to Start a Meeting

The following are general guidelines for starting and maintaining a new meeting.   Intergroup is here to help you with the resources necessary to get started, keep it going, address issues that arise, and help ensure the meeting survives.   You are not alone.  While starting a meeting can be challenging, the rewards of knowing you were instrumental in founding it, is truly amazing.

    Each meeting makes its own decisions on policy in keeping with the 12 Traditions. The Traditions provide guidelines for group conduct just as the Steps provide guidelines for individual recovery.
    A group needs a safe place to meet. Groups have found space in recovery centers, churches, schools, or hospitals at reasonable rents. Some meetings have started in someone’s home, but usually found the need to move into a larger, “neutral space” within a few months.  A good place to start is by finding facilities that already host other 12 step groups.  An easy way to find those facilities is by going to the websites of the other programs.  This process will tell you who is already 12-step friendly. 
    If possible, you may want to get a commitment from two or three other program people to show up for a few meetings to insure the new group’s early survival. Meetings registered with the ACA WSO (For Registration Form –  will be published in our online Meeting Directory which will help people find the meeting. The Connecticut Intergroup may also have local meeting directories or call centers that can help new members find your meeting.
    Each meeting provides opportunities for service which keeps the meeting operational. See below for suggested Meeting Officers and their duties.
    This packet contains a Sample Meeting Format. You may also refer to the ACA Fellowship Textbook for other samples.
    Crosstalk is interrupting, giving advice, or making comments about another person’s sharing. It is also talking to someone or making distracting noise during sharing time. In ACA, we don’t crosstalk. When others listen to us, just listen, our reality, our truth, our ideas, our feelings, our self-image, our beings are affirmed. When we focus only on our own recovery (keeping out of other people’s), we are taking responsibility for our own lives. We do this by presenting all statements in the “I”, first-person, form.
    Anonymity allows us to share our feelings and to experience an “Identity” apart from a “label”. “Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here,” is a good rule to follow in creating a safe place to share our feelings and recovery without fear of gossip, retaliation, or of our anonymity being broken.
    Each meeting determines the books, flyers, or pamphlets appropriate to its literature table as each meeting is autonomous. In keeping with Tradition 6, “An ACA group never endorses, finances or lends our name to any facility or outside enterprise lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” Always keep the Newcomer in mind and select appropriate literature to provide ACA information to any new member.
    Ours is a program of attraction, not promotion. If ACA meetings already exist in the area, you may want to distribute a flyer announcing your new meeting at them. If they don’t, you may want to distribute flyers with permission at other 12-Step meetings and invite a few close friends.


These guidelines are provided for your easy reference. Each meeting is autonomous and can modify, change or delete guidelines as the group majority sees fit.


Guidelines For New Meetings

  1. Meeting Secretary –
    1. Registers meeting with the local Intergroup and Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization (ACA WSO) office.
    2. Sends meeting information changes (new location, new officer, etc.) to ACA WSO and the Intergroup.
    4. Ensures meeting room is set up and cleaned up.
    5. Welcomes Newcomers. Greets newcomers before meetings, talks with them after the meeting and provides New Member Packets accordingly, unless otherwise delegated.
    6. Is responsible for the unity and safety of the meeting:
    a. Hold business meetings.
    b. Limits time of sharing by timer or other means.
    c. Help ensure “no crosstalk” rule.
    7. Announces service opportunities at least one (1) week in advance of the opening and facilitate the election process for new or established service jobs.
    8. Presents the Secretary’s Report/Announcements during meeting.
    9. Fills in or helps find temporary replacements for other services positions as needed.
  2. Meeting Treasurer –
    1. Collects and records 7th Tradition donations.
    2. Pays meeting expenses (rent, coffee, etc.).
    3. Reimburses members who present receipts for refreshments, literature, copies, chips, etc.
    4. Keeps a “prudent reserve” (usually 1 month’s normal meeting expenses).
    5. Sends group approved donations to the ACA intergroup, and World Service Organization offices.
    6. Gives the financial status of the meeting to the members of the meeting as designated by the meeting format (weekly, monthly, etc.).
  3. Literature Chairperson –
    1. Displays literature at each meeting (sets up literature table, etc.).
    2. Replenishes all depleted literature (buys books, makes copies, etc.).
    3. Cleans up and puts away literature at the end of each meeting.
    4. Presents all receipts to the meeting Treasurer for reimbursement.
  4. ACA Intergroup Representative –
    1. Attends the local Intergroup meetings.
    2. Makes concerns and questions of meeting known to the Intergroup.
    3. Continue to offer support to the Intergroup or communicate service needs to the meeting.
    4. Distribute information collected to the meetings (events, news, literature, etc.).
  5. Other possible service opportunities –
    Greeters, set up room/clean up room; Speaker Coordinator, Timer, Coffee person, Cake person, Chip person, etc.



    This is the vote of the meeting fellowship on matters affecting the group. In ACA all power rests with the members of the Program, not in “trusted servants.” Every member may vote. Any decision reached is to be, as much as possible, a reflection of the will of the group and a reflection of the spirit of our fellowship, not merely a majority vote. For “Substantial Unanimity” to exist, every member needs to be considered and as close as possible to a unanimous vote needs to exist. If there is substantial disagreement on the issue, more information and discussion may be needed before “substantial unanimity” can exist. The issue is then tabled until the next Business meeting and discussed again. If considerable disharmony continues, the issue may be dropped in order to maintain the unity of the meeting (Tradition 1).
    Members, who have an opinion on an issue that is in the “minority,” have the right to present their concern at their business meeting.
    A Business Meeting, generally held monthly after a regular meeting or as needed, is the format used to determine meeting policy on issues such as:
  4. Election of officers
    2. Changing time/date/location/focus of a meeting
    3. Meeting format
    4. Timer/sharing issues
    5. Discussing literature/book policies
    6. Smoking/non-smoking issues
    7. Financial reports
    8. Organizing special activities
    9. Having the presence of children allowed at a meeting
    10. Possible violation of The Traditions by member(s) of a meeting
    11. Possible violation of the safety of a meeting
    12. Using the 7th Tradition to fund activities
    During the announcements, a member may request a “Business Meeting” to discuss an issue. The issues to be discussed may be announced briefly with no discussion in the regular meeting. A business meeting is scheduled as soon as possible by the group (after the next meeting or at some later date). All members should have as much advance information and/or lead time necessary to prepare for a business meeting. For elections the business meeting might be announced one to four weeks in advance, for lesser issues, after the next regular meeting may be appropriate.
    It is not recommended to try to get the group conscience during the “Secretary’s Announcements”. Attempts to do so often result in a rush job and resentment of those who come to share, not to discuss business issues.

The Secretary chairs the meeting. Each issue to be voted on is announced during the Secretary’s Report of the regular meeting. During the Business Meeting, the issue is discussed, possible solutions are presented, and a vote is taken. A majority of those in attendance sets the meeting policy. If someone complains about insufficient advance notification during the Announcements of a regular meeting, then the group takes a “group conscience”: to determine if sufficient advance notification was given. If most feel they were given sufficient time and data, the Traditions have been served and the policy stands.