Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why



The SCA never used to have treasurers. They had people who took care of money, but they were called "chancellors of the exchequer" in some places, and "reeves" in some places, "chancellors" in some and "exchequers" in others. No one anywhere in the country could write a sentence which applied to all groups without saying "the person in charge of safeguarding the the group's funds." As interested in the history of English as I am, it was driving me crazy that people were calling people "exchequers" (which means "treasury") or "chancellor" (which not only doesn't mean what they wanted it to, but is reserved in the SCA for legal advisors to Crowns). "Chancellor of the Exchequer," a term used in England, means the same as "Secretary of the Treasury" in the U.S. Most of the people who heard or used the phrase didn't know that. In some kingdoms "reeve" was used for local treasurers. Other kingdoms didn't have that term at all. I made (and pushed) the suggestion that we use "treasurer," as it's a perfectly wonderful medieval word, it's descriptive, people know how to use it, and it would cut all the confusion. If you hear "reeve" or "chancellor of the exchequer," though, it's no big deal. At least we have a word to use when addressing all that crowd together.

The worst thing about being a treasurer is that there's nothing fun and medieval about it. We don't get to deal with medieval money, it's all got pictures of people and things which are not period, and the banks are not interested in our tournaments or feasts. The big highlight (or bugaboo) of the treasurer's year is doing something as bad or worse than his own taxes.

The best thing is that it's a fairly straightforward job which mundane experience can well prepare one for, so it's not a job people have to design or argue about within the Society (as most of the other offices tend to be). Except for site fees, there's not much activity at events, so treasurers are able to participate more freely and fully than some other officers whose duties at the events take up most of their time.

Every year the SCA has to file a detailed IRS report, and each branch must file its part with the Society. Groups not filing can lose their SCA status for an entire year, forfeiting all benefits of corporate sponsorship. If your group is small, the seneschal can file the report. It's important to have someone who can keep close track of any money the group takes in.

If you become a treasurer after February some year, don't wait until the end of the year to find out what the questions are on the forms. It will help with your record keeping if you're aware of what kinds of things you'll need to know. Gifts given to individuals (prizes, gifts to officers, etc.) need to be tracked and can't be over a certain amount (check with kingdom). The money for the newsletter has to be accounted separately to some extent. Those are just two of the things you might not have thought of. There's a treasurer's handbook you can get from corporate level (if there are extras) or maybe from the kingdom treasurer if there's not a copy in your group's files. Your kingdom superior may have a set of guidelines to be followed within the kingdom, too.



Copyright © by Sandra Dodd, 1991
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