Nominees for the Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award may come from any one of three of the AAF's member classifications: Advertisers, Advertising Agencies, and/or Media Companies. They must have contributed significantly as a volunteer to the advancement of advertising at the national level. In addition, the honoree should meet the following criteria:
- Honoree should demonstrate an understanding of and support for the local clubs, Districts and Council of Governors structures
- Member should exhibit exceptional leadership in one or more of the AAF's activities, including but not limited to: the advancement of advertising education, government relations, governance, industry recognition, public service, self-regulation or other services important to the AAF
- While the candidate need not have completed his or her primary career, the breadth of contributions should indicate a long-term commitment to the AAF through volunteer service and achievement
- The candidate may be living or deceased.