Special Projects Fund Meeting Minutes

October 21, 2020

  1. Introductions – (Alan G)
    1. Open Meeting with the Serenity Prayer
    2. Why are we here? Members have expressed their interest concerning IFAA’s acceptance of a bequest for $140,000
    3. Hope to continue the conversation from last month’s IGR meeting
      1. Information will be posted to the website 
    4. We’re not trying to change minds, this is to provide information, why the decision was made and how it was made
  2. Review Decision Making Process
    1. Timeline (Renee)
      1. Early in 2019 IFAA was contacted by an estate that there was a potentially large bequest which was initially declined
      2. Later in 2019 at the October 2019 IG meeting there was a conversation about the individual ($5,000) and moratorium limits ($10,000). At this time we discussed how IFAA was a separate entity and we received unanimous support from IG to continue discussions
      3. IFAA Board discussed options to accept the funds beyond the $10,000 level
      4. In March, 2020 the IFAA Board received consensus from IG to accept the full amount of bequest as a one time exception leaving our limits in place
      5. April, 2020 IFAA accepted the $140,000 bequest where it was recorded as income and then segregated into a Special Project Funds that would not be used to cover general operating expenses 
      6. Note: there is an opportunity for IFAA to provide more detailed meeting minutes moving forward
    2. Review of Decision Making in Intergroup
      1. Address the general principles by which IFAA operates and how decisions get made
      2. Info packets each month provide information on how to get motions onto the agenda and the consensus decision making model which provides IFAA with a more rigorous procedure around the minority opinion and get to a point where we are as close as possible to unanimity
      3. Who gets a vote: Per the Bylaws each IGR is given 
      4. What gets decided at Intergroup vs. the Board?
        1. Inspired by Concept 3 “The right of decision”, the Board is beholden to the lay and Bylaw and beyond that it is a matter of discretion to decide what matters are brought to the entire Intergroup
        2. The authority of the Groups – each representative is allowed to bring forward a motion which is considered by the Board
        3. Approval of the intergroup resolution is by substantial unanimity (⅔ majority) which is different from Robert’s Rules which requires only a majority or 50% +1
  3. Use of Special Project Funds
    1. Operational Challenges
      1. Outreach and engagement – a conservative estimate is that we spend about 50% of our time on 
      2. Rotation – Impact of rotation allows for more members to be in service commitments, however, at any given time you lose human capital or 
      3. Communication Channels
        1. Curate content
        2. Assessed connectivity when we went through the transition of the Point to digital from mail at which point a survey was conducted to understand how
      4. Economies of Scale
        1. Number of people involved in service outside the group is minimal so we started to 
      5. Contributions from Individual members
      6. Volunteer membership 
    2. Overview of Special Projects Fund
      1. 7 – 8% of groups had representation at Intergroup
      2. Named Director of a 501(c)3 nonprofit 
      3. Operations committee during the Fall retreat
        1. Lease expiration where a move could be costly
        2. Accounting software transition from desktop to online presented challenges 
        3. Database was a custom database that was managed by a single volunteer and it became clear that we needed to look at purchase of a 
        4. Integration of SMS text messaging for 12th step calls and meeting reminders
    3.  Comments from Fellowship

Raise your hand to share your thoughts, the chat will remain closed. 2 minutes per share.

  • Melanie – AA is held to a higher standard than most non-profits. Where is our discussion of the 7th tradition? Are the by-laws more important than the traditions. (If we don’t change our decision, she will not feel comfortable ever providing 7th tradition)
  • Thatcher – Questions our decision and our process. Trusted servants should follow the guidelines and traditions, concepts and steps – clearly not the case in this choice. Wants us to pause any more spending of this money, and take it to the groups we serve for consideration. This will harm other intergroups. “No more special money.” What about the second request? This is not good.
  • Vanessa H. – Thank you to Maury and Board. This has come up because of discussion at GSR meeting. Traditions and concepts were not being followed. She understands that a lot of consideration was put into this, but she hopes everyone stays civil. This was a decision made in love, and we can disagree in love. 
  • Jennifer K.- From Marin. She understands one of our intentions is to share with other intergroups. Have the other intergroups ever had a bequest like this? How have they handled this? Did we speak to GSO? What was their response? Intergroup is autonomous – *except where it affects other groups or AA as a whole* — how might this affect aa as a whole?
  • Karen C. – This is the biggest issue to hit local AA since she’s been sober. The purpose of the money is irrelevant. All sounds like wonderful projects. But the 12 and 12 talks about this, and that money was probably for a good reason too. We have a principle of corporate poverty. We need to admit we made a mistake. Not spend more than $10K. Until we can give a thorough airing and let groups decide. We should be grateful for $20k. Need to keep principles.
  • Fiona – Thank everyone for service. Has experience in service at IG. Just found out about this last week. Concerned about this. Concerned that very little was mentioned in the IG minutes (she lists various month’s meeting minutes). How many IGRs are actually telling their meeting this information? Who are the consultants? What is the cost breakdowns? More transparency. Let the groups make the decision. More discussion is needed. Put money on hold.
  • John R. – Decision has been made and this meeting is after the fact, and he is troubled. Couldn’t find anything in minutes. Bylaws do not trump traditions. Need does not give us the right to circumvent the traditions. Understand that COVID made things difficult. Was not at March meeting – was it a 2/3rds vote to accept the fund? He’s a long time member. Let’s rethink – not spend any more money than $10k and take back to groups to have a new vote.
  • Kathleen – IGR for Coconuts Meetings. She cites the concepts for why we should be using consultants and get the best for our fellowship. But she is concerned that we went against our policy of limits. Breakdown in the communication. March 2020 was a very small meeting, not well represented. She doesn’t feel like there was a real vote. It was a chaotic time to communicate a big decision.
  • Brian – He would like to know the mechanics for getting a motion on the next IG meeting to put a vote on the floor to return all but 10K of the bequest. We are in a leadership position – our board is great, the tech is great – but we need to return money.
  • Alex – Appreciate the report. He has served on tech committee – more happening in the last nine months than last many years combined. What Patrick said in his report – single point of failure – is true. He wants to acknowledge the good work. Wants Jennifer’s questions answered (what are those questions? See notes above). 
  • Michael M. – Thank you to Board. The fellowship is upset that they were not addressed before violating traditions. He knows Dallas has taken a large bequest. He knows it is not unusual. But we should have come to the fellowship and ask. He knows we have the best intentions. Groups could have provided the money we needed.
  • Jaime – Intentions don’t matter. Now we have money. He would like us to give it back. Was the deceased a member of AA (alcoholic?)? Wants us to refuse the second bequest.
  • Liz – Thanks everyone! Everyone is participating tonight, not everyone was around back in March. She is passionate about finding a common solution. We have to fix the technology solutions, otherwise we waste volunteers time. Discussion was lengthy and slow at the Board. Time will tell what will happen next, but she hopes that people will be as informed as they can be and not be emotional.
  • Marie – Some of us have taken Central Office for granted. This has sparked a desire to be more involved with Central Office. We are first and foremost part of AA. We have to follow traditions. Board has the right to make decisions. Fellowship has the right to appeal a decision. Do the right thing – make amends – give the money back and say sorry. We have not been trustworthy.
  • Julie S. – Thank you for the presentation. Thinks we should give the money back! Ask the groups for the money we need to update our systems. In favor of righting this wrong and looking at our communication and the breakdown. (also a problem at General Service). What can we do to fix that?
  • Leslie – Thank you everyone. 1) idea of helping other intergroups – actually causes concern. She’s not sure why, but that we should be taking care of our local area and not other areas. 2) She is GSR and they have an IFR – She doesn’t like that it was brought as a decision and not a discussion
  • Paul – We see a lot of people are passionate about AA. We need better communication in terms of the bigger issues we’re facing. Was hoping that more of tonight would be around the decision – not the need for the money – but why we accepted it.
  • Chip – Thank everyone involved. As we can see from tonight’s comments, most people are just learning about this. Surprised by the Board’s decision. Perhaps groups have to take responsibility for that because they are not involved enough. But blame is not important. It would be a good idea for the Board to step back, get the group’s more involved and take a new consensus.
  • Gareth – Works on H&I committee. New to AA. Cares about the traditions. Tradition 7 is important. This issue has come up before and AA has learned from its mistakes. We are not supposed to become rich, or for-profit. We should decline “outside contribution.” He would like to vote to send money back.
  • Rob – Echoing Chip. He has attended meetings that have IGRs, and he’s fortunate in that respect. This is a lesson to get involved, and report back to groups so that everyone will know what’s going on.
  • Hunter – Thank you for the special meeting. He is in favor of the Board’s decision to accept bequest. He believes the main thing here is don’t drink. And AA has changed his life. AA and steps have been around longer than traditions – we’re still learning. He does believe we need to keep transparent about the use of funds.
  • Judy – Thank you to the Board for getting everyone up to speed. She agrees with most of the concerns everyone has voiced tonight. She mentions a previous discussion about raising contribution limits – but it needs to be a discussion. Go back to the groups and get their input. We’ve done more to respond during COVID than most.
  • Cathy – Thank you for service. Learned a lot. Cites the Rockafeller dinner as example. Intergroup did a fantastic job during pandemic getting info out. Contribution amount comes up every year at the general service conference. Personally, she’d like us to return the money and ask the members of the fellowship for what we need.

Wrap Up and adjournment. Info will be posted at aasfmarin.org/10212020.

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