for the mid-year and annual meetings of the Board.  Progress reports should be brief and include a statement on outcomes, challenges, and progress towards returning funds.

A list of funded initiatives will be posted to the AFS web site by AFS staff.

Operational Guidelines, Membership Services:

The purpose of this section is to establish guidelines for the identification, selection, and implementation of new initiatives to support membership services.  In general, the Executive Director develops business plans for 3-5 initiatives deemed to be of highest priority, and the Governing Board selects initiatives to pursue, depending on costs and other factors.

Ideas for initiatives to support membership services may come from various sources, including membership surveys and focus groups (these ideas would be identified in reports of the committees responsible for such surveys), AFS units, individual members, and AFS staff.  The Management committee will have access to reports and findings of survey committees and may elect to propose ideas from these sources.

Proposal submission process

In early October, the Executive Director sends a call for proposal for new initiatives to support membership services to the Governing Board, the general membership, and AFS staff.  The call includes guidelines and deadlines for submission (January 5th).  Guidelines for proposing new initiatives for membership services are established by the Governing Board.

Initiatives should include a brief narrative describing the strategic goal of the initiative, the need for the initiative, and a description of how the initiative benefits AFS members.  Other criteria may be established by the Management Committee.  Initiatives should state if they are predicted to be a cost burden, budget neutral, or budget enhancing.

Proposals for new initiatives are submitted by January 5th (or the first business day after the 5th) to the New Initiatives Coordinator, who is a member of the Management Committee, appointed for a one-year term by the President in consultation with the Management Committee.

The Coordinator considers proposals and may request clarification or merging of 2 or more initiatives that are similar.  The Coordinator prepares a list of proposed initiatives and presents the list, along with accompanying proposals, to the AFS Officers and ED, no less than 3 weeks prior to the mid-year meeting.

Selection criteria

The Governing Board in concurrence with the Executive Director will select no more than 5 initiatives for further consideration.  Selection may be accomplished through email voting, with each voting member of the Board selecting (and ranking) his/her top 3 priorities.  Criteria for selection include (1) alignment with strategic goals and mission of the AFS, (2) cost considerations, and (3) ability to evaluate success of the outcome.  Higher priority may be placed on initiatives that address the retention and recruitment of early career professionals and students to AFS, and to those that focus on maintaining our relevancy as a professional association.  The Board votes are tallied and the overall top 5 candidates are selected for business plan development.  The outcome will be communicated to the Governing Board at the mid-year meeting.

The Executive Director, working with the originator(s) of the proposals, will develop business plans for selected initiatives and present the plans to the Governing Board at the following mid-year meeting.  Typically, business plans will require 6 months to 1 year to develop.

At the mid-year meeting, the Governing Board will review the business plans, and as warranted, select initiatives to support based on available funds.  Business plans for new initiatives should be examined in light of the long-term financial status of AFS.  The Governing Board may elect to partially fund an initiative if existing funds are insufficient (e.g., an initiative may require 2 or 3 years of funding to be fully funded).  In the case of initiatives requiring more than 1 year of funding, the Executive Director will include budget costs for years 2+ in the proposed AFS budget.  To ensure the financial well-being of AFS, it is desirable to select at least 1 new initiative that will generate revenue (rather than being revenue-neutral or revenue-negative).  Unfunded initiatives may be resubmitted in later years for consideration.

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Disaster Relief


The American Fisheries Society (AFS) disaster relief will focus on professional needs of Society members.  Other agencies and institutions have responsibility for humanitarian needs.  This does not mean that AFS is not sensitive to personal needs of members.  To the contrary, addressing professional need is fundamental to addressing human need because during times of disaster, professional capacity is critical to restoring order and generating outreach in communities as well as generating/reestablishing definition in the lives of individual persons.

The organizational structure of AFS will be utilized in disaster response.  The President of the AFS Division within which the disaster occurs will have the principal leadership role in terms of (1) recommending to the Society President that disaster be declared, and (2) activating and directing disaster relief within the Division.  Tasks can be assigned by the Division President but the Division President has ultimate authority and responsibility.  Chapter communications to the Division President will come through the Chapter President or a person designated by the Chapter President unless the Chapter President has been impacted by the disaster to the extent that he/she cannot function in this capacity.  In such a case, the Division President, in consultation with the Society President, will appoint a chapter contact person (preferably from the chapter membership).


The most important activity immediately following the disaster is to locate AFS members in the impacted area.  This is essential in order to keep them connected and in communication with the professional support system provided by the AFS.  This initial contact will clearly communicate what AFS services are available and how they can be obtained.  It will also provide each member with the contact information for their Chapter President or other designated disaster relief coordinator for the Chapter.

For this activity to function, it is essential that membership rosters be kept up to date in the Chapter, Division and Society records.  These records should include persons who hold Society and Chapter memberships, those who hold only Society memberships, and those who hold only Chapter memberships.  Without up-to date-rosters, there can be no certainty that all members have been accounted for following a disaster.

Displaced members should make every effort to contact their Chapter President.  If this cannot be done, then displaced members should contact the Society Office.  The Society Office will then contact the Division President who in turn will contact the Chapter President or other designated contact for the Chapter.

Establish a centralized distribution and control center outside of the impacted area.  This center will serve as the operational hub for communications and for the coordination of relief activities, including identification of need and availability of materials.  This center will be staffed by one paid Coordinator, selected by the Division President and approved by Division Officers.  The Coordinator’s job is to maintain operations, communications, and records for disaster relief. The Coordinator will report directly to the Division President.  It is the responsibility of the Division President to determine the flow of communication between Coordinator, Chapters, and Division.  The Society through the Division should be prepared to employ the coordinator up to 2 years following the disaster.

It should be noted that the Coordinator could handle multiple disasters in the same division were it necessary to do so.  However, if there were a new disaster in a different division, it is recommended that a new Coordinator be hired, if the AFS is financially able to do so.

Establish a relief disbursement center on the edge of the impacted area.  This enables relief supplies from outside the impacted area to get to (not in) the area.  Although persons from outside the impacted area may have good intentions regarding disbursement of relief supplies, they can encounter local challenges due to their unfamiliarity with the area and current situation.  It is best for AFS members staffing the relief disbursement center to take responsibility for transport and disbursement of relief supplies into the impacted area.  The relief disbursement center is staffed by volunteers, not paid staff.  However, the Coordinator will coordinate donated items from the donor(s) to the relief disbursement center and from the center to the intended recipient(s).

Fiscal Responsibilities of Disaster Relief

All financial donations toward disaster relief will be made to the Society Disaster Relief Donation Fund.  Any donations received by the affected Division will be forwarded to the Society Disaster Relief Donation Fund.  The Society will periodically update the affected Division on donations that have been received in order for the affected Division to make best use of the monies.

The affected Division will set up a separate bank account to address disaster relief and will be the sole distributor of the Division’s disaster relief distribution funds to affected AFS members.  The Division Treasurer will manage the distribution of monies as well as maintain and manage the account.  The Division EXCOM or an individual or group appointed by the Division President will prepare a budget for anticipated distribution of funds.  As needed, the Division will request transfer of funds from the Society Disaster Relief Donation Fund to the Division.  The affected Division will be responsible for providing the Society Governing Board and the AFS Executive Director with financial statements (income/expenses/balance) periodically and upon request.  When preparing its annual income tax return, the Division must account for funds received from the Society Disaster Relief Donation Fund as well as expenses to the Division’s disaster relief distribution account because these actions are Division functions.

Response Framework

  • The AFS Disaster Relief Website will be maintained on the Division website for the affected area with a link from the Society Website.
  • The Society will hold in reserve a designated amount for disaster relief.

Immediately Following an Event:

  • Division President will immediately contact the Chapter President(s) in the impacted area. The Chapter President(s) will make recommendations to the Division President regarding an AFS declaration of disaster. If the Chapter President(s) cannot be contacted, the Division President will make contact with another elected Chapter representative.
  • Chapter President(s) or other designated chapter representative(s) will immediately begin locating members in their respective chapter(s) and checking off members using current rosters. These check-offs will be forwarded periodically to the Division President who in turn will forward them to the Society Office. Additionally, Chapter President(s) will collaborate with the Society office to identify and locate Society members in the region who are not Chapter members.
  • Division President will immediately contact the Society President and request (1) a disaster declaration, (2) permission to establish a distribution and control center, (3) permission to seek and hire a coordinator for the distribution and control center and (4) release of one third of the Society’s budgeted disaster relief funds to the Division.
  • Society President will call an emergency meeting of Society Officers and the AFS Executive Director to determine if a disaster declaration is warranted, and if so will request approval to release disaster relief funds, establish a distribution and control center, and hire a coordinator for the center.
  • Following these actions by the Society Officers, the Society Governing Board will be notified.
  • Following declaration of disaster by Society President, the Division President will establish liaison with the impacted Chapter(s) via the respective Chapter President(s) or designated Chapter representative to identify immediate professional needs of impacted AFS members and authorize the Division Treasurer to establish an independent account for the Division’s disaster relief distribution funds.

Recommended Outreach Schedule:

  • Within 2 weeks of the disaster: the Society and Division disaster relief funding mechanisms will be in place.
  • Within 2 weeks of the disaster: all AFS Society members will receive notification that disaster relief has been activated and provided information regarding mechanisms for disaster relief donations.
  • Within 2 months of the disaster: the distribution and control center will be staffed and operational.
  • Within 2 months of the disaster: all impacted AFS members will be individually identified, located, and if possible, contacted by their Chapter representative(s) to advise them of relief support coming from AFS (i.e., complimentary memberships, subscriptions, availability of scholarships to AFS meetings, and the Division’s disaster relief distribution and control center).
  • Within 6 months of the disaster: impacted AFS members receiving scholarships to AFS Meetings will be notified of their awards.
  • Subject to the availability of funds (e.g., corporate sponsors, donations), AFS should consider awarding grants to members and their affiliated institutions in the impacted region to help support completion of thesis and dissertation projects impacted by the disaster.


Heitman, J. F., D. C. Jackson, R. L. Curry, and D. Pender. (accepted for publication). Development and implementation of the American  Fisheries Society Hurricane Relief Initiative.  In K. Mclaughlin, editor.    Proceedings of the AFS-Sea Grant Symposium: mitigating impacts of natural hazards on fishery ecosystems.  American Fisheries Society 2007 Annual Meeting.  San Francisco, California.

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Fisheries Conservation Foundation

Memorandum of Understanding between the Fisheries Conservation Foundation and the American Fisheries Society

I. Purpose

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is made and entered between the Fisheries Conservation Foundation (FCF) and the American Fisheries Society (AFS).  Both signatories of this MOU are referred to as “Partners.”

The purpose of this MOU is to designate a collaborative relationship between FCF and AFS in which the partners assist each other in carrying out their respective missions.

II. Background

FCF, founded in 2003, is a science-based conservation-oriented foundation representing fisheries scientists.  FCF promotes public awareness of fisheries resource issues and relevant scientific research, as well as the enlightened management of fisheries resources for their optimum use and enjoyment by the public.

AFS, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society in the world representing fisheries and aquatic scientists.  AFS seeks to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic sciences and promoting the development of fisheries professionals.

III. Mutual Benefits

It is mutually beneficial for FCF and AFS to work together to:

  1. Increase scientific knowledge on important fisheries resource issues;
  2. Communicate science-based information to relevant decision makers;
  3. Increase public awareness of fisheries resource conservation issues;
  4. Identify strategies to assure that resource management is based on sound science;
  5. Develop support to help implement such strategies among relevant constituencies and the general public.

IV Responsibilities

FCF and AFS will together work to:

Encourage fisheries scientists and managers to conduct new education/outreach programs designed to distribute scientific findings to decision makers and the public;

Organize meetings, workshops, and other events for scientists, non-governmental organizations, resources managers, and policy makers to develop plans and policy considerations for fisheries resource conservation efforts.

Develop tools to communicate relevant scientific information to decision makers and the public.

Develop and market strategic proposals for funding from individuals, private foundations, government agencies, and other sources to support collaborative work.

It is mutually agreed and understood by the partners that:

  1. This MOU is neither a fiscal nor a funding obligation document.
  2. It shall be the goal of both parties to ensure joint organizational recognition (e.g., logos, urls) on relevant public events/products produced as joint efforts under this MOU.
  3. Each signatory party shall obtain prior approval from the other for all joint press releases, advertisements, or other statements regarding projects or work products specified under this MOU and intended for the media, relevant decision makers, or the public. Each party need not obtain such prior approval for any activity conducted solely and independently.
  4. The Partners shall consult regularly to discuss actions to implement the purpose of this MOU.

V. Terms of Agreement

This agreement shall be reviewed by both partners annually to determine whether it should be continued, modified, or terminated. This agreement shall have no specified term limitation, but may be terminated by either party upon 30 days written notice.

IV. Principal Contacts:

The principal contacts for this agreement are:

Dr. David P. Philipp, Executive Director
Fisheries Conservation Foundation
1816 South Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820
(301) 897-8616 (x208) Phone
(301) 897-8096 Fax
[correct email address]

Dr. Doug Austen, Executive Director
American Fisheries Society
5410 Grosvenor Lane, Ste. 110
Bethesda, MD 20814

(301) 897-8616 Phone

(301) 897-8096 Fax [email protected]

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Page last updated July 5, 2016