I've heard of this position being called a pioneer member or charter member, but to me those imply that that member founded the organization. I didn't found this group, but once it became an offical organization, I was one of the first to join it.

  • An apostle? Oops, wrong Stack Exchange, but how about a founding father
    – Stu W
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 20:29
  • 2
    I don’t take charter member to be the founder but merely one of the original members.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 20:47
  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fifth edition (2011) has this entry for charter member: "charter member n. An original member or a founder of an organization." So the term can mean founder but it can just as legitimately mean "an original member"—which is what you want. The founder of an organization is usually a charter member, too, so separating the two roles isn't easy; but the fact that the founder can be called "the founder" makes it more likely (in my judgment) that someone identified as "a charter member" is a nonfounder—else, why not use "founder"?
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 0:41

3 Answers 3


Jim is correct. A charter member is simply an original member of a group. The term doesn't imply any particular responsibility. If you joined shortly after the group was formed but were not an original member, you could be called an "early" member.


Inaugural might be another option.

M-W gives as the second definition:

1 : of or relating to an inauguration
2 : marking a beginning : first in a projected series

  • Hi Melissa, I've tried to help by adding a citation, and I encourage you to justify your answer as detailed in the help center.
    – livresque
    Commented Jan 4 at 22:22

Pioneer ? V.: To take part in the beginnings of; initiate. To lead the way for (a group); guide. To initiate, prepare, or open up: to pioneer a medical programme. N One who is first or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress.

  • Please take the time to format your answer like the dictionary did. And please provide the cite and link to this dictionary.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jan 4 at 11:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.