For Members

Policy on Paid Advertising

Board-Approved Public Information Committee Statement on Paid Advertising


The Public Information Committee came to this statement based on communication with the AA General Service Public Information Committee, which provided documents (i.e., excerpts from the AA Public Information Workbook and from the Grapevine) stating Bill W's perspective on getting the word out about AA. Bill W's words included, "Public information takes many forms - the simple sign outside a meeting place that says 'AA Meeting Tonight'; listings in local phone directories; distribution of AA literature; and radio and TV shows using sophisticated media techniques.  Whatever the form, it comes down to 'one drunk carrying the message to another drunk,' whether through personal contact or through the use of third parties and the media." Also, in the task list of Suggested PI Goals in AA's PI Workbook, an item states: "Place a small (paid, if necessary) announcement in every district newspaper around the holidays."

In 1965 the Public Information Committee of the AA General Service was formed, and the conference established a clear over-all policy: "AA's sole objective is to help the still-suffering alcoholic. Always mindful of the importance of personal anonymity, we believe this can be done by making (our experience) known to alcoholics and to those who may be interested in the problem."

Also, in an October 1957 essay in the Grapevine, Bill W. wrote, "While word of mouth and personal contact have brought in many a newcomer, we can never forget that most of us are able to trace our chance for recovery back to our friends in communications - we read, or maybe we heard, or maybe we saw."

The Public Information Committee's proposed statement is as follows:

The FA World Service Public Information Committee makes the following statement regarding paid and unpaid advertising. We recommend allowing each individual group and Intergroup to make their own decisions about paying for advertising. However, the first effort should be made to secure unpaid advertising. Many TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, websites and outdoor advertising companies allot a certain amount of public service space to tax-exempt organizations such as Twelve Step programs. Wherever possible, seek free advertising or reduced-rate advertising at a non-profit (also known as 501(c)3) rate. Paid advertising should be in the form of a simple, informational and educational listing only in the format below:

Are You Having Trouble Controlling the Way You Eat?
call for Help or visit
(xxx) xxx-xxxx
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous


If Eating Has Become a Problem
call for Help or visit
(xxx) xxx-xxxx
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous  

There is a section for the PI Committee Liaison in the AA pamphlet "The AA Group" that says: “Most groups realize that alcoholics can’t come to A.A. for help unless they know where we are. Using many suggested methods ranging from personal contact to public service announcements on radio and TV, groups and their members reach out, working within the framework of Tradition eleven. Sometimes a small sign saying “A.A. meeting tonight” outside the meeting – place door points the way. And from A.A.’s earliest days, radio announcements and small newspaper announcements of A.A. meetings have been used to attract alcoholics in need of help.”

Decisions whether or not to use funds for public service advertising should depend on whether a local group or Intergroup has excess funds to spend on it. A group that cannot support itself financially or meet its donation commitments to its corresponding intergroups and chapters and to World Service should refrain from paying for advertising and instead contact the World Service PI Committee for assistance.