Tradition seven of the Alcoholics Anonymous program says that “Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” As a rule, AA politely but firmly declines all donations from outside groups. Instead, they rely on individual members to make small contributions.
This tradition is thick with irony. The idea of a bunch of alcoholics managing an organization with NO monetary help from the outside if laughable. Weren’t these the very people who could scarcely manage their own affairs just moments ago? Weren’t these the people who drank so much they couldn’t hold down a job? How are they going to manage such an important organization with no financial help?
Unlikely as it may be, refusing money from the outside and relying instead on their own contributions is a principle that helps AA to work.
Serious as Murder
I like to watch police dramas on television. Whenever someone is murdered the detective in charge of the investigation always wants to talk to at least two people right away. She wants to interview the spouse and the business partner. She explains that the main two motives for murder are love and money.
Romantic love among new members is discouraged, but that is a story for another time. Money makes the world go ’round, but it also causes considerable grief.
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous discovered early on that taking money from organizations or individuals, even those with the best of intentions, invariably led to complications. These complications interfered with the efficient running of the group and thus pulled them away from their primary purpose (tradition 5). To allow this to happen was nothing short of letting their brothers die.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Paying the Piper
In the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions the author says “Whoever pays the piper is apt to call the tune…”. This boils tradition seven down to its roots. If Alcoholics Anonymous, as an individual group or as a world-wide organization, accepted money from outside sources, they would be beholden to those sources.
Some argue that those contributors have good intentions and only want to help. No doubt they do. But, only an alcoholic who has been “through the ringer” can understand what the journey is like. Only an alcoholic of that sort can truly understand the importance of AA’s primary purpose. If others have the power, even the illusion of power, to make decisions for Alcoholics Anonymous then the stability of the entire organization may be compromised.
So, Alcoholics Anonymous politely declines your generous contribution…thank you very much!