Why do we donate?
The Seventh Tradition states: "Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions." While contributions cover each group's rent and other expenses, the Seventh Tradition is essential at every level of A.A. service. It is both a privilege and a responsibility for groups and members to ensure that not only their group, but also their intergroup/central office, local services, district, area, and the General Service Office remain self-supporting. This keeps A.A. free of outside influences that might divert us from our primary purpose — to help the alcoholic who still suffers. The amount of our contribution is secondary to the spiritual connection that unites all groups around the world.
How much should I be donating?
The idea of putting a 'buck in the basket' dates back over 80 years now, so accounting for inflation, that dollar is now worth almost $18 today! However, no one expects you to drop $18 in the basket -- and many people in the early days of AA couldn't afford the dollar, and gave what they could. That's what is asked of each of us, to give what we can, to make sure the group, district, area, and GSO maintain the ability to carry the message to still suffering alcoholics.
What's the 'anniversary envelope' I hear about?
The General Service Office sends out pre-stamped envelopes for you to use on your sober anniversary each year. It is suggested to donate $1 per year of sobriety, so if you are 10 years sober, send in $10 on your anniversary. You don't have to use the free envelopes (you can donate online instead), but if you'd like one, talk to your DCM or any district officer / coordinator.
Where does the money I put in the basket go?
The money that you put in the basket at a meeting goes directly to the costs for that meeting, such as rent, coffee, literature, and other supplies. The group also maintains a small prudent reserve fund for emergencies. Any leftover money after costs have been handled should be distributed to the other levels off AA service.
Why donate to the District, or the Area, or G.S.O.?
Each level of service in Alcoholics Anonymous is completely autonomous and separate from the rest, so the money a group donates to the district stops there, it can only be used for the district. The same goes for money donated to Area, or G.S.O. So a common question is why a homegroup should donate money to all 3 levels of service - shouldn't a donation to district be sufficient? The answer is no, the services the district provides are very different than that of the Area, or the General Service Office.
Some home groups in our district use the 40/30/30 split method -- whatever money is leftover after paying the bills and the prudent reserve is split 40% to District, 30% to Area 60, and 30% to GSO. The percentages are completely up to you and your group, but it is HIGHLY recommended to send SOMETHING each month to all three levels of service, even if it's a dollar. This shows new group members that there are levels of service involved.
What does the General Service Office (GSO) do with contributions?
The G.S.O. Publishing Department has coordinated translations of the Big Book in 69 languages and translations of other A.A. literature in more than 91 languages. Further translations are constantly in process.
Each year G.S.O. staff responds to over 90,000 emails, letters, and phone calls from A.A. members, suffering alcoholics, professionals, students, the press and others interested in A.A. Thus accurate and consistent information about A.A. is provided.
Staff communications often help someone find local A.A. meetings, link members in service, and support the start of A.A. in countries where there are no A.A. meetings.
G.S.O. maintains and updates the aa.org website that averages over 30,000 visits per day. The website provides information about A.A., including how to find A.A. in their community, and provides help to members and those seeking help with their drinking problem, as well as to families and friends of problem drinkers, and professionals.
G.S.O.'s Publishing Department publishes and distributes all A.A. Conference-approved literature. Approximately 8 million books, pamphlets, video and audio products are distributed annually. Some of this literature is specifically designed for sight- or hearing-impaired members. Box 4-5-9, news and notes from G.S.O., is published four times a year in English, French and Spanish.
G.S.O. coordinates the Loners-Internationalists Meeting Correspondence Service (LIM), which is often the only link to A.A. for many A.A. members in remote areas, homebound, or deployed in active military service.
The Corrections coordinator at G.S.O. responds to over 6,500 letters a year, primarily from incarcerated alcoholics. Letters often request literature and many express gratitude for a Big Book supplied or a link to an outside member who can take a soon-to-be released alcoholic to his or her first meeting on the outside.
G.S.O.'s Corrections staff member also coordinates a Corrections Correspondence Service (CCS), which each year connects over 1,500 alcoholics behind the walls with outside members in order to share A.A. recovery by mail. Sharing From Behind the Walls, containing excerpts from inmate letters to G.S.O., is printed four times a year
The G.S.O. Treatment and Accessibilities desk responds to letters and communications from residents or patients in treatment centers and connects them with local committees. The staff member on this assignment supports groups and members in making the A.A. message accessible to all alcoholics.
Professionals are frequently the first contact for an alcoholic seeking help. The Cooperation with the Professional Community (C.P.C.) staff member at G.S.O. provides information about A.A. to hundreds of professionals each year, often sending them basic literature. This assignment also coordinates A.A. exhibits at over 25 national conferences of professionals in various fields each year and publishes the newsletter About A.A. for professionals.
The Public Information desk coordinates the production and broadcast of audio and video Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to help reach the still-suffering alcoholics. Each year PSAs produced by Public Information are broadcast on television and radio. The most recent PSA, Doors, was aired approximately 75,000 times the first year of its release. The Public Information staff member also responds to approximately 500 emails per month from the press and other media, A.A. members and the general public.
G.S.O.'s Archives documents the activities of Alcoholics Anonymous for the future and makes the history of the Fellowship accessible to A.A. members and other researchers. Each year the Archives staff responds to over 1,500 requests for information and research.
Call us at (814) 533-5907, anytime. The answering service will put you in touch with an alcoholic in recovery.