In 2003, an SAA member from San Francisco wanted to find a special way to show his gratitude for the work that was being done by the ISO in service to the fellowship and to the sex addict who still suffers. He invited other SAA members from the Bay Area into his home on a Saturday afternoon in November for the specific purpose of giving thanks to the ISO. Appropriately, the event became known as Giving Thanks I.
Each year the event has grown ever more successful in terms of proceeds, raising in excess of $7,000 the first year, $11,000 in 2004, $17,000 in 2005, $21,000 in 2006, and $23,000 last year.
Other local SAA fellowships are beginning to follow the Bay Area's example. Initial Giving Thanks events have been held in Bakersfield, CA ($710), Houston, TX ($14,242), and Minneapolis, MN ($288). Hopefully, more local SAA fellowships will follow suit.
Now that the Bay Area's example has been duplicated, no longer can it be considered a fluke or an aberration, especially when the event can be organized so easily. Here is the simple formula in (who could have guessed?) twelve steps.
Step One: One member gets enthused about doing what has been done in the Bay Area and in other areas, namely, setting aside an afternoon to hold a fundraiser to express gratitude for the work done by the ISO, which is SAA's international service organization.
Step Two: The enthused member makes an announcement at all the meetings he or she attends and asks for those interested in helping to see him or her after the meeting.
Step Three: Two or three other enthused members join enthused member number one and settle on a date and time for a planning meeting.
Step Four: The small informal committee meets and decides on a day about two months off, making sure it does not conflict with dates that might discourage participation, e.g., Super Bowl Sunday, April 15, July 4, or Thanksgiving Day weekend.
Step Five: Members of the committee announce the upcoming event at the meetings they attend. They also invite others to join the committee or to offer time and talent.
Step Six: The committee finds a place that will accommodate 50 or more people. In the Bay Area, different members have hosted the event in their homes. In Houston, the community room of the condominium in which a member lives was the venue.
Step Seven: Once the committee has found a place, one of its members designs and prints flyers, which the committee members make available at meetings and, if there is one, at the monthly intergroup meeting. (The ISO office can provide a sample flyer.)
Step Eight: This step is a big key to success: About a month to three weeks before the event, committee members begin making personal contact with other members by phone, by e-mail, and in person. These personal contacts are essential. Without them, success will be greatly diminished.
Step Nine: The committee arranges for food and beverages: deli trays of sandwiches, vegetables, fruits, cheese, chips, and dips and bottled water and canned soda. One member or a group of members usually donates these. Somebody provides coffee and cups, condiments, paper plates, toothpicks, plastic flatware, etc. (The ISO office can provide a letter for tax deduction purposes to those making these donations.)
Step Ten: The committee or the event host makes sure there is a table for the food and some chairs. As people come and go throughout the afternoon, many simply stand and talk. While it is a fundraiser, Giving Thanks is also about fellowship and friendship. If there is to be entertainment, keep it simple. In Houston, a member volunteered to play the guitar, often mingling with other members as he did so. One member added a little color to the occasion by bringing two vases of flowers. Be spontaneous. It's a party!
Step Eleven: Provide a big bowl in which to deposit cash, checks, and credit card slips. Yes, credit card slips. These are important. (The ISO office can supply samples.) On the flyer and when making announcements, it is important to say that all donations to the ISO are tax deductible and that a donation in any amount is welcome. Gifts will range from five dollars to the thousands. The important thing is to give something.
Step Twelve: Follow up at meetings with announcements about the success of the event (every event will be a success), expressing gratitude and inviting all to Giving Thanks II.