Money Money Money

The changes to Australia’s insurance laws over the last little while have finally started biting us in the SCA in a special way, and one of the results is… a sharp increase in the number of members! How did that happen? It’s very simple.

The SCA in Australia has a new contract with its insurers, Nosferatu Bathory Dracula and Associates. Under the rules, signed in a suspiciously reddish-coloured ink on the contract, we have to remit five dollars to the insurer for every non-member who attends an SCA event. By “non-member”, they mean anyone, regardless of age. A pregnant woman can give birth in the middle of the feast hall and her child will arrive owing our insurer five bucks. As well, their definition of “event” covers stuff we don’t usually charge for, including non-garbed activities like arts & sciences evenings and our fortnightly imots, as well as feasts, tourneys, demos, pot-lucks, revels, dance practices, fighter practices, and everything else that’s advertised as an SCA activity.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. If you’re a member, you don’t have to pay the five dollars. And while membership has gone up to $30 per year (it would be nice if the SCA committee hadn’t decided to compound this pain by raising the prices at the same time, but they had good reasons) it’s now, more than ever, looking like a good plan to just pay it and not worry about the new rules.

Putting it starkly: if you attend six events in the SCA in one year, you’re down thirty bucks, none of which the SCA gets to see. It’s a straight tax, with no direct benefit to your group (the indirect benefit — having insurance — is there of course, so it’s not all evil). Whereas if you pay for a year’s worth of membership, it still costs you the same, but you get the benefits of membership and the SCA actually gets to keep some of the proceeds to improve itself.

So what are the benefits of membership? For a start, you get a copy of Pegasus, the kingdom newsletter. This keeps you in touch with the goings-on of the whole kingdom and the wider SCA, and is sent by a kind of email notification system every month. Also, you get a vote in the occasional bits of kingdom democracy, although that’s rare because on the whole we prefer to keep things nicely feudal. And as a member you’re entitled to be an officer in the canton, barony or kingdom.  And you or your consort (or both!) can enter Crown Tourneys and maybe, if you’re lucky, end up running the place for six months as King or Queen.  But the most immediate effect of membership is on event prices: not just the five buck insurance fee but also the couple of dollars extra that we charge non-members, more or less as an extra incentive to pony up the dosh and get on the bandwagon.

As an example: imagine you’re a non-member who came to our imot today, and wants to come to our pot-luck feast in a couple of weeks, and plans to attend all the activities at the Baronial Investiture next month.  And you want to come to more imots when they’re on.  How long will it be before it’s cheaper to be a member than not?  Do the maths:

Event Date Members Non-Members Running Difference
Imot  22 September  $0  $5  $5
Imot  6 October  $0  $5  $10
Pot-Luck Feast  6 October  $0 + a dish  $5 + a dish  $15
BBQ/Tourney  20 October  $5  $7 + $5 *  $22
Feast  20 October  $25  $30  $27
Picnic  21 October  $2  $2  $0
Imot  3 November  $0  $5  $32

* The insurance fee paid at this point covers you for the whole event; the remaining difference is just the member/non-member price differences.

So as of the very next imot after the Investiture, you’re $32 out of pocket compared to a member.  Any event from then to next September that you attend is costing you more than you saved by not buying your membership now.

That looks pretty cut and dried, and is probably a large part of the reason that Lightwood’s membership, for example, has doubled in the last month after staying steady for ages.  It applies everywhere though.  Think about it, and go get a membership!  It makes sense, and saves dollars!