The 7th Tradition: Where Money & Spirituality Mix

Our 7th Tradition states, “The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members.” While a convention is not an A.A. group or event, the Alabama Conference of Young People in A.A. has committed to adhering to the Twelve Traditions in all its activities. To that end, each ALCYPAA Conference ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of those A.A. members who choose to participate.

Sources of Income

An ALCYPAA Conference costs real money to host. There is meeting space to pay for, coffee and snacks to purchase, speakers to bring in, decorations and bling to provide, and a large assortment of incidental expenses supporting it all. Someone has to pay for it, and that someone is us. Each Conference has three primary sources of income:

Registration. Conference registration is the most obvious way in which it is supported by the voluntary contributions of those who choose to participate. Many members balk at the idea of a set “fee” to attend a conference. “How is that voluntary?”, they ask. “What about new members who can’t afford it? What are they supposed to do?” Very simply, while each Host Committee is autonomous, there are some common ideas that tend to guide us:

  1. Keep it as affordable as possible, and still pay the bills. The ideal for an ALCYPAA Conference is, after all the bills are paid, to return as close to the original seed money to the Advisory Council as possible. Hopefully all of it. If there are excess funds, those are also given to Advisory, but it is not intended as a profit-making venture.
  2. Offer scholarship registrations. Many times, members who are in better financial condition are only too willing to contribute an extra registration fee to cover a member who can’t afford it. We usually don’t need to dole these out one-on-one to those in need (see idea number 3, below), but just set those funds aside as “Scholarship Contributions”. You’ll know how much was brought in that way and discover an immense source of gratitude for the generosity of our membership.
  3. Let them come anyway. It may seem counter-intuitive to charge a registration fee, but not make people pay it. We don’t think so. Consider the home group as the basket comes around. Nobody is watching to make sure everybody gives a dollar…or five dollars in these expensive times. Yet we seem to collect enough in the basket to pay our bills. We might not want to advertise that registration fee is apparently optional, when presented with a member who can’t afford it we can surely trust our Higher Power and give them a badge, a hug, and a huge ALCYPAA welcome!

Events. Throughout the year between being awarded the bid and hosting the convention, most Host Committees have an active Events Subcommittee holding events around their area and across the state. These may be very program-oriented: eating meetings with a speaker or panel workshops on any of our three legacies, or they may be socially driven: dances and drag shows and games, oh my! Or they may be a combination with a speaker(s) followed by the event or vice versa. Nearly all of them involve food of some sort.

These events can ask for a specific contribution (“Suggested $5 contribution” or whatever the price) or just pass the basket and put out a kitty by the food. If you’re playing Cards Against Humanity, you can add a rule that it costs an extra $5 to change out all of your cards. Mafia, $10 gets you a free back-to-life pass. Womanless beauty pageants can be especially lucrative, humbling and fun. Sponsor a contestant: $10. Buy your way out of competing: $20. Sell tickets or pretend money for tipping – whichever contestant gets the most tips wins – maybe a free registration to the Conference, or a particular piece of Merch (see Merch below).

Whatever ideas the committee comes up with, the primary purpose is to carry the message to the next suffering alcoholic – about sobriety, about laughter, about ALCYPAA. But we also want to create a buzz around the upcoming Conference and get people registered. Read on for more ideas.

Merch. Merchandise is the third primary means of providing income for the Conference. Merch can be anything at all that supporters and attendees may want to buy. T-shirts are especially popular – not just the Conference name and/or theme; host committees have come up with some very funny t-shirts. Coffee cups, jeweled crowns, beach towels (especially if you’re hosting at the beach) – all of this constitutes Merch.

Merch can be made available at any registration table — outreach at another YPAA event, at your own events, at the Area 1 Assembly. If the Host Committee has very active Merch and Web committees, it can be offered with registration on the website, or separately through it’s own page on that site.

Some members consider Merch to be anti-7th Tradition. “We don’t fundraise!” But actually, we do. As Bill W. points out in his essay on Concept 12 regarding literature profits, “This net income to the groups and to A.A.’s General Services is actually the sum of a great many contributions which the book buyers make to the general welfare of Alcoholics Anonymous. The certain and continuous solvency of our world services rests squarely upon these contributions.” We never want our income from Merch to eclipse the conscience of our members, making it unnecessary for anyone to attend and thus abdicating our principle spiritual aim. But Merch does make it possible for us to carry the message of sobriety — freedom from alcohol through the practice and teaching of A.A.’s twelve steps — through our annual Conference and all the activities that are a part of it.

What About Bid Committees?

All these ideas work equally well for bid committees — well, except for Registration. One of the requirements for an ALCYPAA Bid Package is that “Prospective bidders will demonstrate financial capabilities and responsibilities within the traditions of AA as a whole…” So active Bid Committees will want to begin raising awareness of their plans, hosting events, and even offering limited Merch. These opportunities will not only help raise funds and create the needed financial demonstration, but they will also get your Bid Committee actively working together in Unity to carry the message and spread the word.

In addition to hosting events in your immediate area, Bid Committees are encouraged to work with the current Host Committee to hold joint events – splitting the work, the cost, and any financial gains – to create hype about the current conference as well as your own bid. You may find a larger number of locals get together to attend the next Conference, and the effect on the Advisory Council if 50 people from your immediate area show up to support your bid can only be positive. You’ll probably find the additional people you need to successfully host the Conference if you are selected, too.

How Can Advisory Help?

The Advisory Council is made up of members who have been part of one or more bid committees and one or more host committees. We have made the mistakes, gotten crazy, laughed a LOT, and shared in the quiet gratitude at the end of a Conference. We are here to support the Host Committee and any Bid Committees that could benefit from our experience. There is no requirement, but why would you pass on the opportunity to learn from our mistakes? If you don’t know who your Advisory Council is, hit the contact button and reach out. We’re not allowed to actively serve on Host and Bid Committees while serving on the Council, but we’ll certainly help in any way we can.

Don’t Stop Here

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ALCYPAA Bid Requirements

The Council shall have the sole authority in choosing the Conference sites. The bid requirement of need is the most heavily weighted item in making the determination, but the Council will consider ALL aspects of the bids presented. Again, both Formal bids and Token bids will be considered for selection.

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