Copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., June 1948
Our growth continuing, the combined income of Alcoholics Anonymous members will soon reach the astounding total of a quarter of a billion dollars yearly. This is the direct result of AA membership. Sober we now have it; drunk we would not.
By contrast, our overall AA expenses are trifling.
For instance, the AA General Service Office now costs us $1.50 per member a year. As a fact, the New York office asks the groups for this sum twice a year because not all of them contribute. Even so, the sum per member is exceedingly small. If an AA happens to live in a large metropolitan center where an intergroup office is absolutely essential to handle heavy inquiries and hospital arrangements, he contributes (or probably should contribute) about $5.00 annually. To pay the rent of his own group meeting place, and maybe coffee and doughnuts, he might drop $25.00 a year in the hat. Or if he belongs to a club, it could be $50.00. In case he takes the AA Grapevine, he squanders an extra $2.50!
So the AA member who really meets his group responsibilities finds himself liable for about $5.00 a month on the average. Yet his own personal income may be anywhere between $200 and $2,000 a month — the direct result of not drinking.
“But,” some will contend, “our friends want to give us money to furnish that new clubhouse. We are a new small group. Most of us are still pretty broke. What then?”
I am sure that myriads of AA voices would now answer the new group saying: “Yes, we know just how you feel. We once solicited money ourselves. We even solicited publicly. We thought we could do a lot of good with other peoples’ money. But we found that kind of money too hot to handle. It aroused unbelievable controversy. It simply wasn’t worth it. Besides, It set a precedent which has tempted many people to use the valuable name of Alcoholics Anonymous for other than AA purposes. While there may be little harm in a small friendly loan which your group really means to repay, we really beg you to think hard before you ask the most willing friend to make a large donation. You can, and you soon will. pay your own way. For each of you these overhead expenses will never amount to more than the price of one bottle of good whiskey a month. You will be everlastingly thankful if you pay this small obligation yourselves.”
When reflecting on these things, why should not each of us tell himself: “Yes, we AAs were once a burden on everybody. We were ‘takers.’ Now we are sober, and by the grace of God have become responsible citizens of the world, why shouldn’t we now about-face and become ‘thankful givers’! Yes, it is high time we did!”