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VI The Twelve Traditions
 
7) Tradition Seven
 
 


TRADITION SEVEN

“Every R.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”

1. Please turn to page 190, the page that contain the original long form of Tradition Seven. It says:

“The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals, or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise. Then, too, we view with much concern those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority.”

2. Please notice several important things in this Tradition that have sometimes been misunderstood. The first is that:

“The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal;”

3. If being fully supported by the voluntary contributions of its own members is the ideal that a group should soon achieve, what happens until then? Very few groups can start off financially self-supporting.

4. One meeting or group within the fellowship, helping another meeting or group within the fellowship, is not in violation of this tradition.

5. The outside sources that this tradition refers to are corporations or organizations that may want an endorsement of their product or philosophy by association with the fellowship.

6. Could you picture an A.A. meeting sponsored by Seagram’s to show their concern about alcohol abuse? Or Hershey’s sponsoring an O.A. meeting? Or Off Track Betting sponsoring a G.A. meeting so that people will, as the slogan says, bet with their head, not over it?

7. As the group grows, as contributions come in, hopefully each group will attain the ideal of being fully self-supporting. If it had to be self-supporting from the first day, it probably could never survive.

8. Once again, this tradition is designed to stop an outside source from funding and supporting a meeting. There is no prohibition against one meeting supporting or helping to support another.

9. Continuing on with the next statement from the long form of the Seventh Tradition, it says:

“that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous,”

10. Running newspaper ads the way that Muscular Dystrophy does, or holding a telethon the way that the March of Dimes does is what is meant by the public solicitation of funds. This is something that is frowned upon by the Traditions. Privately soliciting funds is not against the Traditions.

11. In the early days of A.A., the pioneers privately, but actively, solicited contributions from outside sources such as John D. Rockefeller and his associates. By 1940, A.A. had received close to a quarter of a million dollars, in 1987 terms. Without this considerable amount of outside money, A.A. could not have survived.

12. It was in 1945, once the income received from literature sales and members’ contributions had grown large enough for the fellowship to become self-supporting, with their finances already in good order, that A.A. decided to turn down future outside contributions.

13. As it says in the next statement from the long form of the Seventh Tradition:

“that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise.”

14. Please remember that A.A. did not decline any outside contributions during their first ten years of existence. Any contribution given without an obligation was gratefully accepted. A.A. did not decline outside contributions until the ideal of being self-supporting was reached. It would have been suicidal for them not to.

15. After they had received the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchasing power, it was easy to decide to then decline further outside contributions.

16. In the 12 & 12, on page 160, at the bottom of the page, the second sentence of the bottom paragraph says:

“It was soon apparent that while alcoholics would spend lavishly on Twelfth Step cases, they had a terrific aversion to dropping money into a meeting place hat for group purposes.”

17. In the 12 & 12, on page 161, in the first full paragraph, in the middle of the second line, it says:

“As A.A. emerged from its infancy into adolescence, we swung from the idea that we needed vast sums of money to the notion that A.A. shouldn’t have any. On every lip were the words “You can’t mix A.A. and money. We shall have to separate the spiritual from the material.” We took this violent new tack because here and there members had tried to make money out of their A.A. connections, and we feared we’d be exploited. Now and then, grateful benefactors had endowed clubhouses, and as a result there was sometimes outside interference in our affairs.”

Skipping down to the last paragraph on page 161, it says:

“Despite these misgivings, we had to recognize the fact that A.A. had to function. Meeting places cost something. To save whole areas from turmoil, small offices had to be set up, telephones installed, and a few full-time secretaries hired. Over many protests, these things were accomplished. We saw that if they weren’t, the man coming in the door couldn’t get a break. These simple services would require small sums of money which we could and would pay ourselves. At last the pendulum stopped swinging and pointed straight at Tradition Seven as it reads today.”

18. In A.A. Comes of Age, on page 140, Bill shares about this concept of service:

“Let’s begin with my own sponsor, Ebby. When Ebby heard how serious my drinking was, he resolved to visit me. He was in New York; I was in Brooklyn. His resolve was not enough; he had to take action and spend money. He called me on the phone and then got into the subway; total cost, ten cents. At the level of the telephone booth and subway turnstile, spirituality and money began to mix. One without the other would have amounted to nothing at all. Right then and there, Ebby established the principle that A.A. in action calls for the sacrifice of much time and a little money.”

19. We’ve shared before that Dr. Bob was in program for two and a half years before he met Bill. In his last major talk, Dr. Bob shared what had finally made the difference.

20. In the A.A. pamphlet The Co-founders of A.A., which is also available on tape, Dr. Bob said:

“I couldn’t understand what was wrong. I had done all the things that those good people told me to do. I had done them, I thought very faithfully and sincerely. And I still continued to overindulge. But the one thing that they hadn’t told me was the one thing that Bill did that Sunday -- attempt to be helpful to somebody else.”

“I think the kind of service that really counts is giving of yourself, and that almost invariably requires effort and time. It isn’t a matter of just putting a little quiet money in the dish. That’s needed, but it isn’t giving much for the average individual in days like these, when most people get along fairly well. I don’t believe that type of giving would ever keep anyone sober. But giving of our own effort and strength and time is quite a different matter. And I think that is what Bill learned in New York and I didn’t learn in Akron until we met.”

21. Giving service is a vital part of the recovery process. It requires time and energy and effort. It requires a sacrifice to work with others.

22. In the 12 & 12, on page 24, in the center paragraph, starting with the fifth line from the bottom, it says:

“Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer?”

23. There’s a very big difference between simply doing what’s easy or convenient, and the sacrifice of time and energy.

24. In the 12 & 12, on page 32, at the bottom of the last full paragraph, it says:

“In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other human being without any demand for reward.”

25. As you can see, this concept of service, originally presented to Bill by Ebby, is still a vital part of our program.

26. Many of us have come to these rooms from other fellowships. Since we can belong to as many other fellowships as we may feel we need in our path to recovery, we almost invariably have tried to carry the message in this presentation back into the rooms of the other fellowships we have come from.

27. Almost invariably we have found that message rejected because the people in those rooms are who they are supposed to be, and we don’t have the right or the desire to tell them otherwise.

28. But we also find that, without sharing what we have now realized to be in these books, we don’t keep it. If we are repeatedly told that we are wrong, it’s very easy to begin to doubt what we know is right.

29. Each of us needs the support, the endorsement, of a fellowship in carrying this message to others so that we can maintain our recoveries. We need to be there to support and endorse this message so that when others walk in the door, they can accept it as being true and as having validity in their own lives.

30. If R.A. has added to your understanding of the program, by even a small percentage, then may we suggest that you give back to our fellowship an equal percentage of the time, energy, effort, and financial support that you give to program.

31. If this presentation has added 1% to your understanding of the program, then give back 1% of the time, energy, effort, and financial support that you give to program. If R.A. has provided 50%, return in kind. Or 90% or 100%.

32. When someone has lunch at McDonald’s, they don’t pay the bill at Burger King. We need to recognize the source of what we’ve received and insure that it survives so that others can avail themselves of it.

33. In establishing R.A., a lot of time, energy, effort, and money has been necessary. This step presentation has required countless thousands of hours of time and energy and effort, and financial support on the part of our members, not one of whom has received any financial compensation.

34. Our fellowship needs you—your time, your energy, your effort, and if possible, your financial support.

35. This presentation has a suggested contribution. If someone could not afford to make a contribution, they are welcome here anyway. We would hope that, if at some point, their financial situation were to change for the better, that they would make a contribution to the fellowship.

36. Hopefully, no matter how you are going through this presentation, if you are getting a benefit from it, you will consider sending a donation to R.A.. But that’s all it is: a suggested donation.

37. Being a relatively small fellowship, every individual has a substantially larger and more vital part to play. If you possibly can, please join us. You will find that by doing service, you can contribute far more vitally and actively to our fellowship than you may have been able to with other fellowships.

38. We need you!

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