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The 7th Tradition

Where does the money go?

Every C.A.  group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

Where does the money in the basket go?

You are like many of us when we first came into the rooms of Cocaine Anonymous – we put our money into the basket and then we saw that one person whom we thought was the boss or president of C.A. take the money and put it into an envelope or into his or her pocket or pocketbook.  At first, this did not seem to be a big deal; then, we came to a point at which we wondered what happened to the money in the basket:

Does the speaker or chairperson get paid?

Does the treasurer keep the money?

Who makes the coffee?

Does the coffee-maker buy the coffee with his or her own money?

What’s this business about rent?

Isn’t C.A.  part of this church or hospital?

Many of us asked these questions as well. 

To explain all of these questions, and many others, let’s follow “the money in the basket.”

The coffee-maker is usually the first person to show up.  He or she buys the coffee, sugar, milk, and snacks prior to the meeting and sets up before everyone arrives.  The meeting begins and, usually before the break, the basket is passed and donations are collected.  The treasurer takes the donations and reimburses the coffee maker for the costs of the coffee, sugar, milk, and snacks.  Then, usually after the break, the treasurer gives a report on the total donations collected and the expenses paid out.  If there is money left over, the treasurer keeps a record of it, and is accountable to the group.

What happens to the leftover money?

Cocaine Anonymous is not affiliated with the hospitals, churches, or halls where our meetings are held; we pay rent and/or make a donation to these institutions for the use of their space.  This arrangement is mandated by our preamble, which states that we are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution.

Rent money comes from the donations put into the basket.  The meeting’s treasurer is responsible for paying the rent on time and reporting this to the group.

So is that it?  Are rent and coffee our only expenses?  Where do the key chains, coins, and literature come from?

After the break, we usually hear the secretary read some announcements, point out the literature table, and then give out key chains and coins.

Image by Katt Yukawa

Meetings purchase literature, coins, and key chains from the C.A. World Service Office, usually through their local District or Area. 


Your meeting secretary is responsible for keeping track of these items.  When the supply of any of them gets low, he or she puts together an order and gives it to the treasurer. 


The treasurer then takes money from the donations in the basket and gives the order form and money to your meeting’s Group Service Representative (GSR). 


The GSR takes the order form and the money to the monthly District or Area meeting and gets the literature, coins, and key chains to bring back to your meeting.  Methods vary, but this is the way in which many meetings operate.

Let’s now review a meeting’s typical expenses:

  • Rent

  • Coffee, milk, sugar, snacks, etc.

  • Key chains, chips and literature

After all these expenses are paid, it is suggested that your group keep enough of the leftover donations to cover two months' worth of expenses.  This is called a prudent reserve.

What is a prudent reserve?

A prudent reserve is a “savings” to be used when donations to the basket are scarce.

How much of a reserve is prudent? So what happens to the rest of the money?

This is where the 70/30 plan comes in.  With the 70/30 plan, 70% of your meeting’s remaining funds are donated to your District or Area meeting and 30% are donated to the C.A. World Service Office .

Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the addict who still suffers.  We’ve found that nothing diverts us from our primary purposes like problems of money, property, and prestige.

What do the Districts/ Areas do with this money?

Your District and/or Area exists to serve you and is responsible to your meeting.  Your District and/or Area also has expenses that can include a hotline’s telephone bill or answering service and the publishing of meeting schedules.  It also purchases literature, coins, and key chains and keeps enough of them on hand for the groups it serves.  Districts and Areas must also keep a prudent reserve.

So what does the C.A. World Service Office (CAWSO) do with this money?

The CAWSO is responsible for public relations, the distribution and publication of all literature, world directories, newsletters, world conference material, and meeting starter kits.  These are just a few of the many responsibilities of the CAWSO.  The CAWSO is there to serve you as well as your Group, District, and Area.

Cocaine Anonymous features limited terms at all levels of service.  According to Tradition Two, “Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” Once our term of commitment has expired, we step down and a replacement is elected. 


Even our Trustees step down after serving for 4 years.  There are no leaders in C.A.; we are all trusted servants.  Our service boards and committees have been created to help the addict who is still suffering; to give back what we have freely received.

So, the next time you put your money into the basket, think of all the things that are being accomplished and how YOU are helping the addict who is still suffering.


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