PI Committee Startup & Service Structure
PI Committee startup & service structure are important elements when beginning a new public relations work group . The following information is extracted from the 1998 Draft PI Handbook and deals with what to do and how to grow a newly assembled work group or committee for PR projects. It also covers funding and budgeting.
If you were just elected to the position of area PI subcommittee chair, and are excited about serving the fellowship by carrying our message of recovery to the public, you may have a couple of questions on your mind. What do I do now? What should be my first project? How can I interest more people in serving on the committee? What’s a budget? Do we need guidelines? What about an agenda for our first meeting? What should I put in my report to the next ASC? These are all good questions, and we’ll address them in this section of the website.
The text of this topic covers several pages. On this page you will find “What Do I Do Now?”, “Committee Growth”.,
First, don’t panic. Relax. We do our service the same way we do our recovery, one step at a time, one project at a time. One should first look at the needs of the area, and decide which one is the most important and time-sensitive. That one should be worked on first.
In some areas, the recovery meeting list is the number one priority for their PI committee. If that is the case in your area, make a project plan to create or update their meeting list. Once the meeting list is printed, you can use its project plan as a tool for other projects. Figure out what the next project will be and start planning it.
You can start by researching what has been done before. Find previous trusted servants on the PI subcommittee to give you information and suggestions. Look for archived materials such as reports and other documentation. Even well-developed regional and area PI subcommittees go through periods of inactivity and may not have much for you to start the PI subcommittee.
But don’t lose hope, you can bring excitement and satisfaction in building a new PI subcommittee!
- Attracting people to the PI subcommittee will always be high on your priority list. Here are a few suggestions to get more NA members on your committee:
- Work hard and accomplish projects. People are always attracted to a committee that gets things done.
- Make PI service attractive in announcements at meetings. People want to serve on a committee that is fulfilling our primary purpose and carrying the message in concrete ways. They don’t necessarily want to be part of a committee just because “it needs support.” Share what the PI subcommittee has done, is doing and will do in the future.
- Personally invite NA members to join your committee. Although announcements are very important, it is often more effective to tell someone face to face how much he or she is needed, and about the exciting ways the PI committee is carrying the message. A personal invitation makes individual members feel important. Besides, they are!
- Choose a consistent time and place to hold the subcommittee meeting. Members need to have confidence that the PI committee meets regularly, at the same time and the same place, just as they expect of NA recovery meetings. Some committees list their meetings on recovery meeting lists.
The most important thing to keep in mind when working on your committee’s structure, guidelines, and procedures is to keep it simple. Remember, the more we talk about policy and procedures, the less time and energy we have to carry the message. Here are a few suggestions and reminders; they will be discussed at length in the remainder of this section.
The Public Information Subcommittee Chair is ultimately accountable for the results of all PI projects. Our Fifth Concept states, “For each responsibility assigned to the service structure, a single point of decision and accountability should be clearly defined. It is important to remember that the chairperson is the person who has the responsibility to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This means that he or she must manage projects and their follow-ups actively to ensure that delegated tasks have been completed properly and on time.
Each project, or portion of a project, should have one person who is responsible for its completion. Each person on the committee should know exactly the scope of his or her task, and its deadline for completion. If two people are assigned the same task, failure may result from two possible scenarios: first, they might disagree on exactly how to accomplish the project properly, or second, the task is not accomplished successfully simply because each of them thought the other was going to do it. Keep it simple.
Two-way communication should always be open. Encourage each person on the subcommittee to speak his or her conscience. It is very helpful, however, to remember to listen actively, without making judgments or becoming upset. Disagreements may still occur, but through mutually respectful discussion, differences can usually be resolved.
Make decisions by consensus whenever possible. We work together as a group. Everyone’s input is helpful and necessary. The more perspectives available on an issue, the better that issue can be understood. Thorough discussion helps us to come together as a group and learn from each other. We become more committed to each other when we know that each person’s thoughts, ideas and opinions are vitally important to the committee.
Starting a new PI subcommittee is a process, not an event. The first meeting is just the beginning. It’s important that everyone on the subcommittee be kept actively involved during the process.
Some items to include in the guidelines are:
- Statement of purpose
- The Twelve Steps
- Twelve Traditions
- The Twelve Concepts of NA Service.
- Committee structure (leaders, members & voting)
- Responsibilities officers and members
- How decisions are made
- How often the committee meets
(Several samples of PI Committee guidelines are available in the PI section of this website.)
As soon as the PI subcommittee agrees within itself that its guidelines are finished, the guidelines are then sent to the subcommittee’s ASC or RSC for approval.
If guidelines for your committee are already in place, you won’t have to spend a great deal of time and energy to create them. Remember, guidelines are supposed to describe the way the PI committee actually functions. They should help, not hinder our ability to carry the message.
If changing or adding to the guidelines will help the committee do its job better, go ahead and change them. However, it is generally not a good idea to try to make the guidelines an exhaustive set of specific rules which describe every situation that could possibly come up. Have faith, keep it simple, and get on with the business of carrying the message.
The most important thing to keep in mind when working on structure, guidelines, procedures is to keep it simple. Remember, the more we talk about policy and procedures, the less time and energy we have to carry the message.
The First Meeting
In some places the ASC will elect the PI subcommittee chairperson. In other places, the PI subcommittee will elect its own chairperson.
Once the chairperson has been elected, the frequency, time, day, and location of the regular subcommittee meetings can be decided by group conscience.
Adopt guidelines for your subcommittee. See the suggestions later in this chapter. Several samples are also available in the PI Resources section of this website; write your own, or modify some from neighboring areas. Further discussion on guidelines continues in the next section.
An Area Service Committee is responsible for establishing and supporting a well-organized, informed PI subcommittee. The PI subcommittee, under guidance and direction of the ASC, should establish guidelines and develop a contingency plan to respond to all requests for information from individuals, agencies, or media within the geographical boundaries of the ASC.
The Chair is the single point of accountability for the work of the subcommittee. Some subcommittees select a different representative to make reports or to be the conduit for information to the ASC or Regional PI Subcommittee.
Communication should always be honest and open. Decisions be made by consensus whenever possible. Time should be set aside at each meeting to discuss the Traditions and Concepts and their relationship to PI service.
It’s good to get a consensus on what PI projects the new subcommittee is interested in doing. You may find it best to plan projects at your second meeting however. Starting a list pf projects at your first meeting will help in keeping the excitement alive for the next meeting. Each project, or portion of a project, should have one person who is responsible to get it done.
If you are starting a Regional PI Subcommittee there are additional considerations to keep in mind.
When starting a Regional PI Subcommittee, it becomes necessary to think in terms of representation from the Area PI subcommittees.
ot every Area may be able to actively participate in the Regional PI Subcommittee, so it is very important for the Chair and Vice Chair of the Regional PI Subcommittee to work closely with the RCMs from the Areas not represented at the Regional PI Subcommittee.
Some Regional PI Subcommittees allow a vote from each Area, while others allow anyone actively participating to vote. Some Regions have separate PI and Phoneline Subcommittees, while many have only a Regional PI subcommittee with participants from both Area PI and Phoneline subcommittees (if the Area has separate subcommittees). Your subcommittee or its RSC needs to decide what best suits your needs. Regional PI Subcommittees are formed by the RSC and are funded by, and accountable to that RSC, not to the Area PI committees.
The PI committee chair is usually required to submit a report to the area or regional service committee. Even if it isn’t required, it is still a good idea. This keeps the service committee and the groups informed about what the PI committee is doing. Sharing these experiences can also help our committees learn and grow, allowing the possibility for feedback and additional direction. A typical report should contain the following items:
- What the committee planned to do since the last report.
- What the committee actually did and who did it.
- What the effects were.
- What resources were used – money, literature, volunteers, etc.
- The problems or obstacles we encountered.
- How the committee solved them.
- What the committee plans to do before the next meeting.
- The status of on-going projects not already reported on.
- Where and when the next PI committee meeting is scheduled.
- A description of service opportunities available.
- A “thank you” for supporting the PI committee
Funding and Budgeting
In the best of all possible worlds, all the funding for our service work would come from our Seventh Tradition. Individual members contribute to their group, and that money is eventually passed on to the service committees that are directly responsible to those they serve.
The reality is that many PI subcommittees rely on their members’ contribution of personal resources to fully realize their overall goals. How much and what an individual gives is their own decision. However we do not and should not contribute more than we can afford for our own personal well being.
The primary purpose of the PI committee is to carry the message of recovery in NA to the public and, ultimately, to the addicts who still suffer. It is not the purpose of PI to raise funds for NA. PI committees must never accept donations from organizations or individuals outside of NA.
However, area or regional PI committees sometimes raise funds for a specific PI project. For example: one area has a picnic in the park each year to raise funds for a billboard. Another area has a “breakfast for books” fund-raiser in which each person who comes to the breakfast (which, itself, is self-supporting) buys one or more Basic Texts . These books are subsequently donated to the PI and H&I subcommittees for use in their work.
If fundraising is being considered for a PI project, it is advisable to read the World Services Bulletin #21, The Generation of Funds and the Seventh Tradition in Narcotics Anonymous, first before proceeding so that all members of the PI Committee are clear about the issues at hand.
The PI committee does not accept funding from any group or individual in NA. All funds come through the Area Service Committee or Regional Service Committee. Fund-raising activities should only be undertaken with permission of the ASC or RSC. The Activities subcommittee will occasionally hold a function to raise funds for the PI committee.
Developing a Budget
If the PI committee had a budget in the prior year, look it over and evaluate it. Some question to answer are:
- Did the committee complete all of the projects it had planned?
- How did the amount budgeted to the various categories compare to what was actually spent?
- Is the committee planning to do more, less or about the same number of projects as it did during the prior year?
Take each project that your committee is planning and estimate the expenses which you expect for each one. Some of the expense categories that you might list are:
- Printing or copies
- Phone bills
- Professional event registration
It is especially important to remember the following when preparing our budgets and considering the issues of funding:
- PI committees are not autonomous, they are directly responsible to the service committee they serve and ultimately to the groups of NA.
- We must keep accurate and detailed records, receipts, and provide regular written financial reports to the committees we serve.
- We must carefully consider all spending decisions, taking care to manage NA funds responsibly.
- We should discuss financial guidelines with our committee’s treasurer, and follow these guidelines.
Once your committee has established a financial plan for the projects it intends to do in the upcoming year, the service committee funding your PI efforts will need to approve it.