ACFR has grown steadily since 1995. In each instance of a new affiliation, the initiative has come from the potential committee, a development with which we are most pleased. ACFR is, after all, a confederal organization: its national office does not direct the affairs of affiliates but, rather, serves as their agent.

ACFR invites inquiries from individuals and informal groups wishing to form committees in affiliation with ACFR. It also welcomes approaches from presently independent local and regional foreign policy groups that are interested in affiliation.

Potential affiliates must demonstrate a commitment to non-partisan, nonadvocacy dialogue between their members and U.S. policymakers and other experts on foreign relations. They should also show promise of gathering local business, academic, professional, and other civic leaders into a dynamic organization capable of growth.

ACFR committees are characteristically elected-membership organizations. While imitation of this manner of proceeding is not a requirement for affiliation with ACFR, it is strongly encouraged. ACFR forums are characteristically off-the-record, but the committees frequently honor requests from speakers to proceed otherwise. Member committees are also committed to sharing speakers, when appropriate and convenient, with local media outlets, with colleges and schools, and with other civic groups. They also seek to provide leadership in international affairs education and discussion in their localities and regions.

If you're interested in becoming an ACFR Committee, you can peruse the following for more information:


Membership Benefits
  • Speakers
    The Washington office of ACFR annually recruits, schedules, and arranges travel for six first-quality foreign affairs speakers, and ACFR will meet the travel costs of an additional two speakers recruited by the member Committee. Speakers are selected through negotiations between the national office and the directors of each committee. While the national office is proactive in the recruitment and offering up of speakers, no committee is obligated to take any speaker offered. Local affiliates are also permitted (and encouraged) to involve local and regional expertise in their programs and to stage as many events as they are capable of managing. They may, on their own, recruit speakers who must travel to visit them and ask ACFR to bear the travel costs, provided that they agree to regard such speakers as part of the 8 obligated to them each year by the national office.
  • Annual Conference

    In early May each year, ACFR holds a conference for its membership in Washington , D.C. This conference begins with a reception on a Thursday evening and continues with a Friday of substantive foreign relations discussions and a lunch and dinner featuring notable public officials and senior foreign affairs experts. It closes with a Saturday morning business meeting of committee representatives. In recent years, these events have been hosted by a wide range of Washington embassies, the Metropolitan Club, the Carnegie Endowment, and the Meridian International Center . Our conference closing dinner is usually held in the diplomatic rooms of the U.S. Department of State. The conference is open to any member of an ACFR committee: a modest registration fee is charged to cover a portion of the hospitality costs.

  • The ACFR NewsGroup
  • Each member of an ACFR Committee is eligible to subscribe (at no charge) to the ACFR NewsGroup. This is a thrice-weekly emailing of important and unusual articles of foreign relations news, analysis, and opinion. Sources include the domestic and international media, publications of think tanks, major web sites, and members of the NewsGroup themselves.

  • Study Trips
    From time to time, ACFR sponsors high-level study trips abroad that are open to the membership. These are, by and large, pay-as-you-go propositions: that is to say, those members who take part cover the bulk of their own and organization expenses. The first such study trip was held in late June 1999, when some 25 members repaired to Panama to look at the issue of the Canal turnover and the future of U.S. interests in Panama and the region. A second trip was organized in June 2004, with 18 members traveling to Russia and Lithuania . From time to time, there will be study trips limited only to chairmen, directors/secretaries, or other designated representatives of the affiliated committees. The first of these trips occurred in June 200 when a delegation traveled to Taiwan.
  • Representation
    ACFR is governed by a board of directors consisting of a representative from each member committee and four at-large members. The designee of any new committee shall be accorded all rights, privileges, and protections associated with full board membership. In addition, he or she will assume the duties which the board takes upon itself from time to time.
  • Liability Insurance
    Each committee is covered by general liability insurance, and each committee representative to the ACFR board of directors by directors' and officers' insurance. Individual committees may obtain directors' and officers' insurance under the ACFR policy at a modest annual cost.
  • Newsletter and Subscription Discounts
    Each individual member receives two issues of the ACFR newsletter annually. Members are also periodically eligible for substantially discounted subscriptions to such publications as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The National Interest, and The Financial Times.
  • Services of the National Office
    Each committee has access to assistance from the Washington office regarding incorporation and IRS tax-exempt application. Individual members are free to call on the assistance of the national office in making contacts and pursuing information in Washington.

Membership Obligations

ACFR is primarily a dues-based organization. Dues are characteristically assessed against individuals but are paid by committee. The national dues rate for fiscal year 2010-11 is $120 per member.

Newly affiliated ACFR committees must:

  • Agree to the basic educational purposes of the organization and to avoid political partisanship and policy advocacy.
  • Agree to abide by the decisions of the board of directors regarding fiscal and other obligations to the organization.
  • Remit to the national office by the end of the first year of operation (beginning at such time as a committee begins to take ACFR speakers) a sum of no less than $6,000. This sum may be raised from any source, but it may be taken to imply the need to gather 50 members paying national dues at the rate of $120 each.
  • By the end of the second full year of operation, remit a capitalization fee of no less than $1,500. This fee is based on the sums provided by each committee at the launching of the national organization.
  • Accept the provision of the Board of Directors that all ACFR committees, old as well as new, reach a membership level of 50 by May 1999 or pay into the national organization at that level.
  • Agree to provide one-night's lodging, local surface transport, and other hospitality to each speaker provided by ACFR.
  • Agree to represent themselves publicly as affiliates of The American Committees on Foreign Relations.
  • Provide the national office with access to up-to-date lists of individual members for direct mailing purposes.

Affiliation Process

While affiliation requires the formal approval of the ACFR board of directors, the process of affiliating ACFR committees is informal. Initial contact may be made with the Washington office, any ACFR member committee, or any member of ACFR's Board of Advisors.

Negotiations proceed through members of the Committee Development Committee (CDC) of the ACFR Board of Directors, which ultimately brings the suits of potential member groups to the full Board. The CDC will provide information on the various practices of existing committees that may prove useful to organizers, as well as suggestions for how to proceed organizationally and with recruiting in civic environments. Representatives of the CDC will travel to potential committee sites for consultations when appropriate, and ACFR will bear the costs of such travel. ACFR is also willing to provide initial speaker programming so as to assist local organizers in launching committee activity.

For further information, please contact Philip French, Executive Director.

©2006 American Committees on Foreign Relations