New IO or Reinstatement of an IO

Before you begin...

Please check with the IO Committee before you select a name for your organization.

You may apply to become a grotto, region, section, or survey.

There is no fee to become an internal organization in the NSS.

To begin the process an organization must submit the following documents to the IO Committee:

  1. A constitution and bylaws showing the date of adoption and signed by an officer of the new organization. (See how to write a constitution and bylaws.)

  2. The IO Committee will review the constitution and bylaws to offer suggestions and to ensure that it complies with acceptable NSS policy. This means that the original documents may have to be altered before being accepted by the IO Committee.

  3. An application in duplicate bearing the signatures of the charter members indicating which are members of the NSS. In the case of regions and surveys this will include the names of charter member organizations.
    View the application form. (download PDF)

  4. A brief history of the organization.

  5. Other information that may be requested by the IO Committee.

Occasionally a group may apply for chapter status in an area where a chapter already exists. The society does not encourage the formation of additional chapters in an area where one already exists, so these applications will be handled according to the following guidelines:

Unless it is obvious that the new group has been in contact with the existing grotto(s), they will be referred to the existing grotto(s), and the existing grotto(s) will be informed of the inquiry from the new group. The new group will be informed of our reluctance to charter another grotto in the same area, and the existing grotto(s) will be asked to contact the new group and invite them to participate in their activities. If, after a reasonable time, the IO Committee feels that the grotto chartering is justified, the chartering process may proceed.


After your IO is approved, you will be assigned a serial number and password. Then you must follow these requirements.

  • All officers (Executive Board) of the organization must be NSS members in good standing.
  • A Grotto must maintain at least five NSS members who have designated the grotto as their Primary Affiliation with the NSS.
  • A Section must have at least ten NSS members as members of the section.
  • A Region must have at least two other IOs as members in the region.
  • A Survey must have at least one other IO as a member of the survey.
  • An annual report must be submitted to the IO Committee.
  • The records for the IO must be kept up to date on the IO webpage by using the logon at www.caves.org.
  • An IO must furnish two copies of each issue of any publication to the NSS Library and to the NSS Cave Files Committee.
  • An IO may receive (at no cost) a copy of each issue of the NSS News and the Journal of Caves and Karst Studies.

The document How to Start and Maintain a Grotto (PDF) has many helpful suggestions.

For starting a new grotto or reinstatement of an inactive one, contact

Paul Winter,
IO Committee Chair
pawwinter@gmail.com