Thoughts on Investing
When I think about my personal finances, I think about having: enough money on hand to pay on-going bills; some kind of a reserve fund for emergencies (often
three to six months monthly expenses); and enough money for future retirement. I need to make sure the latter category is invested in a way that the money will grow.
Well, there are some analogies to our personal growth and to group finances. Personally, if I want to change and become better in the future, I need to invest some time into the program. For myself, one meeting a week does not cut it. If I invest more time (e.g. two meetings a week) change comes about quicker, growth is compounded. If I “invest” or commit to a sponsor, then my growth is further compounded. If I invest some time in service work, my growth is compounded even more.
So … what about our groups and money? We need to conceptualize a budget so that so that our monthly expenses can be paid. We need to have a reserve – our financial risks are less than that for an individual or family, so three months is probably more than adequate. And finally, part of our group’s expenses, should be investing for the future: i.e. the districts, areas, and World Service — the parts of the organization that help keep Al-Anon vibrant and plan for the future.
What about this investment for the future? Well we need keep our structure healthy. If we have a house, that means maintenance — fixing leaky faucets, replacing the roof when it leaks. If we want to have the house grow in value, we also spend money on upgrades—maybe new windows, upgraded kitchen, etc. For Al-Anon that means keeping our structure well funded: the answering services so that newcomers can find us, our districts and Northern IL area (that pays for such things as our web site, public outreach, and the out of pocket expenses for people doing that service work). Finally there is the World Service Office which works on new books, and provides guidance to all the areas. All of this is part of a group’s expenses.
When we put money in the basket at our meetings, we are indirectly doing service work – we are supporting the workers who do that. We are contributing to the future to help the number of Al-Anon groups, and people accessing recovery, to grow! So…in your group take time to make sure it is able to meet all these needs. Make sure that if the group’s reserve fund is too large, the money is instead moved toward investing in the structure and growth of Al-Anon.
And by the way, this article has been about the Seventh Tradition (“Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions),and Warranty One (“Sufficient operating funds, including an ample reserve, should be its prudent financial principle.”)
NIAFG Area Chairperson
Illinois North, Panel 55