The role of the Membership Committee is to encourage and support the nationwide effort to attract and retain a diverse, active membership. Members enable us to carry out our mission to assist veterans, military, and their families.
By honoring our veterans and military through meaningful service, the American Legion Auxiliary will grow membership by our centennial anniversary. In order to grow the organization, we must let members know that they are the Auxiliary’s most valuable asset.
What can you do?
1. Retain all current members. Enhance member experience:
What is a member in good standing? A member who is current with annual dues is a member in good standing. A member failing to pay annual dues by January 31 of the current membership year, shall be classed as delinquent and shall be suspended from all membership privileges.
What is the value of a volunteer’s time? To enhance a member’s volunteer contributions, offer ideas and opportunities in which members can support and deliver the Auxiliary’s mission. Examples for members: Volunteer at a VA Medical Center serving as veterans’ escorts to appointments, participate in a stand down to provide necessities for homeless veterans, mentor military children with the big brother/big sister concept.
- Recognize all members for any and all contributions ” volunteering, serving as a chairman or officer, preparing food, organizing events, being a mentor to new members, contacting other members to renew, being a good example of Service Not Self, etc.
- Share member tools.
- Help members set up a user profile on the national website, www.ALAforVeterans.org, so that they can access the ‘Members Only’ section and take advantage of all the tips and tools available.
- Inform members of member benefits and discounts available. Rid units of member discrimination. (Goal 1 & 2)
- Rid units/departments of member discrimination.
- Ensure a positive experience for all members.
- Be welcoming, kind and respectful to members of all ages and backgrounds.
- Ask for new ideas and be open to them. Encourage personal contact between members of the unit. Demonstrate Service Not Self in all activities and interactions with others. Realize that not all members will attend meetings, and be respectful of their choice.
- Create meaningful participation. Recognize all members for any and all contributions, volunteering, serving as a chairman or officer, preparing food, and organizing events.
- Hold regular information sessions to refresh members on ALA programs.
- Ask members to participate in programs they are passionate about.
- Establish a membership committee or team to support efforts in Units.
- Deploy active and consistent communication with units and districts/counties. Share contact information of committee/team with units.
- Use membership tools, available at www.ALAforVeterans.org, and ensure all units have access to all membership resources.
- Utilize your committee/team by giving them an assignment to make your program a success.
2. Reach out to former members
- Identify former and expired members: Use the ALAMIS member database, or contact your department headquarters, to obtain a former member report, expired member report and/or a current year unpaid dues roster.
- Reach out to former/expired members: Set up a committee to establish a phone bank of members who will call former members. Meet periodically to make calls “ monthly, quarterly, semi-annually. Develop a script to identify reasons for not renewing and what would cause the former member to consider rejoining. A sample phone script is included in the ‘How to hold a revitalization event or participate in TAL District Revitalizations’ how to sheet. Send follow-up letters to those contacted, thanking them for taking the time to talk with you. Send letters to those you were unable to reach (see ‘How to hold a revitalization event or participate in TAL District Revitalizations for a sample letter to former members).
- Share former members’ feedback with the unit; determine what the unit might need to do differently to retain all members.
3. Attract new members
- Ensure a positive new-member experience.
- Personally contact a new member shortly after she joins.
- Provide a personalized welcome letter from the unit president or membership chairman. Also send a New Member Kit, available at www.ALAforVeterans.org, and personalize it for your unit and department. See ‘Suggested Additions to New Member Kit’ to help create a complete new member packet.
- Find out how a new member wants to be involved and which volunteer activities might best suit her skills and interests. Utilize the interest form provided in the Leadership Programs Action Plan.
- Offer a variety of volunteer opportunities in which new members can participate, at times convenient to them, to support and deliver the Auxiliary’s mission. See the ALA Service Not Self Volunteer Toolbox at www.ALAforVeterans.org for tips, ideas and strategies on how to be a better volunteer.
- Be welcoming, kind and respectful to persons of all ages and backgrounds.
- Do not expect all new members to attend regular meetings; be grateful for whatever way she wants to participate, even if only to pay her dues.
- Increase the ALA’s visibility in the community.
- Increase community involvement by using ALA programs that encourage responsible, active citizenship supporting our military servicemembers and their families.
- Engage other community-based organizations in ALA projects such as welcome home/deployment events, support of military families and providing services that may include plumbing, carpentry, childcare, etc., for families of those deployed.
- Volunteer at schools, giving flag demonstrations and serving as mentors, with a special emphasis on military children and the issues they face with deployments and transfers. Contact JROTC leaders to assist with projects.
- Encourage Junior members to recruit their eligible friends and relatives.
- Identify recruitment target groups such as women veterans, military families, and relatives of American Legion members, ALA Girls State alumnae and local colleges.
- Ensure the ALA is appealing to new members.
- Exhibit Service Not Self in all activities and interaction with others.
- Create a significant membership experience for Junior members.
- Encourage Junior members to attend the senior meeting to share their vision of the unit. Encourage struggling units to elect Junior members to positions that don’t incur significant liability risks. Examples include: Chaplain, Sgt.-At-Arms, and Historian.
4. Understand and Respect Members Rights
Members can pay dues in one of the following ways:
- Directly to the appropriate member in their unit
- Via the renewal notice sent by National Headquarters
- Via www.ALAforVeterans.org
- Members have the option to renew their dues online.
- Membership cannot be withheld from a member who chooses to pay her dues online.
Once a member has paid her current year’s dues, regardless of payment method, she is a member in good standing and entitled to all rights and privileges of membership.
Units have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to process a member’s dues (new or renewal) in a timely manner. Failure to do so is a violation of the members’ rights and due process. Dues received by the unit should be transmitted to your department once a month (minimum).
Membership cards are provided by the national organization and shipped to departments to distribute to their units.
- Units must provide to members their membership card as soon as payment is received.
- Units must provide membership cards to members who renew online as soon as the unit becomes aware that the member has paid “ either by member providing their emailed receipt, notification from their department, or, for Membership 4 units having ALAMIS access, via the ‘Unit Dues Paid Online’ report which is available 24/7.
Membership Eligibility 101:
Membership in The American Legion Auxiliary shall be limited to the:
- Grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of members of The American Legion; and
- Grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who served in either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918 and any time after December 7, 1941 who being a citizen of the United States at the time of their entry therein served on active duty in the Armed Forces of any of the governments associated with the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge
- Grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who were in the Armed Forces of the United Sates during either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918; and any time after December 7, 1941 who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge; and
- To those women who of their own right are eligible for membership in The American Legion.
Other factors to consider when determining membership eligibility:
- When a request for ALA membership is based on the military service of a family member who is still living, that family member must be a current member of The American Legion before the female relative or spouse may join.
- When a request for ALA membership is based on a deceased veteran the prospective member will be asked to provide verifying documentation that proves his/her eligibility (see acceptable documentation below).
- When a female veteran applies to join the ALA without being a member of The American Legion, she is eligible to join if her service dates fall within one (1) of the eligible service periods as described in the National Constitution. However, should her family members (including spouse) wish to join the ALA or the Sons of The American Legion through her service, she must first become a member of The American Legion.
The following documents are acceptable to verify membership eligibility in the ALA:
- DD214 discharge papers (not issued until after the Korean War)
- Official military orders
- Official military service citations/awards
- Letters related to the veteran’s military service. Must be on official government letterhead.
- Certificate from the VA records center in St. Louis
- Data from the back of older discharges
Membership Eligibility Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is there any circumstance where a person could join the ALA without having a relative as a current member of The American Legion?
A: There are two circumstances when a person can become a member without having a relative as a current member of The American Legion.
- When a woman has served in the military during the requisite dates. She may join the ALA without being a member of The American Legion.
- When a person’s membership is based on a deceased veteran the prospective member will be required to provide verifying documentation of the deceased relative’s service dates to prove their eligibility.
Q: Is verification of veteran eligibility required by the Post Officer?
A: The signature of the Post Officer should be on every application of those applying for membership. If the Post Officer’s signature cannot be obtained after a reasonable effort, a letter from the Department Adjutant will be accepted in lieu of the Post Officer’s statement.
The only exception is if the applicant is eligible in her own right, then the Unit Secretary signs and dates the application upon verification of that female veteran’s military record.
Q: In a female same-gender marriage, if the female spouse wartime veteran who is a member or eligible to be a member of The American Legion, is the female wife eligible for membership in the Auxiliary?
A: On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The Court’s ruling requires a State to license a marriage between two (2) people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two (2) people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. This decision requires all states to recognize same- gender marriages. The Legion and the ALA will continue to accept into membership those individuals who meet membership eligibility criteria regardless of the gender of their spouses.
Q: Are stepchildren eligible to become members?
A: No, IRS regulation for 501(c)19 organizations do not include stepchildren in their definition of an auxiliary organization.
Q: Are men now eligible to join the Auxiliary?
A: Male spouses of current members of The American Legion are eligible to join the Auxiliary. Male spouses of all men and women who served in the eligible periods (April 6, 1917-November 11, 1918 and any time after December 7, 1941) and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge are eligible to join the Auxiliary.
Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles, Brothers or other male descendants are not eligible to join the Auxiliary.
Q: Are husbands of Auxiliary members able to now join the Auxiliary?
A: Husbands of American Legion Auxiliary members are only eligible to join the Auxiliary if their spouse is also a current member of The American Legion. Husbands would be eligible due to their spouse’s membership in The American Legion and not through their spouse’s membership in the Auxiliary.
Q: Is a person eligible through the war service of divorced spouse?
A: A divorced man or woman does not occupy the status of spouse and, therefore, has no eligibility. But the fact that a member of the Auxiliary has become divorced from whom they gained their eligibility does not force them to surrender their Auxiliary membership, even though they may be married to another person. However, if they become delinquent in their ALA dues, they may reinstate their membership only by payment of back dues for all years of delinquency.
Q: Are relatives of members of the Sons of The American Legion eligible for membership in the Auxiliary?
A: Only if the member of the Sons of The American Legion is also a member of The American Legion. If the SAL member is not eligible for membership in The American Legion, the applicant must secure eligibility through the service of an eligible veteran.
Q: Must a potential member join the Unit of the Post of which their service relative is a member?
A: No, the potential member is eligible for membership in any Auxiliary Unit.
Q: Is the spouse of a non-veteran eligible for membership on the war service of a former spouse who died either during the war or following discharge?
A: The fact that the widow of a veteran remarried does not deprive them of their right to belong to the Auxiliary. Under these circumstances the spouse of a non-veteran is eligible for membership in the Auxiliary if their former spouse was a veteran and died either during the war or following their discharge. Membership Processing Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Does a TAL Post have authority over a Unit’s membership or money?
A: Besides verifying the eligibility of a potential Auxiliary member, no TAL Post has the authority to determine the membership of a unit or dictate what a Unit does with their finances.
Q: Can staff at ALA NHQ transfer a member to another unit at the request of the member?
A: No, units have final authority over their own membership. Units must accept the new members transfer and then submit a form to their department for processing.
Q: How long must units retain membership applications?
A: The American Legion National Judge Advocate/ALA Counsel General advises that since eligibility for membership can be challenged at any time during the life of the member, eligibility information should be retained indefinitely, as long as the member is alive. Only the eligibility information needs to be securely retained, and records can be digitized to save space and provide a more convenient way to retain the information. Units are advised to have access to a locked file cabinet in the post or other secure place for record retention and to redact any personally identifying information such as birthdate and social security number in order to secure information from identity theft. Counsel General notes that in the past four years, the IRS has been more stringent about demanding to see eligibility records when they are doing field audits of posts, units and departments. The fact that the IRS has escalated its audits of Legion and ALA entities in recent years may lead to confusion about the length of time for retaining IRS records versus the length of time for retaining eligibility verification records. Counsel General has advised that tax returns need be kept for only seven (7) years, but eligibility records should be retained for the life of the member.
Q: How does the Auxiliary update/correct a members’ join date?
A: Members are required to provide proof of original join date, if proof cannot be provided, the member must pay necessary back dues to reinstate continuous membership.