LETTER TO AA MEMBERS FROM THE GENERAL SERVICE OFFICE REGARDING COVID-19
March 9, 2020
The General Service Office (G.S.O.) has been receiving inquiries about how groups should respond to the COVID-19 (coronavirus). Groups and members are concerned about health and safety issues, and are looking for guidance on how to address this question.
The General Service Office is a repository of shared group experience and functions as a resource center for A.A. members and groups who are looking for the shared experience of the Fellowship. Providing guidance on health issues is outside the scope of the A.A. sharing that G.S.O. offers. However, we might suggest contacting your national, state/provincial and local health authorities for appropriate information. We do have some general experience to share regarding how some groups and members have begun to address this issue. Our collected experience suggests that talking about these issues before they arise can help a group be prepared to address them in a sensible and helpful manner and allow the group to continue keeping the focus on our common welfare and primary purpose.
Some groups have discussed making changes to customs at their meetings. Some examples have included: avoiding shaking hands and handholding; making sure meeting hospitality tables are sanitary; or suspending food hospitality for the time being. Regardless of group decisions, each individual is responsible for their own health decisions.
Some groups have considered contingency plans in case the group is temporarily unable to meet in person. Plans have included: creating contact lists and keeping in touch by phone, email or social media; meeting by phone or online. Providing members information for the A.A. Online Intergroup (www.aa-intergroup.org) may serve as an additional helpful resource. If a group isn’t holding its regular meetings, they may want to communicate this to local A.A. resources, such as the district, area and intergroup or central office.
G.S.O. has received inquiries about the A.A. events it coordinates throughout the year. Visit www.aa.org for up-to-date information regarding G.S.O./A.A.W.S. coordinated events. Please be assured that the health and safety of attendees is a priority. G.S.O. is closely monitoring relevant health advisories regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).
We hope this limited sharing is helpful.
LETTER FROM THE GENERAL SERVICE OFFICE REGARDING VIRTUAL PLATFORMS
March 19, 2020
The General Service of Alcoholics Anonymous (G.S.O.) U.S./Canada functions as a
repository for A.A. members and groups who are looking for the shared experience of
the Fellowship. As the global situation related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to
develop, we are fully committed to continue to serve as a resource center of shared
experience to help navigate this unprecedented public health emergency.
It is important to note the G.S.O. is not an authoritative body over our groups, nor does it
initiate rules or directives, as each A.A. group and entity is autonomous and decisions
are made through its group conscience. Providing guidance on health issues is outside
the scope of the A.A. sharing that G.S.O. offers. For anyone experiencing health and
safety questions, it is suggested they contact national, state/provincial and local health
authorities for appropriate information.
However, in response to the global outbreak, we do have some general experience
regarding how some A.A. groups and members have begun to address this issue. Many
are following ‘’social distancing’’ guidelines established by local, state, provincial, and
federal officials, while at the same time maintaining their recovery and attending digital
By attending digital meetings, groups can focus on A.A.’s primary purpose: to carry its
message of recovery to the alcoholic who still suffers. Many groups have
alerted local A.A. offices or hotlines if they are temporarily not meeting in their regular
space. Some groups have shared that they are utilizing digital platforms such
as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or conducting conference calls.
A.A. groups are also creating contact lists, keeping in touch by phone, email or social
media. Many local A.A. central/intergroup offices, and areas have added information to
their websites about how to change a meeting format from “in-person” to a digital
platform. A.A. in the digital age has certainly taken on a new meaning in these
We are here to help by providing a list of resources.
• General Service Office Website: www.aa.org
• Videos/Audios https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/videos-and-audios
• Read/Listen/ASL “The Big Book” and Twelve Steps/Twelve Traditions Book
• A.A. Archives and history https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/archives-and-history
o A.A.W.S. YouTube Channel
• A.A. Grapevine website: https://www.aagrapevine.org/
• Audio, digital, hard copy resources
• A.A. Grapevine YouTube Channel
• A.A. Online Intergroup: https://www.aa-intergroup.org/
• Understanding Anonymity: https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-47_understandinganonymity.pdf
LETTER TO AA MEMBERS FROM THE GENERAL SERVICE OFFICE REGARDING COVID-19 AND THE 7th TRADITION
May 12, 2020
Dear Conference members,
With so much happening over these past few weeks – including intense preparations for the 70th General Service Conference, committee meetings, board meetings, and other ongoing work in the office (in a virtual/telework environment) – the landscape across our organization seems to change every day.
Among these shifts have been the realities of our own financial situation. It’s no secret that
businesses and organizations from every sector have felt the economic impacts of this
global health crisis, and we are no different. As a result, due to steep declines over the past
two months in revenue from group contributions and literature sales, management and the
boards have increased our focus on costs and expenses of office operations.
To that end, on April 22, the General Service Office made a request to the Trustees’ Finance and Budgetary Committee and its chair, Leslie Backus, for an emergency drawdown of $3 million from the Reserve Fund. This request was due to the decrease in book sales and contributions caused by the global pandemic. After a review of the cash flow analysis, the committee agreed to forward the request to the General Service Board. On Thursday, April 30, the General Service Board approved the $3 million Reserve Fund drawdown. Over the past week the office has begun that process and will continue to access funds as they become liquid in our bank accounts.
The decision was made after reflecting upon the primary principle behind the prudent
Reserve Fund that A.A. has maintained for decades: “To provide the financial resources
necessary to continue the services of G.S.O. and the Grapevine in the event of emergency
or disaster… ” (The A.A. Service Manual, page S72). The coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic, especially in New York City and the downstate region, is a true public health
emergency. State and City regulations have restricted the operations of non-essential
businesses since March. Our office at 475 Riverside Drive has been shut down to the
nonprofit tenants since Friday, March 27, when we moved to 95% telework status for our
employees, and there are no immediate indications of when this will change.
Further, the unexpected financial situation brought on by the public health crisis has required several layoffs or temporary furloughs of workers in roles that can no longer be covered by salary continuation. While this has been an incredibly difficult decision, our goal and responsibility is to maintain a sustainable, responsive organization to serve A.A.’s needs and requirements.
In addition to the objectives noted above, we are now focused on providing support for our
General Service Conference, which will take place Saturday, May 16 to Tuesday, May 19.
We will be utilizing a virtual platform to conduct Conference business, and our team has
been demonstrating an “all hands on deck” approach to ensure that the event is successful
for the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. While this is not something we envisioned even a few months ago, I am so proud of the resiliency and incredible work that has gone into planning. More discussion and reports on G.S.O. and AA Grapevine finances will be shared with you at the Conference.
This information and all that will be reported at the Conference are intended to be shared
with the Fellowship, to keep the groups informed on Seventh Tradition funding of needed
services, so that a true group conscience can be achieved in this difficult time for all.
Sincerely, in love and service,
G Gregory Tobin
LETTER TO AA MEMBERS FROM THE GENERAL SERVICE OFFICE REGARDING A VIRTUAL CONVENTION
TO: Members of the General Service Conference
FROM: Julio E., 2020 International Convention Coordinator
SUBJECT: 2020 International Convention Virtual Site – Coming Soon!
As most of you are aware, in the spring the decision was made to cancel the 2020 International Convention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this was a difficult decision, and a disappointing outcome for those planning to attend, we are confident it was the most appropriate action to ensure the health and safety of our members. There is good news, however, as we now have an opportunity to bring together many of the special components that make International Conventions memorable — by utilizing a virtual platform. For this purpose, we are planning a 2020 International Convention digital site. Throughout the month of July, the 2020 International Convention will come alive online to provide a new experience that includes A.A. speakers; a digital “Carrying the Message Pavilion”; sharing from nonalcoholic friends of A.A. and special guests linked to our history; a presentation of the 40 millionth Big Book; a new Archives video on the history of A.A.; an AA Grapevine video created for the Convention, and more.
The virtual experience will also help us reaffirm the International Convention’s goals, which include rededicating ourselves to the primary purpose of A.A.; sharing the success and growth of the A.A. program around the globe; and letting the world know that A.A. is alive, flourishing and available as a community resource internationally.
We will be up and running on aa.org by July 1, 2020, to coincide as closely as possible with the original Convention date, and the site will be available throughout the entire month of July. Please stay tuned for updates on aa.org.