Concept 8

Short Form:

“The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of over-all policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities.”

Long Form:

The Trustees of the General Service Board act in two primary capacities: (a) With respect to the larger matters of over-all policy and finance, they are the principal planners and administrators. They and their primary committees directly manage these affairs. (b) But with respect to our separately incorporated and constantly active services, the relation of the Trustees is mainly that of full stock ownership and of custodial oversight which they exercise through their ability to elect all directors of these entities.

Principle of the Concept:


One Thing You Need To Know:

Trustee Oversight Has 2 Primary Parts

Trustee Oversight Had 2 Primary Parts

1. They plan, manage and execute large matters of overall policy and finance, and…

2. They oversee both of our corporations (A.A. World Services, Inc. [which includes the General Service Office] & A.A. Grapevine, Inc.).

Trustees have the responsibility of ensuring good conduct of all our world service affairs.  Their attitude is one of custodial oversight instead of executive order. They are guarantors of good management as opposed to micro-managers.  The in’s and out’s of day to day operations are not for them.  They leave that up to those they elect to run the organization.  Their broad brush strokes strategically guide the entities they oversee.

from Twelve Concepts of World Service Illustrated

This Concept deals with the ways the General Service Board “discharges its heavy obligations,” and its relationship with its two subsidiary corporations: A.A. World Services, Inc. and the A.A. Grapevine, Inc. Long experience has proven that the board “must devote itself almost exclusively to the larger questions of policy, finance, group relations and leadership . . . . In these matters, it must act with great care and skill to plan, manage and execute.” The board, therefore, must not be distracted or burdened with the details or the endless questions which arise daily in the routine operation of the General Service Office or the publishing operations, including the Grapevine. “It must delegate its executive function” to its subsidiary, operating boards.

“Here, the board’s attitude has to be that of custodial oversight . . . . The trustees are the guarantors of good management of A.A. World Services, Inc. and the A.A. Grapevine, Inc . . . . by electing the directors of these service arms, a part of whom must always be trustees . . . . The executive direction of these functions is . . . lodged in the . . . service corporations themselves, rather than the General Service Board. Each corporate service entity should possess its own bylaws, its own working capital, its own executives, its own employees, its own offices and equipment.”

Bill draws from earlier mistakes by the General Service Board in trying to run the service functions directly and warns repeatedly against “too much concentration of money and authority.”

The text above is an excerpt from the A.A. conference approved pamphlet (P8) The Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated. Download your own copy of the full pamphlet.


  1. Do we understand the relationship between the two corporate service entities (A.A. World Services, Inc., the A.A. Grapevine) and the General Service Board
  2. How can the business term “custodial oversight” apply to the trustees’ relationship to the two corporate service entities?
  3. Does my home group subscribe to G.S.O.’s bimonthly newsletter Box 4-5-9? The A.A.Grapevine? Do I?

This checklist offered as part of Service Material from the General Service Office (SMF-91).  Download your copy of the complete checklist.