Wednesday at an FGS conference is traditionally Focus on Societies Day, where each of the sessions pertain to society management. As an Illinois State Genealogical Society board member, I found each of these sessions offered some wonderful ideas to consider as ISGS continues to enhance its membership offerings.
How Will Our Society Survive? (Plenary Session) – David Rencher kicked off the day challenging society leaders to think about where their society is today and where they want to be tomorrow. He encourages us to adapt to the changing world of genealogy and technology and find ways that will make our societies grow and prosper. Determining a plan of action is key to successful change. Oh, and don’t forget to start engaging the younger generation.
Tour Guide and Travel Agent: Planning Your Society’s Next Research Trip – As the chair of the newly formed Education Committee for ISGS, research trips are near the top of my list of activities, so naturally I had to attend Josh Taylor’s session on the subject. Research trips are a great membership benefit and allow societies the opportunity to mentor new genealogists and support repositories. Josh offered a variety of ideas on planning trips, including how to budget, schedule, and publicize your trip. I think the biggest take-away is to be creative and consider lesser-known repositories as well as the “big” ones. You can purchase the recording of the session here.
How to Develop and Implement Affordable Membership Benefits – George Morgan reminds us that membership benefits need to be effective in order to draw people in, but we also need to balance our offerings (or HOW we offer them) with the cost. A perfect example of this is publications. Should we continue to spend money on the hard-copy publishing of books (and even our periodicals) or should we consider making these publications available electronically at a lower (or near zero) cost? Although this session was not recorded, the syllabus provides a wonderful outline of ideas to implement benefits both you and your members can afford.
Printed vs. Online Publishing for Societies – Truth be told, I attended this session for myself, even though it was targeted to societies…I had a feeling it would be just a valuable to an individual, which it was. Donna Moughty discussed a variety of options available in the world of publishing today. My favorite part of the lecture was when Donna talked about print-on-demand options, such as Lulu and CreateSpace. Print-on-demand allows you to create a book, just as you would if you were going to have it printed, except that in this case, instead of ordering hundreds of books at a time, you order just what you need. Additionally, consumers can purchase the printed book directly from the print-on-demand vendor. It is a great alternative to traditional publishing and one (in my own opinion) societies should consider. You can purchase the recording of the session here.
Building a Society Education Program for Genealogists and Family Historians – Again, this was a not-to-miss session for me as Education Committee Chair for ISGS. And what a great session! J. H. Fonkert provided a wealth of ideas, I simply couldn’t write fast enough! One very important point he makes is that “students self-identify as beginners or experts.” And in some cases we label ourselves incorrectly. This point becomes important when planning educational activities. You can purchase the recording of the session here.
After a day of sessions, I hung out at the Prairie Social, which was hosted by the Illinois State Genealogical Society. From there, it was dinner with good friend and roommate Carol Genung.