20 July 2008

Gen societies can help themselves

Many gen-bloggers have already written about what genealogical societies can do to help themselves in view of aging members and declining membership. As many groups plan the upcoming program year during the summer months, these suggestions may assist your society.

Among oft-repeated suggestions:

-In addition to a featured speaker, add an additional short talk by a member at monthly meetings.

-Journals and newsletters should include information on contemporary genealogy (new methods of research) and also spotlight member success stories.

-For outreach, get out into the community with a table or booth at community events, which enables the society to talk to the public and raise awareness. Along these lines, organize a community genealogy fair or participate in an already established event. Plan an annual all-day seminar with a well-known speaker (more and more Jewish genealogy societies are involved in these three activities).

-Join with other community institutions in co-sponsoring a relevant speaker, or cooperate in sharing expenses to bring a speaker to speak at several societies in nearby states.

-Organize and maintain an internet site for more information on programming, databases and more.

-Offer classes (free or nominal cost) for beginners as well as those with more advanced skills.

-Try to organize an awards program for junior or senior high school students, to get young people involved very early. Many of today's top genealogists started when they were in elementary school through high school.

Don't forget that the most important aspect of genealogy society management - after programming and gathering local resources - is to get that information out to local media (print/online/broadcast media), community institutions (schools, community centers, libraries, synagogues, etc.), and other outlets to inform prospective members of your activities, resources and services.

A group might have the best program with the best speaker in the world, but if no one knows about it and no one attends - it's a big problem.

Public relations is one of the most important responsibilities in any genealogy society, and if your group is fortunate enough to have a professional journalist/writer/editor/broadcaster as a member, ask them to utilize their specialized skills and personal contacts to raise community awareness of the group, its programming, research services, classes - whatever is offered.

1 comment:

  1. Schelly, great suggestions! I found a couple more to add to our bag of tricks.