HOW DOES “INTERGROUP” FIT INTO THE A.A. SERVICE STRUCTURE?

Following is an excerpt from “The AA Group” discussing Intergroups which should answer the questions:

What is an Intergroup (Central Office)? How Does It Function?

  • What is an Intergroup (Central Office)?

Your intergroup, or central office, is often where the still-suffering alcoholic first calls or shows up for A.A. help. Although local intergroups operate independently of A.A.’s worldwide service structure, they are a vital part of the Fellowship. In most areas, any group that so wishes can belong to the local intergroup, which is supported by contributions from its member groups. These contributions are purely voluntary.

In areas where it may not be practical to open a service office as such, groups sometimes set up joint committees for their Twelfth-Step efforts and activities, and use a carefully briefed central telephone answering service to take calls. Due to workload, a local service system of this type seems to work better if it is handled separately from the work of the area general service committee.

Most intergroups function with only one or two paid workers (some have none) and so rely heavily on A.A. volunteers for help. Many A.A.s have found that serving at intergroup-answering calls from alcoholics and doing what else needs to be done-greatly enriches their sobriety and broadens their circle of friends.

  • What Does an Intergroup (Central Office) Do?

An Intergroup or Central office is a vital A.A. service office that represents a partnership among groups in a community – just as A.A. groups themselves are a partnership of individuals. These offices are established to carry out common functions that are best handled by a centralized office, and it is usually maintained, supervised, and supported by these groups for their common interest. The office exists to aid the groups in carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Methods and goals vary from one area to another, but generally the intergroup or central office responsibility is to:

  1. Respond to phone or walk-in requests for help from alcoholics and, when appropriate, arrange for A.A. volunteers (listed with the office) to meet with and accompany them to an A.A. meeting.
  2. Maintain A.A. listings in local phone directories, handle phone and mail inquiries, and route them to local groups, thus distributing Twelfth-Step work on a geographical basis so that newcomers are assured of help.
  3. Distribute up-to-date meeting lists.
  4. Stock and sell A.A. literature.
  5. Serve as a communications center for participating groups-often issuing regular newsletters or bulletins to keep groups informed about one another.
  6. Arrange systems for groups to exchange speakers.
  7. Coordinate the efforts of intergroup committees.
  8. Sometimes provide information on treatment facilities, hospitals and halfway houses.
  9. Through PI and CPC committees, handle requests for information about A.A. from local news media, arrange local radio or TV programs about A.A., and furnish speakers for schools and non-A.A. organizations.
  10. Cooperate with local, district and area committees. (Some intergroups elect members to serve as area liaisons and welcome their participation in intergroup meetings.)
  11. Maintain communication and cooperation- but not affiliation-with the community and helping professionals in the field of alcoholism.

Copyright by AAWS as pamphlet P-16, “The AA Group…Where it all begins”, reprinted with permission.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. neither endorses nor approves this page.

The “Central Office” is the hub for the day-to-day activities of the groups within the Indianapolis Intergroup 8-county area.

  • The staff and volunteers typically answer 20 to 30 calls daily from local people and visitors including out-of-towners
  • The office coordinates 12th Step Calls; provides information and assistance to members, groups and committees; and acts as a clearing house for various questions from the general public.
  • Organizations such as schools, treatment facilities and employee assistance programs call to request speakers from AA.
  • Also at Central Office, contributions are received from the groups as part of their 7th tradition of self-support. Central Office also assists Group Secretaries in all matters of group business.
  • Intergroup’s Birthday plan records are maintained.
  • Further, meeting schedules are updated and printed, reports to the fellowship are compiled and printed.
  • Tickets are sold for upcoming AA events, and correspondence is answered.
  • The “group coverage boards” are maintained for the Corrections committee and the Treatment committee service commitments by month.
  • The subscription list is maintained for Sheets of Sobriety (S.O.S.). Would you like to subscribe – Onlt are available?
  • The website and links are continuously updated.
  • Central Office maintains a full stock of AA Conference approved literature, tapes and display materials. By purchasing needed items at the Central Office, groups help continue AA’s tradition of self-support. Central Office carries out the 12th Step and the 5th Tradition every moment of the day just by being available to those who need support.

You can read more about the role of an Intergroup as is relates to the General Service Structure of Alcoholics Anonymous in this excerpt from the pamphlet “The A. A. Group”.

There are Twelve (12) standing committees in Intergroup:

  • Special Events Committee – This committee coordinates all special events throughout the year, publicizes each one and documents each event for the use of the Committee in following years. This includes the Annual Banquet, and any other events as they may appear.
  • Correctional Facilities Committee – The Correctional Facilities Committee coordinates the work of the individual A.A. members and groups who carry the message of recovery to alcoholics in correctional facilities.
  • Treatment Facilities Committee – The Treatment Facilities Committee coordinates the work of the individual A.A. members and groups who carry the message of recovery to alcoholics in treatment facilities, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. It arranges volunteer groups to attend scheduled A.A. meetings.
  • Telephone Answering Committee – The Telephone Answering Committee coordinates individual A.A. members to answer telephones in their own homes or on their cell phones when the Indianapolis Intergroup office is closed.
  • Public Information Committee – (School Talks) The Public Information Committee carries the A.A. message to the Indianapolis and surrounding area communities through school, news media, civic groups, business organizations, clergymen, doctors, alcoholic treatment centers, hospitals, judges, and court programs. It handles requests by area schools and the media, as well as civic and business groups. It provides individual members to staff health fair booths and other entities as they may appear.
  • Sheets Of Sobriety (S.O.S.) Committee – Writes, assembles and edits the monthly newsletter called Sheets Of Sobriety (S.O.S.). The newsletter is provided digitally on the www.indyaa.org website free of charge.
  • Finance Committee – This committee reviews and oversees pertinent financial concerns, budgets, and accounting.
  • Nominating Committee – This committee seeks out individual A.A. members to stand for election on the Service Committee.
  • CPC Committee – The Cooperation with Professional Community Committee is to liaison with the professional community to further public awareness of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Development Committee – This committees purpose is to develop greater group representation at the monthly intergroup meetings.
  • Archives Committee – This Committee collects, categorizes, displays, and protects Indianapolis Intergroup’s historical AA documents and memorabilia.
  • Accessablities Committee – This committee makes A.A. available to all with special needs including, but not all: blind or visually impaired, deaf, confined to beds, confined to wheel chairs. They provide A.A. literature that is printed in Braille and large print or on CD, locate interpreters in American Sign Language when needed, and recruiting members to take A.A. into nursing homes, rest homes, etc..

In addition, there is a Service Committee numbering 8 people. There is one representative from the 4 designated areas of town (North, East, South, West). The Intergroup has a chair and co-chair on the committee, as well as the Service Committee Chair. The Central Office Manager is an ex-officio member.

Service Material from the General Service Office

A service piece for home groups, districts, areas:

Some of these discussion points were originally developed by an A.A. group and further developed by the trustees’ Literature Committee to be distributed by the General Service Office. While this checklist is intended as a starting point for discussion by groups, districts or areas, individual A.A. members may find it useful along with our co-founder Bill W.’s writings, a service sponsor if you have one and reflection on your own service experience. Additional information about the Concepts can be found in The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service and “The Twelve Concepts Illustrated” pamphlet. (The Concepts stated here are in the short form.)

Concept I: Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.

  • Does our group have a general service representative (G.S.R.)? Do we feel that our home group is part of A.A. as a whole and do our group’s decisions and actions reflect that?
  • Do we hold regular group conscience meetings encouraging everyone to participate? Do we pass that conscience on to the district, area, or the local intergroup meetings?
  • Is the “collective conscience” of Alcoholics Anonymous at work in my home group? In my area?
  • Where do we fit in the upside-down triangle of A.A.?
  • Are we willing to do what it takes to insure that our democracy of world service will work under all conditions?

Concept II: The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in its world affairs.

  • Do we have an understanding of the history of the General Service Conference (the “Conference”)?
  • What is a Conference Advisory Action? Does our home group’s G.S.R., D.C.M., area delegate report back to the group on the highlights of the Conference and Conference Advisory Actions?
  • Is our group meeting its wider Seventh Tradition responsibilities?

Concept III: To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A. -the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives-with a traditional “Right of Decision.”

  • Do we understand what is meant by the “Right of Decision”? Do we grant it at all levels of service or do we “instruct”?
  • Do we trust our trusted servants – G.S.R., D.C.M., area delegate, the Conference itself?

Concept IV: At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional “Right of Participation,” allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.

  • Do we understand the spiritual principles underlying the “Right of Participation”?
  • What does “in reasonable proportion” mean? Do we understand when it is appropriate for A.A. paid staff to have a vote at the General Service Conference or in our local service structure?
  • Do we expect that, because we are A.A. members, we should be allowed to vote at any group, even if we are not active members of that group?

Concept V: Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration.

  • Do we encourage the minority opinion, the “Right of Appeal”, to be heard at our home group, district committee meetings, area assemblies and the Conference?
  • What does our group accept as “substantial unanimity”?
  • Has our group experienced the “tyranny of the majority” or the “tyranny of the minority”?
  • Does our group understand the importance of all points of view being heard before a vote is taken?

Concept Vl: The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board.

  • Are we familiar with how our General Service Board (G.S.B.) Class A and Class B trustees serve A.A.? Are we familiar with how our other trusted servants serve A.A.?
  • Are we clear about the terms, “chief initiative” and “active responsibility”? Can we see a direct link to our home group?

Concept Vll: The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness.

  • Do we act responsibly regarding the “power of the purse?”
  • Do we realize that the practical and spiritual power of the Conference will nearly always be superior to the legal power of the G.S.B.?

Concept VIII: The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities.

  • Do we understand the relationship between the two corporate service entities (A.A. World Services, Inc., the A.A. Grapevine) and the General Service Board?
  • How can the business term “custodial oversight” apply to the trustees’ relationship to the two corporate service entities?
  • Does my home group subscribe to G.S.O.’s bimonthly newsletter Box 4-5-9? The A.A.Grapevine? Do I?

Concept IX: Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.

  • Do we discuss how we can best strengthen the composition and leadership of our future trusted servants?
  • Do we recognize the need for group officers? What is our criteria for election? Do we sometimes give a position to someone “because it would be good for them?”
  • Do I set a positive leadership example?

Concept X: Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.

  • Do we understand “authority” and “responsibility” as they relate to group conscience decisions by G.S.R.s, D.C.M.s and our area delegates?
  • Why is delegation of “authority” so important to the overall effectiveness of A.A.? Do we use this concept to define the scope of “authority?”

Concept Xl: The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualifications, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern.

  • Do we understand how the roles of nontrustee directors and nontrustee appointed committee members help serve and strengthen the committee system?
  • How do we encourage our special paid workers to exercise their traditional “Right of Participation?”
  • Do we practice rotation in all our service positions?

Concept Xll: The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.

  • How do we guard against becoming a “seat of perilous wealth or power?”
  • How do we practice prudent use of our Seventh Tradition contributions and literature revenue?
  • Do we insure the spiritual liberties of all A.A. members by not placing any member in the position of absolute authority over others?
  • Do we try to reach important decisions by thorough discussion, vote and, where possible, substantial unanimity?
  • As guardians of A.A.’s traditions, are we ever justified in being personally punitive?
  • Are we careful to avoid public controversy?
  • Do we always try to treat each other with mutual respect and love?

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. neither endorses nor approves this page.

Service Material from the General Service Office (also known as the Group Inventory )
These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in conjunction with a series on the Twelve Traditions that began in November 1969 and ran through September 1971. While they were originally intended primarily for individual use, many AA groups have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.

Practice These Principles. . .

Tradition One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.

  1. Am I in my group a healing, mending, integrating person, or am I divisive? What about gossip and taking other members’ inventories?
  2. Am I a peacemaker? Or do I, with pious preludes such as “just for the sake of discussion,” plunge into argument?
  3. Am I gentle with those who rub me the wrong way, or am I abrasive?
  4. Do I make competitive AA remarks, such as comparing one group with another or contrasting AA in one place with AA in another?
  5. Do I put down some AA activities as if I were superior for not participating in this or that aspect of AA?
  6. Am I informed about AA as a whole? Do I support, in every way I can, AA as a whole, or just the parts I understand and approve of?
  7. Am I as considerate of AA members as I want them to be of me?
  8. Do I spout platitudes about love while indulging in and secretly justifying behavior that bristles with hostility?
  9. Do I go to enough AA meetings or read enough AA literature to really keep in touch?
  10. Do I share with AA all of me, the bad and the good, accepting as well as giving the help of fellowship?

Tradition Two: For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

  1. Do I criticize or do I trust and support my group officers, AA committees, and office workers? Newcomers? Old-timers?
  2. Am I absolutely trustworthy, even in secret, with AA Twelfth Step jobs or other AA responsibility?
  3. Do I look for credit in my AA jobs? Praise for my AA ideas?
  4. Do I have to save face in group discussion, or can I yield in good spirit to the group conscience and work cheerfully along with it?
  5. Although I have been sober a few years, am I still willing to serve my turn at AA chores?
  6. In group discussions, do I sound off about matters on which I have no experience and little knowledge?

Tradition Three: The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.

  1. In my mind, do I prejudge some new AA members as losers?
  2. Is there some kind of alcoholic whom I privately do not want in my AA group?
  3. Do I set myself up as a judge of whether a newcomer is sincere or phony?
  4. Do I let language, religion (or lack of it), race, education, age, or other such things interfere with my carrying the message?
  5. Am I overimpressed by a celebrity? By a doctor, a clergyman, an ex-convict? Or can I just treat this new member simply and naturally as one more sick human, like the rest of us?
  6. When someone turns up at AA needing information or help (even if he can’t ask for it aloud), does it really matter to me what he does for a living? Where he lives? What his domestic arrangements are? Whether he had been to AA before? What his other problems are?

Tradition Four: Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.

  1. Do I insist that there are only a few right ways of doing things in AA?
  2. Does my group always consider the welfare of the rest of AA? Of nearby groups? Of Loners in Alaska? Of Internationalists miles from port? Of a group in Rome or El Salvador?
  3. Do I put down other members’ behavior when it is different from mine, or do I learn from it?
  4. Do I always bear in mind that, to those outsiders who know I am in AA, I may to some extent represent our entire beloved Fellowship?
  5. Am I willing to help a newcomer go to any lengths-his lengths, not mine-to stay sober?
  6. Do I share my knowledge of AA tools with other members who may not have heard of them?

Tradition Five: Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

  1. Do I ever cop out by saying, “I’m not a group, so this or that Tradition doesn’t apply to me”?
  2. Am I willing to explain firmly to a newcomer the limitations of AA help, even if he gets mad at me for not giving him a loan?
  3. Have I today imposed on any AA member for a special favor or consideration simply because I am a fellow alcoholic?
  4. Am I willing to twelfth-step the next newcomer without regard to who or what is in it for me?
  5. Do I help my group in every way I can to fulfill our primary purpose?
  6. Do I remember that AA old-timers, too, can be alcoholics who still suffer? Do I try both to help them and to learn from them?

Tradition Six: An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

  1. Should my fellow group members and I go out and raise money to endow several AA beds in our local hospital?
  2. Is it good for a group to lease a small building?
  3. Are all the officers and members of our local club for AAs familiar with “Guidelines on Clubs” (which is available free from GSO)?
  4. Should the secretary of our group serve on the mayor’s advisory committee on alcoholism?
  5. Some alcoholics will stay around AA only if we have a TV and card room. If this is what is required to carry the message to them, should we have these facilities?

Tradition Seven: Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

  1. Honestly now, do I do all I can to help AA (my group, my central office, my GSO) remain self-supporting? Could I put a little more into the basket on behalf of the new guy who can’t afford it yet? How generous was I when tanked in a barroom?
  2. Should the Grapevine sell advertising space to book publishers and drug companies, so it could make a big profit and become a bigger magazine, in full color, at a cheaper price per copy?
  3. If GSO runs short of funds some year, wouldn’t it be okay to let the government subsidize AA groups in hospitals and prisons?
  4. Is it more important to get a big AA collection from a few people, or a smaller collection in which more members participate?
  5. Is a group treasurer’s report unimportant AA business? How does the treasurer feel about it?
  6. How important in my recovery is the feeling of self-respect, rather than the feeling of being always under obligation for charity received?

Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

  1. Is my own behavior accurately described by the Traditions? If not, what needs changing?
  2. When I chafe about any particular Tradition, do I realize how it affects others?
  3. Do I sometimes try to get some reward-even if not money-for my personal AA efforts?
  4. Do I try to sound in AA like an expert on alcoholism? On recovery? On medicine? On sociology? On AA itself? On psychology? On spiritual matters? Or, heaven help me, even on humility?
  5. Do I make an effort to understand what AA employees do? What workers in other alcoholism agencies do? Can I distinguish clearly among them?
  6. In my own AA life, have I any experiences which illustrate the wisdom of this Tradition?
  7. Have I paid enough attention to the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ? To the pamphlet AA Tradition-How It Developed?

Tradition Nine: AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

  1. Do I still try to boss things in AA?
  2. Do I resist formal aspects of AA because I fear them as authoritative?
  3. Am I mature enough to understand and use all elements of the AA program-even if no one makes me do so-with a sense of personal responsibility?
  4. Do I exercise patience and humility in any AA job I take?
  5. Am I aware of all those to whom I am responsible in any AA job?
  6. Why doesn’t every AA group need a constitution and bylaws?
  7. Have I learned to step out of an AA job gracefully-and profit thereby-when the time comes?
  8. What has rotation to do with anonymity? With humility?

Tradition Ten: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

  1. Do I ever give the impression that there really is an “AA opinion” on Antabuse? Tranquilizers? Doctors? Psychiatrists? Churches? Hospitals? Jails? Alcohol? The federal or state government? Legalizing marijuana? Vitamins? Al-Anon? Alateen?
  2. Can I honestly share my own personal experience concerning any of those without giving the impression I am stating the “AA opinion”?
  3. What in AA history gave rise to our Tenth Tradition?
  4. Have I had a similar experience in my own AA life?
  5. What would AA be without this Tradition? Where would I be?
  6. Do I breach this or any of its supporting Traditions in subtle, perhaps unconscious, ways?
  7. How can I manifest the spirit of this Tradition in my personal life outside AA? Inside AA?

Tradition Eleven: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

  1. Do I sometimes promote AA so fanatically that I make it seem unattractive?
  2. Am I always careful to keep the confidences reposed in me as an AA member?
  3. Am I careful about throwing AA names around-even within the Fellowship?
  4. Am I ashamed of being a recovered, or recovering, alcoholic?
  5. What would AA be like if we were not guided by the ideas in Tradition Eleven? Where would I be?
  6. Is my AA sobriety attractive enough that a sick drunk would want such a quality for himself?

Tradition Twelve: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

  1. Why is it good idea for me to place the common welfare of all AA members before individual welfare? What would happen to me if AA as a whole disappeared?
  2. When I do not trust AA’s current servants, who do I wish had the authority to straighten them out?
  3. In my opinions of and remarks about other AAs, am I implying membership requirements other than a desire to stay sober?
  4. Do I ever try to get a certain AA group to conform to my standards, not its own?
  5. Have I a personal responsibility in helping an AA group fulfill its primary purpose? What is my part?
  6. Does my personal behavior reflect the Sixth Tradition-or belie it?
  7. Do I do all I can do to support AA financially? When is the last time I anonymously gave away a Grapevine subscription?
  8. Do I complain about certain AAs’ behavior-especially if they are paid to work for AA? Who made me so smart?
  9. Do I fulfill all AA responsibilities in such a way as to please privately even my own conscience? Really?
  10. Do my utterances always reflect the Tenth Tradition, or do I give AA critics real ammunition?
  11. Should I keep my AA membership a secret, or reveal it in private conversation when that may help another alcoholic (and therefore me)? Is my brand of AA so attractive that other drunks want it?
  12. What is the real importance of me among more than a million AAs?

The AA Grapevine Inc.,
PO BOX 1980,
Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-1980