What Trusted Servants (Officers) 

Do We Need?

It takes member participation to ensure that group service work is done. Most of us agree that A.A. ought never be “organized.” However, without endangering our commitment to preserve our spiritual and democratic Fellowship, we can “create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve” (Tradition Nine). In A.A. groups, these trusted servants are sometimes called “officers” and usually are chosen by the group for limited terms of service. As Tradition Two reminds us, “Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” Each group determines the minimum length of sobriety for A.A. members to be eligible for any position (or office). The general guideline might be stable sobriety of six months to a year, or longer. These service positions may have titles. But titles in A.A. do not bring authority or honor; they describe services and responsibilities. 

And it has generally been found that giving members service positions solely to help them stay sober does not work; instead, the group’s welfare is of primary concern in choosing officers. At election time, a review of Traditions One and Two can be helpful. Individual groups have many ways of making sure that the necessary services are performed with a minimum of organization. The chart on page 19 shows possibilities for service at the group level. Some groups have positions that do not appear on this chart, such as greeter, archivist, accessibilities representative, and liaison to a meeting facility. Following are the offices established by numerous groups in order to serve the group “at home” and in the community at large.

 Trusted Servants (Officers) 

Commitment Descriptions

Below is a list of the service commitments needed within individual A.A. groups. Click on each to find out more about their requirements and expectations.

Group chairpersons serve for a specified period of time (usually six months to a year). Experience suggests that they should have been sober awhile, at least a year; and, ideally, they have held other group offices first. The chairperson coordinates activities with other group officers — and with those members who assume the responsibility for literature, hospitality, coffee making, programming individual meetings within the group, and other vital functions. The more informed that chairpersons — and other group officers — are about A.A. as a whole, the better they function. By keeping Tradition One firmly in mind and encouraging members to become familiar with all the Traditions, they will help to ensure a healthy A.A. group.

A.A. groups are fully self-supporting through their members’ voluntary contributions. Passing the basket at meetings usually covers the group’s monetary needs, with enough left over so the group can do its fair share of supporting the local intergroup (central office), the general service district and area offices, and the General Service Office. Group funds ordinarily are earmarked for such expenses as: • Rent. • A.A. literature. • Local meeting lists, usually purchased from your nearest intergroup (central office), general service district or area committee. • Coffee and refreshments. • Support of all A.A. service entities, usually on a monthly or quarterly basis. Treasurers generally maintain clear records (a ledger is helpful) and keep their groups informed about how much money is taken in and how it is spent. They may make periodic reports to the group and post financial statements quarterly. Problems can be avoided by keeping group funds in a separate group bank account that requires two signatures on each check. The flyer “The A.A. Group Treasurer” offers many other helpful suggestions. A.A. experience clearly shows that it is not a good idea for a group to accumulate large funds in excess of what is needed for rent and other expenses. It is wise, though, to keep a prudent reserve in case an unforeseen need arises (an amount to be determined by the group conscience). Group troubles also may arise when extra-large donations — in money, goods or services — are accepted from one member. The Conference-approved pamphlet “Self-Support — Where Money and Spirituality Mix” makes suggestions as to how groups may support A.A. services. Additionally, G.S.O., area and sometimes district committees and your local intergroup accept contributions from individual A.A. members. A.A. members are free to contribute whatever they wish, within the limits set by A.A. service entities. The maximum individual contribution to the General 22 Service Office is $5,000 annually. Bequests or inmemoriam contributions of not more than $5,000 are acceptable on a one-time basis, but only from A.A. members. Check with other A.A. service entities for the maximum yearly contributions they accept. Some members celebrate their A.A. anniversaries by sending a gratitude gift to the General Service Office for its world services. With this “Birthday Plan,” some members send one dollar for each year of sobriety, while others use the figure $3.65, a penny a day, for each year. Other members give more, but not in excess of $5,000 per year. For additional information, talk to your general service representative or contact G.S.O.

Like chairpersons, secretaries need to be good all-around group servants. For groups that have no chairpersons, they may perform the tasks associated with that position. While each group has its own procedures, the secretary is generally expected to: • Announce and/or mail information about important A.A. activities and events. • Maintain minutes of business meetings. • Maintain and update a strictly confidential file of names, addresses and telephone numbers of group members (subject to each member’s approval); and know which members are available to visit still suffering alcoholics (Twelfth Step calls). • Keep a record of members’ sobriety dates, if the group so wishes. • Maintain a bulletin board for posting A.A. announcements, bulletins and newsletters. • Make certain that the General Service Office and other service entities are informed, in writing, of 21 any changes of address, meeting place or group officers. • Accept and assign calls for Twelfth Step help (unless there is a Twelfth Step chairperson for this task). • Share with group members the mail from other groups and the intergroup (central office), unless this is done by the intergroup representative.

Working via the district and area committees, the G.S.R. is the group’s link with the General Service Conference, through which U.S. and Canadian groups share their experience and voice A.A.’s collective conscience. Sometimes called “the guardians of the Traditions,” G.S.R.s become familiar with A.A.’s Third Legacy — our spiritual responsibility to give service freely. Usually elected to serve two-year terms, they: • Represent the group at district meetings and area assemblies. • Keep group members informed about general service activities in their local areas. • Receive and share with their groups all mail from the General Service Office, including the newsletter Box 4-5-9, which is G.S.O.’s primary tool for communicating with the Fellowship. G.S.R.s also may assist their groups in solving a variety of problems, especially those related to the Traditions. In serving their groups, they can draw on all the services offered by G.S.O. An alternate G.S.R. is elected at the same time in the event that the G.S.R. may be unable to attend all district and area meetings. Alternate G.S.R.s should be encouraged to share the responsibilities of the G.S.R. at the group, district and area levels. (See The A.A. Service Manual, Chapter 2, “The Group and its G.S.R.,” for further information.) Financial Support: Current experience indicates that many groups provide financial support for their general service representatives to attend service functions

In the many locations where an intergroup (or central office association) has been formed, each group usually elects an intergroup representative, who participates in business meetings with other such representatives several times a year to share their groups’ experience in carrying the A.A. message. The intergroup representative tries to keep the group well-informed about what the local intergroup is doing.

The group’s literature representative makes certain that A.A. Conference approved books and pamphlets, ordered from the General Service Office or purchased from the local intergroup (central office), are on hand for meetings and properly displayed. Group literature representatives can obtain information on their responsibilities by writing to the literature coordinator at G.S.O. Regular communications are sent to literature representatives from G.S.O. The A.A. Guideline for Literature Committees is also a valuable resource. For A.A. literature and subscriptions to the A.A. newsletter Box 4-5-9, checks should be made out to A.A. World Services, Inc. Many A.A. groups purchase bulk subscriptions to Box 4-5-9 (in units of 10) for distribution to their members, thus providing them regular communication with A.A. in the U.S., Canada and countries throughout the world.

The job of the GVR and RLV is to familiarize members with the Fellowship’s international journal, A.A. Grapevine, and its bimonthly Spanish-language magazine La Viña, and the enhancements to sobriety the magazines offer. The magazines contain articles written by A.A. members based upon their personal experiences; discussion topics; regular features; and a calendar of special A.A. events.

Are you an alcoholic?

Have you or a family member exhibited signs that alcohol might be having a negative impact on your life and that things have become unmanageable?