How your red kettle donations end up in AA meetings’ donation baskets.

A.A. Members don’t drink. Or A.A. Members drink. Or “don’t see it” reading upwards. But the entire quote is directly from A.A.Here’s how your red kettle donations also go into AA’s baskets.

The Salvation Army Santas are outside WalMart with a red buckets, ringing their bells, and part of that money goes towards drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs which rely on the 12-Step program, Alcoholics Anonymous. NBC’s Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on Today are urging viewers to help “Fight for Good” with the Salvation Army. We know Kathie Lee and Hoda promote the idea of drinking wine as early as 10 o’clock in the morning, with a 2014 Variety report quoting Gifford saying, “People just assume we are drinking wine the whole time, but the reality is most days it just sits there. Now, it’s my wine, thank you very much, It’s Gifft [the name of her wine]. So it’s very, very tempting for me. I have the chardonnay. Hoda has the red blend. But most days, it just sits there. It’s a prop, but because it’s sitting there, it sort of invites people to the party.”

Hard to tell by NBCUniversal’s employee benefits what kind of substance abuse treatment is provided, but it’s easy to see NBC’s drinking buddies, Kathie Lee and Hoda, are promoting substance abuse recovery through a Christian organizationa Christian organization, the Salvation Army, which claims those seeking help can “regain health and stability”; “By developing a personal relationship with God as provided by Jesus Christ, many residents learn to depend on God, rather than drugs or alcohol, for hope and relief.”

The woman on the far right is correct, members do not get paid. Members pay AA. OK, sure, there are no dues or fees but how else are you going to keep the meetings going without any money at all, especially when AA does not give the meetings any money and only accepts donations from members? Donations to places like the Salvation Army end up going towards services which provide “free” AA meetings.

So, donations to Salvation Army go towards recruiting new members for AA. Which is nice for AA because AA only accepts donations from AA members. AA will, however, accept outside agencies’ donations of people, the ones who will, if they stick with AA, will end up donating directly to AA. It goes against Salvation’s Army’s Christian ideals to associate with a non-Christian organization where members often substitute a belief in God with a belief in a potato or a tree and pray to it; The worst part about AA, though, is a not-so-secret culture of sexual harassment nicknamed “13-Stepping,” where old timers prey on newcomers. Certainly, the Salvation Army wants to avoid association with AA #metoo stories.

You have to sink pretty low to use minors and children to “sell” AA without properly trained adults and no safety rules.

In The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s article about fundraising- and let’s make the clear distinction that recruiting members to AA is the same as fundraising– UW Medicine fundraiser focused on obstetrics, gynecology and behavioral health, David Chow, said, “You would have a lot of people who could have a ‘me too’ story as it relates to their role in fundraising.” The article explains young fundraisers may be targets unlikely to know what is “normal” behavior by donors and might feel pressured to get results fast; “They are trying to prove themselves,” Arminda Lathrop, fundraising consultant, said.


Substance abusers are recommended Alcoholics Anonymous by the Salvation Army. AA, however, is “not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.” In other words, AA did not ask the Salvation Army for its promotion; then again, AA would not go out of its way to tell the SA to knock it off because it’s free advertising for AA, an organization that does not promote itself in press, radio or film.

Information from GuideStar, online site with non-profit profiles.

Turns out, there is a lot AA does not do:

What does A.A. NOT do?

  1. A.A. does not run membership drives to try to argue alcoholics into joining. A.A. is for alcoholics who want to get sober.
  2. A.A. does not check up on its members to see that they don’t drink. It helps alcoholics to help themselves.
  3. A.A. is not a religious organization. All members are free to decide on their own personal ideas about the meaning of life.
  4. A.A. is not a medical organization, does not give out medicines or psychiatric advice.
  5. A.A. does not run any hospitals, wards, or sanitariums or provide nursing services.
  6. A.A. is not connected with any other organization. But A.A. does cooperate with organizations that fight alcoholism. Some members work for such organizations – but on their own – not as representatives of A.A.
  7. A.A. does not accept money from sources outside A.A., either private or government.
  8. A.A. does not offer any social services, does not provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, or money. It helps alcoholics stay sober, so they can earn these things for themselves.

    Alcoholics Anonymous claims it is not a treatment even while they claim to be a treatment for tax purposes as a 501(c) (3).
  9. Alcoholics Anonymous lives up to the “Anonymous” part of its title. It does not want members’ full names or faces to be revealed on radio TV, newspapers or on new media technologies such as the Internet. And members do not tell other members’ names to people outside A.A. But members are not ashamed of belonging to A.A. They just want to encourage more alcoholics to come to A.A. for help. And they do not want to make heroes and heroines of themselves simply for taking care of their own health.
  10. A.A. does not provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc. ( Copyright © 1972 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.)

But WAIT! There’s MORE that AA does NOT do!

Alcoholics Anonymous does not have a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy. In fact, the safety cards available open with this disclaimer: “The General Service Office has made this optional statement available as an A.A. service piece for those groups who wish to use it.”  A long form version firmly keeps responsibility at the group level, not at the corporate level. Keep in mind, the AA organization literally claims AA is not organized and it is up to the individual groups to govern themselves.

Maybe if you can’t sue AA, you can sue your group chairperson? Or General Service Representative? Yet, since meetings use member donations to buy literature and pay rent and send the rest of the money to central office, which in turn uses that money to buy literature and pay rent and operate phone centers and send the rest of the money to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services… OK, the money is with the organization but the organization does not run the meetings. How can there ever be a sexual harassment lawsuit?

From the AA pamphlet Too Young? Seriously, who is this guy? Did this man go to 20 years of AA meetings while in prison for a murder he said he did while drunk?

In stunning contrast, the Salvation Army states: ” The Salvation Army takes the
safety of children, youth and vulnerable adults very seriously and conducts background checks and a training program called Safe from Harm to insure their safety. Ongoing volunteers who will be working directly with children, youth or vulnerable adults will be required to have a criminal background check conducted and attend training regarding work with these special populations. Safe from Harm training can be done by attending a class or completing an online course.”

000aastuff6Given the general lack of concern and organization of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Salvation Army needs to examine their willingness to promote AA given that AA’s practices go against the volunteer standards and policies of the Salvation Army. Major media outlets, such as NBC, need to be aware when promoting substance abuse treatment services that they are putting the general public at risk, especially minors and vulnerable adults (especially women). More especially after NBC fired Matt Lauer, the closest AA can get to doing that is by admitting their co-founder, Bill Wilson, was as bad as Matt Lauer and yet, AA uses the literature Bill Wilson wrote. That’s like training new Today show hosts based on manuals written by Matt Lauer.

Because AA members do not work for the Salvation Army, they do not need to follow their guidelines, and the Salvation Army faces no consequences because it was not one of their volunteers operating the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. What is the risk of one non-profit renting to another non-profit? If Salvation Army employs active AA members, is this a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t the Salvation Army offer a vast variety of support group options?

Perhaps this is a conversation Kathie Lee and Hoda can sort out over a couple glasses of wine.