Membership Application Form

Your membership application form will help you manage eligibility; compliance to the rules and voting rights!

Authored by: iClick2Learn Team

Table of Contents


All not for profit organisations have a membership structure. You need members in order to first incorporate an association. Members are critical to start, sustain and grow organisations. 

Members aren’t just your cheerleaders though, members have very distinct rights and responsibilities as defined within your rules (often called your constitution) and the legislation you’re incorporated under. It’s important that members understand and acknowledge these rights and responsibilities and formally accept them. This is critical because when they join your organisation, they are agreeing to abide by the rules. In effect, what they’re agreeing to is a legally binding relationship between the member and the organisations they’re joining.

In this article, we’ll take you through a fairly standard process that discusses the application stage of the membership process and we’ve also got a rather handy template member application form you can adapt and use.

Why an application form is important

There are two important elements that are being covered off when you ask someone to complete an application form.  To help explain this, I’m going to use an example of the Western Australian model rules. You can download the model rules by clicking the upcoming link to follow along as we explore this further.

It’s also helpful if you have a copy of your constitution. This way, once you understand what to look for from our example you can more easily find it in your constitution.

If you live in a state other than WA you can find a copy of the model rules or constitution through your relevant state body, e.g. NSW Dept. of Fair Trading.

Members eligibility

The first reason an application form is important is that many organisations have eligibility criteria in their rules. So this means that if an applicant doesn’t meet the criteria in the constitution, then they won’t be eligible for membership. 

So how do we find out what the membership eligibility requirements are?

You’ll need to obtain a copy of the organisation’s constitution to read what your eligibility requirements are.  Find the section that discusses membership eligibility.  

You’ll find this in our example rules under Part 3 – Members; Division 1 – Membership and then 4. Eligibility for membership. The constitution states there are two criteria that have to be met to be eligible to be a member. These are:

  1. Eligibility for membership

(1) Any person who supports the objects or purposes of the Association is eligible to apply to become a member.

(2) An individual who has not reached the age of 15 years is not eligible to apply for a class of membership that confers full voting rights.

Now find this in your constitution. Oh and while you’re there read what it states about the membership application process. It’s helpful to check that you’re complying with this process. 

Agreeing to the constitution

The second important reason why applicants should sign a membership application form is so that they agree to be bound by and will comply with the constitution of your organisation.  As mentioned earlier, members are agreeing to enter into a formal, contractual agreement with the organisation and they’re agreeing to the rights and responsibilities they will have as a member should they be approved.

Membership voting rights

If you have different membership categories with different voting rights there’s one thing you would consider adding to the template we’ve provided.  In this example, we would need to have at least two membership categories. The first would be a membership application for a person who is over 15 years of age and who receives voting rights. The second category would be someone who has not reached the age of 15 years and does not have voting rights.

If you have different membership categories with different voting powers, it’s helpful for the records and also to show that the member understood which category they’ve applied for, and rights they have in that category to include a reference to this on your membership application form.

The template

To help you with these two important points, we’ve included two boxes that an applicant must tick on the template form. These are: 

☐  I agree that I fulfill the requirements of membership as per the constitution 

☐  I agree to be bound by, and comply with the constitution of the above-named organisation

The third tick box on the template form we’ve included for you is important for a lot of organisations.  I’ll explain this now. Once a person becomes a member they could nominate to be on your committee (you might use the word board. We’ll use the word committee in this article). This would be acceptable, unless you have eligibility criteria for this second nomination process.  

Most states and territories across Australia have updated their Associations Incorporations Acts to include eligibility criteria for people who wish to be on the committee. This eligibility criteria could include things like ‘a person who is, according to the Interpretation Act 1984 section 13D, a bankrupt or person whose affairs are under insolvency laws’.  There are more and you’ll find this in our example under Division 2 – Composition of Committee and duties of members; 27. Committee members.

In this example there’s a box that refers to Section 39 of the Act (this is the WA Associations Incorporations Act, 2015).  Your constitution may have this eligibility listed under another name such as ‘nominations for committee members’ or ‘eligibility for committee members’.

In our example the points in this box are important, and so is this statement that’s made just above the reference to Section 39 of the Act at number 4 which states:

(4) A person may be a committee member if the person is —

(a) an individual who has reached 18 years of age; and

(b) an ordinary member.

So there are different eligibility criteria to be a member of the association then there are to nominate to be a committee member. This third tick box we’ve included in the template just makes it clear to applicants that if you approve their membership, that doesn’t mean that they are eligible to nominate to be a committee member.  If you don’t have additional eligibility requirements and any member can nominate to be a committee member then you probably don’t need this.

☐  I understand that acceptance for membership does NOT automatically qualify me for nomination on the Committee as additional eligibility requirements may apply as per the constitution.

We’ve also included a handy checklist for you to use.

We’re going to continue discussing nominations for committee members in the next part of this article you can find HERE:


Not only does a membership application form help with clarity, but it also helps you with compliance. Including a membership application form in your process will help everyone to understand if the member is eligible to apply; what rights they have as a member (or in that category, they’re applying for); that they have a copy of the constitution and agree to comply with it and that you’ve added them to the members register.

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