Tradition 9. Our groups, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
In order to accomplish our goal as a fellowship, carrying the message to as many people as we can who need the help of S-Anon, we need structures within which we can function to achieve that goal. The entire S-Anon service structure exists for the sole purpose of helping the groups to help people (Traditions Five and Nine). The S-Anon service structure provides a framework for members to volunteer their time and skills in the service of the S-Anon fellowship as a whole. Although separate, the Traditional and Legal service structures operate simultaneously and are designed to complement each other. Each service structure has unique service positions, and the S-Anon fellowship is best served when these two bodies work in harmony (Concept Seven).
Some might look at our Ninth Tradition and say to themselves, “Why do we need all this material that describes the service structure of S-Anon at every level—local, area, regional, and international?” At every level of service we strive to “Keep It Simple” and function with as little organization as possible. We must, however, keep in mind that as soon as we come together to form an S-Anon Family Group, we accept the responsibility for adhering to the Twelve Traditions of S-Anon. In order to accomplish our goal as a fellowship, i.e., carrying the message to as many people as we can who need the help of S-Anon, we need a structure within which we can function to achieve that goal. The S-Anon service structure may seem unrelated to the more urgent concerns we discuss in our local groups. But soon we realize that “someone” must have created the literature we use. “Someone” must be making sure that the telephone is answered at the World Service Office. We may wonder, “Where does the money go that groups are asked to donate to support the World Service Office?” “Who makes sure that the Trustees are conducting the legal affairs of the fellowship in accordance with S-Anon’s Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service?”
The purpose of the material in this Service Manual is to provide some answers to questions like these, and to show that each member and each local group is a vital part of a worldwide fellowship (Concept Four).
The Traditional service structure follows the pattern that has worked for other Twelve-Step fellowships, placing decision-making authority in the hands of the Area Delegates who represent local groups, and other members of the World Service Conference (WSC) (Concept One). As depicted in the graphic below, Traditional authority in S-Anon flows from the individual groups toward the decision making that takes place at the WSC and is defined by the WSC Charter. This process assures each local group that its concerns and opinions are taken into consideration. The Legal service structure, defined in the Bylaws, consists of members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) Regional Trustees, the World Service Office Executive Director, the BOT Officers and the Chairs of the BOT Standing Committees (Concept Two). S-Anon is a legal entity, a 501c3 corporation, and as such is governed by U.S. and Tennessee state law. The BOT and WSO fulfill the legal and regulatory requirements. In summary, the graphic below shows both service structures as a whole.
Groups within each Area are entitled to be represented by an Area Delegate, and each region is entitled to be represented by a Regional Trustee. Areas (states or provinces) send one Area Delegate (AD) to the World Service Conference (WSC). There are presently 55 Areas: the 50 states (except California, which has 2 Areas—North and South), Canada (Central Eastern, Western), the Phone Meetings, and Online Meetings. The ultimate goal is to fill as many AD seats as possible so that the voice of the groups can be more clearly heard.
Some members have found that as soon as our recovery is on solid footing, and as our gratitude for the S-Anon fellowship increases, we want to give back some of what we have been given. We ask you to explore the possibility of using your skills and talents to serve the S-Anon fellowship beyond the group level. Members have found this service work has a very real potential to enhance your personal recovery. Ultimately, the S-Anon service structure begins and ends with you. You can be there for the next person, as someone was there for you. The willingness to serve is one of the most important qualifications, so please feel free to contact your Area Delegate or Regional Trustee through the World Service Office and join us! We welcome and need your participation.
NOTE: The S-Anon service structures, both Traditional and Legal, are works in progress. We are learning as we grow, and the need for change makes itself apparent on a regular basis. Even if you are not in a position to actively participate in a Traditional or Legal service position, a well-informed fellowship is better able to make decisions for the good of S-Anon as a whole. Understanding how our fellowship works is part of being well informed. Our hope is that we will update this Service Manual on an ongoing basis so that it accurately reflects the most current information. Please check with the WSO for the most up to date documents.
The Board of Trustees invites you to familiarize yourself with this Service Manual, the S-Anon service structure, and consider becoming actively involved, as your circumstances permit. We promise it will be an opportunity for growth and a very rewarding experience.
Concept 4. Participation is the key to harmony.
Last Updated September 2018
Relationships of S-Anon Service Arms
In 2009 the Board of Trustees adopted a document titled the “Relationships of S-Anon Service Arms.” These are some statements quoted verbatim from the S-Anon World Service Conference Charter, the S-Anon Board of Trustees Bylaws, the S-Anon /S-Ateen Service Manual, and the Al-Anon/Al-Ateen Service Manual. These statements are particularly relevant to the relationships between four service arms – The World Service Conference (WSC), the World Service Office (WSO), the Board of Trustees (BOT), and BOT Standing Committees. This document is offered by the Board of Trustees (Appendix xx) to help clarify the relationships by compiling references from diverse documents, thereby making the material more available for your review.
Many members have some Twelve-Step experience outside of S-Anon, and it is particularly important to note the following. S-Anon’s service structure is modeled on that of Al-Anon, but our differing circumstances showed us that their structure needed to be adapted for our unique needs. Therefore, Al-Anon and S-Anon have different service structures. The two major differences are:
• According to Al-Anon’s Concept Eleven, the Al-Anon World Service Office, and thus, their [paid] Executive Director, plays a much more extensive operational role than is possible for the S-Anon [paid] Executive Director, given the size and financial resources of S-Anon.
• Al-Anon’s standing committee chairpersons report to Al-Anon’s Executive Director, and the Al-Anon WSO [paid] staff includes one staff person to assist the chairperson of each standing committee. S-Anon’s standing committee chairpersons report to the S-Anon Board of Trustees. WSO staff may assist BOT Committee Chairpersons, but there is no dedicated S-Anon WSO staff for the Committees.
This leaves S-Anon’s BOT to play a much more operational role than does Al-Anon’s BOT. The S-Anon BOT not only oversees but also participates in committee activities. As we use Al-Anon literature regarding the Concepts to understand how the Concepts apply to S-Anon, we need to be aware that Al-Anon’s policy statements do not always apply verbatim to S-Anon.
We frequently need to change the phrase “Al-Anon Executive Director” to “S-Anon BOT” or “S-Anon Executive Committee” in our readings.
In summary, in all references examined:
The S-Anon Board of Trustees (BOT) is ultimately responsible and approves all committee work and operating policies affecting the Legal S-Anon structure; all committees report to and are overseen by the BOT as a whole. Policy decisions affecting the S-Anon fellowship as a whole are brought to the annual World Service Conference (WSC), with the understanding that “… the Board shall reserve the right to decide which of its decisions may require referral to the Conference” (WSC Charter, Article X., Section E). Please see Part 3 for more information on the WSC process.
Work done by BOT committees is done independently, but final review and approval of the implementation of the committee work rests with the BOT as a whole.
Interaction of the Traditional and Legal Service Arms
The Traditional (Area Delegates) and Legal Service Arms (BOT Members) of S-Anon cooperate throughout the year whenever necessary; a joint conference call may occur semi-annually in February. Both service structures officially interact at the annual World Service Conference (WSC) generally held on the Friday before the start of the July S-Anon International Convention. Members of the WSC include the Area Delegates, BOT Officers, Regional Trustees, Standing BOT Committee Chairs, and the Executive Director of the World Service Office. The purpose of the World Service Conference is to provide a forum where the issues and policies affecting all S-Anon and S-Ateen groups can be discussed and informed decisions can be made with all members of the fellowship having the potential to be represented.
Any individual member, group, or Intergroup is welcome to submit one or more motions through their Area Delegate or Regional Trustee for consideration and possible submission to the WSC. The decisions made by the WSC are brought back to the fellowship through the same channels of communication. Motions can be submitted to the WSO anytime between August 1 and March 1. Delegates and other WSC members receive motions that will be on the agenda for consideration by the first week of May so that all registered S-Anon groups may be given the opportunity to provide feedback to their Area Delegate. Motions are also posted on the S-Anon website prior to the WSC. Presenting, discussing and voting on motions at the WSC ensures that S-Anon members have a voice regarding issues that may affect the fellowship.
Also as part of this interaction between the Traditional and Legal service arms at the WSC, the Delegates and the Trustees hear reports from the Area Delegate Assembly, the BOT Chair, the WSO Executive Director, and the BOT standing committee chairs. After reports are given, motions are presented, and discussion and voting on issues that may affect the S-Anon fellowship as a whole take place. Minutes of the current WSC and all previous WSCs are available on the S-Anon website. For more detailed information on the World Service Conference, please refer to Part 3 of this Manual.
Updated December 2020