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Friday, May 08, 2015

Societies: Trying to "crank it out" the way they've always done it?

Thank-you to +Susan Petersen for her post An Open Letter to Genealogy Societies published on her blog Long Lost Relatives wherein she directly chides legacy (read that old fashioned) organizations unwilling to update their outmoded policies and procedures. What ensued was a flurry of Facebook comments, some included here, all used here with permission. This discussion is too important to ignore.

 Lisa B Lee Susan, writes "You knocked it out of the park! Oh, I could KISS you. Yes, yes, and YES!!"

Linda McCauley writes "I agree with most of what you're saying, most especially the hoarding money thing. But as a state society board member, I can tell you that we are a year into having a digital quarterly publication, and we are still getting complaints from the people who want their printed copy back. We made the move because of cost. (It was costing almost all of the membership fee to provide a printed copy.)

As much as many of us are tuned in to the genealogy community online, I find the majority of our membership is not. Newsletters are still a valuable source of news to many society members even though they may be full of old news to others.

At this point, I don't understand why any society is spending money on a printed/mailed newsletter. Putting that money toward projects would do much more to grow the society.
Finding fresh blood for boards is easier said than done. This is only my 2nd year on the KGS board so I guess I'm still fairly fresh, but we struggle every year to get one person for each position on the ballot. And that is only eight. That usually results in the same people saying "OK, I'll do it again." If more people with new and innovative ideas were willing to run for positions on society boards, most of the problems you outlined would be solved."

Jill Ball, our gal in Australia writes "I am a member of a new society. Only two out of 49 members don't have email so it's been easy to utilise technology for communication etc.. It is refreshing to be in a group where members can't say "We've always done it that way".

Jenna Mills writes "Well done, Susan. I'm still considering my response on your post. I emailed the post to the entire MoSGA Board and all committee members. I'm not sure how many of them are "online" and wanted to be sure none of them missed reading this."

J Paul Hawthorne particularly relates "No. 1 - Hoarding money, is on my number one list too. I never (and still don't) understand it."

Jenna Mills writes "Susan, it could be they aren't viewing their members as customers or themselves as a business."

Is your society trying to "crank it out" they way they've always done it? WHY?
IMAGE: Courtesy Andre Koehne, Wikipedia Creative Commons:
DearMYRTLE'S RESPONSE?During my tenure as President of the Manasota (now Manatee) Genealogical Society, we switched to digital newsletter distribution. Our strategy?
  1. Provide a 1/2 page newsletter announcement about the upcoming switch at least six issues before the switch. Include step-by-step instructions for locating the digital newsletters on the society website.
  2. Take two minutes during each general meeting and SIG meeting to demo the process for getting to the digital newsletter. Provide 1/2 page handouts with those directions.
  3. Each month during the six months before the switch, upload a digital copy of that month's newsletter. This is SOP in accounting circles - running both the old and new system for six months before shutting down the old system.
END RESULT? At the end of the six months, we had only one member out of 100+ active members who didn't have a computer. So we printed out a copy and hand carried it to her during her shift as a library volunteer in the genealogy department.

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