All models are wrong, some are useful -George E.P. Box
It's been a hot minute (ok, not really a minute, more like a long and agonizing 3 year Pandemic) since I offered an SCA Value Map. I have a couple of updates coming in light of the most recent Board of Directors meeting (April 2023). Additionally, I wish to support of Master Aeron Harper/ David Biggs' work on improper sanctions handed down by the Board: A Tale of 6 Sanctions
And Mistress Iselda de Narbonne/ Alexandra Evans' petition to the BoD to restructure the organization.
First: Context for this article
In September of 2020 I offered some professional insight on the value of a paid SCA membership during the time period when the SCA was struggling with not being able to attend events in person. At the same time the Board of Directors asked it's participants to buy paid memberships. I did an analysis of what the "Pre-pandemic" and "Current Pandemic" value of an SCA membership was in order to demonstrate that the value of a paid membership had changed.
You should go read that and watch the video attached to that page before you go much further, or you are likely to be confused.
In the last 3 years, the value of an SCA membership has changed again. First, most of the value fluctuation as a result of the pandemic have stabilized; what was lost has been regained. That said, newsletters are no longer behind a membership portal paywall. Anyone can read an SCA newsletter.
While I think this is great, because downloading newsletters were an extremely underutilized value (bordering on meaningless), the result of that action is the value of a paid membership has degraded some more. We are getting even less value for our money than we were before.
However, at the Board of Director's (BoD) meeting in April of 2023 it was announced that the SCA is looking to add JSTOR access as an additional value of membership. Although this is only a proposed change, I have added it to the value map as it represents exactly the kind of value thinking the organization needs to have in order to encourage people to pay for a membership. I note excitedly, that JSTOR membership is also in alignment with the 501.c3 principles of the SCA.
Most of the time I am very angry at the BoD and the Society Officers, but I do want to offer credit for an excellent idea. I know that Master Joel Messerer (East) /Joel Lord, suggested this to the Board of Directors 5 years ago, and they are finally acting on it. I hope that their investigation goes well, and new value is offered to members. I also hope it is successful enough that similar ideas to increase the value of a paid membership come to light. This is a critical step for the long term viability of the organization if the current grass roots attempts to reform the Governing Documents and structure of the Board of Director's fails.
Post Script: On refusing to pay a membership fee as a protest.
I too have felt the urge to refuse to re-up my membership as a way of protesting BoD and Society Officers actions. As a purely practical matter I have concluded that as much as I want to stick it to the man, refusing to pay a membership fee is not a large enough lever to get the organization's attention, and ultimately it will not matter.
Because of the Non Member Surcharge (NMS).
My husband and I attend enough SCA events that our membership fee saves us money. If we stopped paying it, they would still collect $10 an event from us. By June of every year they would have made more money off us than if we had paid our Family membership.
Yes our membership fees go to pay the President's salary, but so does the NMS. In order to effectively use the lever of "starving the organization of money" we would have to stop attending all events.
Quitting the SCA sounds great some days. These days it's most days. It is so difficult to find reasons to keep playing when the semi permanent Board of Directors, it's President, and the President's Executive Assistant seem to thrive off the scorn they heap on it's participants and members. However, anyone who has tried to step away for a while often finds it hard to stay away. The next Value Map, the Participants Value Map offers clues as to why it's so hard to quit this game, and why, ultimately, people play it.