Why are we doing this census and survey?
Several reasons, but the most important one is that we want to hear from you. We are a large community, and getting good feedback is difficult and important for us. Much of what we hear on the Board is anecdotal and sometimes is the result of directed campaigns. Having a broader method for getting input is key for us. Also, we’d like to see what we look like as an organization, and how we’ve changed since the last census.
If you participated in the 2010 census, you may find many of these questions familiar. This is not accidental; gathering longitudinal data helps us understand if many of the changes Boards have implemented in the past decade have had a positive effect, and where we might look to direct our efforts in the future.
What do you hope to learn?
We want the SCA to be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. We’ve put a lot of effort into making the SCA a more welcoming and diverse community, and part of that is knowing where we are now.
There are questions in the census asking how people would like to see the organization change. Are there things we could leave behind, or elements we could add? Do we have too many officers or not enough? What kinds of activities are our members most interested in? How should we be communicating with the membership? Are we doing a better job with children’s activities? How do we feel about our peerage structure? What is our demographic makeup?
Answers to questions like these help us direct our energy to make the organization healthier and more responsive to the membership.
Why survey NOW when there is so much upheaval?
The 2020 Census has been in the works for nearly a year now, but the COVID-19 crisis has certainly changed the way we approach the SCA, at least in the short term. Still, we are using social media to enhance our need for community, and the 2020 Census would be a good project to work on during this time.
Is this like voting? Does the majority rule?
No. This is not a referendum on any topic. The Board will look at this input, prepare reports for the membership, look at the current state of the SCA, come up with plans, seek more input from the membership, and make the best decisions they can with the best input they can get.
Who created this survey?
The 2020 Census Committee is composed of nine SCA members and one board member from across the Known World who have experience in surveys, statistics, and public relations. Many of these individuals work professionally in this area. They used the 2010 Census as a basis and reached out to the Board, its standing committees, and greater officers for input into what should be included. They were given authority to write (and sometimes reject) questions to provide the survey in as unbiased a manner as possible. The Board was given final approval on the questions (so they can’t be held blameless if it all goes wrong), but they have kept the survey formation at arm’s length so that they don’t unduly influence its composition.
What if my answer doesn’t fit in the allotted space?
Brevity is the soul of wit. If you feel a longer response is needed, a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org is always welcome.
Why such a limited time window?
We believe a directed campaign and a two-week window will allow everyone to respond, keep things exciting, and yield the maximum response.
What about members without internet access?
There are no plans for a paper-only version of the 2020 Census. Our best use of volunteer resources is to leverage the incredible power of the internet to reach out and collect information electronically.
Do you have to be a paid member to participate?
Yes and no. We are putting the survey in the membership section at members.sca.org. This allows us to ensure that each member takes the survey only once. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce the new Survey Module that will be available in both a pan-SCA mode as well as to individual kingdoms.
However, we recognize that there is a significant population of non-members who want to give input, so we are creating an identical public-access survey. It’s more difficult there to ensure that folks don’t take the survey multiple times, but we can put limited fraud-mitigation methods in place for that. We ask that members go to members.sca.org to take the survey, rather than taking the public-access survey.
Will the results be made public?
Yes! But only in summary fashion. We won’t publish the raw database with individual answers, but we will show the overall response to questions and make comparisons between different large sectors in the SCA, as well as comparing with what we learned 10 years ago in the 2010 Census. Look for the first of these reports in August 2020.
How will the data you collect be protected?
Protecting the privacy of the membership is paramount. We will encrypt the database, and remove any personally identifying information so that your responses are kept confidential. For one portion of the census, we will use a separate database and responder key so that no one can work backward to figure out who a particular responder is based on their earlier responses.