A Bit of Background About A.A.

In 2006, 1,867,212 members in 106,202 AA groups were reported worldwide. The Twelve Traditions informally guide how AA groups function, and the Twelve Concepts for World Service guide how AA is structured globally. A member who accepts a service position or an organizing role is a “trusted servant” with terms rotating and limited, typically lasting one month to two years and determined by group vote. Each group is a self-governing entity with AA World Services acting only in an advisory capacity.

AA is served entirely by alcoholics, except for seven “nonalcoholic friends of the fellowship” out of twenty-one members of the AA Board of Trustees. AA groups are self-supporting and not charities, and they have no dues or membership fees. Groups rely on member donations, typically $1 collected per meeting in America, to pay for expenses like room rental, refreshments, and literature. No one is turned away for lack of funds. Beyond the group level, AA may hire outside professionals for services that either require specialized expertise and/or are full time responsibilities, as of 2007 GSO in New York employees 40 or so such workers.

AA receives proceeds from books and literature which constitute more than 50% of the income for the General Service Office (GSO), which unlike individual groups is not self-supporting and maintains a small salaried staff. It also maintains service centers which coordinate activities like printing literature, responding to public inquiries, and organizing conferences. They are funded by local members and responsible to the AA groups they represent.

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