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What Makes AA Clubhouses Different

Clubhouse meetings are different than other venues such as churches or schools. They are properties maintained outside of AA, usually under a non-profit charter such as a 501c. This means they typically have a board, separate expense accounts, and ongoing costs that standalone meetings don’t have.

However, they are unique in that they can provide space for twelve-step meetings throughout the day.

Let’s look at what separates clubhouses from traditional meeting venues.

Clubhouses Are Separate Properties and technically not part of AA

Since AA Traditions do not allow the institution to accumulate property, clubhouses are run separately, usually as a non-profit. This means they have leadership through a board, and board members are traditionally AA members who are voted in for a rotating duration.

Many people think AA owns the property, but this is not the case technically. The 12 Traditions warn that property can veer AA into all sorts of trouble, where personalities can clash for power and prestige. So clubhouses are separate entities, even though they focus solely on providing space for twelve-step meetings.

The board is composed of attendees who are in good standing. They meet quarterly or monthly as part of voting on matters that affect the club. Any pressing issues, such as budget concerns, are also discussed.

You Don’t Need to be a Club Member to Attend

Clubs are just properties that house meetings. You don’t need any special membership to attend meetings at a clubhouse. So the individual meetings that gather inside the clubhouse are not exclusive, no different than other venues.

Besides meeting in the same place frequently, clubhouse meetings are on the usual topics, such as the Big Book, Open Discussion, and literature meetings. The meetings don’t make a distinction that they happen to be in a clubhouse. Meetings run like any other kind of meeting like any other venue.

Come as you are. Signing up for club membership is optional. The meetings will feel familiar to meetings at other venues you’ve attended, even though they are in a dedicated building.

Clubhouses House Different Kinds of 12-Step Groups

Some clubhouses have charters that allow them to conduct only AA meetings. Others allow different kinds of twelve-step groups, such as Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, or Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA).

If you look up a meeting from your source, it will point you to that kind of meeting. Looking up a meeting on an AA directory, for instance, will usually only show AA meeting times that occur at the clubhouse, not the other kinds of meetings.

Clubhouses Maintain Their Expense Accounts for Various Upkeep Costs

As separate entities, clubhouses have various costs that arise as part of the property upkeep. These include taxes, property maintenance such as new water hears, insurance, and custodian clean-up.

Therefore, the board maintains financial accounts that aren’t part of any single meeting, and it is a separate account devoted only to the upkeep of the clubhouse. The account is only used for the essentials of the clubhouse maintenance rather than social activities or outreach.

Funding Usually Comes from Voluntary Membership

The funds for the expenses have various sources. The most common is through membership. Attendees can register to become members, which entails a recurring fee. The fee can be thought of as an ongoing donation to the clubhouse.

They may also take a certain percentage from the meeting basket. Clubhouses usually allocate a certain amount to the group that collects the donation to use the funds as they see fit and keep a percentage for the clubhouse upkeep.

Clubhouses Can Have Their Own Rules and Restrictions

Clubhouses can ban unruly members from the property and set up their own rules. For instance, they might limit the maximum number of people allowed in the meeting (such as to meet the fire code). They may designate specific areas for smoking. Or they can ban members who have disrupted meetings, been violent, or harassed other members.

The clubhouse board usually decides on the rules to keep the property safe, welcoming, and in line with city regulations.

While it may bother some attendees that certain people or groups of people can be banned from the property, there’s usually a good reason, and often it’s only for a certain time frame, such as a few months, rather than permanent.

Clubhouses Must Abide by the Property Rules of the City They Reside

Speaking of city regulations, clubhouses have to maintain them at all times. Usually zoned in residential areas, the club has to abide by the zoning regulations for their municipality.

The most common infractions that neighbors complain about are:

  • Noise ordinances.
  • Fire code (too many people).
  • Parking that blocks main thoroughfares.

These rules should be respected so that the clubhouse doesn’t incur any fines from the city.

Clubhouses Have Meetings Daily, All Day, and not Weekly like Church Venues

Church and similar venues usually have meetings that occur less frequently. They only meet weekly most of the time, so you don’t get to see members as often. Clubhouses, however, have standing meetings every day, where you usually see regulars frequently.

The nice thing about clubhouses is you usually show up, and there’s bound to be a meeting soon. You can meet with others who are waiting, clean the premises, or generally try to be of service before the meeting starts.


Clubhouses are distinct properties that are not managed by AA. A group of elected board members runs the club, who carry out management duties, such as expense management, custodial work, and membership drives.

Maintenance funds are kept separate from the meetings that reside in the clubhouses, and attendees run individual meetings independent of the clubhouse.

Clubhouses can decide on their own rules and must stay within the city code where they reside. The most significant benefit is that they house meetings around the clock, so you can pick a convenient time.

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