Keeping This Thing Afloat
For years now, I’ve been trying to find a way to express what it means to me to contribute to AA.
I got sober in 1981. Some years have been comfortable, some flush, and some impossibly lean. I once heard a speaker say that she prayed for enough and she always had enough. That really helped me through the hard times. I don’t believe in a Santa Claus God who grants my every wish, nor do I believe in a God who does my bidding. But I do believe in a God who has shown me, on the deepest of levels, that I’m always being taken care of.
During lean times, I’ve made a budget to see where I could cut and realized that I couldn’t stretch the money to cover the bare necessities. That’s when I went on faith, and somehow I found enough.
Alcoholics Anonymous seems to run on a similar faith. It has never been flush. And from what I gather, it doesn’t want the complications of being flush. But somehow the General Service Office has squeaked by. Did you know that the maximum AA will accept from any one person in a given year is $5,000? At the end of our lives, if we want to contribute to AA, the maximum is $5,000. Very few of our members ever give the maximum.
I have been in general service for a number of years, so I have some insight into the budget on which the New York office runs. It’s absolutely amazing what they’ve been able to accomplish with so little. The GSO hosts the General Service Conference in New York each spring, so delegates from the U.S. and Canada can come together to discuss and vote on issues relevant to AA. The areas pay what they can to send their delegate to New York, and the General Service Office covers the rest.
Also, the Big Book is translated into many different languages for countries all over the world. Changes and updates are constantly being made to our literature every year. This costs money.
I remember being in a women’s meeting many years ago when we were going through the Traditions. When we got to the Seventh Tradition: “Every A.A. group should be self-supporting, declining outside contributions,” I was amazed at the discussion that ensued about putting money in the basket. Each person shared about what a privilege it was to be able to express our gratitude for the life AA has given us. It gives me joy to be able to contribute. Even when times are lean, I don’t skimp on putting something in the basket. It’s an action that manifests my prayer that God gives me enough.
In AA, we are never required to contribute. We do it because we are grateful for the life we have been given. If someone doesn’t contribute, I have no judgment. It’s a personal choice.
I belong to an AA group that unfortunately cannot meet its expenses and contribute to the district, area or GSO, in spite of all the meetings we have. For that reason, and because my heart needs to express my gratitude, I contribute to the GSO through autopay. Even just $5 a month can help our General Service Office continue to provide important life-saving services to alcoholics around the world. Think about it.