by Michael P
The Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (Intergroup) is currently discussing important policies and procedures related to financial support. This document contains some suggestions for accountability, an overview of Intergroup’s responsibilities, the approval process and a brief history based upon 14 years as an Intergroup representative.
All opinions are my own. If you have any questions or feedback, I’d be happy to hear from you [email protected].
Intergroup has been successful for the last 73 years through a combination of transparency and communication.
Here are some suggestions going forward:
- Formally recommit to the concept that the full Intergroup is responsible for approving all policy changes, annual budgets, and any significant changes to the budget throughout the year. The Board functions as a Trusted Servants, directly responsible to the Intergroup members.
- Provide the minutes of the Board and related Board Committees to the Intergroup reps each month. Archive those minutes in an accessible way for all members.
- Post Intergroup and Board minutes on the website.
- Additionally, include emails of all Board members in the Intergroup information packets distributed each month. Also, consider listing the members of the Board on the website, which is common practice for a nonprofit. Easy communication between Board members and Intergroup reps is important.
Clarification of Intergroup Responsibilities
The full Intergroup membership is responsible for setting and approving policy, approving the annual budget, and approving any substantial changes to the budget throughout the year.
The proposed budget for the following year is submitted to the Intergroup at the October meeting by the Treasurer, which allows the Intergroup reps to review the budget with their groups and bring questions to the November Intergroup meeting. The final revised budget is submitted for approval at the December meeting.
Any significant changes to the annual budget must be approved by the full Intergroup membership.
Any change in policy is submitted to the Intergroup and approved using the Intergroup Approval Process (see below).
Board input and review is an important step in the process to identify ways that policy changes would affect administrative and financial operations. The Board recommendations are submitted to the Intergroup reps, but the Board is not empowered to make unilateral decisions related to the overall budget or organizational policies.
CENTRAL OFFICE OPERATIONS
The Executive Director is responsible for the functioning of the Central Office. The Board and Board Committees provide support related to personnel and operations as well as recommendations to the Intergroup membership.
The Board is responsible for the hiring and supervision of the Executive Director.
Intergroups around the country have a variety of ways to raise money to support their organizations.
These approaches include major fundraisers and profits from bookstore sales, often by charging a premium for A.A. literature, especially the Big Book.
Instead of these approaches, the Intercounty Fellowship committed to funding Intergroup through direct group support. The combination of direct group contributions and group representation provides a successful focus on self-support and accountability.
Although Intergroup is an autonomous organization, the decision has been made by a vote of the entire Intergroup to recognize the experiences of General Service and to follow the General Service guidelines for individual contributions. As General Service increased the maximum amount of individual contributions over the years, Intergroup has voted each time to adopt the established guidelines.
Every few years when group contributions have fallen below the projected annual total, Intergroup representatives have met with their groups, explained the current financial situation, and managed to increase group contributions to keep the Intergroup solvent.
Intergroup Approval Process
Any proposed change that is significant or controversial is approved by substantial unanimity of the full Intergroup membership. This process is designed to allow widespread participation and strives to minimize controversy.
This process takes a minimum of three Intergroup meetings and is designed to foster open communication with the groups and create substantial unanimity.
Any Intergroup member can propose a motion for consideration to be included during an upcoming Intergroup meeting.
- At the first reading of the motion, there is a discussion and a vote is taken to accept or not accept the motion for full consideration. This is not a vote on the substance of the motion, just an agreement that the Intergroup is interested in formally reviewing the motion.
The Intergroup reps take the motion to their meetings for discussion.
- At the following Intergroup meeting, questions and input from the groups are discussed and the motion is amended or clarified as necessary.
The amended motion is taken back to the groups for review and a group vote.
- At the third meeting, the motion is presented to the Intergroup for a vote. Following the vote, the tradition of minority opinion is observed and dissenting members have an opportunity to express their views.
If requested by any dissenting member, the vote is taken again. If substantial unanimity is achieved, usually defined as a ⅔ approval by the membership, the motion passes.
If the motion is not approved, it can be revised and resubmitted and a subsequent meeting.
If a motion is still highly contentious by the third meeting, it is better to continue discussion rather than force a vote, even if it is likely to get ⅔ approval. The health of the fellowship is our primary objective.
A Brief History
The Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous was formed as a nonprofit organization (501(c)3) to provide support and services to Alcoholic Anonymous groups in the nine Bay Area Counties.
For many years, the Intercounty Fellowship comprised a handful of members without direct representation by the groups.
Over time, each county formed its own local Intergroup organization. The original Intercounty Fellowship now represents groups in the counties of Marin and San Francisco.
When General Service was officially formed in 1955, there were discussions about how to incorporate Intergroups and Central Offices into the General Service structure, but it was decided that Intergroups were autonomous organizations.
Intergroups do not have a direct relationship with General Service. There is an organization of Central Office Managers that work together and meet annually. General Service does send representatives to these meetings.
In 1993 a new set of bylaws was created to expand representation to every registered group.
Every group listed in the Meeting Schedule could designate an Intergroup Representative.
Every representative was a member of the Board, meaning the Board comprised 30-60 members (note: which was unwieldy).
The Central Office Committee (COC) was an Intergroup Committee. Members were elected to the COC annually in June.
The COC met with the Central Office Manager each month and provided support for issues related to the Central Office, bookstore, and general operations.
Because every member was a Board Member, many administrative matters had to be reviewed and approved in the monthly Intergroup meetings, which was often time consuming.
A Bylaws Committee was formed to update and revise the bylaws.
This project took the entire year. The revised bylaws were approved at the end of 2011.
The new bylaws redefined the Intergroup as a membership organization.
An Executive Board was created to replace the COC and empowered to oversee the administrative issues related to the organization including personnel, accounting, and operations.
This allowed the general Intergroup membership to focus on membership services, including Teleservice, PI/CPC, accessibility, the website, The Buzz, The Point, and fellowship.
The Executive Committee was not created as a governing body; they are trusted servants serving the members. Their role is to fulfill the administrative responsibilities of the nonprofit, provide support to Central Office operations and to make recommendations to the full Intergroup on pending matters.