Grand Counsel Report of the January 2006 Board of Directors Meeting

Master Aleksandr Vasilevych Lev of Northshield, Grand Council Secretary for the Board of Directors of the SCA, has posted a report from the Grand Council meeting which took place in January 2006.

Master Aleksandr writes:

Report from the Grand Council: Jan 2006

A. COMMITTEE/MEMBER ACTIVITY

1) Migration of Grand Council List Last Winter the Council voted and decided to move the mailing list from an AOL service to be hosted on the SCA.ORG system where the Grand   Council would have direct control over the software configuration and   can incorporate additional services in the offering. It also gives the   Grand Council the ability to directly contact the person responsible   for the system in the event of an issue. Migration accomplished successfully. A few problems are still being worked upon.

Concerns expressed at the time had a lot to do with a lack of a simple web interface for accessing the archives for those who choose to not receive messages or who wanted to review things. Also the limited   amount of space available for archives on the AOL service.

The Grand Council has already migrated our web presence from volunteer space to http://grandcouncil.sca.org

We also gained the ability to have as many additional lists under our grandcouncil.sca.org domain as the Grand Council may need to use.

Note that the sca.org DNS issues in December have caused this report to be later than anticipated. A followup will be forthcoming ASAP, perhaps in time for the meeting, certainly in time for a conference call.

2) From the Board of Directors Meeting in Oct/05. A new Ombudsman, Director, Tom Hughes and Three New Topics of Discussion.

  • Increasing the amount of info available on the Web/Web publishing      as a way of saving costs
  • Establishing an official start date/end date for the SCA (note that      we already officially say 1600 as an end date).
  • Requiring membership for awards/martial activities

B. COMMITTEE STATUS AND COMMENDATIONS

A current list of Committee Officers is viewable on the committee website at http://grandcouncil.sca.org/gcroster.html

Changes due to Resignation/End of Term Limitations: 1) Margherita Alessia "Ghita" , Susan Earley, Middle  USA, NomCom,   1999/07

Leave of Absence: 1) Dietrich von Vogelsang, Todd French, CAID  USA, Kingdom, 2002/02 est

Commendations go out to Margherita Alessia "Ghita", who is leaving the council after many years of great service. Also  Commendation to Bertrik van Triecht, Moderator for his work on the  migration and continued work on solving the last glitches and to outgoing Ombudsman, Director, Lis Schraer whose patience and attention  was greatly appreciated.

The Grand Council welcomes the new Ombudsman, Director, Tom Hughes.

No Additions this Quarter. Next Candidates will be added to the Grand Council in May/06.  We have a large pool of qualified candidates to   draw from should it be necessary.

C. PUBLISHABLE SUMMARY

The committee has started work on the first of the three new topics assigned after the October 2005 board meeting, "Increasing the amount of info available on the Web/Web publishing as a way of saving costs". Discussion is ongoing, but preliminary discussions reveal that the majority of the council feel that all electronic distribution should be an available option, but that paper distribution should remain as an option for those who choose that method. It is also believed that overall costs may decline, though per copy costs for newsletters may increase if subscriptions fall below some unknowable level.

Discussions on the other two topics assigned will take place after the first topic has been completed.

  • Establishing an official start date/end date for the SCA (note that       we already officially say 1600 as an end date).
  • Requiring membership for awards/martial activities

D. REQUEST FOR THE BOARD

None.

Respectfully submitted,
John Patrick Kowal,
Secretary
SCA: Aleksandr Vasilevych Lev of Northshield
#28604 28 FEB 2007
Barony of Castel Rouge,
Northshield

Appendix A: Preliminary Report On The First Topic

The Following outline was generated and commentary is still being   collected. Should the SCA pursue web publishing as a possible avenue for cost savings? If so:

  • What should the SCA publish on the web?
  • What kinds (not formats) of documents?
  • What elements should be centrally managed?
  • What elements should be managed by the kingdoms / regions?
  • Hosting publications: central or regional?
  • Push or pull?
  • Email notification or not?
  • Format/s?
  • List allowed format(s) or list minimal formats and suggest more?
  • Access for members, nonmembers, your neighbor's dog? (for this purpose, members are paid card holders of SCA, Inc. and it's affiliated corporations, nonmembers are participants who don't hold a membership card and neighbors dog is the other 5+ billion people in the world)
  • If restricted, upon what basis?
  • What mechanism will be used?
  • Will such publication affect membership numbers / types?
  • If so, can we anticipate a trend of directions (even if not quantifiable in hard numbers)?
  • Can we predict future demand from current sales?
  • Will such publication affect the financial structure /cost distribution of SCA, Inc.?
  • How do we know this?
  • What are the implications of a change in cost distribution?
  • What schedule should electronic versions of documents be made available?
  • Different schedules for the three classes of audiences?

However in brief the Grand Council offers the below interim observance:
Financial Impact of Electronic Publication
If the Society offers the functional equivalent of kingdom newsletters on the web, the financial impact will be felt at three levels. What follows will examine what seems to be the most likely and practical scenario, that no effort is made to collect a fee to view the web content.

It is important to emphasize that it is neither essential nor necessarily desirable for the electronic distribution of newsletter content to mimic the format of the print product. It might take the   form of several different vehicles: one or more officer lists and a   regular e-mail reminder to visit the kingdom website for general announcements and calendar updates.

  Individual Participants
At the individual level, the effect will be almost entirely benign. Everyone who finds the web version an acceptable substitute for the print product will save $15. Also, the electronic version can   deliver the same information more promptly ( i.e. typical 1-2 month lag between submission and arrival of information). Those who think the   print product is worth the additional price can continue to purchase   it. If the number of current subscribers who switch to the web product   is large, printing and mailing costs per copy will rise, and these   increased costs will probably need to be passed on to the remaining   print subscribers.

  Two society rules limit the ability of individuals to take full advantage of electronic publication. Officers are required to be sustaining members, and one member of a household is required to hold a sustaining or international membership to allow other members of the household to order family memberships. If an acceptable electronic alternative is available, these individuals are still required to order the paper version even if they feel it offers no added value.

  If a kingdom makes all newsletter content available via the web, it is recommended that web access is an acceptable alternative to a sustaining membership to hold office, and family memberships should  be available to the immediate family of sustaining and  international members (current policy) and associate members (new policy).

  Kingdom Level
Assuming the kingdoms are responsible for hosting and delivering their web content, there may be some additional costs they must cover. At   first approximation, the added marginal costs seem to be minimal.

  Some kingdoms may be spending more to produce and deliver their newsletters than they receive in newsletter stipend. This is presumably less of an issue since the newsletter stipends were increased, but may still be a factor for some kingdoms. If so, they would benefit from increased electronic distribution. The Grand Council doesn't have   enough information to answer this question.

  Corporate Level
Current subscribers who choose to drop their print subscription have   two choices.

     Sustaining to Associate
Currently, the newsletter portion of a subscription seems to bring   more revenue to corporate SCA than it costs in  newsletter stipends,   perhaps as much as $2.00 per subscription. This is based on a fairly   crude analysis of Society budgets, and the Board probably has a better   sense of per capita cost and revenue than the Grand Council. Presumably, this balance will change as printing and mailing costs increase over time. 

  Membership Dropped Entirely
If an acceptable alternative to our print product is offered at no charge, some participants will choose this option. However, the Non-Member Surcharge will still make  membership attractive for most current members. According to the member survey,  75% of the members attend six events a year or more. At seven events a year an  associate membership pays for itself through avoided Non-Member Surcharge fees.   If a family  membership can be purchased in conjunction with an associate membership, the break even point for an adult couple is five events a year each. If a person attends no other event than Pennsic,   that alone justifies membership on purely financial grounds.

Even if all the newsletter content is available electronically, it is likely that a significant number of current members will still feel value in the  print product because of portability, comfort, habit or other preference. After  all, the calendar and event announcements have long been available on most or all Kingdom sites for some time, and   this is the bulk of newsletter content, and  the content of value to   the greatest number of readers.

Still, to the extent that electronic delivery is seen as an acceptable  substitute for the print product, some negative impact on membership should be  expected, either slower growth or an actual decline. Previous discussions with  the corporate office in relation to the   World Proposal indicated that a  membership decline of several thousand would not lead to a proportionate reduction in office expenses, as it   would not be enough to allow a reduction in  staff and many office   expenses are fixed. There would be modest savings in the cost of printing and mailing membership cards and renewal notices. There would also be some offsetting revenue, in that someone who no longer held membership would begin paying the NMS. It would not entirely offset the lost membership revenue, since dropping membership makes the most financial sense for members that attend less than six or seven events a year, but the offset could be significant.

The distinction should be made that the "push" is to make electronic publishing *an* official format not *the* official format.  For the foreseeable future, print would also continue to be *an* official   format.  However we must recognize the fact that due to not everyone   having access to the web, in either broadband or dial-up formats, that   any push to make electronic publishing the official format for the SCA   might lead to an alienation of some of our members.