S.A.M. Survey Status Online
Monday, February 15, 2016
Posted by: Bruce Kalver
The Future of the S.A.M.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it!”
by Dick Bowman, S.A.M. 1st VPand Steve Finkelstein, S.A.M. Future Committee
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
In our January edition of M-U-M, you were asked to complete our on-line survey to help us chart the future course of the Society. You responded in Spades (and clubs, hearts, and diamonds)! Through the end of January, 1,143 members – over 26% of our membership – completed the survey. That's a terrific response rate for an international survey! And your thoughtful and insightful comments proved that you care about this Society and the art of magic.
We asked you to provide us with your views about what services you want, what changes you’d like, and what needs to be added and improved for the Society. In other words, how do we move forward keeping the S.A.M. vision and mission and enhancing the experience of our members and the worldwide magic community? How do we retain existing members, add value to our existing members and recruit new members?
The Vision of the Society is to advance, elevate, and preserve magic as a performing art, to promote harmonious fellowship throughout the world of magic and to maintain and improve ethical standards in the field of magic. The Mission of The Society of American Magicians is to promote an environment for the worldwide magic community that fosters fellowship, preservation of the magical arts, ethical standards, education, and personal growth. Your quality responses show you clearly want to support that vision and mission.
We want you to know that this information WILL be used by the leadership, first for analysis, then prioritization, and then for charting a course of change over the next three years. For this article, we want you to know what our plan is as we proceed. More information will follow in the next few months. During this time we will be digesting and analyzing the information you provided.
Some of the survey questions may have seemed innocuous, but when taken in concert with other questions, they are very revealing. For example, question #2 asked for age group, question #4 asked for your involvement in magic, and question #18 asked for what is important for you in a magic organization. We learned that 85% of our members are over 45; of those, 47% are over 60 years old. By sorting the answers demographically, we can determine what areas we should focus on to meet the needs and interests of different age groups in the Society; our needs and interests differ by generation. Another example is question #7, which asked whether the respondent was in an Assembly. With over 41% of our members not in an assembly, it tells us we must be creative and use technology to reach out and engage those members.
Our next step after we analyze the data will be to provide details to the leadership (with summary information to our members) on the results, and then conduct a workshop of the Future Committee at the National Convention to prioritize the actions needed. Then we will develop a plan of actions and milestones (POA&M) and present them to the National Council for approval. While we cannot do everything at one time, the actions will correspond to milestones over the next three years and set measureable goals.
There also are many short term, quick wins that can be implemented in the following 90 days. One might be to provide access online for back issues of M-U-M. Another might be to pilot some of the longer term ideas as a proof of concept – a Magic Café-type site where members can evaluate new magic effects, for example.
In order to establish commitment and ownership for results, we will report status on the POA&M at every council meeting and provide updates for our members in M-U-M and on the website. Also, a compeer will be assigned to a key initiative along with a leadership committee member to be accountable for achieve the desired results.
Hopefully, we have engaged you in this process, so here is a sampling of the results:
Question #13 looks at what would make the S.A.M. more valuable going forward. We need to look at the services we offer to members and how many actually use them. What did we see? Members want smaller, regional conferences or one day Magic Jams. That was especially desirable by our younger members who are in the work force, raising families, etc.
Members also want us to leverage technology using things like online seminars, Webinars/Video Conferences and Virtual meetings. About 45% of the S.A.M. membership does not belong to assemblies because they live too far from an Assembly, have no transportation, are disabled or elderly, etc.. We have already responded to this shortfall with the rollout of Virtual Assembly 1.1; please set up your free account at www.magibook.org/SAM/. Leveraging technology will help give all our compeers a better experience to the Society.
Members also want us to raise the quality of Assembly Meetings. That means setting high standards so they get value from the time they participate in meetings. They want the S.A.M. to provide coaching/guidelines for new presidents/officers and have a standard segment each month provided by National to be used at Assembly meetings. Examples may include an article/topic to read and discuss; a video clip of a trick to watch and discuss; or current hot topics in magic.
Members want National to send out annual surveys to assembly members to get feedback on the quality of their meetings.
In question #31, we asked if you would be interested in someone contacting you to respond to your comments. If you haven’t already been contacted, we will be following up soon.
While those were just a few of your ideas and desires, we will continue to work with the information you provided to charter our course forward. I can’t emphasize enough to you, our compeers, that the entire National Council is committed to this effort. More to follow.
Also, Congratulations to the compeers who were selected in a blind drawing to each receive a $25 gift certificate from the S.A.M. Shop: Danny Schreiber; Ken Sellers; Michael S. Tulkoff; and Thomas Hoye.
Thank you again for your support and we look forward to sharing our progress with you in the future.