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After Bill W‟s visit to Great Britain in 1950 a number of Big Books were shipped here. In a letter dated April 22, 1952 to the Chairman of the Pre-Foundation Committee, Bill said that he had “been glad to forego his own royalties”. He went on to say “My principal motive was that a Foundation be established in London and that it be placed in funds through book monies”. (The Foundation was to become GSO and GSB) No mention is made of what percentage was laid aside for royalties.
At the first General Service Conference in 1966, Wick, in the finance report stated “Then there was the Royalties Account of about £800”. This money came from royalties on the sale of the Big Book to which Bill W waived his right but stipulated that the money should be segregated and used at the discretion of the Board for the special purpose of the development of AA. This money had been used to finance the exploratory meeting held the year before to discuss the possible holding of a General Service Conference and to finance Bob‟s (Secretary) attendance at the Toronto Convention. “Some of the Royalty Fund was to be used to help pay for this first Conference…” At the same Conference, Bill H, had said that “one of the purposes of the money from the books was to capitalise the publishing of the Big Book in Britain”. He also said that “Bill W had waived his rights to royalties but asked for them to be used for special purposes and not for ordinary expenditure”.
In the General Service Board minute of March 1972, the royalties reserve is described as “a free reserve which is shown separately in the accounts… Any expenditure made from this reserve will require Board authorisation and the movement in the reserve will be notified to the General Service Office in New York annually”.
The Board had researched the history of the Royalties Fund and felt that the principle established by Bill W should be continued. Following advice from our auditors, in March 1994, the Board approved the recommendation of the Finance Committee that the name of the Royalties Fund be changed to the Development Fund and that the setting aside of 8% of the selling price of Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and As Bill Sees It (Hard copies) should continue. Expenditure from the Development Fund must have Board approval and will be used to help and support the establishment of the Fellowship abroad.
Since 1983, the Development Fund has been used to help support the European Service Meeting and in the longer term the European Information Centre should be fully supported by voluntary contributions from the various countries of Europe. It is intended that the ESM should continue to strive to remain self supporting.
Over time the European Service Meeting developed to become self supporting and this call on resources from the Development Fund disappeared.
The Development Fund has been used in recent years to fund the setting up of an AA Service Meeting in Sub Sahara Africa which is following a similar path to that of the ESM. The SSASM was inaugurated in 2003 with the first meeting being held in South Africa and meets every two years. AA USA/Canada are co-sponsors of this Service Meeting.
Contributions are also made from the Development Fund to the International Literature Fund which supports the translation of AA literature into many different languages.
Recent contributions from the Development Fund:
A further £5,000 will be sent to the World Literature fund in early 2014.