[Ansteorra-announce] [Announcements] Chairman's Quarterly Letter to the Membership
jwilliams at director.sca.org
Mon Jan 16 15:39:33 PST 2006
Chairmans Quarterly Letter to the Membership
During my earlier days in the SCA, I recall thinking that the Board of
Directors was this mysterious entity that served an unclear purpose. "We
must need one," I thought. "It wouldn't exist if we didn't." But how it
affected my enjoyment of the SCA was entirely puzzling to me.
So why does the Board exist, what does it do and how does it affect your
participation in the SCA?
First a little background. The SCA was incorporated in its early days in
1969, and filed as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation in the State of
California in 1971. This move was needed because the SCA was growing by
leaps and bounds, and some sort of organization was required to allow the
"game-side" activities to continue, while creating a management structure
to handle increasing business and legal demands from the modern world.
State and Federal laws require all non-profit and for-profit corporations
to have boards of directors. They exist to provide governance for the
corporation and to ensure that it meets its stated purpose.
The SCA's Board of Directors is unique in that it serves dual functions:
we ensure that the SCA meets all of its legal and financial obligations
mandated by applicable legislation, and we also serve to support the SCA's
game-side activities so everyone can have a good time. No matter which
function we happen to be serving at a given time, the foremost question we
have in our minds when we consider any action is, "how will this benefit
the SCA's membership?"
Managing the Corporate side of the SCA requires a number of officers,
including a Board of seven Directors. One Director serves as Chairman, and
another as the Vice Chair. Generally, Directors are elected by the Board
every six months and serve three-and-a-half-year terms. However, there are
occasions (such as when a Director must step down before the regular term
is over) when elections must occur out of sequence and terms are shorter.
In extreme cases, a Director's term can be extended by up to six months.
All volunteers, the Directors work in three primary ways: we meet once a
quarter in various locations across North America; we hold at least one
conference call between the regular meetings; and we converse via e-mail
on a daily basis.
The Board establishes the rules of the SCA's historical recreation
activities and sets up minimum administrative requirements for officers
and branches. The Board is also the final arbiter of the interpretations
of these rules made by the SCA's officers. While the Board may delegate
management of the day-to-day operations of the SCA to other officers, we
are still ultimately responsible for the decisions they make.
Among the larger tasks the Board is faced with are the following:
* Budget management
* Oversight of Corporate and Society officers
* Sanctions review
* Review of the Governing Documents
* Final resolution of game-side conflicts and issues
An annual budget of approximately $1.2 million sounds impressive at first.
But it's amazing how quickly that money gets eaten up. Publications and
insurance account for almost half of that figure. At budget-planning time,
a lot of hard decisions need to be made. Do we raise membership costs? How
can we cut office expenditures? Is it time to hire professional IT
support? Because the bulk of our revenue comes from membership fees, we
have to make decisions that will directly or indirectly benefit the
members the most.
There are about 14 Corporate and Society Officers and standing committees
that report directly to the Board. For the most part, these individuals
and groups work autonomously, but their rulings and advice still need to
be reviewed by the Board. Each quarter, they file a report detailing the
activities of their office's or group's activities. The Board must ensure
that policy decisions are in line with the Governing Documents and that
the decisions do not have any unforeseen consequences.
A sad reality of the SCA, and perhaps the most trying, is the need to take
disciplinary action against certain individuals for their behavior. This
can take the form of anything from a temporary suspension of rank and
title to a permanent ban on participation in any SCA activities. Almost
all requests for sanctions come from the Kingdoms. These requests are
thoroughly reviewed and investigated by the Society Seneschal's office
before being brought to the Board. It is our job to verify that all
procedures were followed properly and to go over the information presented
by both sides, without bias, before rendering judgment.
The Governing Documents of the SCA are what codify how the Corporation
does business, and, together with the various Officers' Handbooks,
determine how the historical re-creation activities of the SCA work. As we
grow, changes need to be written into to these documents to make them more
effective. Frequently, a small change in one part can affect other parts.
In conjunction with the SCA's President and the Society Seneschal, the
Board carefully reviews any proposed changes for consistency and
unintended results before putting the changes out for comment by the
Sometimes, issues arise within a branch of the SCA. Most of the time,
these issues are resolved in house, without any involvement from Board.
And that's just the way we prefer it. But despite the best efforts of
those involved, there are instances when the Board is asked to step in.
This is usually a last resort, and the results seldom come out completely
in favor of anyone. Much like reviewing sanctions, the Board must examine
large amounts of material related to the matter and make a final ruling.
>From reading the above, it may seem as though the Board is largely a
reactive body. While that may be true to a degree, we have lately made it
a point to become more proactive. We recently held a long-range planning
meeting to discuss ideas that will take the SCA into the future by
improving both Corporate operations and the game-side experience.
Additionally, we dedicate a portion of every quarterly meeting to
long-range planning topics. Ideas currently under consideration include
improving the SCA's flagship publication, Tournaments Illuminated,
releasing a revision of the Known World Handbook and offering more
benefits with paid membership, just to name a few.
There are a great many other tasks that the Board manages on a daily
basis, most of them administrative in nature. But the lion's share of what
we do supports the membership so that everyone can continue to enjoy the
benefits of being part of the largest historic re-creation group in the
world. The Board makes every effort to do what is best for the SCA to
ensure it will be here for another 40 years and beyond.
Jason Williams Chairman, SCA, Inc.
(Duke John ap Gwyndaf, KSCA, OL)
chairman at sca.org
Next quarter: myths, misconceptions and answers.
Jason Williams - Chairman, SCA, Inc.
(Duke John ap Gwyndaf, KSCA, OL)
Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
Milpitas, CA 95036
You may also email comments at sca.org or reply to this message.
This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.
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