This guide was written specifically for the A.A. Cleveland District Office service area. Our primary focus for this material is on the Secretary. For an in-depth overview of the Group and it's functions, please see "The A.A. Group." For an overview of the Treasurer, please see "The A.A. Group Treasurer."

Congratulations on being elected as Secretary of your A.A. Group. You have been given a position of trust and responsibility by your group and we hope it will be a wonderful and rewarding experience for you. The Secretary is one of the most important rolls a member can take on within the group. This person is the Voice of the meeting, the Energy of the group and should be Positive in nature.

Secretary Training is designed as a handy information tool and suggested guide for an A.A. group secretary. It should help you learn the essential tools needed to successfully operate an A.A. meeting and to answer some of the basic questions you may have about your specific duties and responsibilities as Secretary of your group.

Never hesitate to ask the Cleveland District Office for help and always remember the Second Tradition which states, "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as he may express himself in our group conscious. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern."

Click on any of the items below to get started!

What is a secretary
The secretary should have a “reasonable period of sobriety,” which might mean two years in an area where A.A. is still young, four or five years in an older area. Some service in group or central office or general service is useful. So is some background in general office work — more and more, computer knowledge is helpful. An effective secretary needs to have a sense of order, and the ability to capture the essentials of what is happening at a meeting. The job is time-consuming and needs to be carried out on schedule, and the secretary needs to be sure that ample time is available.

Rotating positions is one of the most important principles in the structure and operation of a local group. When you find it is time to pass on this work of love to your successor, please inform the Cleveland District Office so we can update our mailing list, group information records etc., and so that we may welcome them.
Job of a group secretary
Your responsibilities can be many and may vary from opening the doors and making coffee to paying rent, cleaning up and closing up after the meeting. Most importantly, you are instrumental in symbolizing A.A. to the newcomer. Please, make them feel welcome.

A Secretary needs to be a responsible individual who is going to be committed and accountable to the Group. Like chairpersons, secretaries need to be good all-around group servants. For groups that have no chairpersons, they may perform the tasks associated with that position. While each group has its own procedures, the secretary is generally expected, but are not limited to the following:

  • Picking qualified chair people (in keeping with singleness of purpose) for their term of office if applicable.
  • Announce information concerning A.A. activities and events which should include sharing with Group members the mail (Central Bulletin) from the Cleveland District Office and other Groups.
  • Make sure business meeting & treas. reports are held regularly.
  • Maintain minutes of Group conscious / business meetings.
  • Maintain and update a strictly confidential file of names, addresses, and telephone numbers of group members (subject to each member’s approval); and know which members are available to visit still-suffering alcoholics (Twelfth Step calls).
  • Keep a record of members’ sobriety dates, if the group so wishes.
  • Maintain a bulletin board for posting A.A. announcements, events, bulletins and newsletters.
  • Make certain that the Cleveland District Office and all other service entities are informed (in writing) of any changes of address, meeting place or Group Officers.
  • Accept and assign call’s for 12-step help.
  • Share all mail including the monthly Central Bulletin with the group.
  • Train incoming Secretary & work with them during transition.
Group officers & representatives
The Officers of an A.A. Group can consist of as little as 1-2 people. But, basically, you'll need:

  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Coffee Maker
  • Literature Rep
Meeting formats
You should absolutely know the format (designation / type) of the meeting you are secretary of. If you are unsure, look online or in the meeting schedule book. The format will be directly to the right of the meeting name in abbreviation format.

  • Open (O) - Available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism. Nonalcoholics may attend open meetings as observers. This meeting type usually features one member of the fellowship sharing their life story and how the program has changed their life. Also known as a lead meeting.
  • Closed (C) - For A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and have a desire to stop drinking.
  • Limited (L) - Would be attended by alcoholics who may bring members of their immediate family ONLY such as their spouses, their sons and daughter.
  • Discussion (DS) - A group that has a member pick a topic or they read a passage from either the Big Book or the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous and then discusses that reading.
  • LGBT (G) - Stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
  • Big Book Study (BB) - A group that reads a passage from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and then discusses that reading.
  • No Court Papers (NCP) - Meeting does not sign papers from the court, probation office, family or otherwise.
  • Floating Format (FF) - Meeting format changes every x week or month.
Your group information
We absolutely need any changes with a group’s location, meeting times, officers (including addresses, phone #, etc...). It's very important to change immediately because:

  • It may be the only opportunity for someone to get to a meeting - may go drink.
  • Various 12-step calls.
  • Mailings (cost money for return mailings).
  • Verification of literature purchases (if we have no Treasurer contact information).
We ask that the Groups assign a long time member who attends their meeting regularly to receive the mail.

Meeting Schedule Book

If you know a meeting that has been disbanded or the time or the place has changed, let us know by updating the meeting or simply contact us so we can correct the information.

If you see any discrepancies in the book or online, please let us know so that we can check them out. Nothing is worse than sending a new person, a visitor or anyone to a meeting that is not there or moved, etc...

The meeting schedule book is updated quarterly (every 3 months), so it will take some time before members actually see the changes due to print delay and rotation of older meeting schedules. Of course, the website Find a Meeting search will always be current.
FAQ - What is the purpose of the group?
  • Provides and maintains a meeting place.
  • Schedules and holds meetings.
  • Provides coffee.
  • Carry’s the message of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Adheres to the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Collects seventh tradition and properly allocates and spends monies.
  • Stocks AA literature and schedules.
  • Answers calls for help.
  • Discusses and resolves group problems.
  • Sustains continuing contact with the rest of A.A. locally, through the Intergroup (Coordinating Council)/Central Office, Group’s District and Area Assembly; and Nationally through the General Service Office in New York.
FAQ - I have a problem with the group, what should I do?
Group problems are often evidence of a healthy, desirable diversity of opinion among the group members. They give us a chance, in the words of Step Twelve, to “practice these principles in all our affairs." Group problems may include such common A.A. questions as: What should the group do about “slippers”? How can we boost flagging attendance at meetings? How can we get more people to help with group chores? What can we do about one member’s anonymity break?
FAQ - What is an informed A.A. Group Conscience?
The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group membership and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of view, and the practice of A.A. principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind.

On sensitive issues, the group works slowly—discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view emerges. Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at a decision. The result rests on more than a “yes” or “no” count—precisely because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience. The term “informed group conscience” implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes.