Friday, June 8, 2007

More on Society Membership

Jasia has an informative post discussing the issue of Declining Genealogy Society Membership at her Creative Gene blog.

As longtime readers of Jasia's blog know, she had a long series on this topic last August. Her present post provides links to all of them. They make excellent reading, and are as pertinent now as they were then.

I posted earlier this week about George G. Morgan's recent article on this topic, and noted what CVGS has tried to do over the past several years. The July 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine quoted Jasia, myself and others about this issue also. I posted about that experience here.

The challenge for all genealogy societies - from the big national societies down to the small local groups - is to attract and keep members, and to serve their interests through conferences, publications, programs, seminars, databases, classes, forums, web sites, blogs, etc. The society formula from 10 years ago is outdated - there is nothing more constant than change.

We had our CVGS board meeting on Wednesday, and at the end we asked ourselves "Are we on the right track?" Some members noted that we are doing so much more than we did just two years ago. Others said that the genealogy world is spinning much faster - new resources appear, old resources change, and it is a mental challenge to keep up with it. There is a sense of challenge, enthusiasm and accomplishment as we work together to serve our members and attract new ones.

Our society is small enough (80 members) that we get immediate feedback on new classes and programs. We have found that we can try out ideas without much financial risk. If something bombs, it doesn't cost us much and is easily forgotten. If something works well, we can build on it. Being small, we have developed camaraderie and friendship amongst the members - we know each other, and share research problems, knowledge, stories, and lunch regularly. We are developing our own in-society teachers, speakers and mentors - 5 of our monthly programs this year will be done by our members. Doing these things with friends and colleagues leads to confidence when success is achieved.

No comments: