New Unit FAQs
STARTING A CAF UNIT
Thank you for your interest in starting a CAF Unit. Units are the backbone of the organization and without them, our mission to Educate, Inspire and Honor would be greatly diminished.
Like all volunteer organizations, successfully operating a CAF Unit is not without challenges. In most cases these challenges fit one of two categories, finances and personnel. The following information provides guidance based on many years of experience. If you follow it, you will find much better success.
Starting a CAF Unit is easy. Nurturing and growing a Unit takes patience, hard work and commitment.
You can do it… many have.
1. What is a CAF Unit? A Unit is formed as an auxiliary of the parent organization, the CAF, and is comprised of CAF members who wish to further the mission of the CAF in a local area or by maintaining and operating specific aircraft. CAF members are referred to as Colonels in the organization. Colonels do not have to be Unit members, although many are. There are approximately 80 CAF Units (locations) operating across the U.S. and in foreign lands. There are many areas of the U.S. without a Unit and are open to development.
2. How do we start? Fifteen (15) current dues paid CAF members are required to form a new Unit. However, it is strongly recommended that you get as many members as possible. You will need the support and experience.
If you wish to participate in the new Unit aircraft assignment program, then the minimum number of CAF members is 30. This can be a mix of existing and new CAF members. The reason for the increased number is that it takes a larger group to support and operate an aircraft.
3. How long does it take to get approval? The process of forming a new Unit depends on your leadership skills and people in the Unit. You can expect to have several conversations with CAF Headquarters and/or your CAF Mentor, answering detailed questions about Unit formation and operation. Once the official Unit petition is received and reviewed at Headquarters, approval is granted within a few days. Initial approval will come with “provisional” status. Provisional status is maintained for two years, or to a point when the Unit is strong enough to stand on its own. Units may remain in provisional status longer than two years, if the Unit still needs additional time to form.
4. How do we get an aircraft assigned to our Unit? CAF aircraft are assigned to Units based on availability and following an evaluation by the Aircraft Assignment Committee to determine which Unit can best support the aircraft. Aircraft available for assignment are listed on the CAF Operations website: cafoperations.org/aircraft-assignments.
5. Is the CAF a Non-Profit? The Commemorative Air Force is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Units are part of the CAF’s nonprofit status and are included under the CAF’s tax-exemption. Units cannot form their own tax-exempt entity.
6. Are volunteers and members able to execute contracts? Units have no authority to sign contracts or enter into agreements without express written approval from Headquarters. All leases and contracts must be sent to Headquarters for a legal review before they are signed.
7. How are funds raised for CAF Units? All fund raising projects should be discussed with CAF Headquarters and/or your CAF Mentor. Major fundraising events, raffles or sweepstakes must be approved by the CAF’s Development Office. Units wishing to approach major corporations for support must coordinate with the CAF Development Office. All donations specifically designated for an aircraft are to be used only for that aircraft. All monetary donations of $250 or more must be forwarded to CAF Headquarters for proper recognition. Eventhough the funds are forwarded and deposited at CAF Headquarters, Units retain 100% of donations for the local aircraft use. This transfer of funds is done to comply with IRS guidelines.
8. Who leads the local units? The Commemorative Air Force is a rather unique organization and while there is a Headquarters Staff attending to the day-to-day management of all phases of operation, our organization is significantly strengthened through the development of knowledgeable and qualified leadership within the Units.
1. Are there any annual fees? ANUAC (Annual Unit Administrative Charge) Each CAF Unit is charged an annual administrative fee called ANUAC. The fee varies depending on the airplane(s) assigned to a Unit. Larger Units pay a higher fee than smaller Units, since the demands of Headquarters’ resources is greater.
2. What do the basic fees, ANUAC (Annual Unit Assesment Charges), cost? The basic ANUAC fee for a Unit is $1,648. This fee is waived for the first 12 months after a Unit receives a Provisional Charter from CAF Headquarters. The fee is waived to allow the Unit to begin recruiting new members and to grow the treasury without a major financial burden. The only exception is if a Unit is assigned an airplane within the first 12 months of the charter. In that case, ANUAC for the Unit and an additional charge for the airplane will be assessed at the time of the aircraft’s assignment.
3. Are there membership dues for Units? The Unit will establish membership dues, in addition to the national dues, to cover normal operating expenses. The initial cost of meetings and associated cost for promoting the new Unit will be sponsored by the Unit’s membership.
4. Who is responsible for the Unit's financials? Selecting the proper person to fill your Finance Officer position is one of the most important decisions a new Unit will make. Financial reporting forms are supplied to the Finance Officer of each Unit. These forms are used to document Unit financial reports and are due to Headquarters quarterly.
5. Is Insurance provided? In today’s world, insurance is critical. CAF has taken steps to make sure the organization is properly insured. New Units will pay Airmeet and Premises insurance in their first year. Airmeet covers any flying activities, while Premises Insurance cover things like meetings or fundraisers. Airmeet is $236 annually. Premises is $500 annually.
Other Financial Considerations: Two signatures are required on Unit checks and CAF’s Secretary/Treasurer must be a signatory on all Unit bank accounts. No husband-and-wife signatories are allowed.
1. What is the minimum number of members needed to start a Unit? While a minimum of 15 CAF members are required to start a Unit, Units are encouraged to recruit as many interested members as possible. These first 15 members (or more, if possible) will form the core of the Unit. A Unit leader is selected from that group - most times the person leading the drive to establish a new Unit will end up the initial Unit leader. The initial Unit leader will be approved by the CAF President and will serve a two-year term.
The Unit leader can select people from the initial group to become the first group of officers. Generally, individuals volunteer to serve as officers, or the group can hold elections. It’s at the group’s discretion. The job descriptions for the officer positions, terms and other information are available in the Unit Manual. Names of the proposed officers should be submitted to CAF HQ via the Standard Petition for New Units.
Channeling Enthusiasm: As with any new endeavor, enthusiasm will run high initially. As a Unit Leader, it is vital to channel that energy in the right direction. As the Unit becomes solidified, members will find the areas they most enjoy and gravitate to them. Giving your Unit members ways to fully participate will help strengthen the Unit.
Good Leadership Skills Required: Sometimes, passionate people can allow their emotions or opinions to get in the way of progress. Years of experience have taught us that dealing with minor issues quickly can defuse situations and minimize conflict. Disagreements that are allowed to continue without being addressed can lead to fractures in the Unit and dissension in the ranks. The Unit Leader should take a proactive role in addressing conflicts in a calm and unemotional manner, discussing the issues with all involved. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from CAF Headquarters. These issues arise in many Units, old and new. At the end of the day, we want every Unit to succeed and to have fun doing it!
RESOURCES FROM HEADQUARTERS
You will have many questions about Unit operations as you establish the Unit. The Unit Manual is the first resource to look to for guidance. Developed through our more than 60 year history, the Unit Manual, Regulations, and Guides contain valuable information to help you succeed. Aside from the Unit Manual, CAF National Headquarters staff are available to help. Here are a few key contacts:
- For Recruiting assistance: membership information, applications, etc. contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For Financial assistance: starting a checking account, tax info, etc., contact email@example.com.
- For Marketing assistance: press releases, logos, branding, etc. contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For Operations assistance: aircraft assignments, safety regulations, pilot requirements, etc. contact email@example.com.
- For Fundraising assistance: guidelines for donations, tax receipts, etc. contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUMMARY TO START NEW UNIT
- Basic fees for first year are $736.
- Basic fees for year two are $2,384.
- To start a CAF Unit a minimum of 15 CAF members (Colonels, Preservation Colonels or Life Members) are required. For the New Unit Initiative, in order to be assigned a PT-19, 30 members are required.
- Complete and submit Standard Petition for New Units Application.
- Become familiar with CAF Guides, Regulations and Unit Manual. This includes additional details on CAF policies and Unit operations. Click here for more information.