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GC - Top 3 Appendix D MEMBERSHIP GROWTH Updated Version to end of
Discussion Aug/05

NOTE:  These appendices are a mildly edited list of the discussions.
Beyond the topics as suggested topics there was little consensus on
actionable items hence the stream of thought discussions listed below.
I would suggest that within there are some very good ideas that need
fleshing out.

#2)A.   MEMBERSHIP GROWTH
        A1.      Fiskr: How can membership responsibilities/rewards be tweaked
for maximum participation? Same with the rules structure.
        A2.      Kevin: What is the "target market" of the SCA, and how do we
better reach it? Does this mean changing our core product?
        A3.      Bertrik: I think the biggest worry the society faces is its
aging. (also part of Demographic topic)
        A4.      Katriona: In Northshield, we are definitely facing the aging
issue.
        A5.     Ghita:  Improve membership benefit for membership dollar paid.

The membership growth question should be dear to my heart, given my
academic work, but the 'target market' question to me is already
established as well as we can (but would be subject to change if we
could do a more widespread survey - which would be a great idea).  We
are largely appealling to the same taste culture that includes science
fiction, computers, gaming and (to some extent) neo-pagans.  Like all
groups we face major changes due to demographic shift, but our case is
complicated by our multi-national shift. While the SCA started off as
purely USA and quickly moved to Canada it now embraces a much larger
number of countries and the membership proportions are continuing to
shift away from the USA.  Many of these countries (if we are to believe
studies) have preferred ways of doing things that mean US models do not
work well there (1).

I think that part of the need of the Society is to continually be out
there selling itself. In general we don't do this well. There is no
overall plan. No overall study of our effectiveness. No continuity.  In
general I think it can be agreed upon that the healthiest SCA
populations are those that have a good recruitment scheme. What
suggestions to the BOD can be made to address this? Some would suggest
that their is no need to have a top down leadership on this issue. I
would counter that an overall plan or guideline is there to help local
groups. it is up to the local group as to whether they will fail or
succeed.

Personally, I doubt that this needs to be a priority.  Our enjoyment of
and effective use of our Society experience is not predicated on the
need for continual recruitment.  I am perfectly happy if no new people
join up and am unconcerned if they do.
 From my experience, we have the opposite problem; managing the growth
that DOES occur.  We have baronies and Principalities that are larger
than thrice the minimum for elevation to the next level.  Kingdoms that
functioned well at 500 are overwhelmed at 1500.  What used to be
successful and enjoyable events with a large group of friends have
become stressed out gatherings of strangers.
To alleviate this, I'd like to see a maximum point at which a
Principality remains a Principality; say twice minimum Kingdom level.
Granted some Principalities could not survive such a mandatory
elevation, but for those I'd suggest a reconfiguration of their borders
so as to create two Principalities from the one or reducing the total
area/populace by de-annexing so that another Principality might be
formed from the offshoots.

YOU have the opposite problem. That is not true Society wide. This is a
recipe for disaster. To force a successful group to either elevate when
it is not prepared to do
so, or arbitrarily split up its ancient and traditional territory, can
only create conflict where conflict is not necessary. I suggest you
examine the history of such mandatory changes before compelling them.

Which does not lessen the fact that the problem exists.  For those
areas that have no problem with managing growth, no remedy need be
applied.  But a remedy DOES need to be available for areas that DO have
a problem. Not so.  The remedy need not be applied to "successful"
groups.  We may, however, be using different definitions of
"successful."

My point in this arena is that once a branch reaches a certain size, it
is time to either elevate it to the next branch status rung of the
ladder, or split into two (or more) viable groups.

This is something I largely agree with, although I was once of the
bigger is better persuasion.  The one catch in this is that the group
breakdowns often would be along social/economic lines as well as
medieval interests, and not our current geographic structure. The
primary advantage of the geographic structure is the ability to
determine the actual number of members resident within the group.  This
theoretically is needed as a measure of the group's ability to
function.  If we instead used the criteria of whether the group was
successfully functioning (or not) then the rule wouldn't be needed (if
indeed it currently is) and we could have groups that share the same
physical space.
  I also think that member/recruitment issues are a local thing, and
except for the revenue aspects shouldn't concern the coporation much.
Also the target market will vary somehat from group to group, as being
a social organization, the targets should be compatible with the
existing group's social identity.

Who would define successfully functioning and how would it be defined?
What would happen if the group is not successfully functioning?  Seems
to me that your option could really open the doors to abuse of power
unless "successfully functioning" could be determined by measurements
as objective as the number of members is. As a DoD employee who had to
put up with very vacuous standards, I would prefer to be measured by
whether my group had the basic number of members, turned in all
required reports by a specific designated date, held x number of
events, and submitted a bid that met all requirements for at least one
kingdom event per year, if required.
  I am not familiar with any kingdom that has goldfish and cats as
members; are you?  I would rather take my chances with objective
measurements any day rather than try to function at the whim of
management where brown-nosing is the path to success.

I have no real disagreement with this.  My overall point is that
counting members on the basis of geographic region is not a necessary
measurement to determine the success of a group. I have been told that
people bought pets memberships in order that their branches could meet
membership requirements.  I have no reason to believe its not true, but
it may well not be.  I am, however, not aware of any kingdom that has
certified the humanity of all its members either.  ;-);-)
I agree, and by your expectations, having "turned in all required
reports by a specific designated date, held x number of events,  and
submitted a bid that met all requirements for at least one kingdom
event per year, if required" would meet that objectivity.  Its not
clear what having X number of members residing in certain zipcodes
actually adds to that.

I work at the Buffalo Chip (http://www.buffalochip.com) during the
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Five years ago there was a bumper sticker
vendor there promising to have a bumper sticker on any topic or theme
you could think of. She had tens of thousands of stickers,
alphabetized, indexed and cross-referenced. I asked her for an SCA
bumper sticker. She took off to the back room and rummaged for several
minutes before triumphantly returning with "the only one I have!"
Two color, black on white. The left side has a shield with the letters
SCA written diagonally across it. Looks good. Then the text, "Where the
dysfunctional go to function".  For at least a part of the world, that
is our image

There may well be a reason why incipient groups do not become shires,
baronies do not become principalities, and principalities do not become
kingdoms.   You must look to the culture of the kingdom and its ruling
class (i.e., regnum, officers, and "movers & shakers") to see whether
such changes in status are discouraged or encouraged.

  My incipient shire shudders at the thought of ever becoming a barony
even though I endeavor to support the concept of a palatine barony.  We
have yet to make shire even with a registered name and device and
having held numerous kingdom offices, having knights, laurels, heralds,
two royal peers, winning patron of the arts and
first place in numerous A&S competitions: maybe we'll make shire some
day.

This may be perceived as Interkingdom Anthropology, but really is more
a result of local circumstance.  There are only 3 Palatine Baronies,
and all are in  remote areas when compared to their parent Kingdom.
Barony of Western Seas (Hawaii), Barony of the Far West (Japan, Korea,
Okinawa, Guam) and Barony of Allyshia (Humboldt County California).
Provinces are possibly more of a Kingdom Custom thing, but even there,
if the branch in question wished the status, Kingdom could comment it
to the BoD, but not absolutely block it.  To do so would violate
Corpora, as only the Board can give a final yea or nay on branches of
the level Barony / Province on up.
  Short version:  Kingdom law cannot ban a branch type.  Tradition can
discourage it, but not ban it.
  As for a 20 year old incipient branch - the Kingdom involved has a
problem - I am surprised Corporate hasn't bopped somebody on the head
over it.

It is mostly a hypothetical situation.  But examples can be seen in
extant branches.  I know of one Kingdom that hasn't spawned a new
Kingdom since its elevation over 20 years ago.  Some of its
Principalities are more than large enough to form a new Kingdom.  The
problem with them is not "the PTB's hav(ing) a strangle-hold on the
reins of power," its that none of the eligible branches wants to give
up the current Kingdom name.
In my Principality, it is mostly inertia and apathy that keeps us from
elevation.  There isn't a pressing need for the change, even though
Kingdom events get so large that viable sites are hard to come by.
Courts keep getting longer and longer as more people are deserving of
recognition, although probably about the same percentage as before.
I like having smaller Kingdoms.  It's easier to know everyone and court
business doesn't take as long.  It's been decades since we did a Grand
March.  If we did one now, it would literally take all day.

A1    I would love to hear ideas on tweaking membership
responsibilities to maximize participation.  As for as tweaking awards,
restricting armigerous
awards to members is the best thing that could be done. The $3 discount
for members is seen as quite a benefit by members,  and has persuaded a
number of persons
locally to join the SCA.
A2    The target audience consists of persons interested in aspects of
medieval life--whether that interest is based on student status,
profession, or avocation.  We can better reach this audience by
maximizing asvertisement of the breadth of our interests.  I first met
the SCA in Jax, FL in 1977.  It was presented to me as a group of
medieval fighters.  I was quite interested, but had a stroke shortly
thereafter.  I learned better when my older daughter sent me pictures
of her in the SCA seven years later.  The local group was purely
college-oriented, discussed college at their monthly meetings, and held
one tourney a year.
     Not until 1989 five years later did my wife drag reluctant me to
another meeting--a tourney in LA.  We joined immediately and have been
active ever since.  Had I but
known that the SCA was other than a fighting group, I would have had 12
more years to play.  A decade ago, at least one kingdom still had SCA
fighting bands that recruited members but never told them about the
rest of the SCA or that there were any activities other than the Wars.
A3/4   I am seeing more and more young persons joining  the SCA,
including youth fighters who get their parents interested, as well as
old folks who grew up in the SCA, brought up their children in the SCA
and encouraged their medieval interests, and often are now bouncing
their grandkids while their adult children participate.
A5    The three dollar rebate was great; however, I am open to
additional ways to improve membership benefits.

This assumes that membership in and of itself is beneficial to the
corpration. Financially, the corpration would perhaps be better off
discouraging membership.
Given the June 2005 figures of 32,392 members, with 1,407 international
and 16,518  sustaining figured at $ 20 net (after newsletter costs and
overhead),
2,396 sustaining at $20, and 12,071 at $10 (which should be an over
calculation as the third family member is at $5, and any beyond that
are at $0) gives an average membership income of $16.27.  If we assume
that overhead eats up 1/3rd of this we get an income per membership of
$10.90, or in other words a bit less than what is paid by a non-member
attending 4 events subject to the NMS.  The SCA would be better off by
extending the NMS (or some sort of more efficient system) to all events
and providing with the membership card coupons for say 7 events which
would cover the NMS.

Now you have me wondering why the overhead is so high that we would
benefit by discouraging membership.

A well chosen string of assumptions can lead to any desired conclusion.
That does not make the conclusion factual.

My best guess is that overhead is between 25  and 50%.  Now, the fact
that I'm guessing is one reason I supported  item P (financial issues),
and also O (information sharing) since if they do have this info the
corporation is obviously not sharing it.
Anyway I can't imagine that it is possible for the overhead to be less
than 10% per membership (credit card fees, bad check fees, printing,
cost of mailing membership,  mailing renewal, mailing separate blue
card if ordered on the internet, computer costs, office space, and
labor - last I heard Milpitas received the on-line renewals s PDF's and
had to manually re-enter some or all of the data - - all of these add
up)
  On the other hand the NMS costs the corporation virtually nothing.  It
is inherently fair since it will make those who use the SCA's services
(events) the most pay the most.  It is easily tweakable to fulfill the
coporate needs, although some may see this as a disadvantage ;-);-)
The question, since we have both, is what does membership provide to
justify its higher cost?

Quick question - Do any Kingdoms use a head charge at troll to fund
themselves?

Trimaris does, I believe.

Not quite correct as the Northshield Stallari has found out when we
tried to move to a universal $1 admin fee for all events.
What Trimaris does as we have been told is that they charge an
additional $-FEE on all Kingdom Level Events. Thus Northshield has
changed it's proposed policy to a voluntary $1 admin fee for events
other than Kingdom Level events. Too me it seems that a universal user
pay system to support the BOD and or Kingdom's is the way to go.

Corpora specifically prohibits this.

Actually I'd prefer to a simple percentage of event Income rather than
a per head charge.  It wasn't a highly rated method when the GC was
discussing
this.  I suspect it was too much like taxation.  An Tir uses the
proceeds from Kingdom events as defined in kingdom law, allowing up to
25% to be kept by the hosting branch, so not here

And there is one of my fundamental reasons for opposing a NMS
...because the corporation is providing very little to this individual
... the individual event he is attending provides it...the individual
event has to have more supplies, such as privies, TP, site tokens,
rental fee (some of our site rentals include a per person factor) etc.
As far as I can see...the only thing the Corporation provides is the
insurance ...which I don't think changes cost whether that person is
there or not...   Now the event should be providing all these items
based on revenue from the non-member's regular site fees...since it
costs the same to buy TP and rent privies for him as it does a member.
So can anyone tell me ....what actual costs are involved in a
non-member attending an event ...that are different than the costs of
me attending an event...and who is paying those costs?  I can't see it
costing anyone $3 more an event for a non-member to attend ...over
their regular site fees.
It seems to me that members are the ones using the corporation
primarily and should be the ones footing the bills.  The NMS was
supposed to be a temporary quick fix for a financial crisis...it has
now become money that is depended on for daily operations.  Much like
getting a bonus and paying off your bills...but increasing your life
style so that you are dependent on getting a bonus every month ...not
very financial prudent if you ask me.
The corporation should be financially solvent ...without...the NMS
since that money is "not stable income".

I disagree. Having watched Northshield over the past 20 years I can say
that groups that successfully recruit stay healthy and active as long
as they manage that new growth. Kind of like a family without attention
and care the growth can lead to a fractured house. But with maintenance
and care its quite rewarding. Without growth and retention older groups
do go through what can be described as down times, with little energy
or activity. Which they may come out of or that may escalate into
something more serious.
I guess this depends where you are situated geographically. Whether you
are in a dense population area or not. The problems that occur with
growth are not easily managed but they can be. And beside having a plan
in place for recruitment of membership doesn't mean that each group has
to out and apply it. If the locality you are in has plenty of members
and you they don't believe that they can handle any more growth simply
don't recruit. But I do not think that is is that this is the case
everywhere, certainly not here in the majority of Northshield.
There has been a growth in the number of Kingdoms and I guess I see no
end in site potentially. This in it self is a complication on how the
SCA should manage growth. How many Kingdoms will the Society grow to
and still be able to manage to oversee each? As to multiple
Principalities? From my experience in the Middle Kingdom a multiple
principality system may have worked if the culture of the Kingdom was
ready for that. I proposed it and fought for it as best I could. But in
the end the culture of the Kingdom was not receptive they saw only one
way for the culture to evolve and the estrangement grew time and time
again and Principalities became Kingdoms. It is no easy thing to
promote a group to Baronial or Principality or Kingdom status. To
simply do so based on numbers would lead to more problems than I can
imagine,
Though you do bring up interesting ideas about growth management. Some
events seem to grow too large for local groups to run yet they don't
seem to know how to manage the growth. There are ways to keep events
small in nature, attendance cut offs, pre-reg only, etc etc I don't see
groups using these tools often.

This is an interesting split from the Pay to Play Philosophy to the
original Everyone Come and Play Philosophy I'm not sure if we will ever
find a spot where these two come together and meet at a compromise
position.

The word from on-high is that the term "Non-Member Surcharge" is to be
discouraged. Instead, what we have is a three dollar "Membership
Discount". In effect, there is a three dollar head tax for everyone at
the gate. You can avoid this by paying twenty bucks annually and
getting the discount instead. Hmm, except for the member discount,
isn't that kinda what Fleig was promoting? carefully avoiding insurance
and Officer membership requirement issues

But of course those are the relevant details -- so why should a
"non-member" who pays $20+- be denied equal rights with a member who
pays $20+- less
overhead to the corp?  The money is all the same.

I could channel Flieg on it ...sincce my opinion is similar ... no way
would I support an armigerous award only for members ... if you work,
then you get rewarded (obviously no royal peerages for non-members
since you have to be a member to be crown or coronet ...and that one I
support)

It should not be seen as a non-member surcharge but as a member
discount.  The members really like that.  They see something that they
are getting for their membership every time that they attend an event.
I believe that this viewpoint is the official SCA view.

And how is this a benefit to the corporation?

I am a member ...and I actually don't see it as a benefit but an
additional charge to newcomers, those who may have forgotten their
membership info, old-timers dropping by to catch up who haven't played
in years...etc.  Because you can call a cactus a rose ...but it is
still a cactus...

Actually, the survey results show that we are not recruiting from our
traditional "fen" and college student bases anymore. Our demographic
shift is to middle-class and professional families...thirty-somethings
with children and disposable income.

That is in fact the group I was talking about.  They belong (at least
potentially) to that taste culture.  I still belong to that taste
culture and I am 50 something.  I started when I was 30 something and
deep in that group.  Only a small (but important) part of the group I
surveyed 10 years ago came from the University scene.  Whether they
were fen or not, they were at least potentially and, once exposed to
one aspect of the taste culture have often moved on (or added) other
facets of it.

  Actually, all the survey results show is that people who were once in
our traditional "fen" and college student bases get older with time
.  You would need a demographic survey of new SCAers only to make
any conclusion about shifts in whom we recruit, and even then you would
need (non-existing) data about the demos of those recruited during some
past period with which to compare.

This opens a bunch of new questions.  Does the recipient have to be a
current member or could they have been in the past and lapsed for what
ever reason?
What exactly is the rationale for a "Members Only" award system?  I
cannot think of any rationale that warrants such a policy.  I certainly
will not support such a change to Corpora. MNS? Not so much a "benefit"
as a penalty for not being members.
Not a rebate as you don't pay the full amount and get the "rebate" in
the mail.  The whole idea of rebates is revolting to me.  Why should I
let someone hold my money for even 1 day a reap the interest on it?
And further, why should I have to pay taxes on the rebate amount?  I
realize that this has nothing to do with the NMS, but my button got
pushed.I am TOTALLY OPPOSED to the NMS in ANY form.

But the money is not all the same. The member paid twenty bucks up
front to verify their committment. The non-member only reaches the
financial committment of the member at their seventh event of the year,
and around here there are few non-members that attend that many events.

Almost all social and educational organizations have events, services,
or items that are available only to members or available at a discount
for members.  Anyone wishing the benefits of membership without paying
for it would probably agree that the extra price that they pay is a
penalty.

We need to figure out a way to encourage people to sign up and pay
their money. I hesitate to use the word "member" because none of us are
"members" of the
SCA. We already had this discussion. The ony members of the SCA are the
BoD. Currently, I see three benefits for the money I send to Milipitas:
1) NO NMS. I currently pay $35.00 per year for my dues. That means I
have to attend 12 events per year to save money rather than pay the
NMS. For some people
that is nothing while for others that is way above their activity
level. (PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting that we raise the NMS
surcharge)
2) KINGDOM NEWSLETTER: Since Kingdom newsletters have been whittled
down to event announcement and officer reports because of costs, and
because they are
available on line there isn't much of a benefit. (At this point I would
like to give an atta boy/girl to the new Chronicler for Drachenwald as
there was actually an article in there that didn't have to do with an
event or officer report)
3) PARTICIPATION IN COMPETITION. Okay, I fight, I am a Knight in the
SCA and wear a coronet on my head. I still like to fight in tournements
and my Milipitas
money allows me do do that. But I am getting older and won't fight
forever. This advantage holds sway for some but not all and not the
majority. There are also
a lot of people in the SCA who don't fight or have no interest in
wearing a crown. We need something else.

When the GC discussed this issue a while back, I though some good suggestions came out of it.One of those was to get more bang for our buck. There are groups in the USA like ours that manage to make lots of deals with their membership. Things like rental car discounts and hotel discounts. Health, life  and dental insurance are possible as well. I was speaking with a fellow GC member here in Germany and he suggested there are ways to get TI back in people's hands by doing an on line subscription. (If you pay your money you can subscribe to TI for no more financial outlay) I am not a computer guy but I don't believe it would be that difficult to set up. I think that more people would sign up if there were benefits that they could see right away (remember, we are talking about Americans for the most part eh). Another suggestion is that that "members" of the SCA (we that pay) could see value for our money is if we would be able to vote for the BoD in much the same way I vote for the BoD of my insurance company. If I don't want to physically vote, I can pass on my proxy to someone else, even a member of the BoD. It makes me feel a bit more like I am in control ( I know, an illusion) of my insurance dollar and the way the company grows. It may also help us regular folks bond with the SCA and the BoD.   This is a good point -- that a switch from the pre-pay membership model to a pay as you go model could cause short term cash flow problems.  For instance, if the SCA were to suddenly stop selling memberships, then it would take a year before the nearly all of current members would be paying the now universal NMS.  Assuming that current members attend 8 events a year, (based upon the poll I think this is conservative) then it would take about 2 years for the Income from the NMS to equal the income from selling memberships. After that point it would exceed the income from membership sales.  This is ignoring any savings from lessened overhead. One way would be to increase the opportunities for children to participate more fully, both in age-based and multi-generational activities. This would directly target the demographics identified in the survey. You need something tangible that comes to their home that makes them feel connected. If the kingdom newsletters can no longer fill that role, for whatever reason, then the Society needs to provide it. TI served that purpose admirably, and de-coupling it from membership was poor communications strategy. This would be worth exploring. However, we would need a really good measure of our demographics and a guaranteed method of delivering the offer to our membership. I am from an incipient shire whose monthly newsletter offers not just shire and SCA info but also historical and linguistic information as well as sources for extended study on various A&S topics--and this info has been typical of the newsletter since the first issue, distributed at the second meeting, I believe.  Although we are merely an incipient shire (and have been for three years), we can do this work; why cannot kingdoms? For a number of good reasons: 1) Kingdom newsletters are required by corpora to have certain information that eats up a lot of space. 2) Kingdom newsletters are paid for from funds given by the corporate office, and these funds have not kept up with inflation. 3) Most kingdoms require certain information must be posted in the kingdom newsletter to be official; laws, for example. 4) Chroniclers do their best to get art and articles to add to their newsletter, when space is available. It is difficult to find material just the right size, that is important enough for the whole kingdom to see. A lack of understanding of the importance of communications in group survivability, and thus a commensurate lack of will to find ways to fund it. This is one reason I liked Flieg's "gate tax" style system, with a few addenda/modifications like selling "annual waiver cards" (the current blue cards), combined with direct subscription for both TI and Kingdom Newsletters.  The major drawbacks lie in all the other things for which we use "membership," such as branch status.   For those things for which we would need some kind of membership accounting, I support local rollup membership accounting in conjunction with "gate tax" funding. It workd this way:   Local groups define what constitutes bieng a "member" of that group, and keep thier own membership rolls.  These rolls are reported up the chain (Canton to barony, Barony/Province and Shire to Principality/Region and/or Kingdom, Kingdom to Corporate).  You are a "member" of the SCA if you are a member of a Kingdom, etc.  To account for those few individuals who do not want to belong to *any* local group, they would be allowed to apply directly to be listed as an "at-large" member of their Kingdom - at the discretion of the Kingdom.   On a side note, this system would also effectively break the geographic exclusivity currently in place, and would make it trivial for disaffected elements within a group to form their own group.  This would eliminate any possible need for Cedric's "maximum size" limits. For what it's worth, I solicited comments regarding Membership from Outlanders.  Almost all of them felt that the gains of membership were not worth the costs.  Those benefits were as follows: 1. Avoiding the NMS - this is only applicable if you attend 7+ events a year.  Someone pointed out that, for a family unable to attend many events, the NMS is by far a cheaper option. 2. Participating in pollings regarding status and the selection of Territorial Barons/Baronesses.  This occurs relatively rarely, at least around here. 3. Ability to hold office - this was referred to as more like a punishment than a perk. 4. Paying for insurance - Most people seemed to think that the primary purpose of SCA membership was to pay for the insurance which the corporation must cover for event sites and such. In short, it seems that membership must become fundamentally more valuable in order to grow the ranks of the membership. Some ideas that were proposed (and I have not vetted these for feasibility) are: 1. Create a discounted Introductory Membership for first-time members. New members have numerous "start-up costs," and this would make it easier for them to join.  In theory, they are more likely to remain members once they have joined. (That's the theory, anyway.)   2. Raise the NMS and lower the membership price.  The primary drive for many people to become members seems to be avoidance of the NMS; this action would cater to that. 3. Some people requested perks of membership, to potentially include discounts on hotels, car rentals, airlines, craft stores, fitness centers, etc.  I doubt the feasibility of this idea. Always remember, volume (from a business perspective, not physics ) is a function of penetration and reach.  Increasing the perceived value of a membership to current participants addresses penetration. However, membership growth can also occur by increasing the number of total participants while maintaining the current percentage of members. Now, a question.  What proportion of the SCAers you talked to in the Outlands are currently members?  This proportion apparently believes there is value, or they are acting irrationally.  IOW, it's easy to say "No, we don't get anything out of buying a membership, no wonder no one buys one," even if you just bought one.  Obviously, there are at least *some* members in the Outlands or you wouldn't still be a kingdom. Agreed, but it is very unclear whether most of these 'things' are in fact needed by the coporation in the first place.  They do provide some income occasionally.  I've known a couple of people to fork over $70 so that they could fulfill the commitment that they had already made about being an officer.  I suspect others who had been appraised of this rule simply didn't volunteer. With the existence of the NMS we've created a system where there is financial incentive to become a member if you attend more than 6 events or more than 5 if married.  Financially for the corporation the maximum benefit would be if those who attended the fewest events became members, and those who attended lots of events gave it up and paid the NMS.  I think we can agree that there is something wrong with that system -- but, at least on a financial basis there is no reason to encourage membership over collecting the NMS. Since in 2004 non-members paid all of our insurance costs and nearly $30K towards the salary of whomever wrote the checks what need is there for continuing to treat them as second class citizens? I may have some personal observations from doing over 20 years worth of demos in Oertha that could be helpful: In the 1980's we did fighting and artisan demos at the local Renfaire every summer plus various demos in the public schools including fighting, calligraphy, clothing, basic heraldic design,  and other things like foods, lectures on specific time periods or subjects..I recall doing one on 'pets', actually..as requested.  We also did things for the Boy Scouts, Highland Games, libraries and other organizations when requested. The schools changed policies involving weapons on campus in the early '90's and shortly thereafter fighting demos..what the kids really love seeing..were no longer allowed either lest we teach the little darlings violent behavior, so there went one set of venues. We still did some crafts related things at Junior and High school levels and assorted club funcions. The local Renfaire folded, staggered, had two different ones for a year or so, then the folks who were running the one that was left didn't like some of our PTB so we lost that venue for several years til various Officers changed on both sides. One of the local arts and crafts festivals we usually do fighting demos for suddenly changed their dates to Oerthan Coronet weekend this year, so that's out unless they change back again next year. Nevertheless, the new Barony I belong to has done 3 demos at public library Summer Reading Programs within the last month and will be participating in a local 'Founders' Day" festival later this month. Our major problem is finding folks who can take a non-weekend day off and afford the gas to get to some of the farther corners of the area, especially in the winter, hauling armour or other stuff. Our target audiences, if you will, seem have become a peculiar combination of kids who read..and their folks..and tourists, although we're brainstorming to expand this. Families with kids may have the initial enthusiasm, but until we have more things for them to DO once they get to an event, we will continue to fail them to some extent. One of my pet peeves as a once and future Chatelaine is people who come to events expecting to be entertained rather than as participants in what we happen to have available, and it's why I tend to discourage people from making a Coronet their first event, as most of the Officers and Peers are far busier than normal and new folks tend to get lost in the shuffle unless they have someone to show them around and tell them what's going on. People who have nothing to do for themselves or their kids and no idea what's going on get bored, feel slighted, may feel stupid for 'dressing up for nothing' and generally don't come back unless they have member friends  who persuade them to. It's one of the reasons we pass out a simple trifold 'SCA101' flyer at our demos with basic information including  who to cal for event  particulars, clothing help, and what to bring with them to events. Actually, holding office is the easiest of the "other things" to handle if we were to switch to a event attendance or event revenue based funding model.  You are eligible to hold office if you are acceptable to the next level up.  Corporate can identify its officer cadre the same way they do now (assuming they bother), with the warrant system. The trickier issues, or at least the ones that often fail to get addressed, are things like determining eligibility for branch status and promotion, identifying who gets the letters in a mandated branch polling, etc.  Most of these issues can be addressed using the "roll-up" system I described earlier, but that puts a lot of discretionary authority in the hands of the local branches.  This may be good or ill, but it certainly is. Membership has no intrinsic value and worth.  The SCA has, over many years, literally removed privileges that were free (and, often, of benefit to the SCA) and made them conditional on the purchase of a membership.  It has also made the purchase of a membership easier and easier, and built a social structure which reinforces the notion that it is right to charge more of people in order to get them to serve the organization and donate services that the SCA could not afford to purchase. And the only thing that has made membership even close to a qualifying success is the NMS - charging people MORE for NOT paying that fee. I've been a member off and on (most on) since around 1989. I've paid my membership mostly because I am a Marshal and cannot hold that officer position without having that card that says I've paid my dues.  In the time I've been a member I've had to pay MORE and get LESS because they raised the rates and then take away benefits (TI).   Even more disturbing to me than that however, is that I never used to have to show my card at Troll. I put my membership # on the form and they trusted that I was a member. Now, I can't get onsite unless I show my card... what happened to trusting your fellow Scadians? We have become larger, and more bureaucratic.  Part of the increase in bureaucracy comes from the growth (I'm looking at a 30-year perspective), part from a reaction (CYA) to an increasingly litigious environment, and part from the increased caution that comes from a group of people growing up.  I your club is 50% + college students, there is a lot less emphasis on paperwork, insurance, waivers, and layers of procedure than if you have a substantial proportion of lawyers, doctors, middle managers, and government functionaries. Largely because the older group is more aware of the risks, and has more to lose, than any objective difference in the risk environment. Let me just throw in a couple things for discussion: - membership should be cheaper (15 - 20$) and the NMS should be higher (5$). This would bring the break even point down to 3 or 4 events a year. - Kingdom newsletters should be provided via email (not on a webpage) in .pdf, .doc or whatever. If you want yours via snailmail you pay extra. - Same thing for the TI. IMO the TI is important for the identity. You need something that is the same everywhere. It should be so cheap that nearly everybody orders it. - Member services like the "Hey you're about to expire" - letter should be sent via email. - The same could work for the membership card. (send a jpg that can be printed. If you fear abuse, I can ensure you that I probably can create a card that would go through every check in about 15 minutes). If another safety level should be put in then you could send the card to the Seneshall of the local group and a message to the member that the card approached there. I am pretty sure that there are many other things that could reduce the costs. I am a strong believer of the "pay to play" rule. As one of you guys stated earlier this year "for me it is a question of honor!" To charge only as much as is really necessary is honorable too.... The rule was not necessarily the problem; the commentary given to the Kingdom I live in...the West, which has always had philosophical issues with the NMS and has had people being VERY vocal about that...indicating that the reason for the rule was that 40% of people attending our events were cheating  the BOD and that we could either pony up or have probationary and other sanctions AS A KINGDOM is a BIG problem.  No allowances made for errors or misinterpretation of records, just a trip to the woodshed with no appeal possible. I am not saying the BOD is composed of  dishonorable individuals, only that they  have espoused a very unfortunate policy for reasons that may seem good to them but that look bad to the average person who attends events. The NMS, coupled with unbundling TI, has reduced the value of a dues-paying membership to the point of nonexistance for people who don't want to hold offices or compete in Crown or Coronet tourneys. That is a huge number of people and we need to figure out what to do about it because if we don't  we will lose our future. When all you get for a membership is a so-so newsletter, the continued branch status of the group you live in, and a lot of aggravation as a volunteer officer who may or may not be protected from legal action,  it's not enough to attract  new people to become members if they don't attend enough events to cancel out the equivalent NMS, period. With a sustaining membership of $35 per year, that means you would have to attend at least one event per month to break even..and that doesn't count the cost of food, clothing, camping gear, feastgear, or gasoline to get to said events. The "vocal resistance" ranged from backhanded slanderous, like the bit of yours that Ferd and I commented on, to downright insulting, to outright inciting people and groups to cheat. Then suddenly 40% more people showing up to events are members than there are members on the rolls. I am afraid that any reasonable person would conclude that "errors or misinterpretation" are not the most likely explanation.   So the BoD made a simple change, and applied it universally and did not just single out the problem children. A change that, despite great wailing and gnashing of teeth, really does not impact the gate process at all. It does, however, make everybody either consciously comply or outright defy, it eliminates any possible wiggle room between human error and sabotage, it removes "plausible deniability". Then it said comply or face sanctions. The NMS is a nit; the only reason there is controversy is because it offends certain sensibilities. If *we* would stop flogging the dead horse and just bury it, it would have no effect whatsoever on new members coming in. Un-bundling TI was a huge mistake. But it is a mistake that every organization makes at least once...penny wise, pound foolish sacrifice of communications to ostensibly save money. Those that survive the mistake do so by reinstating their flagship publication as a part of basic membership. And expanding their store house of optional publications. And do not believe that we can replace those with online publication; all the data shows that you cannot supplant a physical publication with an online publication, your online publications function as additions to the physical ones, they work best when they complement each other. Not to mention only about 65% of adults in the US have internet access, and much of that is at work. And with the proliferation of internet scams and viruses, employers are beginning to crack down on non work-related use of their property, which they have every right to do. This will increasingly tend to limit access for folks who now have it and should be considered in publications policy. many SCA members in Oertha communicate by computer because many of us are students or have one in the household, we live so darned far apart and long-distance phone costs are prohibitave compared even to DSL, but I suspect our situation is not the norm. This access to the internet will vary from place to place and will affect the takeup of electronic information and how many want hard copy.  In my Barony every member (and every potential member) has access to the internet by law - the State government has recognised that this is a vital method of communication and we all have free accounts through libraries and community access centres.  Not everyone chooses to take this up, so that, although theoretically 100% of people have access, in practice it is more like 75%. Another variable that will affect takeup is how small an area is covered by the group.  In small areas hardcopy can be handed around very efficiently. This will not work for us as our Barony is over 300km from one end to the other by road, not counting anyone who may be in Ynys Rhew (our Antarctic possessions and territories) or working on the sea between . The point is that on-line publications will work in some places very well. In others they won't.  We are still at the point where groups need otions on this sort of thing. "Wired Students Prefer Campus News on Paper", NYTimes This is very comprehensive, but you will have to buy the article. Most of the rest of my information comes from seminars and workshops, not easily cited online. Online publications require entirely different design considerations than print, thus doubling the work of publication. PDFs can get around that a bit, but then you lose most of the benefits of online AND most of the benefits of print. Unless the end user prints it out...which is what PDF is optimized for...which means they get a lesser quality copy that cost them much more. Print publications are more portable, and more convenient for most people. Online is easier to search...if it is HTML, PDF is more problematic. And if the site has properly archived back issues and indexed them.   There are extensive guides for putting publications online, the things that must be done to be successful, profit or non-profit. It isn't as easy as just posting a Word doc instead of printing it. It would. That is why it makes an excellent *complement* to print, rather than a replacement. You can update, include additional information, etc. An informal survey of our barony showed it was about that or less. I don't know of any rigorous studies of the SCA as a demographic group. But for most people it does meet their needs, and better than the online version. And there are the intangible aspects to having a physical link to the organization, that comes to the home and sits on the coffee table. Especially forpeople who don't go to many events but want to stay connected. Each group needs to evolve a system that works for their group.  Many of the groups in Lochac have web-based newsletters, some protected by password, others not.  Most at least distribute word and pdf files to subscribers at cheaper rates.  All have an option of more expensive paper copies (in our case there is an option for B&W or colour).  Even the Crown gets ours electronically. What is needed is not a compulsory transition to any form, but the availablity of all newsletters at all levels in a format that suits their readers.  I believe that our Kingdom newsletter is investigating whether to move into electronic form at present.  Since our Barony has moved to electronic files our subscriptions have gone up (actually more than doubled) while our group size is still much the same.  We are even posting more than we used to.  This means more information is going out and is more easily accessible. I heartily agree with this mail and strongly believe that we all may find Lochacs experiences very valuable in the long term. The question pro and contra electronically or printed newsletter becomes meaningless if we find an easy way to handle both and give the member the choice. If you don't have access to the web you have no choice but so what? And this makes even more sense if the newsletters expenses are split from the membership fee. If you give me the choice of getting the "Dragonstale" (Drachenwald newsletter) in printed version or getting it as .pdf (or whatever) and pay less membership.... guess what I would choose You seem to be assuming that collecting NMS is the only reason for checking cards at the gate.  How many Kingdoms have a simple sign-in sheet at the gate (initials only for reservations) for anyone with a signed blue card, and a longer non-member waiver with multiple blanks to be filled in for anyone without the blue card.  In Meridies, the difference between the two forms is anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. Multiply that by the number of people in line, and you may begin to see the advantage of those little blue cards.   How has the NMS "reduced the value of a dues-paying membership?"  I can certainly agree that unbundleing TI reduced the value of membership, but according to all the fiduciary arguments people are proposing here, the best way to increase the "value" of a membership to INCREASE the NMS, not reduce or eliminate it.   I fully understand that both the West and the East have cultures highly inimical to the NMS, and it definitely has its roots in the "us versus the Board" attitude that was firmly entrenched as of the Provino "Pay to Play" debacle. However, to attempt to recast your objection to the NMS as an attempt to enhance the value of SCA membership is to greatly weaken your ability to stand against the NMS "on principle."   Now, back to reality.  The NMS is almost certainkly here to stay unless we implement a major change in how the SCA, Inc is funded.  The NMS is currently a rallying point for the "pro-Board" and "anti-Board" factions of the SCA, and disagreement over it often reaches the point of religious fervor.  The numbers on each "side" vary widely by Kingdom and even from one area to another within the same kingdom, making this an issue which highlights and emphasizes our differences rather than our commonalities.  Therefore, this entire issue represents a "clear and present danger" to the future health of the organization as a whole.    What can we do about it?  It is unlikely that the forces currently opposed will, at least in the foreseeable future, change their opposition.  It is also unlikely that the Board will rescind the NMS until and unless there is a fundamental change in how the SCA is funded.  I see two viable alternative funding systems that have any chance of being adopted:    Alternative 1) The "head tax" system (Flieg's system).   Under this system there is no NMS and for every event where money is collected and attendance recorded (remember, we will still have the waiver issue so there will still be a gate system) an amount (say $1 for sake of argument) is sent to Milpitas for every person who attends.  Details which need to be addressed include setting the rate ($1, $1.50, etc.), which must be done by determining both projected event attendance and the projected SCA budget.  The simplest implementation of this retains a much reduced membership, which gets you a waiver card to simplify the waiver process and the satisfaction of being "counted" towards the population total of your Kingdom, local group, etc.  Unbundle the Kingdom newsletter from this membership, and you can price it at the current price of an Associate Membership, or slightly lower.   Newsletter subscriptions can be collected directly by the Kingdoms (meaning members and non-members have the same opportunity to subscribe), and the SCA, Inc. can continue to subsidize the Kingdom newsletters, but take the subsidy out of the "head tax" revenues, not the "membership" revenues to avoid the argument ovber members subsidizing the newsletters of non-members.   2) Finance the SCA entirely with "Affiliation fees,"  (pure franchise model)   Under this system, groups would pay to be a part of the SCA, and they would raise the money for these fees from their populace, by any means they choose so long as they do not violate the financial guidelines of the SCA.  The easiest implementatin would be to charge at the level of Kingdom and/or Principality.  The most important detail here, and the most difficult, is determining a rate or rates.  A flat rate per Kingdom could be calculated as above, taking the needed revenue and divicing by the number of Kingdoms.  However, this may place an undue burden on smaller Kingdoms, who will wind up paying more per person than will larger kingdoms.   Unfortunately, any scheme for apportioning fees among the Kingdoms is likely to result in at least some perceived unfairness.  However, one with relatively less room for complaint would be to make each Kingdom's fees proportional to the total income of that Kingdom, as reported in the offical financial records.  Also note that I have not addressed the issue of Kingdoms that cross Corporate borders (those that encompass the territory of more than one national Corporation, such as Drachenwald), or the future issue of how the SCA treats with an affiliate corporation that encompasses more than a single Kingdom.   One effect of this plan which crosses the topics of Structure and Membership is that it effectively moves the SCA to a system where you belong locally, and your local group belongs to the SCA.  The financial change drives the structural change, which makes a change in both the perception and the reality of membership inevitable. Another is that it enherently acknowledges that our Corporate relations are following a franchise or affiliation model both within the US and internationally.   As with any proposed change, there are strengths and weaknesses to both of these plans.  Should these be discussed in more detail as possible recommendations to both the STRUCTURAL REVISIONS and MEMBERSHIP topics? The NMS does indeed bring back the provine debacle, and will most likely have a vocal group against it for that very reason.  But even as the Board discovered in 1994, there are groups of people who feel more comfortable with a "pay to play" system.  So, how to make both groups happy?   1>  Flieg's Head Tax or a version thereof.  I would suggest that every hosting branch of an event that charges a site fee pays corporate (Through their Kingdom) per person in attendance.  I would suggest a graduated structure:   $1 for Shire and Baronial events   $2 for Kingdom events   $3 for the major Inter-Kingdom events (Pennsic, Estrella, Lillies, Gulf Wars, Great Western War are what comes to mind).  This level could be reserved for any event that has to have it's own financial policy. This sounds like an equitable set of arrangements all around..now can we get this adopted in our lifetimes? And don't forget the Principality level events..$1.50 per attendee sounds about right for that. It gores everyone's ox equally at the gate AND gives members something for their money besides responsibilites. And yes, membership purchases are coersive in nature when a branch is told they have to have X number of members or they'll get demoted or dissolved.  In a relatively small Principality with a fair number of transient military members, college students, low to mid income members and one group has a membership numbers waiver that the Principality does not and must make up for, this has been a perennial problem. That's really more increasing "participation," not necessarily membership.  I can show you a number of people who have been playing 20+ years, and doing a lot of research, fighting, making gear, etc., but whose membership history is spotty at best.  And that's in one of the most pro-membership kingdoms in teh Known World .  When you start looking at areas with a less membership-oriented culture, particularly where most groups have members to spare as far as making their "status" thresh-holds, you will find many of their "leaders" have spent much of their SCA lives as non-members.   The first part of that statement is undeniably true, although it may or may not be a good thing depending on how some other issues get decided - which will not ultimately happen here.  However, it is arguable at best that members are inherently "persons  with a long-term investment in a group and the SCA."  Where we happen to be, it is more or less true - although with exceptions even here.  Elsewhere, it is not nearly as sure a thing. The NMS is not even in existence for Lochac.  I cannot speak for the other non-USA Kingdoms, but this is a perfect example of another reason we need an overall body.  To me this discussion is a waste of time as it is irrelevant to the issues - it is purely an issue for those within the USA and should be discussed by the national group.  Whooops there is no separation between national and international leadership or review, so the rest of us need to sit through it. Canadian groups also have to deal with the NMS ($4 Canadian vs $3 US), as did Barony of the Far West (Japan, Korea, Okinawa) until quite recently. Drachenwald has a variance, otherwise they would also deal with it.  The NMS is very much an SCA wide issue, and we should replace it with something more equitable. What would be more equitable?  Specficially knowing the size of the organization and the variables of currency... A per head tax for event attendees, with the money collected going to whichever affiliate has jurisdiction would be more equitable.  Head Tax in Australia?  SCAA.  Head tax in Kentucky? SCA Inc.  etc.   The SCA is a group that has grown over 40 years because we welcome new people with open arms.  Saying "Welcome to the SCA - your site fee is $3 more because you don't have a card" goes against that IMPO. Okay, I need to chime in. 1) The NMS (although not named as such) *is* a head tax. If you already have a membership, you are exempt. If you are a child, you are exempt (in most cases). 2) Rules regarding event administration should fall directly in the jurisdiction of the corporation created to serve that area. SCAA could choose to implement a head tax, and the SCA, Inc. wouldn't have anything to say about it. Each corporation which administers an area should be able to set the modern/civil side rules for activities that occur within their jurisdiction, including any fees for either membership or event attendance without let or hindrance from any other corporation. That's the way it works now, for those corporations that have affiliated. It just so happens that the only corporation currently with a an event-based head tax of any kind (that I know of) is the SCA, Inc. I haven't heard that SCAA, SCA-NZ, SKA or SKA-N have instituted any event-based fees (although I don't really have to know about it even in this current position as all of them are out of *my* jurisdiction as Society Exchequer), although I could be wrong and I'd be happy to be educated. However, one of the reasons for the NMS and un-bundling of services is a diehard resistance to increasing membership fees. The Corporation runs on a shoestring, and the costs of whatever benefits it provides continue to increase, but a significant segment of the populace wants it to continue to provide the same benefits...or more...while not raising the price of membership. That is the driving basis for all the changes that folks seem so exercised about. Gravity pulls downward, perpetual motion violates physics, and organizations that provide benefits have fixed costs. The money collected per participant must meet or exceed those costs, or no proposed solution will solve the problem. Continue to have a membership system. Membership gives you your membership card with waiver, your Kingdom Newsletter, TI, and Complete Anachronist.  3 year memberships give you a plastic card instead of a paper one ... TI is for *short* articles (several articles per issue). CA is for *long* articles (one article per issue). I don't think combining them make sense. Combining them is not logical; they serve vastly different needs. Combining the *functions* of both into a comprehensive communications plan with coordinated print and online elements is however quite logical. I think one of the critical questions hinges on perceived value of newsletters.  While TI and the Compleat Anachronist provide original articles of often high scholarly merit, kingdom newsletters often provide little more than event announcement flyers and some short announcements from the various officers.  At least, that has been what I observed in the two kingdoms I have been in; Meridies and Atlantia. Arguably, most people's interst in kingdom newsletters is in the event announcements.  However, I would argue that this body would do well to not default to the digital solution as the solution of choice.  IMHO, computer literate and techie types tend to be highly represented here and this may mirror the society as a whole. What I would suggest would be giving members the option of receiving their kingdom newsletter electronically, much the same way many utilities allow you to receiv eyour statement electronically or on paper.  In this way, we could save the cost of printing and mailing newsletters to those with reliable digital connections, while continuing to serve those without digital connectivity. I realized a long time before TI was unbundled that the newsletter that I got and any other publications I got for a "membership" was not worth $20 then $35 a year.  Heaven knows I could get lots better mags for that price.  And for a long while, I tried to figure out what I was getting for my money, and not having much sucess. Then a former board member gave me information that finally made sense to me.  And made me glad that I have paid for all these years.   Helmet: $250   New garb: 4 hours   Same great game and great people almost anywhere I go: PRICELESS The NMS is part of how SCA, Inc. is funded.  If it is eliminated or scaled back, fine.  That means that expenses either also need to be scaled back proportionally, or other funds must make up the difference.   That's also fine. In this discussion, I believe the biggest source of conflict comes from widely differing points of view on fairness and the role of SCA, Inc. Both of these can become emotionally charged issues. I believe the larger issue of "how SCA, Inc. be funded" is more important, has greater promise for common ground, and ties closely to the issue of organizational structure. So, in a perfect world... how would SCA Inc. be funded?  And how would it be structured? Then, in a not-so--perfect world... how can SCA Inc. be funded?  And, given legal considerations, how can it best be structured to serve its members? When I managed a retail store (pet shop) for several years, we had some items we sold that had a pretty low markup (cat food, about 30% greater than cost from distributor).  Then, we had other items we sold that had an astonishing markup (rawhide chews; even at only $0.10 per chew, had something like 800% markup).  All together, though, the store ran profitably, and the majority of profits got turned back into the store (it was in a rapid growth mode). Now, on cat food, considering handling, cost of shelf space, and other costs... we made very little money, if any, on cat food.  But the profit margin on things like rawhide chews subsidized the cat food, and overall the balance sheet worked. At least for my store, the spinoff.  The parent store didn't do as well as we did.  But we didn't subsidize the other store. So, the question becomes... on what basis do you want to raise funds? Per-item charges, like for publications?  Headcount fees?  Non-member surcharges?  Percentage of site fees?  Percentage of event profits?  Or what? Likewise, if you believe that expenses need to be reduced, how do you propose to reduce them?  I have my own thoughts on that, but if you were looking to cut SCA, Inc's costs over the next 5-10 year span, how would you do it? Can a combination of approaches work? And what structure would best serve the membership of SCA, Inc?  Is there a better structure than currently in place, and if so, what would it look like?  And what would its associated costs/benefits be, if any? My understanding of the NMS is that it is a way (one way) of helping to pay for all of the things for which the SCA must pay.  What are those things?  I have trouble imagining where all of that money goes (although I admit that I have not investigated the cost of our kind of liability insurance, which is probably an enormous part of our expenses). Is the budget of the SCA, Inc. available to us, and is it feasible that the GC could discuss and comment upon that budget?  One option to "raise more money" is "spend less money."  Have we tried the latter approach yet? There is another use for the NMS - currently, as many people have pointed out, avoiding the NMS is an incentive for becoming a member. If one of the goals of SCA, Inc. is to increase membership (as opposed to participation, a related topic), should we not also be discussing the role of the NMS in increasing or maintaining membership?  There are some people who are *not* buying memberships bedause they see their action as a protest against the NMS, and there are some who are reducing their participation, thus increasing the likelihood that they will quit SCAing altogether, because of the NMS.  There are others who are buying memberships under the NMS who would not be buying memberships were it not in place. Currently, we have no way of putting numbers to any of these.  It seems to me that getting some data on this is necessary before the Board does *anything* with the NMS - increase it, reduce it, or eliminate it. Ideally, similar info would have been collected *prior* to implementation, and the original NMS would have benefited from this input, but we can't change the past.  We can, however, avoid repeating our mistakes . BTW, simply looking at membership numbers, or even event attendance numbers if you could get them, from before and after the NMS won't help, although it may at least be a start.  Everything from the overall economy of a given area to gas prices has changed, and certainly has had some impact on both event attendance and SCA membership.  If total revenues have increased, the NMS was at least a partial win from the Corporation's perspective.  If there has been anything but a decline in membership, that is probably a qualified success as well, given the negative pressures in most of the area served by SCA, Inc. (the apparent new talking point is that the NMS is actually a member discount,) On that subject, they can try to spin-doctor the NMS as  a "member discount", but you can't change a racehorse's colors once he's out of the gate. This particular fee was implemented as a Non-Member Surcharge in my kingdom.  I suspect that the good membership of the SCA are going to be more than a little insulted at any attempt to rename it for the sake of political correctness and palatability. I don't know anybody who is happy with this fee at present.  If the goal is to make the membership happy about paying less at the gate (to give them a benefit), I think doing away with the non-member tax we have now and implementing something that is actually *born* in the guise of a membership benefit would be a smart move. I think the first question is why is it a goal to increase membership? The traditional answer is that membership is that which funds the necessary corporate expenses and that to keep the costs low having more members paying in is better than fewer. Having introduced the NMS we now have another major source of funds. The corporation would appear adequately funded for the moment, so what point is there in adding more members?  Why should we be making membership more attractive?  Even if we needed the money would it provide more in total, or more useable funds than would say making the NMS more attractive? Currently the average member pays $16.27 of non-subscription related funds directly to the SCA, which figuring no overhead creates a break even point of just a bit over 5 1/3 NMS fees.  Since the median SCA member goes to  6-10 events a year, with 41% going to more, I think that we can safely assume the median member goes to at least 8 events. That means if the events had been covered by the NMS the person would have paid $24. Thus on average the SCA gives up potentially $7.73 worth of NMS revenue per membership.   For those that buy memberships because its the right thing to do, and who aren't required to have one by current rules, you might consider dropping your membership and proudly paying the NMS.  The SCA would be better off for it. Since the apparent new talking point is that the NMS is actually a member discount, I would actually like to see that put into effect. Making the NMS built into the event fee for all events, although it should be scalable for otherwise cheap events, and giving members a limited number of discount coupons which would be transferable and good for any SCA related expense, should answer those who feel the need to belong or get something for nothing. It would allow greater fine tuning of funding for the corporation since the number or worth of coupons and of the head tax (or whatever) could be adjusted to need.  The coupons should have an expiration date and the resultant expired, lost or otherwise unused ones should allow the corporation to seem fairly generous about giving them out. Without going into breakeven points - becuase this applies equally even if we juggle the numbers to change those - what you are describing is a situation in which much of what we have been discussing depends on whether we assume the NMS is permanent.  If it is, then we can eliminate most of the other inducements (or coercions, if you prefer) for membership, such as membership requirements for holding office (warrants serve nicely for most purposes, and a newsletter access requirement can be addressed separately from membership), fighting in Crown List, receiving an AOA, or whatever requirements may currently be in place in various Kingdoms.  Optionally, Kingdoms can keep them, if it fits their Kingdom culture better, as long as we still have something called membership. One key change, in my mind, to make this work is to unbundle the Kingdom newsletters from membership.  At a minimum, they would  need to be made available to non-members even if they remain included in the price of a membership.  Frankly, I can't see any reason to tie availability of a subscription to *any* of our publications to membership, with the possible exception of the Board Minutes, but that is a separate topic and we aren't there yet. Have we had any indication that it isn't?  I can't imagine the BoD giving it up without replacing it with something else. I have always thought that local member discounts were particularly vile. Given average particpation and a $3 discount, the member was getting back more than they paid for the membership and often sanctimoniously deriding the non-members for not pulling their weight. However, since I see discounts/NMS as a transitional stage to a new enlightened SCA (tm), and also they may serve as a frequent user limit in the same manner as the present family caps, I think they may still serve a useful, if more limited, purpose. A-1  The question "How can membership responsibilities/ rewards and the rules structure be tweaked for maximum participation ?" has been hijacked by the member discount issue: what it should be called, is it effective, and should we have it.   Could we move on the double question posed: A-2a  "What is the target market of the SCA, and how  can we reach that market more effectively?   My answer, to start the ball rolling, is that our target market consists of persons interested in medieval arts  and crafts, costuming, history, and fighting (swords,  rapiers, bows and arrows).  I was not particularly interested in any of these after I had my stroke, but my wife insisted because she liked illuminating and costuming.  I was reluctant until I discovered  medieval onomastics was part of the SCA--there are not enough persons in the US interested in medieval onomastics to form a shire, but we provide a service. My including my interest in the target market would be asinine.  So what do you think of my definition.  This definition of a target market should help to support  our defined mission.  We need to reach some degree of consensus before we can discuss A-2b effectively. A-2b  "Will our efforts to reach our target market require changing our core product? A-2c  "What do we see as our core product?" [my contribution to the question] An inviting, comfortable, compatible environment. Our diversity of activity promotes diversity in the populace. Our core product, and IMO our greatest strength, is also the one thing with the most potential to factionalize our membership. The inviting environment draws people from many different areas. Archers, fencers, armored combatants, A&S types, even the heraldically inclined (gentle tease). Because of the nature of projectile weapons, archers are relegated to the fringe areas of events. If they want to play with others they can be combat archers, but those activities are limited and a large segment of the armored community doesn't like combat archery, or so I read on the lists. Hard feelings ensue. Most rapier fighters eventually go through the angst stage where they feel slighted because they don't have a direct avenue to a peerage, and no path to winning a Crown. Further angst comes from the "ancillary" title attached to their game, epitomized by Calontir. A&S people nurtured in an encouraging, "you can do it!" environment get browbeaten in competitions. Etc... The inviting, comfortable, compatible environment draws people in. The diversity of activity, and the passion that accompanies those activities, causes factionalization. I would define our target market differently.  Your definition includes only those who know they are interested.  There is a broader market which we need to reach.  This is the taste culture that includes all of those who, at any time, have been interested in fantasy and SF, gaming, combat games (laser tag and such) or any similar activity that lies in the area of Romantic pursuits. We are looking at a few age ranges.  For future growth we need to inveigle the 14-18 and 19-24 year olds.  These people (if they run true to type) will come along, may spend some time in the SCA and then will probably drop out for a while (some will stay right through).  Having said that, if we are treating them right a large number will come back once they have families and careers.  We are also looking at the baby boomers.  Many of these don't know that they are our target market, but they are often in the interest groups that we can attract, they often are now empty-nesters who have a degree of financial security and they are often looking for something now the kids are gone (or that they can do with grandkids). We also need to look at getting back people who have been SCA in the past and have, for some reason stopped doing it (gafiated).  An SCA generation is accorded as 5 years.  In this time (if following normal trends) 50% of people who joined as new in the first year will have left.  A further 50% of the remainder will leave within a further 5 years.  Some of these find a more interesting taste culture (unlikely) or move to another facet of the one we belong to.  Many could be brought back These categories became apparent while I was doing my research.  I doubt that there has been much change since 1995.  Where change has occurrred has been due to shifts such as declining real wages in Western cultures leaving less discretionary income, but htis does not mean the people are still not interested, they can just afford to do less. And let's not forget senior citizens, either. Many of them have acquired valuable knowledge of arts, crafts, literature and so on that they can pass along to us and our newer folks. I spent some time with members of a local seniors group recently..our Barony wants to see about renting their hall for events..and they were very receptive and interested in what we do. Perhaps they can't do some of the physical things that are more visible SCA activities, but I think we may have things of considerable value to offer eachother. They have knowledge and experience that we can profit from, we have people willing to listen to and learn from them. Oral traditions were a strong part of Medieval and Renaissance cultures. I believe that an examination of the reasons why these folks left would be worthwhile.  Here you have people who had some measure of interest and commitment and then left.  If we could determine why this took place, we would have some understanding of measures that could be implemented to get them back.   I would not disagree; however, I used 'interested' not 'already interested' because I believe that our duty is to awaken that interest in those who have such an interest. If persons do not have a latent interest in the medieval period or its activities, they have no interest to awaken.  Many persons have a desire to learn of which they are unaware; however, it takes a master teacher to awaken the unwary, and they are in very short supply.   Although I am a senior citizen myself, I do not believe that age categories should be addressed as part of our definition of core market--I do not see our mission as age-specific: we already have ministers of children, page schools, and youth combat (as well as wheelchair access and handicapped parking for us geezers--yes, i know there are handicapped persons of all ages, but there's a reason why we handicapped refer to others as TABs (temporarily able-bodied).   Let's leave 'age' discussion to item A-3/A-4.  The recruitment of young persons is an obvious answer to concerns about aging. Sorry, writing business plans for a new business at present and addressing marketing issues (among others).  It rubs off.  Why shouldn't we do what business does and look at the ages that are most likely to be interested in us?  Whilst we should be of interest to any age (just look around at an event), what we want to do is to find the most target-rich environments to maximise results and minimise effort. I am not suggesting breaking up events by age in any way.  I am suggesting that we think where and how to market to get the best results. Are we considering former SCAdians as our 'target market' or as an adjunct market that also needs to be explored once we have, by consensus, defined our 'target market'?   As far as recruiting members back from other groups, the ones that I met who had left the SCA for other groups fell into three categories:    I.    Those who felt that the SCA was not authentic enough and joined smaller groups that stressed authenticity--usually a specific time, place, and culture; e.g., early Iro-Scots in Dalriata, late period Irish Gaelic soldiers in Leix, cavaliers for King Charles (Meridies is filled with WBS reenactors).  The bare steel groups consider themselves more authentic, but most are not culture specific and do not have the manpower and resources to research too far.  My comments here are USA-specific: Drachenwald has more serious competition from other groups with research capabilities and institutional knowledge.    2.    Those who felt that the SCA was too authentic and who formed or joined fantasy and/or gaming groups; e.g., Klingon reenactors, D&D. The foam-rubber sword groups that I have encountered talk about wanting to look authentic but try to do it in polyester and lack all basic knowledge of the Middle Ages.  One thought that the Middle Ages came between World War I and World War II (he placed both in the 18th [sic] century--sometime around 1850) and took place only in Europe.   3.    Those with unpleasant experiences with poor group leaders.  If the leader was that of a warband and the disgruntled knew nothing else about the SCA, the ones that I met were lost for good.  If the leaders were appointed or elected, some of the former members with experience in the SCA could be salvaged by another SCA group, even years later.   Just for the record, the people that I played with in Caid a decade past are still playing except for those whom death has claimed.  There were always people coming and going on the fringes but the core with whom I played remained active and grew.   I even met a few third-generation SCAdians there. One of the biggest factors I've run into in my long career as a Chatelaine is, sadly, poor treatment by high-ranking members, specifically Royalty or Landed Baronages. This can encompass things from ignoring folks not in their household or 'social equals' to actively making people who don't fit their definition of 'our sort of people' ( and yes, I have heard that exact phrase used by one individual) feel so uncomfortable and unwanted that they either transfer membership to another group within the SCA or leave altogether. Political BS..usually among the same group..runs a close second. In my experience, those who left will sometimes come back once the folks who treated them badly either leave the SCA, move away, or are removed from positions of authority, but not always. Ours is a potentially expensive hobby in terms of time and materials just to go to events; people don't like making that kind of investment NOT to have fun or to be treated poorly, so they find something else they like doing instead, and who can blame them?. A while back there was a comment made about people who won't complain about badly behaving PTB (Powers That Be) being wusses; this is not altogether fair. If the next level complained to does nothing, nothing changes; if they investigate, name complainants to the person being investigated and then still do nothing, they have set people up to have their SCA lives made Hell til the ones who complain have to leave and the toxic situation remains the same. I have seen it happen. Only when a situation is so egregious as to almost be obvious from space and thus reflect poorly on the next level up does anything get done, and the effects may not last longer than a reign. Your mileage may vary, but this has been my personal experience, some of it recent. Ideas on how to change feudal-style abuses in a feudal game culture would be welcome! Feudal abuses have built in feudal remedies. A Lord who abuses his liegeman is no longer his lord. He has broken the feudal contract. He has abrogated any fealty, oath-bound or otherwise. And his former subjects are within their rights...and duty bound... to stand on his beard and tell him so, loudly. That is what makes a feudal system work; the two-way nature of the rights and responsibilities of all involved. A couple of suggestions to target kid markets and also let adults become interested.  IMHO only. Do Library and school demos, do boy scout blue and gold dinner demos. What about the Brownies and Girl Scouts stuff?  State fairs and of course Renn. Faires.  Do period stories, crafts and such. Locally, for me only an hour away, there is what Forth Leavenworth Kansas calls Pare day.  It is a day when everyone from car dealerships, to plant nurseries, to the hobbyist show up to offer things to do and yes the local SCA was asked if they would come, yet again.  Targets the Military that are there for Officer training, yes.  But gives their families options of other things they can do in the mean time.   There have got to be, internationally, things like that you can do. I totally agree the aging population needs a shot in the arm.  And please, being American and not well traveled out of continent..I have only a small clue. Encouraging younger people with new ideas and energy to pull them off is bad why?  If Society gets a few new paying members that is not a bad thing either? But, is this a Society level issue?  I see it being addressed regularly on a Shire thru Kingdom level. Our target market is 26 to 55 years old, more couples than singles, and around a third have children. They have at least some college, and household income between $40K & $80K per year. They are in the habit of donating time and/or money to non-profit organizations. Motivation for membership is unknown, but can be presumed to be some combination of interest in history, martial arts, crafts, and socializing. Actual breakdown of motivating factors will require additional surveys. Anecdotal evidence suggests that one common path is to tag along with an already participating SO or friend to be sociable, "find something to do" while here, and become caught up. Interest in any particular aspect of SCA activity may well be very much a secondary factor in recruitment. (re: change of current marketing practice?) Since there is still a strong bias that our target is poor college students and much of our efforts are aimed toward that market, that would seem to be a reasonable conclusion. I have a question which may help muddy the waters a bit.  Mathurin supports a demographic-based definition of our "target" - very actionable, though possibly not vey precise - based on an avowed cross-section of current SCAers.  However, since we are marketing to *potential* SCAers, would it not be better to target a demographic base more like curretn members were *when they first joined*?  While less than wholly accurate, you can adjust age, for instance, by taking the average (median would be better, and we can interpolate a median from the data we have) age and then subtracting from that the average SCA tenure.  While a "typical SCAer" might be in their mid-30s, I suspect that a "typical SCAer at his/her first event" is somewhat younger.   There is no good way to make similar arithmetic adjustment to other demographics, such as income, although it should be noted that income is positively correlated with age, all other factors being held constant, at least up to age 55+ Are you describing what you believe to be the target market for the SCA or are you describing the current membership?  If the former, why do you believe that the target market should be as you described? Both. If we had 30 million members there would be some basis for concluding that we had exhausted the demographic group represented by current membership. Since we have considerably less than that, our best target market is the demographic group that we have demonstrated success with. The analysis was based both on what characteristics distinguish members from non-members and where they overlap. (re # members vs # nonmembers?)  I can agree with you there.  And we can probably also both agree that going from 50,000/25,000 to 55,000/35,000 would be a win.  The trickier question may be, is it a win, a loss, or a draw if we go from 50,000/25,000 to 50,000/30,000, or 50,000/20,000?  What about 55,000/20,000?   The question - and the difference among the various membership "camps" - is a matter of emphasis.  I think there are very few who favor increasing membership at the cost of sacrificing participation, but there are those who believe participation is the *only* important measure.  We could potentially alter our overall strucutre, financing, and even some of our rules so that this would become true, but I do not believe that we are clsoe to being there now, and I'm not sure we are likely to move all that far in that direction. My personal "camp" would be to say that anything which drives participation down is a bad thing.  (Other things being equal). I'm not convinced that anything which drives membership numbers upward is always good, either - so long as the reason things went upward was perceived goodness or value. Please bear in mind that the oft-ballyhooed ideas around internationalization and increasing the number of incorporations will reduce "membership", since right now we are basically only counting US corporation members. I think that underlies one of my major points - which is that I consider corporations simply as tools to play the game.  If the game itself became odious, why would one become a member?  Membership is not the goal to me, participation is the goal. I apologize for my ignorance; I have a silly question. Does SCA, Inc. have a business plan? A lot of the questions and issues I've seen cropping up in the last 3 weeks, again and again, are the sorts of things that one normally sees addressed in a business plan.  Things like: What does the SCA provide?  What needs does it fill?  What value does it provide to its members? Who are potential members?  Why will they join? How will the SCA reach these potential members? Where will the SCA find funding to continue? This doesn't necessarily depend on a growth model, but given the past 5 years as an example, it appears the SCA is increasing membership each year.  The previous 5 years show fairly stable membership numbers. In plain. the answer would be no. Because, the SCA inc. is not a business. But it does has a lot of things that approach something in that direction. It has a mission statement, a purpose. It describes what it does, and how it does it. It is bundled in what people commonly describe as 'corpora'. And it has a budget. The problem underneath is that the budget is only for the top level organisation, and the majority of the activities are on the lower level, and are not budgetted (At corporation level). That is a grand idea...but not a job for the Grand Council. I suggest making a recommendation to the BoD that we need one. It is a matter of reality. This group is too big and too diverse to serve as a drafting committee. That may be.  But section V.A. through V.E. allows for working groups or committees.  That might likely be an appropriate step, if the GC is charged with drafting a business plan for SCA, Inc. My personal take would be for the GC to take the lead on this (for the BOD). We should post the headings to be discussed on the announcements list and open up to suggestions and comments from the SCA generally. We debate it and put together a draft and pass it to the BOD.  It would not be a micromanaging document, but one that talks about what we see our strengths as, our focus, our aims, our future, what research has been done until now on our target market.  It would be a reference point for Kingdoms and, to a very large degree, a source document when we start looking at devolving items to a world body.  For the both of these it would need to be general (and may even specifiy some regional variations in it), but would also need to be precise enough  that we could point at something and say this is/isn't SCA. No it doesn't - and we are a business - we are just a non-profit business. Any group that has revenue and charges money is a business. It is just that our focus is not on raising money (but we need it to survive). Having just been writing a full business plan over the last few weeks as a part of a course and to set up a new company, I can say that we would benefit us all greatly if we had one.  Defining our strengths and weeknesses, working out our target market, etc etc would be a fine focussing effort.  It would not look like one from a for-profit enterprise, but it would still be very similar. You have many good questions.  However, the problem you face in getting answers is that all of the "planning" is at the top and all of the work is done by volunteers, mostly at the bottom.  So, an all encompassing plan is rather difficult to even begin to come up with. Now, IMO, what the corporation (or corporations in the organizational model I suggested earlier) need to provide is very simple.  Insurance, some way to track who is considered a member (by whatever criteria are chosen) and an interface with the modern world.  (And maybe someone to arbitrate disputes from the medieval side of the game, but maybe not.) What the corporate end of things doesn't need to do is figure out how to find itself into perpetual existance, promote one idea of SCA culture at the expense of others, or anything else not listed above. When it comes right down to it, SCA, Inc. isn't needed for the rest of us to play our game on the weekends.  Any organization that can provide for the required items, above, will do just as well if not better. I guess what I'm getting at, is that what SCA Inc. needs to plan is how to perform the functions the medieval side of the game needs it to perform and it needs to plan how to get out of everything else it has slowly co-opted away from the medieval side of the game over the years.   This may take changing the organizational structure to make it more responsive to the people playing the game it's supposed to support.  It may require looking at lots of corporate expenses and deciding what items don't provide for the required corporate functions and cutting them. I don't recall if it was the GC that did this (but I think so) or one of its "predecessor" informal lists - but I think we did put a lot of early effort into a "mission statement".  And, in the end, it merely highlighted basic differences in philosophy more than it showed a unified purpose. While mission statements can be so much candied philosophy, I do think having a general agreement on corporate goals would be useful before building a business plan to achieve it. Since these are related issues, here are a few thoughts about both of them. The SCA is experiential - meaning that for most people, when they talk about being in the SCA, or playing SCA, they are really describing an overall experience.  That's pat of the reason reaching any consensus about what the SCA is and is not has been so difficult - experiences vary based upon the perceptions of the participant.   This also means that our core product is that mutable thing - the SCA experience.  It is a combination of a set of activites, an environment, and a set of social relationships.  Every possible aspect fo the SCA will be "the key factor" for *somebody.*  This is why the SCA, as an organization, is often instinctively change-averse.   Given that our product is an experience, our *true* target market is anyone who is likely to enjoy and respond favorably to that experience.  Unfortunately, this is not a very actionable definition. Colm's attitudinal/interest definition is basically an attempt to describe people who are likely to be attracted to the SCA experience because they are interested in one or more of our activities.  Again, this has merit but produces a definition that is not very actionable.   Hrolf's "taste-culture" definition adresses the issue by attempting to identify behaviors liley to indicate someone who would be attracted to the SCA.  This is a more actionable definition, since many of the activites identified also provide recruitment venues (demo opportunities).  Similarly, identifiying age and other demographics of likely "joiners" also helps focus recruitment efforts.   What we also need to remember is that you can have more than one target market for a single "product," particularly if that product has muliple facets which potnetially hae different "uses" or reasons for appeal.  For example, we might have a target market of "18 - 35 year old males with an interest in sports, particularly full-contact martial arts" for heavy combat, a separate target of "crafts-oriented people of all ages with some interest in either trying new techniques or in the history of their crafts" for static A&S aspects, etc.  Different aspects of the SCA experience will have more appeal to different groups. Doesn't "target market" vary from area to area?  In some locations, it seems that the target audience is a younger group, where in other areas, it might be families with children of varying ages.  In some areas, SCA participants may have more disposable income than those in other areas. While I think this is an interesting concept, I am not sure how much standard marketing techniques apply here. If someone handed me a list of qualities or characteristics of an individual who would be part of the "target market", I would probably use that as something to consider when trying to recruit new members. This is, to an extent, true.  However, despite regional variation there should be underlying trends.  Variation would probably include newer groups having a tendence for younger members etc. Our target market is: Any person who is in the taste culture that includes all of those who, at any time, have been interested in fantasy and SF, gaming, combat games (laser tag and such) or any similar activity that lies in the area of Romantic pursuits.  More specifically within that group our prime age ranges are the 14-18 and 19-24 year olds and the baby boomers.  We also need to look at getting back people who have been SCA in the past and have, for some reason stopped doing it (gafiated). Most people in these groups will be amateurs, but for some the line is blurred. Definitions of the terms jargon terms 'taste culture', 'Romantic' and 'amateur' can be included.  These are about as well as I can do for short definitions of them. 'Taste culture' is best described as a group of people with a common set of tastes in cultural consumption.  They may vary in background, age or income, but will tend to have (or be aspirational to) similar levels of the four main types of capital (educational, monetary, symbolic and cultural). Usually the group will exhibit homogeneous characteristics in one or more major ways.  Where this does not occur there is usually tension within the taste culture leading to splits and factionalisation (for the SCA one of the better examples that often fits is the strong fighting-only household).  In post-modernity (where we are now in the West) the taste culture, as an affinity group, has or is in the process of becoming, in many cases, more important than class, geography or any other indicator of consumption and behaviour and people will have friends within the taste culture that are not within their geographical area and whom they will only seldom (if ever) see. The key book here is Hebdiges 'Subculture: the meaning of style'. 'Romantic' is a term that derives from the period of Victorian times (and earlier) where there was often a yearning for something else in reaction to the perceived alienation of modernity.  It is best expressed (for popular consumption) in a book 'The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism', which was written as a rebuttal (or more properly a completion) of "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'.  The Eglington Tourney was a high point of Victorian Romanticism.  The SCA derives directly from Romantic interpretations of history in the way it is constructed. An amateur is best described by Stebbings in 'Amateur and Professional'. Many amateurs can be as skilled as professionals, and as well educated.  The sole distinction is whether they make their living from occupation.  During the depression the US administration made much of the importance of hobbies ('The Job You Can't Lose'), boosting their standing in the general population and this has carried on for much of Western culture. An overall excellent analysis. But it still begs the question of *whose* version of "honor and chivalry"? It seems obvious that there are significant variations in the definitions of these ideals among our members. It is this variance which is at the root of many of our most severe internal conflicts. It would seem to me that, in order for this to be in the least actionable, we would have to define it more precisely. And I am not sure that is feasible. In Europe we seem to have a even smaller target group: It is those you mentioned minus those that are caught by the huge reenactment scene, because they feel it as too narrow minded, to authenticity based, because they like our way of fighting or whatever reasons. .... and some of our groups are not even big enough to run a good demo just on their own.... Gaining members is indeed a pretty local task..... I can't see how the society as whole could help a lot ... By providing resources; the chatelaines are often barely more than a newby themselves, a high quality package of flyers, demo guidelines, model press releases, etc. would be precisely the kind of thing Corporate could, and should, provide more effectively and efficiently than ad hoc methods. Ideally, a target market is defined broadly enough so that applies at least somewhat in all locations, yet narrowly enough to define your "customers" from "competitors" customers.  In the case of the SCA, our most direct competitors come from two areas - historical re-enactment groups, either overlapping our period or not, and SF/gaming fandom and its attached subculture and conventions.  A third competitor, at least in some areas, is the Renaissance Faire culture. For our fighters (heavy, light, archers, etc.), other combat games would also offer competition.   Note that, as with most industries, we actually share a great many of our "customers" with our most direct competitors.  However, we are competing for those customers' time, energy, and money.   You might notice that your points about family structure and socioeconomic differences from place to place apply equally to these competitors.   I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days, off and on.  So, to help you follow along and hopefully make this a little clearer than it would be otherwise, I will share some of the thought process - in a highly abbreviated form.  I will also touch on what our "product" is, and what a target market is and why anyone should care.  Some of this touches on marketing theory, and for those of you who are uninterested in this and/or unfamiliar with the terminology, I apologize in advance.  I will try to stay close to English .   As I mentioned earlier, I view the SCA "product" as primarily being an experience, as opposed to a good or even a traditional service - although most services and some goods have an experience component.  In addition, this experience is multi-faceted, with various aspects that appeal differently to subsets of SCAers (our "customer base" in Marketing speak).  Therefore, we may have what is known as a "compound market" - a situation that exists when a single product (a product can be a good, a service, or both) appeals to multiple groups of people with each group having a different use or deriving different benefits from it.   The temptation - and I started with this approach - is to define a new target market for each of these groups.  However, a better approach is to at least try to identify the commonalities and to build a picture of the target market from there.  This should yield a target market definition that can be used to identify those persons most likely to be interested in the SCA, and also those most likely to stay in the SCA for at least a few years.  Since the SCA is also a subculture, and the social aspect is a large part of the SCA experience, retention is as important as initial recruitment. The other thing a target market definition needs to do is to somehow reflect what is unique about our product as compared to our primary competitors.  I think our primary competitors are historical re-enactment groups, either overlapping our period or not, and SF/gaming fandom and its attached subculture and conventions.  A third competitor, at least in some areas, is the Renaissance Faire culture. For our fighters (heavy, light, archers, etc.), other combat games/groups, such as paintball, laser tag, and Air-Soft, are also competitors.   Since the SCA is an experience, the simplest definition of our target market is people who would enjoy or desire the SCA experience. Unfortunately, this is not a very actionable definition.  To refine this, I looked at the major facets of the SCA experience - focus on Europe or the cultures directly influenced by Europe during the time period between the Fall of Rome and 1650 AD; crafts/A&S; martial arts/combat and live weapons; role-playing/persona building; and the "honor and chivalry" romanticized and idealized view of a Middle Ages/Renaissance culture.  The more I looked at these, the more convinced I became that it is this last which both forms  the common element across our various activities and is the key difference between the SCA and its competitors.   Therefore, I would define our target market as:  "Those people who have at least a casual interest in one or more areas of SCA activities - historical research; arts & crafts; performing arts/entertainment; martial arts; live action role-playing; hosting or attending moderately large to large daylong social gatherings - who are interested pursuing that interest while interacting with others in an environment that attempts to create an idealized and romanticized view of the Age of Chivalry and Honor."   How do we use this definition?  Since there aren't very many large concentrations of people who are necessarily particularly interested in our attitude, the better approach is to find people who we believe are interested in one or more of our activities and expose them to our attitude/culture.  IOW, try to hold demos at arts and crafts fairs, martial arts exhibitions, SF/gaming conventions, renaissance festivals, various history-oriented cultural events (highland games, Shakespeare or other historical literary festivals, etc.), and libraries.  Put out fliers at the same kinds of activities, especially those which are not good demo venues for whatever reason. SCAers who also participate in any of the non-SCA activities mentioned above can directly approach their associates in these groups (variously called "personal selling," proselytizing, or evangelism, depending on whom you ask ).   However you choose to recruit/market the SCA, always remember to emphasize the "culture" of the SCA - the ideals of chivalry, honor, even noblesse oblige.  These are what make us different from other organizations that might capture the time, money, and energy of our members and potential members.  FWIW, from what I've read here and elsewhere as well as personal experience, it is failing to remember this - lapses in courtesy and honor - that most often causes us to lose members/participants as well.   We might attract someone's interest because they are a devoted Kendo practitioner, calligrapher, or juggler interested in how we do it differently - or a devoted partier looking for a new kind of costume party - but its the SCA attitudinal culture that either keeps them past their first couple of months or drives them away. Our product is distinct from our market.  You are correct about our competitors (although, having just run the Australian National SF Con and being the the process of starting a gaming company, you can be involved in more than one aspect of the taste culture), but our market is not just those interested (at present) in these things but those who, due to having the right demographic characteristics that pre-dispose them may potentially be made interested in our product.  I have not tried to define our product so far.  This is much harder than defining our market.  I researched our market and it fills the definitions I gave. Our product is far more diverse than our market (as you and others have indicated).  Some of the research I did indicates a 'general' product (and again you are right by referring to a romantic view of chivalry) but, as Mathurin has pointed out, whose version do you use in defining chivalry?  It will vary from Kingdom to Kingdom, from Barony to Barony and even within Baronies.  Our full product could include calligraphy or dance or combat or just a Romantic 'aura'. When we try and define the product we should leave it general, say 'pre-1600 Western Europe and areas touched etc'.  There is a term used in the military in siting a machine gun on a hill where, to get coverage of a slope you move it further and further down the slope. Eventually your guns are not mutually supporting, are too far apart and they lose their height advantage. It is called 'chasing ground'.  The more we try and pin down a prescise definition of our product, the more we are chasing ground.  In medieval terms, we are counting the angels on the head of a pin. I disagree.  We do not have to define it more precisely - the flexibility and broadness of our internal "working" definition, the one that allows for both the Teutonic Knight and the swashbuckling rapier fighter with visions of Errol Flynn dancing in his head, is a core part of our appeal.  It is also a key difference between SCA and most other historical re-enactment/recreation groups.  We have chosen the "individually authentic and collectively anachronistic" portion of the spectrum. Okay I must have missed something in attempting to read through the hundreds of e-mails related to the GC ...out of the several thousand that were waiting when I returned from Pennsic...but I am reading this as an attempt to define and regulate our society's definition of honor and chivalry.  Since when is it in anyone's purview to tell others how to define honor and chivalry...let alone the GC or the Board? Honor and chivalry are very personal things, and each individual will have their own definition of what they mean to them.  I have no desire for someone to tell me what constitutes honor or chivalry for me .  We can determine guidelines for what constitutes "unacceptable behavior" ...but even that needs to be examined on a case by case basis ...since extenuating circumstances can play a part in any behavior. I don't see pride as a bad thing ... and I don't see it as the opposite of honor.  I can have pride in what I do, in my accomplishments, etc ...that is not a bad thing ... that is part of good self-esteem. Vanity while it may not be the best trait to have ...is not ours to regulate. I especially disagree with the statement that ..."It is especially dishonorable and unchivalrous to be offended on behalf of another who declines to take any further action, or declines to inform anyone of what remedy was agreed to.  You (generically speaking) have no STANDING to pursue further retribution or remedy."   Just  because someone declines to pursue a matter doesn't take away my right to be offended by the original action. I feel that as a former officer of this society and as a peer ...I should be offended by the type of actions described and that it is my duty to work to resolve injustices where I see them. The important point here is that just because someone declines to pursue a matter ...doesn't make them wrong ...and doesn't mean that I can not be offended by the actions.  And depending on the circumstances ...I might have standing to pursue further remedy ..as in my mundane job as an emergency nurse, I may have a required duty to report it the to legal authorities. GC - Top 3 Appendix D MEMBERSHIP GROWTH Updated Version to end of Discussion Aug/05 NOTE:  These appendices are a mildly edited list of the discussions. Beyond the topics as suggested topics there was little consensus on actionable items hence the stream of thought discussions listed below. I would suggest that within there are some very good ideas that need fleshing out. #2)A.   MEMBERSHIP GROWTH         A1.      Fiskr: How can membership responsibilities/rewards be tweaked for maximum participation? Same with the rules structure.         A2.      Kevin: What is the "target market" of the SCA, and how do we better reach it? Does this mean changing our core product?         A3.      Bertrik: I think the biggest worry the society faces is its aging. (also part of Demographic topic)         A4.      Katriona: In Northshield, we are definitely facing the aging issue.         A5.     Ghita:  Improve membership benefit for membership dollar paid. The membership growth question should be dear to my heart, given my academic work, but the 'target market' question to me is already established as well as we can (but would be subject to change if we could do a more widespread survey - which would be a great idea).  We are largely appealling to the same taste culture that includes science fiction, computers, gaming and (to some extent) neo-pagans.  Like all groups we face major changes due to demographic shift, but our case is complicated by our multi-national shift. While the SCA started off as purely USA and quickly moved to Canada it now embraces a much larger number of countries and the membership proportions are continuing to shift away from the USA.  Many of these countries (if we are to believe studies) have preferred ways of doing things that mean US models do not work well there (1). I think that part of the need of the Society is to continually be out there selling itself. In general we don't do this well. There is no overall plan. No overall study of our effectiveness. No continuity. In general I think it can be agreed upon that the healthiest SCA populations are those that have a good recruitment scheme. What suggestions to the BOD can be made to address this? Some would suggest that their is no need to have a top down leadership on this issue. I would counter that an overall plan or guideline is there to help local groups. it is up to the local group as to whether they will fail or succeed. Personally, I doubt that this needs to be a priority.  Our enjoyment of and effective use of our Society experience is not predicated on the need for continual recruitment.  I am perfectly happy if no new people join up and am unconcerned if they do. From my experience, we have the opposite problem; managing the growth that DOES occur.  We have baronies and Principalities that are larger than thrice the minimum for elevation to the next level.  Kingdoms that functioned well at 500 are overwhelmed at 1500.  What used to be successful and enjoyable events with a large group of friends have become stressed out gatherings of strangers. To alleviate this, I'd like to see a maximum point at which a Principality remains a Principality; say twice minimum Kingdom level. Granted some Principalities could not survive such a mandatory elevation, but for those I'd suggest a reconfiguration of their borders so as to create two Principalities from the one or reducing the total area/populace by de-annexing so that another Principality might be formed from the offshoots. YOU have the opposite problem. That is not true Society wide. This is a recipe for disaster. To force a successful group to either elevate when it is not prepared to do so, or arbitrarily split up its ancient and traditional territory, can only create conflict where conflict is not necessary. I suggest you examine the history of such mandatory changes before compelling them. Which does not lessen the fact that the problem exists.  For those areas that have no problem with managing growth, no remedy need be applied.  But a remedy DOES need to be available for areas that DO have a problem. Not so.  The remedy need not be applied to "successful" groups.  We may, however, be using different definitions of "successful." My point in this arena is that once a branch reaches a certain size, it is time to either elevate it to the next branch status rung of the ladder, or split into two (or more) viable groups. This is something I largely agree with, although I was once of the bigger is better persuasion.  The one catch in this is that the group breakdowns often would be along social/economic lines as well as medieval interests, and not our current geographic structure. The primary advantage of the geographic structure is the ability to determine the actual number of members resident within the group. This theoretically is needed as a measure of the group's ability to function.  If we instead used the criteria of whether the group was successfully functioning (or not) then the rule wouldn't be needed (if indeed it currently is) and we could have groups that share the same physical space.  I also think that member/recruitment issues are a local thing, and except for the revenue aspects shouldn't concern the coporation much. Also the target market will vary somehat from group to group, as being a social organization, the targets should be compatible with the existing group's social identity. Who would define successfully functioning and how would it be defined? What would happen if the group is not successfully functioning?  Seems to me that your option could really open the doors to abuse of power unless "successfully functioning" could be determined by measurements as objective as the number of members is. As a DoD employee who had to put up with very vacuous standards, I would prefer to be measured by whether my group had the basic number of members, turned in all required reports by a specific designated date, held x number of events, and submitted a bid that met all requirements for at least one kingdom event per year, if required.  I am not familiar with any kingdom that has goldfish and cats as members; are you?  I would rather take my chances with objective measurements any day rather than try to function at the whim of management where brown-nosing is the path to success. I have no real disagreement with this.  My overall point is that counting members on the basis of geographic region is not a necessary measurement to determine the success of a group. I have been told that people bought pets memberships in order that their branches could meet membership requirements.  I have no reason to believe its not true, but it may well not be.  I am, however, not aware of any kingdom that has certified the humanity of all its members either.  ;-);-) I agree, and by your expectations, having "turned in all required reports by a specific designated date, held x number of events,  and submitted a bid that met all requirements for at least one kingdom event per year, if required" would meet that objectivity.  Its not clear what having X number of members residing in certain zipcodes actually adds to that. I work at the Buffalo Chip (http://www.buffalochip.com) during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Five years ago there was a bumper sticker vendor there promising to have a bumper sticker on any topic or theme you could think of. She had tens of thousands of stickers, alphabetized, indexed and cross-referenced. I asked her for an SCA bumper sticker. She took off to the back room and rummaged for several minutes before triumphantly returning with "the only one I have!" Two color, black on white. The left side has a shield with the letters SCA written diagonally across it. Looks good. Then the text, "Where the dysfunctional go to function".  For at least a part of the world, that is our image There may well be a reason why incipient groups do not become shires, baronies do not become principalities, and principalities do not become kingdoms.   You must look to the culture of the kingdom and its ruling class (i.e., regnum, officers, and "movers & shakers") to see whether such changes in status are discouraged or encouraged.  My incipient shire shudders at the thought of ever becoming a barony even though I endeavor to support the concept of a palatine barony. We have yet to make shire even with a registered name and device and having held numerous kingdom offices, having knights, laurels, heralds, two royal peers, winning patron of the arts and first place in numerous A&S competitions: maybe we'll make shire some day. This may be perceived as Interkingdom Anthropology, but really is more a result of local circumstance.  There are only 3 Palatine Baronies, and all are in  remote areas when compared to their parent Kingdom. Barony of Western Seas (Hawaii), Barony of the Far West (Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Guam) and Barony of Allyshia (Humboldt County California). Provinces are possibly more of a Kingdom Custom thing, but even there, if the branch in question wished the status, Kingdom could comment it to the BoD, but not absolutely block it.  To do so would violate Corpora, as only the Board can give a final yea or nay on branches of the level Barony / Province on up.  Short version:  Kingdom law cannot ban a branch type.  Tradition can discourage it, but not ban it.  As for a 20 year old incipient branch - the Kingdom involved has a problem - I am surprised Corporate hasn't bopped somebody on the head over it. It is mostly a hypothetical situation.  But examples can be seen in extant branches.  I know of one Kingdom that hasn't spawned a new Kingdom since its elevation over 20 years ago.  Some of its Principalities are more than large enough to form a new Kingdom.  The problem with them is not "the PTB's hav(ing) a strangle-hold on the reins of power," its that none of the eligible branches wants to give up the current Kingdom name. In my Principality, it is mostly inertia and apathy that keeps us from elevation.  There isn't a pressing need for the change, even though Kingdom events get so large that viable sites are hard to come by. Courts keep getting longer and longer as more people are deserving of recognition, although probably about the same percentage as before. I like having smaller Kingdoms.  It's easier to know everyone and court business doesn't take as long.  It's been decades since we did a Grand March.  If we did one now, it would literally take all day. A1    I would love to hear ideas on tweaking membership responsibilities to maximize participation.  As for as tweaking awards, restricting armigerous awards to members is the best thing that could be done. The $3 discount for members is seen as quite a benefit by members,  and has persuaded a number of persons locally to join the SCA. A2    The target audience consists of persons interested in aspects of medieval life--whether that interest is based on student status, profession, or avocation.  We can better reach this audience by maximizing asvertisement of the breadth of our interests.  I first met the SCA in Jax, FL in 1977.  It was presented to me as a group of medieval fighters.  I was quite interested, but had a stroke shortly thereafter.  I learned better when my older daughter sent me pictures of her in the SCA seven years later.  The local group was purely college-oriented, discussed college at their monthly meetings, and held one tourney a year.     Not until 1989 five years later did my wife drag reluctant me to another meeting--a tourney in LA.  We joined immediately and have been active ever since.  Had I but known that the SCA was other than a fighting group, I would have had 12 more years to play.  A decade ago, at least one kingdom still had SCA fighting bands that recruited members but never told them about the rest of the SCA or that there were any activities other than the Wars. A3/4   I am seeing more and more young persons joining  the SCA, including youth fighters who get their parents interested, as well as old folks who grew up in the SCA, brought up their children in the SCA and encouraged their medieval interests, and often are now bouncing their grandkids while their adult children participate. A5    The three dollar rebate was great; however, I am open to additional ways to improve membership benefits. This assumes that membership in and of itself is beneficial to the corpration. Financially, the corpration would perhaps be better off discouraging membership. Given the June 2005 figures of 32,392 members, with 1,407 international and 16,518  sustaining figured at $ 20 net (after newsletter costs and overhead), 2,396 sustaining at $20, and 12,071 at $10 (which should be an over calculation as the third family member is at $5, and any beyond that are at $0) gives an average membership income of $16.27.  If we assume that overhead eats up 1/3rd of this we get an income per membership of $10.90, or in other words a bit less than what is paid by a non-member attending 4 events subject to the NMS.  The SCA would be better off by extending the NMS (or some sort of more efficient system) to all events and providing with the membership card coupons for say 7 events which would cover the NMS. Now you have me wondering why the overhead is so high that we would benefit by discouraging membership. A well chosen string of assumptions can lead to any desired conclusion. That does not make the conclusion factual. My best guess is that overhead is between 25  and 50%.  Now, the fact that I'm guessing is one reason I supported  item P (financial issues), and also O (information sharing) since if they do have this info the corporation is obviously not sharing it. Anyway I can't imagine that it is possible for the overhead to be less than 10% per membership (credit card fees, bad check fees, printing, cost of mailing membership,  mailing renewal, mailing separate blue card if ordered on the internet, computer costs, office space, and labor - last I heard Milpitas received the on-line renewals s PDF's and had to manually re-enter some or all of the data - - all of these add up)  On the other hand the NMS costs the corporation virtually nothing. It is inherently fair since it will make those who use the SCA's services (events) the most pay the most.  It is easily tweakable to fulfill the coporate needs, although some may see this as a disadvantage ;-);-) The question, since we have both, is what does membership provide to justify its higher cost? Quick question - Do any Kingdoms use a head charge at troll to fund themselves? Trimaris does, I believe. Not quite correct as the Northshield Stallari has found out when we tried to move to a universal $1 admin fee for all events. What Trimaris does as we have been told is that they charge an additional $-FEE on all Kingdom Level Events. Thus Northshield has changed it's proposed policy to a voluntary $1 admin fee for events other than Kingdom Level events. Too me it seems that a universal user pay system to support the BOD and or Kingdom's is the way to go. Corpora specifically prohibits this. Actually I'd prefer to a simple percentage of event Income rather than a per head charge.  It wasn't a highly rated method when the GC was discussing this.  I suspect it was too much like taxation.  An Tir uses the proceeds from Kingdom events as defined in kingdom law, allowing up to 25% to be kept by the hosting branch, so not here And there is one of my fundamental reasons for opposing a NMS ...because the corporation is providing very little to this individual ... the individual event he is attending provides it...the individual event has to have more supplies, such as privies, TP, site tokens, rental fee (some of our site rentals include a per person factor) etc. As far as I can see...the only thing the Corporation provides is the insurance ...which I don't think changes cost whether that person is there or not...   Now the event should be providing all these items based on revenue from the non-member's regular site fees...since it costs the same to buy TP and rent privies for him as it does a member. So can anyone tell me ....what actual costs are involved in a non-member attending an event ...that are different than the costs of me attending an event...and who is paying those costs?  I can't see it costing anyone $3 more an event for a non-member to attend ...over their regular site fees. It seems to me that members are the ones using the corporation primarily and should be the ones footing the bills.  The NMS was supposed to be a temporary quick fix for a financial crisis...it has now become money that is depended on for daily operations.  Much like getting a bonus and paying off your bills...but increasing your life style so that you are dependent on getting a bonus every month ...not very financial prudent if you ask me. The corporation should be financially solvent ...without...the NMS since that money is "not stable income". I disagree. Having watched Northshield over the past 20 years I can say that groups that successfully recruit stay healthy and active as long as they manage that new growth. Kind of like a family without attention and care the growth can lead to a fractured house. But with maintenance and care its quite rewarding. Without growth and retention older groups do go through what can be described as down times, with little energy or activity. Which they may come out of or that may escalate into something more serious. I guess this depends where you are situated geographically. Whether you are in a dense population area or not. The problems that occur with growth are not easily managed but they can be. And beside having a plan in place for recruitment of membership doesn't mean that each group has to out and apply it. If the locality you are in has plenty of members and you they don't believe that they can handle any more growth simply don't recruit. But I do not think that is is that this is the case everywhere, certainly not here in the majority of Northshield. There has been a growth in the number of Kingdoms and I guess I see no end in site potentially. This in it self is a complication on how the SCA should manage growth. How many Kingdoms will the Society grow to and still be able to manage to oversee each? As to multiple Principalities? From my experience in the Middle Kingdom a multiple principality system may have worked if the culture of the Kingdom was ready for that. I proposed it and fought for it as best I could. But in the end the culture of the Kingdom was not receptive they saw only one way for the culture to evolve and the estrangement grew time and time again and Principalities became Kingdoms. It is no easy thing to promote a group to Baronial or Principality or Kingdom status. To simply do so based on numbers would lead to more problems than I can imagine, Though you do bring up interesting ideas about growth management. Some events seem to grow too large for local groups to run yet they don't seem to know how to manage the growth. There are ways to keep events small in nature, attendance cut offs, pre-reg only, etc etc I don't see groups using these tools often. This is an interesting split from the Pay to Play Philosophy to the original Everyone Come and Play Philosophy I'm not sure if we will ever find a spot where these two come together and meet at a compromise position. The word from on-high is that the term "Non-Member Surcharge" is to be discouraged. Instead, what we have is a three dollar "Membership Discount". In effect, there is a three dollar head tax for everyone at the gate. You can avoid this by paying twenty bucks annually and getting the discount instead. Hmm, except for the member discount, isn't that kinda what Fleig was promoting? carefully avoiding insurance and Officer membership requirement issues But of course those are the relevant details -- so why should a "non-member" who pays $20+- be denied equal rights with a member who pays $20+- less overhead to the corp?  The money is all the same. I could channel Flieg on it ...sincce my opinion is similar ... no way would I support an armigerous award only for members ... if you work, then you get rewarded (obviously no royal peerages for non-members since you have to be a member to be crown or coronet ...and that one I support) It should not be seen as a non-member surcharge but as a member discount.  The members really like that.  They see something that they are getting for their membership every time that they attend an event. I believe that this viewpoint is the official SCA view. And how is this a benefit to the corporation? I am a member ...and I actually don't see it as a benefit but an additional charge to newcomers, those who may have forgotten their membership info, old-timers dropping by to catch up who haven't played in years...etc.  Because you can call a cactus a rose ...but it is still a cactus... Actually, the survey results show that we are not recruiting from our traditional "fen" and college student bases anymore. Our demographic shift is to middle-class and professional families...thirty-somethings with children and disposable income. That is in fact the group I was talking about.  They belong (at least potentially) to that taste culture.  I still belong to that taste culture and I am 50 something.  I started when I was 30 something and deep in that group.  Only a small (but important) part of the group I surveyed 10 years ago came from the University scene.  Whether they were fen or not, they were at least potentially and, once exposed to one aspect of the taste culture have often moved on (or added) other facets of it.  Actually, all the survey results show is that people who were once in our traditional "fen" and college student bases get older with time <.  You would need a demographic survey of new SCAers only to make any conclusion about shifts in whom we recruit, and even then you would need (non-existing) data about the demos of those recruited during some past period with which to compare. This opens a bunch of new questions.  Does the recipient have to be a current member or could they have been in the past and lapsed for what ever reason? What exactly is the rationale for a "Members Only" award system?  I cannot think of any rationale that warrants such a policy.  I certainly will not support such a change to Corpora. MNS? Not so much a "benefit" as a penalty for not being members. Not a rebate as you don't pay the full amount and get the "rebate" in the mail.  The whole idea of rebates is revolting to me.  Why should I let someone hold my money for even 1 day a reap the interest on it? And further, why should I have to pay taxes on the rebate amount?  I realize that this has nothing to do with the NMS, but my button got pushed.I am TOTALLY OPPOSED to the NMS in ANY form. But the money is not all the same. The member paid twenty bucks up front to verify their committment. The non-member only reaches the financial committment of the member at their seventh event of the year, and around here there are few non-members that attend that many events. Almost all social and educational organizations have events, services, or items that are available only to members or available at a discount for members.  Anyone wishing the benefits of membership without paying for it would probably agree that the extra price that they pay is a penalty. We need to figure out a way to encourage people to sign up and pay their money. I hesitate to use the word "member" because none of us are "members" of the SCA. We already had this discussion. The ony members of the SCA are the BoD. Currently, I see three benefits for the money I send to Milipitas: 1) NO NMS. I currently pay $35.00 per year for my dues. That means I have to attend 12 events per year to save money rather than pay the NMS. For some people that is nothing while for others that is way above their activity level. (PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting that we raise the NMS surcharge) 2) KINGDOM NEWSLETTER: Since Kingdom newsletters have been whittled down to event announcement and officer reports because of costs, and because they are available on line there isn't much of a benefit. (At this point I would like to give an atta boy/girl to the new Chronicler for Drachenwald as there was actually an article in there that didn't have to do with an event or officer report) 3) PARTICIPATION IN COMPETITION. Okay, I fight, I am a Knight in the SCA and wear a coronet on my head. I still like to fight in tournements and my Milipitas money allows me do do that. But I am getting older and won't fight forever. This advantage holds sway for some but not all and not the majority. There are also a lot of people in the SCA who don't fight or have no interest in wearing a crown. We need something else.<

When the GC discussed this issue a while back, I though some good suggestions came out of it.One of those was to get more bang for our buck. There are groups in the USA like ours that manage to make lots of deals with their membership. Things like rental car discounts and hotel discounts. Health, life  and dental insurance are possible as well. I was speaking with a fellow GC member here in Germany and he suggested there are ways to get TI back in people's hands by doing an on line subscription. (If you pay your money you can subscribe to TI for no more financial outlay) I am not a computer guy but I don't believe it would be that difficult to set up. I think that more people would sign up if there were benefits that they could see right away (remember, we are talking about Americans for the most part eh). Another suggestion is that that "members" of the SCA (we that pay) could see value for our money is if we would be able to vote for the BoD in much the same way I vote for the BoD of my insurance company. If I don't want to physically vote, I can pass on my proxy to someone else, even a member of the BoD. It makes me feel a bit more like I am in control ( I know, an illusion) of my insurance dollar and the way the company grows. It may also help us regular folks bond with the SCA and the BoD.  This is a good point -- that a switch from the pre-pay membership model to a pay as you go model could cause short term cash flow problems.  For instance, if the SCA were to suddenly stop selling memberships, then it would take a year before the nearly all of current members would be paying the now universal NMS.  Assuming that current members attend 8 events a year, (based upon the poll I think this is conservative) then it would take about 2 years for the Income from the NMS to equal the income from selling memberships. After that point it would exceed the income from membership sales.  This is ignoring any savings from lessened overhead. One way would be to increase the opportunities for children to participate more fully, both in age-based and multi-generational activities. This would directly target the demographics identified in the survey. You need something tangible that comes to their home that makes them feel connected. If the kingdom newsletters can no longer fill that role, for whatever reason, then the Society needs to provide it. TI served that purpose admirably, and de-coupling it from membership was poor communications strategy. This would be worth exploring. However, we would need a really good measure of our demographics and a guaranteed method of delivering the offer to our membership. I am from an incipient shire whose monthly newsletter offers not just shire and SCA info but also historical and linguistic information as well as sources for extended study on various A&S topics--and this info has been typical of the newsletter since the first issue, distributed at the second meeting, I believe.  Although we are merely an incipient shire (and have been for three years), we can do this work; why cannot kingdoms? For a number of good reasons: 1) Kingdom newsletters are required by corpora to have certain information that eats up a lot of space. 2) Kingdom newsletters are paid for from funds given by the corporate office, and these funds have not kept up with inflation. 3) Most kingdoms require certain information must be posted in the kingdom newsletter to be official; laws, for example. 4) Chroniclers do their best to get art and articles to add to their newsletter, when space is available. It is difficult to find material just the right size, that is important enough for the whole kingdom to see. A lack of understanding of the importance of communications in group survivability, and thus a commensurate lack of will to find ways to fund it. This is one reason I liked Flieg's "gate tax" style system, with a few addenda/modifications like selling "annual waiver cards" (the current blue cards), combined with direct subscription for both TI and Kingdom Newsletters.  The major drawbacks lie in all the other things for which we use "membership," such as branch status.   For those things for which we would need some kind of membership accounting, I support local rollup membership accounting in conjunction with "gate tax" funding.  It workd this way:  Local groups define what constitutes bieng a "member" of that group, and keep thier own membership rolls.  These rolls are reported up the chain (Canton to barony, Barony/Province and Shire to Principality/Region and/or Kingdom, Kingdom to Corporate).  You are a "member" of the SCA if you are a member of a Kingdom, etc.  To account for those few individuals who do not want to belong to *any* local group, they would be allowed to apply directly to be listed as an "at-large" member of their Kingdom - at the discretion of the Kingdom.   On a side note, this system would also effectively break the geographic exclusivity currently in place, and would make it trivial for disaffected elements within a group to form their own group.  This would eliminate any possible need for Cedric's "maximum size" limits. For what it's worth, I solicited comments regarding Membership from Outlanders.  Almost all of them felt that the gains of membership were not worth the costs.  Those benefits were as follows: 1. Avoiding the NMS - this is only applicable if you attend 7+ events a year.  Someone pointed out that, for a family unable to attend many events, the NMS is by far a cheaper option. 2. Participating in pollings regarding status and the selection of Territorial Barons/Baronesses.  This occurs relatively rarely, at least around here. 3. Ability to hold office - this was referred to as more like a punishment than a perk. 4. Paying for insurance - Most people seemed to think that the primary purpose of SCA membership was to pay for the insurance which the corporation must cover for event sites and such. In short, it seems that membership must become fundamentally more valuable in order to grow the ranks of the membership. Some ideas that were proposed (and I have not vetted these for feasibility) are: 1. Create a discounted Introductory Membership for first-time members. New members have numerous "start-up costs," and this would make it easier for them to join.  In theory, they are more likely to remain members once they have joined. (That's the theory, anyway.)  2. Raise the NMS and lower the membership price.  The primary drive for many people to become members seems to be avoidance of the NMS; this action would cater to that. 3. Some people requested perks of membership, to potentially include discounts on hotels, car rentals, airlines, craft stores, fitness centers, etc.  I doubt the feasibility of this idea. Always remember, volume (from a business perspective, not physics <) is a function of penetration and reach.  Increasing the perceived value of a membership to current participants addresses penetration.  However, membership growth can also occur by increasing the number of total participants while maintaining the current percentage of members. Now, a question.  What proportion of the SCAers you talked to in the Outlands are currently members?  This proportion apparently believes there is value, or they are acting irrationally.  IOW, it's easy to say "No, we don't get anything out of buying a membership, no wonder no one buys one," even if you just bought one.  Obviously, there are at least *some* members in the Outlands or you wouldn't still be a kingdom. Agreed, but it is very unclear whether most of these 'things' are in fact needed by the coporation in the first place.  They do provide some income occasionally.  I've known a couple of people to fork over $70 so that they could fulfill the commitment that they had already made about being an officer.  I suspect others who had been appraised of this rule simply didn't volunteer. With the existence of the NMS we've created a system where there is financial incentive to become a member if you attend more than 6 events or more than 5 if married.  Financially for the corporation the maximum benefit would be if those who attended the fewest events became members, and those who attended lots of events gave it up and paid the NMS.  I think we can agree that there is something wrong with that system -- but, at least on a financial basis there is no reason to encourage membership over collecting the NMS. Since in 2004 non-members paid all of our insurance costs and nearly $30K towards the salary of whomever wrote the checks what need is there for continuing to treat them as second class citizens? I may have some personal observations from doing over 20 years worth of demos in Oertha that could be helpful: In the 1980's we did fighting and artisan demos at the local Renfaire every summer plus various demos in the public schools including fighting, calligraphy, clothing, basic heraldic design,  and other things like foods, lectures on specific time periods or subjects..I recall doing one on 'pets', actually..as requested.  We also did things for the Boy Scouts, Highland Games, libraries and other organizations when requested. The schools changed policies involving weapons on campus in the early '90's and shortly thereafter fighting demos..what the kids really love seeing..were no longer allowed either lest we teach the little darlings violent behavior, so there went one set of venues. We still did some crafts related things at Junior and High school levels and assorted club funcions. The local Renfaire folded, staggered, had two different ones for a year or so, then the folks who were running the one that was left didn't like some of our PTB so we lost that venue for several years til various Officers changed on both sides. One of the local arts and crafts festivals we usually do fighting demos for suddenly changed their dates to Oerthan Coronet weekend this year, so that's out unless they change back again next year. Nevertheless, the new Barony I belong to has done 3 demos at public library Summer Reading Programs within the last month and will be participating in a local 'Founders' Day" festival later this month. Our major problem is finding folks who can take a non-weekend day off and afford the gas to get to some of the farther corners of the area, especially in the winter, hauling armour or other stuff. Our target audiences, if you will, seem have become a peculiar combination of kids who read..and their folks..and tourists, although we're brainstorming to expand this. Families with kids may have the initial enthusiasm, but until we have more things for them to DO once they get to an event, we will continue to fail them to some extent. One of my pet peeves as a once and future Chatelaine is people who come to events expecting to be entertained rather than as participants in what we happen to have available, and it's why I tend to discourage people from making a Coronet their first event, as most of the Officers and Peers are far busier than normal and new folks tend to get lost in the shuffle unless they have someone to show them around and tell them what's going on. People who have nothing to do for themselves or their kids and no idea what's going on get bored, feel slighted, may feel stupid for 'dressing up for nothing' and generally don't come back unless they have member friends  who persuade them to. It's one of the reasons we pass out a simple trifold 'SCA101' flyer at our demos with basic information including  who to cal for event particulars, clothing help, and what to bring with them to events. Actually, holding office is the easiest of the "other things" to handle if we were to switch to a event attendance or event revenue based funding model.  You are eligible to hold office if you are acceptable to the next level up.  Corporate can identify its officer cadre the same way they do now (assuming they bother), with the warrant system. The trickier issues, or at least the ones that often fail to get addressed, are things like determining eligibility for branch status and promotion, identifying who gets the letters in a mandated branch polling, etc.  Most of these issues can be addressed using the "roll-up" system I described earlier, but that puts a lot of discretionary authority in the hands of the local branches.  This may be good or ill, but it certainly is. Membership has no intrinsic value and worth.  The SCA has, over many years, literally removed privileges that were free (and, often, of benefit to the SCA) and made them conditional on the purchase of a membership.  It has also made the purchase of a membership easier and easier, and built a social structure which reinforces the notion that it is right to charge more of people in order to get them to serve the organization and donate services that the SCA could not afford to purchase. And the only thing that has made membership even close to a qualifying success is the NMS - charging people MORE for NOT paying that fee. I've been a member off and on (most on) since around 1989. I've paid my membership mostly because I am a Marshal and cannot hold that officer position without having that card that says I've paid my dues. In the time I've been a member I've had to pay MORE and get LESS because they raised the rates and then take away benefits (TI).  Even more disturbing to me than that however, is that I never used to have to show my card at Troll. I put my membership # on the form and they trusted that I was a member. Now, I can't get onsite unless I show my card... what happened to trusting your fellow Scadians? We have become larger, and more bureaucratic.  Part of the increase in bureaucracy comes from the growth (I'm looking at a 30-year perspective), part from a reaction (CYA) to an increasingly litigious environment, and part from the increased caution that comes from a group of people growing up.  I your club is 50% + college students, there is a lot less emphasis on paperwork, insurance, waivers, and layers of procedure than if you have a substantial proportion of lawyers, doctors, middle managers, and government functionaries. Largely because the older group is more aware of the risks, and has more to lose, than any objective difference in the risk environment. Let me just throw in a couple things for discussion: - membership should be cheaper (15 - 20$) and the NMS should be higher (5$). This would bring the break even point down to 3 or 4 events a year. - Kingdom newsletters should be provided via email (not on a webpage) in .pdf, .doc or whatever. If you want yours via snailmail you pay extra. - Same thing for the TI. IMO the TI is important for the identity. You need something that is the same everywhere. It should be so cheap that nearly everybody orders it. - Member services like the "Hey you're about to expire" - letter should be sent via email. - The same could work for the membership card. (send a jpg that can be printed. If you fear abuse, I can ensure you that I probably can create a card that would go through every check in about 15 minutes). If another safety level should be put in then you could send the card to the Seneshall of the local group and a message to the member that the card approached there. I am pretty sure that there are many other things that could reduce the costs. I am a strong believer of the "pay to play" rule. As one of you guys stated earlier this year "for me it is a question of honor!" To charge only as much as is really necessary is honorable too.... The rule was not necessarily the problem; the commentary given to the Kingdom I live in...the West, which has always had philosophical issues with the NMS and has had people being VERY vocal about that...indicating that the reason for the rule was that 40% of people attending our events were cheating  the BOD and that we could either pony up or have probationary and other sanctions AS A KINGDOM is a BIG problem.  No allowances made for errors or misinterpretation of records, just a trip to the woodshed with no appeal possible. I am not saying the BOD is composed of  dishonorable individuals, only that they  have espoused a very unfortunate policy for reasons that may seem good to them but that look bad to the average person who attends events. The NMS, coupled with unbundling TI, has reduced the value of a dues-paying membership to the point of nonexistance for people who don't want to hold offices or compete in Crown or Coronet tourneys.  That is a huge number of people and we need to figure out what to do about it because if we don't  we will lose our future. When all you get for a membership is a so-so newsletter, the continued branch status of the group you live in, and a lot of aggravation as a volunteer officer who may or may not be protected from legal action, it's not enough to attract  new people to become members if they don't attend enough events to cancel out the equivalent NMS, period. With a sustaining membership of $35 per year, that means you would have to attend at least one event per month to break even..and that doesn't count the cost of food, clothing, camping gear, feastgear, or gasoline to get to said events. The "vocal resistance" ranged from backhanded slanderous, like the bit of yours that Ferd and I commented on, to downright insulting, to outright inciting people and groups to cheat. Then suddenly 40% more people showing up to events are members than there are members on the rolls. I am afraid that any reasonable person would conclude that "errors or misinterpretation" are not the most likely explanation.  So the BoD made a simple change, and applied it universally and did not just single out the problem children. A change that, despite great wailing and gnashing of teeth, really does not impact the gate process at all. It does, however, make everybody either consciously comply or outright defy, it eliminates any possible wiggle room between human error and sabotage, it removes "plausible deniability". Then it said comply or face sanctions. The NMS is a nit; the only reason there is controversy is because it offends certain sensibilities. If *we* would stop flogging the dead horse and just bury it, it would have no effect whatsoever on new members coming in. Un-bundling TI was a huge mistake. But it is a mistake that every organization makes at least once...penny wise, pound foolish sacrifice of communications to ostensibly save money. Those that survive the mistake do so by reinstating their flagship publication as a part of basic membership. And expanding their store house of optional publications. And do not believe that we can replace those with online publication; all the data shows that you cannot supplant a physical publication with an online publication, your online publications function as additions to the physical ones, they work best when they complement each other. Not to mention only about 65% of adults in the US have internet access, and much of that is at work. And with the proliferation of internet scams and viruses, employers are beginning to crack down on non work-related use of their property, which they have every right to do. This will increasingly tend to limit access for folks who now have it and should be considered in publications policy. many SCA members in Oertha communicate by computer because many of us are students or have one in the household, we live so darned far apart and long-distance phone costs are prohibitave compared even to DSL, but I suspect our situation is not the norm. This access to the internet will vary from place to place and will affect the takeup of electronic information and how many want hard copy.  In my Barony every member (and every potential member) has access to the internet by law - the State government has recognised that this is a vital method of communication and we all have free accounts through libraries and community access centres.  Not everyone chooses to take this up, so that, although theoretically 100% of people have access, in practice it is more like 75%. Another variable that will affect takeup is how small an area is covered by the group. In small areas hardcopy can be handed around very efficiently. This will not work for us as our Barony is over 300km from one end to the other by road, not counting anyone who may be in Ynys Rhew (our Antarctic possessions and territories) or working on the sea between . The point is that on-line publications will work in some places very well. In others they won't.  We are still at the point where groups need otions on this sort of thing. "Wired Students Prefer Campus News on Paper", NYTimes This is very comprehensive, but you will have to buy the article. Most of the rest of my information comes from seminars and workshops, not easily cited online. Online publications require entirely different design considerations than print, thus doubling the work of publication. PDFs can get around that a bit, but then you lose most of the benefits of online AND most of the benefits of print. Unless the end user prints it out...which is what PDF is optimized for...which means they get a lesser quality copy that cost them much more. Print publications are more portable, and more convenient for most people. Online is easier to search...if it is HTML, PDF is more problematic. And if the site has properly archived back issues and indexed them.  There are extensive guides for putting publications online, the things that must be done to be successful, profit or non-profit. It isn't as easy as just posting a Word doc instead of printing it. It would. That is why it makes an excellent *complement* to print, rather than a replacement. You can update, include additional information, etc. An informal survey of our barony showed it was about that or less. I don't know of any rigorous studies of the SCA as a demographic group. But for most people it does meet their needs, and better than the online version. And there are the intangible aspects to having a physical link to the organization, that comes to the home and sits on the coffee table. Especially forpeople who don't go to many events but want to stay connected. Each group needs to evolve a system that works for their group.  Many of the groups in Lochac have web-based newsletters, some protected by password, others not.  Most at least distribute word and pdf files to subscribers at cheaper rates.  All have an option of more expensive paper copies (in our case there is an option for B&W or colour).  Even the Crown gets ours electronically. What is needed is not a compulsory transition to any form, but the availablity of all newsletters at all levels in a format that suits their readers.  I believe that our Kingdom newsletter is investigating whether to move into electronic form at present.  Since our Barony has moved to electronic files our subscriptions have gone up (actually more than doubled) while our group size is still much the same.  We are even posting more than we used to.  This means more information is going out and is more easily accessible. I heartily agree with this mail and strongly believe that we all may find Lochacs experiences very valuable in the long term. The question pro and contra electronically or printed newsletter becomes meaningless if we find an easy way to handle both and give the member the choice. If you don't have access to the web you have no choice but so what? And this makes even more sense if the newsletters expenses are split from the membership fee. If you give me the choice of getting the "Dragonstale" (Drachenwald newsletter) in printed version or getting it as .pdf (or whatever) and pay less membership.... guess what I would choose You seem to be assuming that collecting NMS is the only reason for checking cards at the gate.  How many Kingdoms have a simple sign-in sheet at the gate (initials only for reservations) for anyone with a signed blue card, and a longer non-member waiver with multiple blanks to be filled in for anyone without the blue card.  In Meridies, the difference between the two forms is anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds. Multiply that by the number of people in line, and you may begin to see the advantage of those little blue cards.  How has the NMS "reduced the value of a dues-paying membership?"  I can certainly agree that unbundleing TI reduced the value of membership, but according to all the fiduciary arguments people are proposing here, the best way to increase the "value" of a membership to INCREASE the NMS, not reduce or eliminate it.   I fully understand that both the West and the East have cultures highly inimical to the NMS, and it definitely has its roots in the "us versus the Board" attitude that was firmly entrenched as of the Provino "Pay to Play" debacle.  However, to attempt to recast your objection to the NMS as an attempt to enhance the value of SCA membership is to greatly weaken your ability to stand against the NMS "on principle."  Now, back to reality.  The NMS is almost certainkly here to stay unless we implement a major change in how the SCA, Inc is funded.  The NMS is currently a rallying point for the "pro-Board" and "anti-Board" factions of the SCA, and disagreement over it often reaches the point of religious fervor.  The numbers on each "side" vary widely by Kingdom and even from one area to another within the same kingdom, making this an issue which highlights and emphasizes our differences rather than our commonalities.  Therefore, this entire issue represents a "clear and present danger" to the future health of the organization as a whole.   What can we do about it?  It is unlikely that the forces currently opposed will, at least in the foreseeable future, change their opposition.  It is also unlikely that the Board will rescind the NMS until and unless there is a fundamental change in how the SCA is funded.  I see two viable alternative funding systems that have any chance of being adopted:   Alternative 1) The "head tax" system (Flieg's system).   Under this system there is no NMS and for every event where money is collected and attendance recorded (remember, we will still have the waiver issue so there will still be a gate system) an amount (say $1 for sake of argument) is sent to Milpitas for every person who attends.  Details which need to be addressed include setting the rate ($1, $1.50, etc.), which must be done by determining both projected event attendance and the projected SCA budget.  The simplest implementation of this retains a much reduced membership, which gets you a waiver card to simplify the waiver process and the satisfaction of being "counted" towards the population total of your Kingdom, local group, etc.  Unbundle the Kingdom newsletter from this membership, and you can price it at the current price of an Associate Membership, or slightly lower.   Newsletter subscriptions can be collected directly by the Kingdoms (meaning members and non-members have the same opportunity to subscribe), and the SCA, Inc. can continue to subsidize the Kingdom newsletters, but take the subsidy out of the "head tax" revenues, not the "membership" revenues to avoid the argument ovber members subsidizing the newsletters of non-members.  2) Finance the SCA entirely with "Affiliation fees,"  (pure franchise model)  Under this system, groups would pay to be a part of the SCA, and they would raise the money for these fees from their populace, by any means they choose so long as they do not violate the financial guidelines of the SCA.  The easiest implementatin would be to charge at the level of Kingdom and/or Principality.  The most important detail here, and the most difficult, is determining a rate or rates. A flat rate per Kingdom could be calculated as above, taking the needed revenue and divicing by the number of Kingdoms.  However, this may place an undue burden on smaller Kingdoms, who will wind up paying more per person than will larger kingdoms.   Unfortunately, any scheme for apportioning fees among the Kingdoms is likely to result in at least some perceived unfairness.  However, one with relatively less room for complaint would be to make each Kingdom's fees proportional to the total income of that Kingdom, as reported in the offical financial records.  Also note that I have not addressed the issue of Kingdoms that cross Corporate borders (those that encompass the territory of more than one national Corporation, such as Drachenwald), or the future issue of how the SCA treats with an affiliate corporation that encompasses more than a single Kingdom.  One effect of this plan which crosses the topics of Structure and Membership is that it effectively moves the SCA to a system where you belong locally, and your local group belongs to the SCA.  The financial change drives the structural change, which makes a change in both the perception and the reality of membership inevitable. Another is that it enherently acknowledges that our Corporate relations are following a franchise or affiliation model both within the US and internationally.  As with any proposed change, there are strengths and weaknesses to both of these plans.  Should these be discussed in more detail as possible recommendations to both the STRUCTURAL REVISIONS and MEMBERSHIP topics? The NMS does indeed bring back the provine debacle, and will most likely have a vocal group against it for that very reason.  But even as the Board discovered in 1994, there are groups of people who feel more comfortable with a "pay to play" system.  So, how to make both groups happy?  1>  Flieg's Head Tax or a version thereof.  I would suggest that every hosting branch of an event that charges a site fee pays corporate (Through their Kingdom) per person in attendance.  I would suggest a graduated structure:  $1 for Shire and Baronial events  $2 for Kingdom events  $3 for the major Inter-Kingdom events (Pennsic, Estrella, Lillies, Gulf Wars, Great Western War are what comes to mind).  This level could be reserved for any event that has to have it's own financial policy. This sounds like an equitable set of arrangements all around..now can we get this adopted in our lifetimes? And don't forget the Principality level events..$1.50 per attendee sounds about right for that. It gores everyone's ox equally at the gate AND gives members something for their money besides responsibilites. And yes, membership purchases are coersive in nature when a branch is told they have to have X number of members or they'll get demoted or dissolved.  In a relatively small Principality with a fair number of transient military members, college students, low to mid income members and one group has a membership numbers waiver that the Principality does not and must make up for, this has been a perennial problem. That's really more increasing "participation," not necessarily membership.  I can show you a number of people who have been playing 20+ years, and doing a lot of research, fighting, making gear, etc., but whose membership history is spotty at best.  And that's in one of the most pro-membership kingdoms in teh Known World <.  When you start looking at areas with a less membership-oriented culture, particularly where most groups have members to spare as far as making their "status" thresh-holds, you will find many of their "leaders" have spent much of their SCA lives as non-members.  The first part of that statement is undeniably true, although it may or may not be a good thing depending on how some other issues get decided - which will not ultimately happen here.  However, it is arguable at best that members are inherently "persons  with a long-term investment in a group and the SCA."  Where we happen to be, it is more or less true - although with exceptions even here. Elsewhere, it is not nearly as sure a thing. The NMS is not even in existence for Lochac.  I cannot speak for the other non-USA Kingdoms, but this is a perfect example of another reason we need an overall body.  To me this discussion is a waste of time as it is irrelevant to the issues - it is purely an issue for those within the USA and should be discussed by the national group. Whooops there is no separation between national and international leadership or review, so the rest of us need to sit through it. Canadian groups also have to deal with the NMS ($4 Canadian vs $3 US), as did Barony of the Far West (Japan, Korea, Okinawa) until quite recently. Drachenwald has a variance, otherwise they would also deal with it.  The NMS is very much an SCA wide issue, and we should replace it with something more equitable. What would be more equitable?  Specficially knowing the size of the organization and the variables of currency... A per head tax for event attendees, with the money collected going to whichever affiliate has jurisdiction would be more equitable.  Head Tax in Australia?  SCAA.  Head tax in Kentucky? SCA Inc.  etc.  The SCA is a group that has grown over 40 years because we welcome new people with open arms.  Saying "Welcome to the SCA - your site fee is $3 more because you don't have a card" goes against that IMPO. Okay, I need to chime in. 1) The NMS (although not named as such) *is* a head tax. If you already have a membership, you are exempt. If you are a child, you are exempt (in most cases). 2) Rules regarding event administration should fall directly in the jurisdiction of the corporation created to serve that area. SCAA could choose to implement a head tax, and the SCA, Inc. wouldn't have anything to say about it. Each corporation which administers an area should be able to set the modern/civil side rules for activities that occur within their jurisdiction, including any fees for either membership or event attendance without let or hindrance from any other corporation. That's the way it works now, for those corporations that have affiliated. It just so happens that the only corporation currently with a an event-based head tax of any kind (that I know of) is the SCA, Inc. I haven't heard that SCAA, SCA-NZ, SKA or SKA-N have instituted any event-based fees (although I don't really have to know about it even in this current position as all of them are out of *my* jurisdiction as Society Exchequer), although I could be wrong and I'd be happy to be educated. However, one of the reasons for the NMS and un-bundling of services is a diehard resistance to increasing membership fees. The Corporation runs on a shoestring, and the costs of whatever benefits it provides continue to increase, but a significant segment of the populace wants it to continue to provide the same benefits...or more...while not raising the price of membership. That is the driving basis for all the changes that folks seem so exercised about. Gravity pulls downward, perpetual motion violates physics, and organizations that provide benefits have fixed costs. The money collected per participant must meet or exceed those costs, or no proposed solution will solve the problem. Continue to have a membership system. Membership gives you your membership card with waiver, your Kingdom Newsletter, TI, and Complete Anachronist.  3 year memberships give you a plastic card instead of a paper one ... TI is for *short* articles (several articles per issue). CA is for *long* articles (one article per issue). I don't think combining them make sense. Combining them is not logical; they serve vastly different needs. Combining the *functions* of both into a comprehensive communications plan with coordinated print and online elements is however quite logical. I think one of the critical questions hinges on perceived value of newsletters.  While TI and the Compleat Anachronist provide original articles of often high scholarly merit, kingdom newsletters often provide little more than event announcement flyers and some short announcements from the various officers.  At least, that has been what I observed in the two kingdoms I have been in; Meridies and Atlantia. Arguably, most people's interst in kingdom newsletters is in the event announcements.  However, I would argue that this body would do well to not default to the digital solution as the solution of choice.  IMHO, computer literate and techie types tend to be highly represented here and this may mirror the society as a whole. What I would suggest would be giving members the option of receiving their kingdom newsletter electronically, much the same way many utilities allow you to receiv eyour statement electronically or on paper.  In this way, we could save the cost of printing and mailing newsletters to those with reliable digital connections, while continuing to serve those without digital connectivity. I realized a long time before TI was unbundled that the newsletter that I got and any other publications I got for a "membership" was not worth $20 then $35 a year.  Heaven knows I could get lots better mags for that price.  And for a long while, I tried to figure out what I was getting for my money, and not having much sucess. Then a former board member gave me information that finally made sense to me.  And made me glad that I have paid for all these years.  Helmet: $250  New garb: 4 hours  Same great game and great people almost anywhere I go: PRICELESS The NMS is part of how SCA, Inc. is funded.  If it is eliminated or scaled back, fine.  That means that expenses either also need to be scaled back proportionally, or other funds must make up the difference.  That's also fine. In this discussion, I believe the biggest source of conflict comes from widely differing points of view on fairness and the role of SCA, Inc.  Both of these can become emotionally charged issues. I believe the larger issue of "how SCA, Inc. be funded" is more important, has greater promise for common ground, and ties closely to the issue of organizational structure. So, in a perfect world... how would SCA Inc. be funded?  And how would it be structured? Then, in a not-so--perfect world... how can SCA Inc. be funded?  And, given legal considerations, how can it best be structured to serve its members? When I managed a retail store (pet shop) for several years, we had some items we sold that had a pretty low markup (cat food, about 30% greater than cost from distributor).  Then, we had other items we sold that had an astonishing markup (rawhide chews; even at only $0.10 per chew, had something like 800% markup).  All together, though, the store ran profitably, and the majority of profits got turned back into the store (it was in a rapid growth mode). Now, on cat food, considering handling, cost of shelf space, and other costs... we made very little money, if any, on cat food.  But the profit margin on things like rawhide chews subsidized the cat food, and overall the balance sheet worked. At least for my store, the spinoff.  The parent store didn't do as well as we did.  But we didn't subsidize the other store. So, the question becomes... on what basis do you want to raise funds? Per-item charges, like for publications?  Headcount fees?  Non-member surcharges?  Percentage of site fees?  Percentage of event profits? Or what? Likewise, if you believe that expenses need to be reduced, how do you propose to reduce them?  I have my own thoughts on that, but if you were looking to cut SCA, Inc's costs over the next 5-10 year span, how would you do it? Can a combination of approaches work? And what structure would best serve the membership of SCA, Inc?  Is there a better structure than currently in place, and if so, what would it look like?  And what would its associated costs/benefits be, if any? My understanding of the NMS is that it is a way (one way) of helping to pay for all of the things for which the SCA must pay.  What are those things?  I have trouble imagining where all of that money goes (although I admit that I have not investigated the cost of our kind of liability insurance, which is probably an enormous part of our expenses). Is the budget of the SCA, Inc. available to us, and is it feasible that the GC could discuss and comment upon that budget?  One option to "raise more money" is "spend less money."  Have we tried the latter approach yet? There is another use for the NMS - currently, as many people have pointed out, avoiding the NMS is an incentive for becoming a member. If one of the goals of SCA, Inc. is to increase membership (as opposed to participation, a related topic), should we not also be discussing the role of the NMS in increasing or maintaining membership?  There are some people who are *not* buying memberships bedause they see their action as a protest against the NMS, and there are some who are reducing their participation, thus increasing the likelihood that they will quit SCAing altogether, because of the NMS.  There are others who are buying memberships under the NMS who would not be buying memberships were it not in place. Currently, we have no way of putting numbers to any of these.  It seems to me that getting some data on this is necessary before the Board does *anything* with the NMS - increase it, reduce it, or eliminate it.  Ideally, similar info would have been collected *prior* to implementation, and the original NMS would have benefited from this input, but we can't change the past.  We can, however, avoid repeating our mistakes <. BTW, simply looking at membership numbers, or even event attendance numbers if you could get them, from before and after the NMS won't help, although it may at least be a start.  Everything from the overall economy of a given area to gas prices has changed, and certainly has had some impact on both event attendance and SCA membership.  If total revenues have increased, the NMS was at least a partial win from the Corporation's perspective.  If there has been anything but a decline in membership, that is probably a qualified success as well, given the negative pressures in most of the area served by SCA, Inc. (the apparent new talking point is that the NMS is actually a member discount,) On that subject, they can try to spin-doctor the NMS as  a "member discount", but you can't change a racehorse's colors once he's out of the gate. This particular fee was implemented as a Non-Member Surcharge in my kingdom.  I suspect that the good membership of the SCA are going to be more than a little insulted at any attempt to rename it for the sake of political correctness and palatability. I don't know anybody who is happy with this fee at present.  If the goal is to make the membership happy about paying less at the gate (to give them a benefit), I think doing away with the non-member tax we have now and implementing something that is actually *born* in the guise of a membership benefit would be a smart move. I think the first question is why is it a goal to increase membership? The traditional answer is that membership is that which funds the necessary corporate expenses and that to keep the costs low having more members paying in is better than fewer. Having introduced the NMS we now have another major source of funds. The corporation would appear adequately funded for the moment, so what point is there in adding more members?  Why should we be making membership more attractive?  Even if we needed the money would it provide more in total, or more useable funds than would say making the NMS more attractive? Currently the average member pays $16.27 of non-subscription related funds directly to the SCA, which figuring no overhead creates a break even point of just a bit over 5 1/3 NMS fees.  Since the median SCA member goes to  6-10 events a year, with 41% going to more, I think that we can safely assume the median member goes to at least 8 events. That means if the events had been covered by the NMS the person would have paid $24. Thus on average the SCA gives up potentially $7.73 worth of NMS revenue per membership.   For those that buy memberships because its the right thing to do, and who aren't required to have one by current rules, you might consider dropping your membership and proudly paying the NMS.  The SCA would be better off for it. Since the apparent new talking point is that the NMS is actually a member discount, I would actually like to see that put into effect. Making the NMS built into the event fee for all events, although it should be scalable for otherwise cheap events, and giving members a limited number of discount coupons which would be transferable and good for any SCA related expense, should answer those who feel the need to belong or get something for nothing. It would allow greater fine tuning of funding for the corporation since the number or worth of coupons  and of the head tax (or whatever) could be adjusted to need.  The coupons should have an expiration date and the resultant expired, lost or otherwise unused ones should allow the corporation to seem fairly generous about giving them out. Without going into breakeven points - becuase this applies equally even if we juggle the numbers to change those - what you are describing is a situation in which much of what we have been discussing depends on whether we assume the NMS is permanent.  If it is, then we can eliminate most of the other inducements (or coercions, if you prefer) for membership, such as membership requirements for holding office (warrants serve nicely for most purposes, and a newsletter access requirement can be addressed separately from membership), fighting in Crown List, receiving an AOA, or whatever requirements may currently be in place in various Kingdoms. Optionally, Kingdoms can keep them, if it fits their Kingdom culture better, as long as we still have something called membership. One key change, in my mind, to make this work is to unbundle the Kingdom newsletters from membership.  At a minimum, they would  need to be made available to non-members even if they remain included in the price of a membership.  Frankly, I can't see any reason to tie availability of a subscription to *any* of our publications to membership, with the possible exception of the Board Minutes, but that is a separate topic and we aren't there yet. Have we had any indication that it isn't?  I can't imagine the BoD giving it up without replacing it with something else. I have always thought that local member discounts were particularly vile. Given average particpation and a $3 discount, the member was getting back more than they paid for the membership and often sanctimoniously deriding the non-members for not pulling their weight. However, since I see discounts/NMS as a transitional stage to a new enlightened SCA (tm), and also they may serve as a frequent user limit in the same manner as the present family caps, I think they may still serve a useful, if more limited, purpose. A-1  The question "How can membership responsibilities/ rewards and the rules structure be tweaked for maximum participation ?" has been hijacked by the member discount issue: what it should be called, is it effective, and should we have it.  Could we move on the double question posed: A-2a  "What is the target market of the SCA, and how  can we reach that market more effectively?  My answer, to start the ball rolling, is that our target market consists of persons interested in medieval arts  and crafts, costuming, history, and fighting (swords,  rapiers, bows and arrows). I was not particularly interested in any of these after I had my stroke, but my wife insisted because she liked illuminating and costuming.  I was reluctant until I discovered  medieval onomastics was part of the SCA--there are not enough persons in the US interested in medieval onomastics to form a shire, but we provide a service. My including my interest in the target market would be asinine.  So what do you think of my definition.  This definition of a target market should help to support  our defined mission.  We need to reach some degree of consensus before we can discuss A-2b effectively. A-2b  "Will our efforts to reach our target market require changing our core product? A-2c  "What do we see as our core product?" [my contribution to the question] An inviting, comfortable, compatible environment. Our diversity of activity promotes diversity in the populace. Our core product, and IMO our greatest strength, is also the one thing with the most potential to factionalize our membership. The inviting environment draws people from many different areas. Archers, fencers, armored combatants, A&S types, even the heraldically inclined (gentle tease). Because of the nature of projectile weapons, archers are relegated to the fringe areas of events. If they want to play with others they can be combat archers, but those activities are limited and a large segment of the armored community doesn't like combat archery, or so I read on the lists. Hard feelings ensue. Most rapier fighters eventually go through the angst stage where they feel slighted because they don't have a direct avenue to a peerage, and no path to winning a Crown. Further angst comes from the "ancillary" title attached to their game, epitomized by Calontir. A&S people nurtured in an encouraging, "you can do it!" environment get browbeaten in competitions. Etc... The inviting, comfortable, compatible environment draws people in. The diversity of activity, and the passion that accompanies those activities, causes factionalization. I would define our target market differently.  Your definition includes only those who know they are interested.  There is a broader market which we need to reach.  This is the taste culture that includes all of those who, at any time, have been interested in fantasy and SF, gaming, combat games (laser tag and such) or any similar activity that lies in the area of Romantic pursuits. We are looking at a few age ranges.  For future growth we need to inveigle the 14-18 and 19-24 year olds.  These people (if they run true to type) will come along, may spend some time in the SCA and then will probably drop out for a while (some will stay right through). Having said that, if we are treating them right a large number will come back once they have families and careers.  We are also looking at the baby boomers.  Many of these don't know that they are our target market, but they are often in the interest groups that we can attract, they often are now empty-nesters who have a degree of financial security and they are often looking for something now the kids are gone (or that they can do with grandkids). We also need to look at getting back people who have been SCA in the past and have, for some reason stopped doing it (gafiated).  An SCA generation is accorded as 5 years.  In this time (if following normal trends) 50% of people who joined as new in the first year will have left.  A further 50% of the remainder will leave within a further 5 years.  Some of these find a more interesting taste culture (unlikely) or move to another facet of the one we belong to.  Many could be brought back These categories became apparent while I was doing my research.  I doubt that there has been much change since 1995.  Where change has occurrred has been due to shifts such as declining real wages in Western cultures leaving less discretionary income, but htis does not mean the people are still not interested, they can just afford to do less. And let's not forget senior citizens, either. Many of them have acquired valuable knowledge of arts, crafts, literature and so on that they can pass along to us and our newer folks. I spent some time with members of a local seniors group recently..our Barony wants to see about renting their hall for events..and they were very receptive and interested in what we do. Perhaps they can't do some of the physical things that are more visible SCA activities, but I think we may have things of considerable value to offer eachother. They have knowledge and experience that we can profit from, we have people willing to listen to and learn from them. Oral traditions were a strong part of Medieval and Renaissance cultures. I believe that an examination of the reasons why these folks left would be worthwhile.  Here you have people who had some measure of interest and commitment and then left.  If we could determine why this took place, we would have some understanding of measures that could be implemented to get them back.  I would not disagree; however, I used 'interested' not 'already interested' because I believe that our duty is to awaken that interest in those who have such an interest. If persons do not have a latent interest in the medieval period or its activities, they have no interest to awaken.  Many persons have a desire to learn of which they are unaware; however, it takes a master teacher to awaken the unwary, and they are in very short supply.  Although I am a senior citizen myself, I do not believe that age categories should be addressed as part of our definition of core market--I do not see our mission as age-specific: we already have ministers of children, page schools, and youth combat (as well as wheelchair access and handicapped parking for us geezers--yes, i know there are handicapped persons of all ages, but there's a reason why we handicapped refer to others as TABs (temporarily able-bodied).  Let's leave 'age' discussion to item A-3/A-4.  The recruitment of young persons is an obvious answer to concerns about aging. Sorry, writing business plans for a new business at present and addressing marketing issues (among others).  It rubs off.  Why shouldn't we do what business does and look at the ages that are most likely to be interested in us?  Whilst we should be of interest to any age (just look around at an event), what we want to do is to find the most target-rich environments to maximise results and minimise effort. I am not suggesting breaking up events by age in any way.  I am suggesting that we think where and how to market to get the best results. Are we considering former SCAdians as our 'target market' or as an adjunct market that also needs to be explored once we have, by consensus, defined our 'target market'?  As far as recruiting members back from other groups, the ones that I met who had left the SCA for other groups fell into three categories:   I.    Those who felt that the SCA was not authentic enough and joined smaller groups that stressed authenticity--usually a specific time, place, and culture; e.g., early Iro-Scots in Dalriata, late period Irish Gaelic soldiers in Leix, cavaliers for King Charles (Meridies is filled with WBS reenactors).  The bare steel groups consider themselves more authentic, but most are not culture specific and do not have the manpower and resources to research too far.  My comments here are USA-specific: Drachenwald has more serious competition from other groups with research capabilities and institutional knowledge.   2.    Those who felt that the SCA was too authentic and who formed or joined fantasy and/or gaming groups; e.g., Klingon reenactors, D&D. The foam-rubber sword groups that I have encountered talk about wanting to look authentic but try to do it in polyester and lack all basic knowledge of the Middle Ages.  One thought that the Middle Ages came between World War I and World War II (he placed both in the 18th [sic] century--sometime around 1850) and took place only in Europe.  3.    Those with unpleasant experiences with poor group leaders.  If the leader was that of a warband and the disgruntled knew nothing else about the SCA, the ones that I met were lost for good.  If the leaders were appointed or elected, some of the former members with experience in the SCA could be salvaged by another SCA group, even years later.  Just for the record, the people that I played with in Caid a decade past are still playing except for those whom death has claimed.  There were always people coming and going on the fringes but the core with whom I played remained active and grew.  I even met a few third-generation SCAdians there. One of the biggest factors I've run into in my long career as a Chatelaine is, sadly, poor treatment by high-ranking members, specifically Royalty or Landed Baronages. This can encompass things from ignoring folks not in their household or 'social equals' to actively making people who don't fit their definition of 'our sort of people' ( and yes, I have heard that exact phrase used by one individual) feel so uncomfortable and unwanted that they either transfer membership to another group within the SCA or leave altogether. Political BS..usually among the same group..runs a close second. In my experience, those who left will sometimes come back once the folks who treated them badly either leave the SCA, move away, or are removed from positions of authority, but not always. Ours is a potentially expensive hobby in terms of time and materials just to go to events; people don't like making that kind of investment NOT to have fun or to be treated poorly, so they find something else they like doing instead, and who can blame them?. A while back there was a comment made about people who won't complain about badly behaving PTB (Powers That Be) being wusses; this is not altogether fair. If the next level complained to does nothing, nothing changes; if they investigate, name complainants to the person being investigated and then still do nothing, they have set people up to have their SCA lives made Hell til the ones who complain have to leave and the toxic situation remains the same. I have seen it happen. Only when a situation is so egregious as to almost be obvious from space and thus reflect poorly on the next level up does anything get done, and the effects may not last longer than a reign. Your mileage may vary, but this has been my personal experience, some of it recent. Ideas on how to change feudal-style abuses in a feudal game culture would be welcome! Feudal abuses have built in feudal remedies. A Lord who abuses his liegeman is no longer his lord. He has broken the feudal contract. He has abrogated any fealty, oath-bound or otherwise. And his former subjects are within their rights...and duty bound... to stand on his beard and tell him so, loudly. That is what makes a feudal system work; the two-way nature of the rights and responsibilities of all involved. A couple of suggestions to target kid markets and also let adults become interested.  IMHO only. Do Library and school demos, do boy scout blue and gold dinner demos. What about the Brownies and Girl Scouts stuff?  State fairs and of course Renn. Faires.  Do period stories, crafts and such. Locally, for me only an hour away, there is what Forth Leavenworth Kansas calls Pare day.  It is a day when everyone from car dealerships, to plant nurseries, to the hobbyist show up to offer things to do and yes the local SCA was asked if they would come, yet again.  Targets the Military that are there for Officer training, yes. But gives their families options of other things they can do in the mean time.   There have got to be, internationally, things like that you can do. I totally agree the aging population needs a shot in the arm.  And please, being American and not well traveled out of continent..I have only a small clue. Encouraging younger people with new ideas and energy to pull them off is bad why?  If Society gets a few new paying members that is not a bad thing either? But, is this a Society level issue?  I see it being addressed regularly on a Shire thru Kingdom level. Our target market is 26 to 55 years old, more couples than singles, and around a third have children. They have at least some college, and household income between $40K & $80K per year. They are in the habit of donating time and/or money to non-profit organizations. Motivation for membership is unknown, but can be presumed to be some combination of interest in history, martial arts, crafts, and socializing. Actual breakdown of motivating factors will require additional surveys. Anecdotal evidence suggests that one common path is to tag along with an already participating SO or friend to be sociable, "find something to do" while here, and become caught up. Interest in any particular aspect of SCA activity may well be very much a secondary factor in recruitment. (re: change of current marketing practice?) Since there is still a strong bias that our target is poor college students and much of our efforts are aimed toward that market, that would seem to be a reasonable conclusion. I have a question which may help muddy the waters a bit.  Mathurin supports a demographic-based definition of our "target" - very actionable, though possibly not vey precise - based on an avowed cross-section of current SCAers.  However, since we are marketing to *potential* SCAers, would it not be better to target a demographic base more like curretn members were *when they first joined*?  While less than wholly accurate, you can adjust age, for instance, by taking the average (median would be better, and we can interpolate a median from the data we have) age and then subtracting from that the average SCA tenure.  While a "typical SCAer" might be in their mid-30s, I suspect that a "typical SCAer at his/her first event" is somewhat younger.   There is no good way to make similar arithmetic adjustment to other demographics, such as income, although it should be noted that income is positively correlated with age, all other factors being held constant, at least up to age 55+ Are you describing what you believe to be the target market for the SCA or are you describing the current membership?  If the former, why do you believe that the target market should be as you described? Both. If we had 30 million members there would be some basis for concluding that we had exhausted the demographic group represented by current membership. Since we have considerably less than that, our best target market is the demographic group that we have demonstrated success with. The analysis was based both on what characteristics distinguish members from non-members and where they overlap. (re # members vs # nonmembers?)  I can agree with you there.  And we can probably also both agree that going from 50,000/25,000 to 55,000/35,000 would be a win.  The trickier question may be, is it a win, a loss, or a draw if we go from 50,000/25,000 to 50,000/30,000, or 50,000/20,000?  What about 55,000/20,000?   The question - and the difference among the various membership "camps" - is a matter of emphasis.  I think there are very few who favor increasing membership at the cost of sacrificing participation, but there are those who believe participation is the *only* important measure.  We could potentially alter our overall strucutre, financing, and even some of our rules so that this would become true, but I do not believe that we are clsoe to being there now, and I'm not sure we are likely to move all that far in that direction. My personal "camp" would be to say that anything which drives participation down is a bad thing.  (Other things being equal). I'm not convinced that anything which drives membership numbers upward is always good, either - so long as the reason things went upward was perceived goodness or value. Please bear in mind that the oft-ballyhooed ideas around internationalization and increasing the number of incorporations will reduce "membership", since right now we are basically only counting US corporation members. I think that underlies one of my major points - which is that I consider corporations simply as tools to play the game.  If the game itself became odious, why would one become a member?  Membership is not the goal to me, participation is the goal. I apologize for my ignorance; I have a silly question. Does SCA, Inc. have a business plan? A lot of the questions and issues I've seen cropping up in the last 3 weeks, again and again, are the sorts of things that one normally sees addressed in a business plan.  Things like: What does the SCA provide?  What needs does it fill?  What value does it provide to its members? Who are potential members?  Why will they join? How will the SCA reach these potential members? Where will the SCA find funding to continue? This doesn't necessarily depend on a growth model, but given the past 5 years as an example, it appears the SCA is increasing membership each year.  The previous 5 years show fairly stable membership numbers. In plain. the answer would be no. Because, the SCA inc. is not a business. But it does has a lot of things that approach something in that direction. It has a mission statement, a purpose. It describes what it does, and how it does it. It is bundled in what people commonly describe as 'corpora'. And it has a budget. The problem underneath is that the budget is only for the top level organisation, and the majority of the activities are on the lower level, and are not budgetted (At corporation level). That is a grand idea...but not a job for the Grand Council. I suggest making a recommendation to the BoD that we need one. It is a matter of reality. This group is too big and too diverse to serve as a drafting committee. That may be.  But section V.A. through V.E. allows for working groups or committees.  That might likely be an appropriate step, if the GC is charged with drafting a business plan for SCA, Inc. My personal take would be for the GC to take the lead on this (for the BOD). We should post the headings to be discussed on the announcements list and open up to suggestions and comments from the SCA generally. We debate it and put together a draft and pass it to the BOD.  It would not be a micromanaging document, but one that talks about what we see our strengths as, our focus, our aims, our future, what research has been done until now on our target market.  It would be a reference point for Kingdoms and, to a very large degree, a source document when we start looking at devolving items to a world body. For the both of these it would need to be general (and may even specifiy some regional variations in it), but would also need to be precise enough  that we could point at something and say this is/isn't SCA. No it doesn't - and we are a business - we are just a non-profit business. Any group that has revenue and charges money is a business. It is just that our focus is not on raising money (but we need it to survive). Having just been writing a full business plan over the last few weeks as a part of a course and to set up a new company, I can say that we would benefit us all greatly if we had one.  Defining our strengths and weeknesses, working out our target market, etc etc would be a fine focussing effort.  It would not look like one from a for-profit enterprise, but it would still be very similar. You have many good questions.  However, the problem you face in getting answers is that all of the "planning" is at the top and all of the work is done by volunteers, mostly at the bottom.  So, an all encompassing plan is rather difficult to even begin to come up with. Now, IMO, what the corporation (or corporations in the organizational model I suggested earlier) need to provide is very simple.  Insurance, some way to track who is considered a member (by whatever criteria are chosen) and an interface with the modern world.  (And maybe someone to arbitrate disputes from the medieval side of the game, but maybe not.) What the corporate end of things doesn't need to do is figure out how to find itself into perpetual existance, promote one idea of SCA culture at the expense of others, or anything else not listed above. When it comes right down to it, SCA, Inc. isn't needed for the rest of us to play our game on the weekends.  Any organization that can provide for the required items, above, will do just as well if not better. I guess what I'm getting at, is that what SCA Inc. needs to plan is how to perform the functions the medieval side of the game needs it to perform and it needs to plan how to get out of everything else it has slowly co-opted away from the medieval side of the game over the years.  This may take changing the organizational structure to make it more responsive to the people playing the game it's supposed to support.  It may require looking at lots of corporate expenses and deciding what items don't provide for the required corporate functions and cutting them. I don't recall if it was the GC that did this (but I think so) or one of its "predecessor" informal lists - but I think we did put a lot of early effort into a "mission statement".  And, in the end, it merely highlighted basic differences in philosophy more than it showed a unified purpose. While mission statements can be so much candied philosophy, I do think having a general agreement on corporate goals would be useful before building a business plan to achieve it. Since these are related issues, here are a few thoughts about both of them. The SCA is experiential - meaning that for most people, when they talk about being in the SCA, or playing SCA, they are really describing an overall experience.  That's pat of the reason reaching any consensus about what the SCA is and is not has been so difficult - experiences vary based upon the perceptions of the participant.  This also means that our core product is that mutable thing - the SCA experience.  It is a combination of a set of activites, an environment, and a set of social relationships.  Every possible aspect fo the SCA will be "the key factor" for *somebody.*  This is why the SCA, as an organization, is often instinctively change-averse.  Given that our product is an experience, our *true* target market is anyone who is likely to enjoy and respond favorably to that experience.  Unfortunately, this is not a very actionable definition. Colm's attitudinal/interest definition is basically an attempt to describe people who are likely to be attracted to the SCA experience because they are interested in one or more of our activities.  Again, this has merit but produces a definition that is not very actionable.  Hrolf's "taste-culture" definition adresses the issue by attempting to identify behaviors liley to indicate someone who would be attracted to the SCA.  This is a more actionable definition, since many of the activites identified also provide recruitment venues (demo opportunities).  Similarly, identifiying age and other demographics of likely "joiners" also helps focus recruitment efforts.   What we also need to remember is that you can have more than one target market for a single "product," particularly if that product has muliple facets which potnetially hae different "uses" or reasons for appeal. For example, we might have a target market of "18 - 35 year old males with an interest in sports, particularly full-contact martial arts" for heavy combat, a separate target of "crafts-oriented people of all ages with some interest in either trying new techniques or in the history of their crafts" for static A&S aspects, etc.  Different aspects of the SCA experience will have more appeal to different groups. Doesn't "target market" vary from area to area?  In some locations, it seems that the target audience is a younger group, where in other areas, it might be families with children of varying ages.  In some areas, SCA participants may have more disposable income than those in other areas. While I think this is an interesting concept, I am not sure how much standard marketing techniques apply here. If someone handed me a list of qualities or characteristics of an individual who would be part of the "target market", I would probably use that as something to consider when trying to recruit new members. This is, to an extent, true.  However, despite regional variation there should be underlying trends.  Variation would probably include newer groups having a tendence for younger members etc. Our target market is: Any person who is in the taste culture that includes all of those who, at any time, have been interested in fantasy and SF, gaming, combat games (laser tag and such) or any similar activity that lies in the area of Romantic pursuits.  More specifically within that group our prime age ranges are the 14-18 and 19-24 year olds and the baby boomers.  We also need to look at getting back people who have been SCA in the past and have, for some reason stopped doing it (gafiated). Most people in these groups will be amateurs, but for some the line is blurred. Definitions of the terms jargon terms 'taste culture', 'Romantic' and 'amateur' can be included.  These are about as well as I can do for short definitions of them. 'Taste culture' is best described as a group of people with a common set of tastes in cultural consumption.  They may vary in background, age or income, but will tend to have (or be aspirational to) similar levels of the four main types of capital (educational, monetary, symbolic and cultural). Usually the group will exhibit homogeneous characteristics in one or more major ways.  Where this does not occur there is usually tension within the taste culture leading to splits and factionalisation (for the SCA one of the better examples that often fits is the strong fighting-only household).  In post-modernity (where we are now in the West) the taste culture, as an affinity group, has or is in the process of becoming, in many cases, more important than class, geography or any other indicator of consumption and behaviour and people will have friends within the taste culture that are not within their geographical area and whom they will only seldom (if ever) see. The key book here is Hebdiges 'Subculture: the meaning of style'. 'Romantic' is a term that derives from the period of Victorian times (and earlier) where there was often a yearning for something else in reaction to the perceived alienation of modernity.  It is best expressed (for popular consumption) in a book 'The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Consumerism', which was written as a rebuttal (or more properly a completion) of "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'.  The Eglington Tourney was a high point of Victorian Romanticism.  The SCA derives directly from Romantic interpretations of history in the way it is constructed. An amateur is best described by Stebbings in 'Amateur and Professional'. Many amateurs can be as skilled as professionals, and as well educated.  The sole distinction is whether they make their living from occupation.  During the depression the US administration made much of the importance of hobbies ('The Job You Can't Lose'), boosting their standing in the general population and this has carried on for much of Western culture. An overall excellent analysis. But it still begs the question of *whose* version of "honor and chivalry"? It seems obvious that there are significant variations in the definitions of these ideals among our members. It is this variance which is at the root of many of our most severe internal conflicts. It would seem to me that, in order for this to be in the least actionable, we would have to define it more precisely. And I am not sure that is feasible. In Europe we seem to have a even smaller target group: It is those you mentioned minus those that are caught by the huge reenactment scene, because they feel it as too narrow minded, to authenticity based, because they like our way of fighting or whatever reasons. .... and some of our groups are not even big enough to run a good demo just on their own.... Gaining members is indeed a pretty local task..... I can't see how the society as whole could help a lot ... By providing resources; the chatelaines are often barely more than a newby themselves, a high quality package of flyers, demo guidelines, model press releases, etc. would be precisely the kind of thing Corporate could, and should, provide more effectively and efficiently than ad hoc methods. Ideally, a target market is defined broadly enough so that applies at least somewhat in all locations, yet narrowly enough to define your "customers" from "competitors" customers.  In the case of the SCA, our most direct competitors come from two areas - historical re-enactment groups, either overlapping our period or not, and SF/gaming fandom and its attached subculture and conventions.  A third competitor, at least in some areas, is the Renaissance Faire culture. For our fighters (heavy, light, archers, etc.), other combat games would also offer competition.  Note that, as with most industries, we actually share a great many of our "customers" with our most direct competitors.  However, we are competing for those customers' time, energy, and money.  You might notice that your points about family structure and socioeconomic differences from place to place apply equally to these competitors.  I've been thinking about this for the last couple of days, off and on.  So, to help you follow along and hopefully make this a little clearer than it would be otherwise, I will share some of the thought process - in a highly abbreviated form.  I will also touch on what our "product" is, and what a target market is and why anyone should care.  Some of this touches on marketing theory, and for those of you who are uninterested in this and/or unfamiliar with the terminology, I apologize in advance.  I will try to stay close to English <.  As I mentioned earlier, I view the SCA "product" as primarily being an experience, as opposed to a good or even a traditional service - although most services and some goods have an experience component. In addition, this experience is multi-faceted, with various aspects that appeal differently to subsets of SCAers (our "customer base" in Marketing speak).  Therefore, we may have what is known as a "compound market" - a situation that exists when a single product (a product can be a good, a service, or both) appeals to multiple groups of people with each group having a different use or deriving different benefits from it.   The temptation - and I started with this approach - is to define a new target market for each of these groups.  However, a better approach is to at least try to identify the commonalities and to build a picture of the target market from there.  This should yield a target market definition that can be used to identify those persons most likely to be interested in the SCA, and also those most likely to stay in the SCA for at least a few years.  Since the SCA is also a subculture, and the social aspect is a large part of the SCA experience, retention is as important as initial recruitment. The other thing a target market definition needs to do is to somehow reflect what is unique about our product as compared to our primary competitors.  I think our primary competitors are historical re-enactment groups, either overlapping our period or not, and SF/gaming fandom and its attached subculture and conventions.  A third competitor, at least in some areas, is the Renaissance Faire culture. For our fighters (heavy, light, archers, etc.), other combat games/groups, such as paintball, laser tag, and Air-Soft, are also competitors.  Since the SCA is an experience, the simplest definition of our target market is people who would enjoy or desire the SCA experience. Unfortunately, this is not a very actionable definition.  To refine this, I looked at the major facets of the SCA experience - focus on Europe or the cultures directly influenced by Europe during the time period between the Fall of Rome and 1650 AD; crafts/A&S; martial arts/combat and live weapons; role-playing/persona building; and the "honor and chivalry" romanticized and idealized view of a Middle Ages/Renaissance culture.  The more I looked at these, the more convinced I became that it is this last which both forms  the common element across our various activities and is the key difference between the SCA and its competitors.   Therefore, I would define our target market as:  "Those people who have at least a casual interest in one or more areas of SCA activities - historical research; arts & crafts; performing arts/entertainment; martial arts; live action role-playing; hosting or attending moderately large to large daylong social gatherings - who are interested pursuing that interest while interacting with others in an environment that attempts to create an idealized and romanticized view of the Age of Chivalry and Honor."  How do we use this definition?  Since there aren't very many large concentrations of people who are necessarily particularly interested in our attitude, the better approach is to find people who we believe are interested in one or more of our activities and expose them to our attitude/culture.  IOW, try to hold demos at arts and crafts fairs, martial arts exhibitions, SF/gaming conventions, renaissance festivals, various history-oriented cultural events (highland games, Shakespeare or other historical literary festivals, etc.), and libraries.  Put out fliers at the same kinds of activities, especially those which are not good demo venues for whatever reason. SCAers who also participate in any of the non-SCA activities mentioned above can directly approach their associates in these groups (variously called "personal selling," proselytizing, or evangelism, depending on whom you ask <).  However you choose to recruit/market the SCA, always remember to emphasize the "culture" of the SCA - the ideals of chivalry, honor, even noblesse oblige.  These are what make us different from other organizations that might capture the time, money, and energy of our members and potential members.  FWIW, from what I've read here and elsewhere as well as personal experience, it is failing to remember this - lapses in courtesy and honor - that most often causes us to lose members/participants as well.   We might attract someone's interest because they are a devoted Kendo practitioner, calligrapher, or juggler interested in how we do it differently - or a devoted partier looking for a new kind of costume party - but its the SCA attitudinal culture that either keeps them past their first couple of months or drives them away. Our product is distinct from our market.  You are correct about our competitors (although, having just run the Australian National SF Con and being the the process of starting a gaming company, you can be involved in more than one aspect of the taste culture), but our market is not just those interested (at present) in these things but those who, due to having the right demographic characteristics that pre-dispose them may potentially be made interested in our product.  I have not tried to define our product so far.  This is much harder than defining our market.  I researched our market and it fills the definitions I gave. Our product is far more diverse than our market (as you and others have indicated).  Some of the research I did indicates a 'general' product (and again you are right by referring to a romantic view of chivalry) but, as Mathurin has pointed out, whose version do you use in defining chivalry?  It will vary from Kingdom to Kingdom, from Barony to Barony and even within Baronies.  Our full product could include calligraphy or dance or combat or just a Romantic 'aura'. When we try and define the product we should leave it general, say 'pre-1600 Western Europe and areas touched etc'.  There is a term used in the military in siting a machine gun on a hill where, to get coverage of a slope you move it further and further down the slope. Eventually your guns are not mutually supporting, are too far apart and they lose their height advantage. It is called 'chasing ground'. The more we try and pin down a prescise definition of our product, the more we are chasing ground.  In medieval terms, we are counting the angels on the head of a pin. I disagree.  We do not have to define it more precisely - the flexibility and broadness of our internal "working" definition, the one that allows for both the Teutonic Knight and the swashbuckling rapier fighter with visions of Errol Flynn dancing in his head, is a core part of our appeal.  It is also a key difference between SCA and most other historical re-enactment/recreation groups.  We have chosen the "individually authentic < and collectively anachronistic" portion of the spectrum. Okay I must have missed something in attempting to read through the hundreds of e-mails related to the GC ...out of the several thousand that were waiting when I returned from Pennsic...but I am reading this as an attempt to define and regulate our society's definition of honor and chivalry.  Since when is it in anyone's purview to tell others how to define honor and chivalry...let alone the GC or the Board? Honor and chivalry are very personal things, and each individual will have their own definition of what they mean to them.  I have no desire for someone to tell me what constitutes honor or chivalry for me .  We can determine guidelines for what constitutes "unacceptable behavior" ...but even that needs to be examined on a case by case basis ...since extenuating circumstances can play a part in any behavior. I don't see pride as a bad thing ... and I don't see it as the opposite of honor.  I can have pride in what I do, in my accomplishments, etc ...that is not a bad thing ... that is part of good self-esteem.  Vanity while it may not be the best trait to have ...is not ours to regulate. I especially disagree with the statement that ..."It is especially dishonorable and unchivalrous to be offended on behalf of another who declines to take any further action, or declines to inform anyone of what remedy was agreed to.  You (generically speaking) have no STANDING to pursue further retribution or remedy."   Just  because someone declines to pursue a matter doesn't take away my right to be offended by the original action. I feel that as a former officer of this society and as a peer ...I should be offended by the type of actions described and that it is my duty to work to resolve injustices where I see them. The important point here is that just because someone declines to pursue a matter ...doesn't make them wrong ...and doesn't mean that I can not be offended by the actions.  And depending on the circumstances ...I might have standing to pursue further remedy ..as in my mundane job as an emergency nurse, I may have a required duty to report it the to legal authorities.

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