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Growing Your Society: An Outline of Ideas - FGS Wiki

Growing Your Society: An Outline of Ideas


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[[Category:Strategies for Societies]][[Category:Broglin, Jana Sloan & Roberta "Bobbi" King]][[Category:Organization]]
  
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== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 +
During a time when many genealogy societies are
 +
facing loss of membership and declining
 +
attendance at conferences, there are societies
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whose memberships are increasing, and whose
 +
seminars are well attended. What do these
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societies know?
 +
 +
The following points outline several activities
 +
which societies should consider in cultivating an
 +
increase in membership and retention of
 +
members.
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 +
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== MEMBERSHIP SURVEYS ==
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A society will gain valuable information by
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conducting surveys of the membership. Ask
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specific questions, offering answers in a multiplechoice format, but allow enough space for
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comments to be written by the respondents. When
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the survey is completed, it is important to
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implement as many of the suggested changes as
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possible, and in a timely manner.
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Remember: Try to provide to the members what
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they really want, not what the board “thinks” they want.
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== EDUCATION PROGRAMS ==
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As a genealogical or historical society, education
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plays a key role in the purpose of a society. What
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are some ideas for activities for fulfilling this
 +
purpose?
 +
 +
One society holds a “Summer Camp” for
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members and non-members. During this weeklong
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activity, attendees hear nationally known speakers
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on a wide range of topics including: the local and
 +
regional sources, methodology, Internet sources,
 +
and computer genealogy technology.
 +
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A separate one-day seminar with a nationally
 +
known lecturer may be held a few months later.
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By having an event in at least three of the seasons (spring,
 +
summer, fall, or fall, winter, spring) that
 +
are most appropriate for the location of the
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society, the society name is out there letting
 +
members and nonmembers know that your society
 +
is very active in genealogical education.
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== LINEAGE MEMBERSHIP ==
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 +
Lineage membership within an organization can
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give an individual member an added sense of
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“belonging” to the group. The lineage categories
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offered could be: First Families of (the state);
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Society of Civil War Families of (the state);
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Settlers and Builders of (the state); Centennial
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Family of (the state); Pioneer Family of (the
 +
state); Territorial Family of (the state); each
 +
society has possibilities for early family statuses.
 +
Each lineage category would have special
 +
requirements to establish membership, and each
 +
applicant would submit their genealogical
 +
connection from a qualifying individual for
 +
inclusion into the lineage society, along with
 +
acceptable proofs. A society standing committee
 +
would establish the standards to be met, review
 +
the applications, and issue the certificates. The
 +
society could decide if only direct lineages are
 +
eligible for membership, or if collateral family
 +
members may be included. All applications would
 +
become the property of the society, maintained in
 +
its archives, and could be published either in
 +
hardcopy form and/or on the society’s website.
 +
 +
 +
== PUBLICATIONS ==
 +
 +
Quarterly publications are an integral part of
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achieving a society’s goals and objectives. The
 +
society quarterly is an important publication
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which contains local research information; this
 +
periodical is a more scholarly journal than the
 +
“newsy” newsletter.
 +
 +
The quarterly may contain in-depth articles on
 +
research and case studies. Book reviews,
 +
especially submitted books on family histories or
 +
regional locality histories, should be included.
 +
The newest forms of society publications are
 +
electronic: the e-zine (“electronic magazine,”) or
 +
blog (web log). The e-zine or blog may contain
 +
time-sensitive information regarding the society
 +
such as upcoming events. Some societies use it to
 +
announce special events to their volunteers, such
 +
as moving books in the library.
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 +
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== NEWSLETTER IDEAS ==
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Articles of interest to researchers:
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<ul>
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<li>Society news events, including local,
 +
regional, and national events;
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<li>County histories, such as early pioneers,
 +
businesses, churches;
 +
<li>Local repositories, with hours of operation
 +
and maps with driving directions;
 +
<li>Local records such as tax lists and service
 +
organization membership lists;
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<li>Bible records;
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<li>Research repositories in surrounding
 +
counties;
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<li>New members with surnames of research
 +
interest;
 +
<li>Online research sites;
 +
<li>Lookup volunteers, with their special areas
 +
of interest;
 +
<li>Synopsis of speakers at meetings, and
 +
highlights of future programs;
 +
<li>History and settlement of the area,
 +
including defunct townsites and
 +
discontinued post offices;
 +
<li>Articles from old newspapers, containing
 +
names and events;
 +
<li>War veterans, such as organization
 +
membership lists (VFW, Legion).
 +
</ul>
 +
 +
 +
== WEB SITE ==
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 +
The society’s website’s address should be easy to
 +
remember, a plus for any organization. Display
 +
contact persons’ information, show a list of
 +
officers and their email addresses, and display a
 +
map and driving directions to the meeting
 +
location. RootsWeb provides free web space for
 +
societies, and many groups have taken advantage
 +
of this complimentary space.
 +
 +
Develop an easy-to-use, intuitive web site. Entice
 +
individuals with the inclusion of a “members
 +
only” area, housing databases and other
 +
information, that will be alluring to potential
 +
members. Offer the index to the news magazines
 +
and quarterly publications, as well as the table of contents on the public site, and perhaps place the
 +
actual articles in the “members only” area.
 +
 +
In the public place, publicize your society events,
 +
whether it is a monthly meeting, an annual
 +
seminar, or a special event conference.
 +
Consider using sites such as PayPal (an online
 +
payment service) or a “shopping cart” to make
 +
purchases of books, memberships, or registration
 +
for society events easier for members and
 +
nonmembers alike.
 +
 +
Above all, keep the web site current with no out-of-date information. An old web site, with
 +
months-old information, looks derelict and
 +
untended, and the same impression might be
 +
given about your society.
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 +
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== VOLUNTEERS ==
 +
 +
The volunteer is the backbone of any society.
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Without the willingness of volunteers, most
 +
societies would not have officers, conferences,
 +
publications, or a library.
 +
 +
The very important volunteer must be treated as
 +
such. Their jobs are vital for the success of a
 +
society. By holding recognition dinners and
 +
giving awards, the volunteer is made to feel as
 +
important as they truly are to a society.
 +
 +
 +
== SOCIETY LIBRARY ==
 +
 +
Your society library is a major source of research
 +
for members, and a good membership enticement.
 +
Out-of-town members will travel to your
 +
repository and nonmembers may see the value of
 +
your society after visiting your library. The
 +
library collections should be well advertised in
 +
the society newsletter, quarterly and on the
 +
website. Volunteers should be adding indexes
 +
regularly.
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 +
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== SERVING SOCIETIES ==
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There are genealogical societies which are
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umbrella organizations, composed of member
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genealogical, historical, and associate
 +
organizations. For these umbrella organizations,
 +
chapter management seminars would be an
 +
invaluable service provided to the members.
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Seminars could be held in different parts of the
 +
state, encouraging member societies or chapters
 +
to attend and host the guest members. A member
 +
directory should be published containing
 +
information regarding each chapter. Member
 +
organizations should submit a list of their
 +
publications, contact persons, local library hours,
 +
and meeting dates. The umbrella organization
 +
might offer services such as bylaws reviews to
 +
member societies, and offer to house a copy of a
 +
member society’s bylaws for safekeeping.
 +
 +
 +
== AWARDS ==
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 +
Societies can offer many types of awards for
 +
members or chapters. Awards may deal with
 +
records transcriptions; abstracts; finding or
 +
research aids; genealogical instruction books;
 +
state, county or local history books; family
 +
history books; biographical or collective
 +
biographies; military historical records.
 +
Chapters within a larger society could be
 +
recognized for outstanding chapter; outstanding
 +
chapter officer; and outstanding chapter
 +
volunteer.
 +
 +
Individual members of an organization may be
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recognized by a service award for providing
 +
invaluable service to the society and to the field
 +
of genealogy.
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 +
 +
== ANNUAL SEMINAR ==
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 +
The society that can offer an annual seminar is
 +
doing a great service to the community,
 +
publicizing its own activities, and gaining
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members.
 +
 +
As much as possible, commit to high-caliber
 +
speakers of national reputation. For your annual
 +
event, local speakers are a valuable resource for
 +
local expertise and cost-saving expenses, but
 +
these tend to be the same speakers year after year.It is the national speaker who often acts as the
 +
draw to such events.
 +
 +
A booklet-style seminar brochure (syllabus) is a professional
 +
introduction of individuals to your event. There
 +
are self-publishing computer programs which
 +
make this an easy task for the computer expert in
 +
your organization.
 +
 +
Attract topnotch speakers by committing to
 +
paying them the fees paid on the national level,
 +
including per diem, mileage, hotel, and free
 +
registration. One society reported an increase of
 +
registration by 35%!
 +
 +
One time slot could be set aside for special “pay”
 +
events. This might include a two-hour workshop,
 +
or a roundtable discussion. You might schedule a
 +
conference orientation, free, for attendees; they
 +
might appreciate tips on organizing their lecture
 +
attendance by having someone give them a
 +
rundown on the lecture schedule and talking
 +
about the speakers. Questions could be answered
 +
at this time.
 +
 +
The call for lecture proposals deadline should be months
 +
ahead of the seminar, as early as one year ahead
 +
of time. Choose speakers as quickly as possible
 +
and send out the contracts, so that you can publish
 +
your seminar booklet and get the information into
 +
the hands of your publicity outlets at least six
 +
months ahead of time.
 +
 +
For national advertising, the websites for the
 +
Federation of Genealogical Societies and the
 +
National Genealogical Society maintain a
 +
calendar of genealogical events. Most genealogy magazines also include a calendar. Be sure to check in advance to determine their publication deadlines.

Revision as of 21:29, 14 August 2013

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