JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Editor's note: In recent weeks we've received several photos and stories relating to booster club events and other similar activities. Unfortunately, we have not been able to publish some of these submissions because the event did not follow Department of Defense guidelines. This article provides the rules that booster clubs must follow.
A private organization is a self-sustaining special interest group (i.e., the chiefs' group, a unit booster club, etc.) formed by individuals acting outside the scope of their official duties. The following are some important rules to which private organizations must adhere:
A booster club may not use the seal, logo or insignia of the Department of Defense, their squadron or any military organization on their letterhead, correspondence or in its title. Booster clubs must not use official Air Force letterhead in sending out any of its correspondence. This means that recruiting squadron booster clubs cannot use their squadron number in their name, the words "recruiting squadron" or the abbreviation "RCS."
That means any RCS booster club with a name along the lines of "375th RCS Booster Club" is unlawful. However, mascots can be lawfully incorporated in the name. So, if the 375th RCS was also known as the Panthers, the booster club could rename itself as the "Team Panthers Booster Club."
Booster clubs are also not authorized to sell alcoholic beverages.
If Air Force personnel participate in a booster club event, they may only do so on their personal time and in their personal capacity. Air Force members cannot be in uniform when soliciting donations or participating in a fundraising event.
In addition, members may not participate while in duty status, therefore, if it's during the work day, members must be on leave to participate.
Air Force members may not use government resources (e.g., funds, equipment, vehicles, supplies, postage) in support of a booster club event or campaign. The only exception is that Air Force members may use government email to let other members of the booster club know about the event. The email should be written in language that does not lead one to believe the Air Force, the group or the squadron is endorsing the event.
Emails about booster club activities should not be sent out by supervisors, first sergeants, commanders, etc. Otherwise, a perception may be made that participation by unit members is mandatory.
Air Force members may not personally solicit funds or other support for a booster club from their subordinates or from any "prohibited source." Prohibited sources include Air Force contractors or businesses that the Air Force does business with.
Participation in booster club events is voluntary and must always remain so. Individuals in leadership positions cannot mandate participation.
Booster clubs can only do two fundraisers per quarter.
Booster clubs may solicit off-base and in local communities for its own purpose - i.e., to support the unofficial unit functions so long as booster club members clearly indicate that any donations are to the booster club, as a private organization, and not to the Air Force. The booster club should also make clear to donors that recognition for donations may not be made publicly.
Booster clubs cannot hold a fundraiser, wherein a prime parking spot is auctioned off or contributing members are allowed to wear civilian clothing to work (instead of their uniforms).
Booster clubs may send letters to local businesses asking for donations, however, the letters must be carefully written. The AFRS Judge Advocate office has a template of an authorized donation letter. For an electronic copy, contact Master Sgt. Ines Fret-Caraballo at at 565-4734.
If a booster club plans to fundraise on a base, be aware that such fundraising can only occur after base officials have approved the event and ensured the event will take place away from the workplace. (Typically the base FSS has an individual in charge of approving events, and that individual will assist in providing the paperwork that must be completed prior to approval.)