By self-sustaining and rejecting outside contributions, 12-step groups protect the community structure and basic spiritual foundations. In Tradition 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) it says: “Each group should be completely self-sufficient and reject outside contributions.”
One of the tenets of the 12-step support group is that each member is responsible for their own recovery. The first part of Tradition 7 makes it clear that responsibility is extended to the members of each local group when they pass the basket for contributions towards paying rent and maintaining their literature library.
If the group collects more than is necessary to cover their expenses, the group can contribute to their World Service Office, which also follows this tradition by not accepting outside contributions. Although such contributions have decreased in recent years, they are important in getting the message across around the world.
Reject external contributions
The second part of this tradition addresses the problem that the community does not deal with external issues or conflicts that might arise from accepting “external input”. If such contributions were accepted, the group and its members might feel obliged to make concessions to the individual or organization making the donation. By rejecting these contributions, the community remains independent of external influences. It also removes the need to constantly track donor funding and government grants.
As the internet became a part of everyday life, members of 12-step groups naturally gathered online to support one another.
Many (but not all) of the 12 level online support groups have been able to adhere to Tradition 7 and remain self-sustaining by keeping outdoor advertising off their websites and online meetings.
To take responsibility
AA member Althea points out the many benefits of this tradition for the alcoholic, the group, and for AA as a whole. Many come to AA on the ground with no work or shelter. No payment is required at AA, but as the alcoholic sober up and progress in other areas of his life, he can add a post to the cart at the meeting. It makes him responsible for the first time (for many) to take care of himself and give something back to the group.
Those in AA who have been with the program for years might think they have contributed enough and leave the burden of financial responsibility to the newcomers. The AA co-founders understand this and Tradition 7 protects the program from outside help. The program shows how an alcoholic who was socially irresponsible was held accountable.
The member’s dignity is also built by caring for the needs of the group. AA Member Tigger notes, “Some of us have been ‘so pathetically drunk’ for a long time. Some people felt like we were just looking for a handout in life. Maybe some of us were, but no more. Now we’re helping with ours Pennies in maintaining our own sobriety. We only have to rely on ourselves and each other for the most precious gifts: dignity and sobriety. ”
AA member Chuck notes, “We did not take money from outsiders, no matter how kind or well-intentioned. W.H.O. stands for We Help Ourselves.”