The A.A. Group Treasurer
The following service material was prepared by the A.A. General Service Office (www.aa.org).
Spirituality and Money
While the work of the group treasurer often involves many details, it is important to remember that the money the treasurer oversees serves a spiritual purpose: it enables each group to fulfill its primary purpose of carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers. This is the fundamental work of A.A., and to continue it the group must keep its doors open. The group treasurer is an important part of this Twelfth Step work.
Choosing a Treasurer
The position of group treasurer is one of the most responsible positions in any A.A. group. While there is no standard length of sobriety necessary for a member to take on the position of group treasurer, many groups suggest that the treasurer should have a reasonable period of sobriety (at least six months to a year or more). It is also suggested that group treasurers be well grounded in the Twelve Traditions and be familiar with the principles and practices of the group itself.
Passing the Basket
The tradition means of assuring that the group is self-supporting is to pass the basket. Since there are no dues or fees for A.A. membership, those members attending the meeting are asked to make a voluntary contribution to help cover the group's expenses and to support local services, and the services of your General Service Office. Typically, after the basket is passed, the group treasurer takes charge of the money collected.
Safeguarding the Group's Money
The group treasurer takes reasonable precautions to safeguard the group's funds. Many groups keep the group's treasury in a bank checking account in the group's name, often requiring at least two signatures on all checks. This provides security against accidental loss; it also provides case of disbursement and a continuing record of income and expenses. Monthly bank statements are normally sent directly to the group treasurer, who can bring them to the group's business meeting.
Disbursement of a Group's Funds
The group treasurer is usually the person responsible for paying the group's routine bills and for keeping accurate records of the group's funds. The treasurer needs to be well informed about how the group's money is spent and should have addresses and mailing information for all A.A. service entities that the group contributes to.
After the group's basic needs are met, such as providing for rent, literature, refreshments and insurance, the group can participate in the financial support of the Fellowship as a whole by sending money to various A.A. service entities: 1) their local intergroup or central office, 2) their area and district; and 3) the General Service Office (GSO). Many groups provide financial support for their Group Service Representative (GSR) attending service functions.
These entities use contributions in a number of ways, always with the aim of carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Most groups request a treasurer's report and all relevant documentation at monthly or regularly scheduled business meetings. This way, all group members can stay informed about the financial health of the group and make group conscience decisions about how the funds should be spent.
Most groups try to hold a certain amount of money in reserve. There is no predetermined amount for such a reserve, but most groups try to put aside enough money to cover at least one to three months' operating expenses. The group itself usually determines the actual size and scope of the prudent reserve. Our experience shows that an accumulation of A.A. funds for unspecified purposes beyond a prudent level may divert a group's attention from carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Groups with excess funds are encouraged to support other service entities.
Opening a Bank Account/Tax ID
Some groups keep their funds in a bank account, for which a tax ID number is required — even for non-interest bearing accounts. The first step in obtaining a "Federal ID Number" is by filing Form SS-4, which can be obtained at any Internal Revenue Service office of the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Each group must get its own individual number, there is no one number that applies to Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Depending on how much your group will keep on deposit at a bank and what its fees are, you may want to file for tax-exempt status. For information, see IRS publication 557, "Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization." It may be worthwhile to consult an accountant to learn more about these subjects. (Applies to U.S. only.)
Landlords may sometimes ask that A.A. groups carry insurance coverage. Some groups cooperate with the facility where they meet by purchasing a "rider" in the facility's liability insurance policy. For information, you may wish to consult a local insurance agency.
Additional Resources for Group Treasurers
For more information consult the pamphlet, "Self-Support: Where Money and Spirituality Mix," or the A.A. Guidelines on Finance. "The A.A. Group" pamphlet discusses the role and qualifications of treasurers and how they fit into the A.A. service structure. These items may be obtained by contacting the General Service Office in New York or going on the GSO Web site at www.aa.org.
Where to Send Group Contributions
For contributions to A.A. service entities, contact your district committee, area committee and local intergroup/central office.
For contributions to the GSO, make checks payable to the General Service Board and send to:
P.O. Box 459
Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163
Please write your group number on the check.