Alcohol and Drug informational resource

Sept, Tradition Seven

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

Seven— 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.

If this is you first meeting it’s on us, and as a reminder that the maximum individual contribution is no more than 3000 dollars, if you got to give more remember Australia has Kangaroos and in the like,  A.A. down under have much bigger pockets



SELF-SUPPORTING alcoholics? Who ever heard of such a thing? Yet we find that’s what we have to be. This principle is telling evidence of the profound change that

A.A. has wrought in all of us. Everybody knows that active alcoholics scream that they have no troubles money can’t cure. Always, we’ve had our hands out. Time out of mind we’ve been dependent upon somebody, usually moneywise. When a society composed entirely of alcoholics says it’s going to pay its bills, that’s really news.

Hear yee, hear yee, hear all about it, Uncle Jack the town drunk has paid all his bills, and even some were rumored to be on time, hear yee, hear yee film at Step Eleven


Overheard in a meeting “If I had enough money I wouldn’t need God” Blasphemy as his judgment was made sure, until I reflected on how often I courted the golden calf for my only sense of wellbeing, my absolute fortress of security. In a feigned admiration for the teller for did he not say what most truly thought, but did not have the courage to utter the view from the land of the lost?


Sol Nazerman: I do not believe in God, or art, or science, or newspapers, or politics, or philosophy.

Jesus Ortiz: Then, Mr. Teacher, ain’t there nothing you do believe in?

Sol Nazerman: Money. (The Pawn Broker)

If all the rich people in the world divided up their money among themselves there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Christina Stead

A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Never underestimate the effectiveness of a straight cash bribe. Claud Cockburn

Probably no A.A. Tradition had the labor pains this one did. In early times, we were all broke. When you add to this the habitual supposition that people ought to give money to alcoholics trying to stay sober, it can be understood why we thought we deserved a pile of folding money. What great things A.A. would be able to do with it! But oddly enough, people who had money thought otherwise. They figured that it was high time we now— sober— paid our own way. So our Fellowship stayed poor because it had to. There was another reason for our collective poverty. 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. We were astounded to find that we were as tight as the bark on a tree. So A.A., the movement, started and stayed broke, while its individual members waxed prosperous.

Treating the whole world as if it works for you don’t suggest you’re special, it means you’re an ass with a working mouth and a lacking bank account

The Primary Purpose group here in Houston attracts many of the very young, as young as fourteen which is a little disconcerting to me as I am approach the lauded status of codger.  They are mostly heavy cigarette smokers having given up drugs and alcohol all that’s left is sex, cigarettes and the internet. (At this point in time a 20 fag pack can easily cost 7.00 dollars) The first time I gave up the habit was because a pack went up to the outrageous price of 50 cents. (I have found it extremely easy to give up the habit, since I have been able to do it a thousand times successfully) The very young with their innate sense of entitlement often shun the passing of the collection basket   that often times than not it comes up near transparent. I had quipped from the meeting chair on occasion, “if you’re buying cigarettes and not putting a couple of bucks in the basket where is your singleness of purpose?” A little chafe and a rustle in the seats as the hat came back with a little more cushioning.


“Youth is the best time to be rich, and the best time to be poor” Euripides.


Ute is wasted on the semi n’ olds



Bran Flakes 10 cents Maryland 1939 … Lux Laundry Soap 22 cents Indiana 1935. Suntan Oil … Noxzema Medicated Cream for Pimples 49 cents Texas 1935

Movie ticket, .10/matinee; .20/evening. 1933-1934. Minimum wage was established around that time at .33 cents per hour. ..


“Let’s begin with my own sponsor, Ebby,” writes Bill W., in the book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. “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 he had to 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.”

Alcoholics are certainly all-or-nothing people. Our reactions to money prove this. 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. We had been presented with a hospital, and almost immediately the donor’s son became its principal patient and would-be manager. One A.A. group was given five thousand dollars to do with what it would. The hassle over that chunk of money played havoc for years. Frightened by these complications, some groups refused to have a cent in their treasuries.

Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor. James Baldwin.

He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it. Somerset Maugham

The P.O.C. A.A. club in Houston (Friends of Bill W. inc.) boasts of having 800,000 dollars in their prudent reserve, they defend their rights  with a lawyers delight, that if their landlord might find an occasion to demand them to vacate the property and that in that area of town the property is so pricey that it would take that amount and much, much more to secure a location in a manner to what we have grown accustomed. In their defense I must confess that some of the best looking middle aged women in town have found themselves a prestigious home group address.


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.

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. – Norman Vincent Peale

In this connection, Bill likes to tell the following pointed story. He explains that when Jack Alexander’s Saturday Evening Post piece broke in 1941, thousands of frantic letters from distraught alcoholics and their families hit the Foundation* letterbox in New York. “Our office staff,” Bill says, “consisted of two people: one devoted secretary and myself. How could this landslide of appeals be met? We’d have to have some more full-time help, that was sure. So we asked the A.A. groups for voluntary contributions. Would they send us a dollar a member a year? Otherwise this heartbreaking mail would have to go unanswered.


The Postman: Tell me something: how much mail can a dead Postman deliver?

It looked like the letters were D. O. A.  The ever growing pile  was as high as an elephants eye and the blunted tusk a hopeless cry of a certain lost redemption, a last chance grasp at the brass ring only to find the envelope marked unopened for the  lack of a nickel no more than a dime.


The worth of a soul: Who can count its value? Who can appraise its worth? An immortal soul is beyond all price. Of course more than the price of a coffee cup, as long it is not my mornings first

“To my surprise, the response of the groups was slow. I got mighty sore about it. Looking at this avalanche of mail one morning at the office, I paced up and down ranting how irresponsible and tightwad my fellow members were. Just then an old acquaintance stuck a tousled and aching head in the door. He was our prize slippee. I could see he had an awful hangover. Remembering some of my own, my heart filled with pity. I motioned him to my inside cubicle and produced a five-dollar bill. As my total income was thirty dollars a week at the time, this was a fairly large donation. Lois really needed the money for groceries, but that didn’t stop me. The intense relief on my friend’s face warmed my heart. I felt especially virtuous as I thought of all the ex-drunks who wouldn’t even send the Foundation a dollar apiece, and here I was gladly making a five-dollar in-vestment to fix a hangover

A miser, cheapskate, snipe-snout, penny pincher, piker, scrooge, skinflint or tightwad

Yiddish proverb: “With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well, too.”


Depression is terrifying, as elation is death defying and as attractive as she may be for a moment. You are grandiose beyond reality when seeking to rise above sanity.


“The meeting that night was at New York’s old 24th Street Clubhouse. During the intermission, the treasurer gave a timid talk on how broke the club was. (That was in the period when you couldn’t mix money and A.A. ) But finally he said it— the landlord would put us out if we didn’t pay up. He concluded his remarks by saying, ‘Now boys, please go heavier on the hat tonight, will you?’

I will lift up mine eyes unto the bills: from whence cometh my help. My help cometh even from you: who hath found heaven instead of the dirt?  The Land Lord will suffer our foot to be moved: and to  keepeth  the roof over thy head  and to some even a bed , so please get out the lead and fill the coffers with silver instead of copper  otherwise we have to fold our tent  and our primary purpose  will  be no  more.

“I heard all this quite plainly, as I was piously trying to convert a newcomer who sat next to me. The hat came in my direction, and 1 reached into my pocket. Still working on my prospect, I fumbled and came up with a fifty-cent piece. Somehow it looked like a very big coin. Hastily, I dropped it back and fished out a dime, which clinked thinly as I dropped it in the hat. Hats never got folding money in those days



A dime over easy goes in the hat, as no one can see my minimal generosity, but the “Beau geste” (A gesture noble in form but meaningless in substance.) For we seek recognition and a platform of adulation that all might witness my nobleness of spirit

Noblesse Oblige (One must act in a fashion that conforms to one’s position, and with the reputation that one has earned.) if not in fact, certainly by imagination


Giving a large sum of money  anonymously, was like winking at a pretty girl in a dark room, you’re the only one who knows what you’re doing


“Then I woke up. I who had boasted my generosity that morning was treating my own club worse than the distant alcoholics who had forgotten to send the Foundation their dollars. I realized that my five-dollar gift to the slippee was an ego-feeding proposition, bad for him and bad for me. There was a place in A.A. where spirituality and money would mix, and that was in the hat!”

“Ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets.” Nathaniel Bronner Jr.


The letter of the law bringeth death and the spirit of the law giveth life, we knocked it into a cocked hat, we would be self-supporting through our own contribution and let God do the rest



There is another story about money. One night in 1948, the trustees of the Foundation were having their quarterly meeting. The agenda discussion included a very important question. A certain lady had died. When her will was read, it was discovered she had left Alcoholics Anonymous in trust with the Alcoholic Foundation a sum of ten thousand dollars. The question was: Should A.A. take the gift?

Every gift has a problem just waiting to be unwrapped

What a debate we had on that one! The Foundation was really hard up just then; the groups weren’t sending in enough for the support of the office; we had been tossing in all the book income and even that hadn’t been enough. The reserve was melting like snow in springtime. We needed that ten thousand dollars. “Maybe,” some said, “the groups will never fully support the office. We can’t let it shut down; it’s far too vital. Yes, let’s take the money. Let’s take all such donations in the future. We’re going to need them.”

Should we partake and gain the ease and comfort that comes from the first gift, or were we just setting ourselves up to go on a money spree


Then came the opposition. They pointed out that the foundation board already knew of a total of half a million dollars set aside for A.A. in the wills of people still alive. Heaven only knew how much there was we hadn’t heard about. If outside donations weren’t declined, absolutely cut off, then the Foundation would one day become rich. Moreover, at the slightest intimation to the general public from our trustees that we needed money, we could become immensely rich.

We could be drunk with money and the hangover could be oblivion

The poor always have heart felt charity for they know the lack in life, while the rich are too busy counting and the very rich can’t be reached for they remain in the fantasy of extended flight

Compared to this prospect, the ten thousand dollars under consideration wasn’t much, but like the alcoholic’s first drink it would, if taken, inevitably set up a disastrous chain reaction. Where would that land us? Whoever pays the piper is apt to call the tune, and if the A.A. Foundation obtained money from outside sources, its trustees might be tempted to run things without reference to the wishes of A.A. as a whole.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, and if this guy is from Hamlin we could all be drowning on queue

Relieved of responsibility, every alcoholic would shrug and say, “Oh, the Foundation is wealthy— why should 1 bother?” The pressure of that fat treasury would surely tempt the board to invent all kinds of schemes to do good with such funds, and so divert A.A. from its primary purpose. The moment that happened, our Fellowship’s confidence would be shaken. The board would be isolated, and would fall under heavy attack of criticism from both A.A. and the public. These were the possibilities, pro and con.

“When we meet and defeat the temptation to take large gifts, we are only being prudent But when we are generous with the hat we give a token that we are grateful for our blessings and evidence that we are eager to share what we have found with all those who still suffer.” (The Language of the Heart, p. 221)

Then our trustees wrote a bright page of A.A. history. They declared for the principle that A.A. must always stay poor. Bare running expenses plus a prudent reserve would henceforth be the Foundation’s financial policy. Difficult as it was, they officially declined that ten thousand dollars, and adopted a formal, airtight resolution that all such future gifts would be similarly declined. At that moment, we believe, the principle of corporate poverty was firmly and finally embedded in A.A. tradition.

Thank God for poverty That makes and keeps us free, And lets us go our unobtrusive way, Glad of the sun and rain, Upright, serene, humane, Contented with the fortune of a day. William Bliss Carman

When these facts were printed, there was a profound reaction. To people familiar with endless drives for charitable funds, A.A. presented a strange and refreshing spectacle. Approving editorials here and abroad generated a wave of confidence in the integrity of Alcoholics Anonymous. They pointed out that the irresponsible had become responsible, and that by making financial independence part of its tradition, Alcoholics Anonymous had revived an ideal that its era had almost forgotten.

The handout, the beggar and the fool was no longer our domain. We will support ourselves and our  cause with hope and hard work and ask God to use us as a tool


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Mission Statement

Our mission is to inform, inspire, and empower alcoholics anonymous sponsorship locally and internationally to be their very best --- both personally and spiritually.

I would like to acknowledge Hamilton B and his tireless work in the recovery community and his work "Twelve Step Sponsorship How it works" a Hazelton publication and his permission to use what ever was needed to make possible my ongoing sponsorship workshop and Step study and this website.