Business meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) resemble those outside of AA, but are also distinct to the AA program. All AA steering committee officers serve their group according to AA’s preamble: “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.” The general service office (GSO) of AA establishes general guidelines for all group activities, but groups have a great deal of latitude. Despite the abiding AA principle, there are no specific rules.
AA members hold business meetings, often called steering committee meetings, to address all aspects of business directly related to AA meetings. Such items may include, but are not in any way limited to voting for steering committee officers ("trusted servants"), changing the format and time of meetings, group finances and planning group events. AA business meetings do not address issues such as building maintenance or any landlord-related topics.
Steering Committee Officers
Group officers perform functions to keep group business moving forward. Committee officers include standard positions, such as chairperson, secretary and treasurer. Other officers attend to the AA group activities with the GSO and in the community. Steering committees elect a general service representative (GSR), an intergroup (central office) representative and a literature chairperson. GSRs attend regional AA business meetings, reporting information back to the GSR's group. Literature chairpersons keep AA books and pamphlets stocked for group members', especially newcomers', access. AA groups have an elected member who liaises with local hospitals and treatment programs and brings group speakers to facilities as part of AA’s singleness of purpose. Steering committee officers and members-at-large serve for one year. Many groups encourage members with at least one year of continuous sobriety to serve on steering committees.
The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous describe how AA groups operate. The seventh tradition states that “Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” AA business meetings determine how group money is allocated. AA groups are responsible for paying rent to landlords or other building managers. Other expenses include, but are not limited to, AA literature and sobriety tokens, coffee and other refreshments, and voluntary donations to intergroup and the GSO. Groups with a more fundamentalist AA view keep limited bank accounts with prudent reserves determined by the groups, according to AA traditions.
Steering committees meet on a monthly basis to address group business. AA group members may announce special steering committee meetings in the event of group issues not addressed in monthly meetings. In these cases, a group member announces a pending special meeting for an established period of time prior to the scheduled date. The steering committee chairperson or the person who calls for a special meeting brings the meeting to order. Many AA business meetings follow Robert’s Rules of Order. Officers present new business and information, such as the treasurer’s report and the reading of minutes from the previous meeting. All AA group members may attend steering committee meetings. If issues require a vote, all group members may vote.
Alyson Paige has a master's degree in canon law and began writing professionally in 1998. Her articles specialize in culture, business and home and garden, among many other topics.