Fundraising conflicts with the expressed and adopted definition of the phrase “fully self-supporting” from Tradition Seven, which states, “all expenses are to be liquidated by individual contributions”. Our founders wished to be very clear. Fundraising activity interferes with our faith that a God of our understanding will direct and provide for our fellowship if we follow traditions. Practicing tradition is our path to a higher power and true unity.
Fundraising activities divert time, resources, intention and focus of individuals and groups from our primary purpose as stated in Tradition Five. Extraordinary time and energy are put into making events “successful” rather than purposeful.
When fundraising generates monies, controversy results concerning “money, property or prestige”. The traditions are unequivocal about the danger to unity of these subjects. Prudent reserves may become inflated and committees dependent upon fundraising events are pressured to raise more funds for bigger and better events. This further leads us away from the spiritual focus of our fellowship and our primary purpose as stated in Tradition Five.
Fundraising activities in meetings changes the atmosphere in meetings so necessary to our primary purpose of carrying the message to the newcomer. Intimidating, enthusiastic or manipulative sales behaviours are not supportive of our relationship to the newcomer. Inaccurate impressions of our program and purpose are made to newcomers and non-addict visitors. Some members of our fellowship will only attend some meetings if they can promote fundraising events, a significant diversion from our primary purpose.
Fundraising diminishes individual member’s and group’s abilities to effect change or voice discontent with any committee by the practice of with holding funds from the “basket” or donations from the group. Committees are often substantially financed by fundraising allowing them to ignore any diminished funding from the “basket”. This principle created by our tradition’s founders is inherent in the 7th Tradition and is a right granted to individual members.
Fundraising promotes governance rather than service, which is a clear contradiction expressed in the Tradition Two. Committees may decide on activities supported by fundraising which may have no relation to the collective group conscience. Majority democratic votes are used by committees often to rationalize this behaviour. Democratic votes, while useful are not to be confused with, nor are they the equivalent of, the spiritual concept of the conscience of the fellowship. Governance of this sort can also justified by the notion that what we are doing is “good” or “necessary”—euphemisms for “the ends justify the means.” Governance is organizational self will and blocks the effect of “a loving God as he may express himself in or group conscience”, central to the 2nd Tradition.
Fundraising permits the receipt of outside contributions to the funding of our fellowship, precisely prohibited by our 7th Tradition. There is no way to establish membership at the time of sale of goods or services and some activities such as raffles, lotteries, auctions of donated merchandise and resale of outside event tickets skirt legalities and does associate our fellowship with outside enterprises.
Fundraising encourages our membership to miss the underlying spiritual experiences inherent in the phrase “fully self-supporting”. Simplicity, faith, generosity and responsibility are for many, necessary experiences required to have changed lives, becoming fully contributing members to our fellowship and to society as a whole.
Various fundraising activities encourage our membership to continue the self-centered behaviour of “giving only if there is something in it for me”. This does not contain the underlying spiritual principles of generosity, faith, selflessness and “giving freely of what we have found,” inherent in the principle of self- support of Tradition Seven.
Social events once designed to promote recovery, fellowship and a sense of belonging, all worthy contributions of fellowship to the goal of unity, have changed from activities designed to celebrate the freedom of recovery to events with the primary purpose of fundraising. This often excludes members from fellowship activities who see fundraising activity contrary to many of the traditions.
For obvious practical requirements and to ensure fullest participation in fellowship events, entire fellowship support is required. This support is simply measured by the willingness of individual member contributions to fund a particular service. No financial support for a particular event or service is one indication of the expression of our collective group conscience. Funding from the fellowship donations helps to avoid the creation of committee events that a particular local area may not be large enough to support or indeed even desire. Funding of events by fundraising thought to be ” good” are not a substitute for informed group conscience, the spiritual essence of Tradition Two and our collective path to a higher power.
Fundraising activities conducted in the group setting change our group to a “business” activity rather than a “spiritual entity”. Our founders of the traditions cautioned in the creation of Tradition Five that business and spirituality should not be mixed, that discussions of money should be kept to a minimum, that we embrace the notion of corporate poverty and that we be ever vigilante in matters of money. Beware. They are seldom as emphatic as when discussing the subject of money and the 12 step fellowship.
Is your Group’s Fundraising efforts taking your fellowship in a different direction?
Does your Area’s fundraising efforts circumvent the ‘power of the purse?’
If your group withholds contributions from your Area in an effort to exercise its “power of the purse,” should your Group’s GSR communicate that decision with the Area Delegate?