Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thursday Treasure Chest - Society Day at FGS Conference

Editor's note: Today's post was written by Sandra Gardner-Benward

This was an early morning with a special Society Leadership Breakfast sponsored by FindMyPast.

Cyndi Howell - you know her best by Cyndi's List was keynote speaker this morning speaking about " IS YOUR SOCIETY WEBSITE ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE? You know as well as I do that our website (or any website) is usually the first contact people have with our society (or any society). We need to remember that the Internet is always changing.  How does our website measure up? How many of you are on the website, checking out what is new, what the program will be, who the next speaker or program is, what was the last book that we produced? Looked at any of the digitized Preserves or Geni-Grams lately? Cyndi talked about the look of each of our websites, what should be included on every page, so do's and don'ts on a website. A website should be updated weekly, or monthly but at least quarterly.  It needs to be maintained, updated and be active so that your members and outsiders will come back.

I appreciate some of  the board member voting on what society day sessions would be beneficial for our society? It was a difficult choice since most of the sessions had great stuff to offer a society. So I just had to tally up which sessions got the most votes and go, So here goes.........  thanks.

FINDING AND KEEPING VOLUNTEERS with Amy Johnson Crow & sponsored by We all need more volunteers, but do you just need volunteers or Mr./ Mrs. right. The right person for the right job. What do you need volunteers for, what skills are needed, time requirements, is there a job description, make sure you and the volunteer understand what needs to be done. Have a write up of the task so that the person can take it home and think about it. In the newsletter, website, blog make sure that this is written up with the job description, & contact information. There are also associated people (spouses and children and grandchildren) that maybe able to qualify for some the tasks. ie: they don't need to know about family group sheets etc to help move boxes in the There are always associated groups like library, historical society that may have similar missions may be able to partner with us to complete a task or project. And there are community groups like Boy/Girl Scouts and churches that maybe available to help with a project. Something that would benefit them and benefits the community.

Curt is an excellent speaker, a little off the beaten path but always makes complete sense. SOS does stand for Saving our Societies and also Stuck on Stupid, feeling that a lot of problems that societies have is self inflicted. One form of insanity is to do the same thing but expecting something different. Technology is here and this is how the next generation (21sters - under 40) communicate and bottom line in order to engage them we need to see that this whole thing is FUN and SUCCESSFUL for them. Given a choice, people won't engage when they don't feel successful and don't have fun. Social media (facebook, twitter and others) is a big part of their everyday life. When issues come up, ask Who Cares? or So What? Change is good - service is better. Think Big! You can typically do more than you think you can do and so can your society. Put the organization in the best position to see and be seen. Be proactive and be there before you have to be there. It is not about you, get over yourself - collectively the society is more than the individual. 

LUNCHEON- FOCUS ON SOCIETIES- DELEGATE PIT STOP: TUNE UP YOUR SOCIETY - Curt Witcher spoke about the 1812 Program. They have collected about one third of the money needed. There are 7.2 million pages digitized and 10% of them (about 100,000) are free up online for you to view. Check it out, it could be your ancestor's papers that have been completed.  As I said yesterday, FGS board voted to put $50,000 aside which they will match with donations received this conference. Their goal is to raise $20,000 during the conference. Doable? Well they have already collected over $9,000 with donations that have come in on registration forms. Pretty good Now Ancestry will match that so you can see how this goal is very possible. They are asking that delegates take the challenge back to their society's. Recognize special efforts. Support important efforts. Promote your favorite efforts, Recognize the work being done.
George Morgan (you remember George from our own seminar)....... he also spoke about delegates and their importance to FGS and to their societies. He also conducted what is called a Delegate Shout Out...... and it is just that, delegates get to brag and let the room what they are most proud of for this year- oh my lots of different activities going on all over the country including a lot of indexing and extractions ......  I bragged about the completion of our 20 book Coroner's Records Project with Marilyn Ulbricht leading us for the past 5 years. I am very proud of our participation in this project. Thanks Marilyn for your dedication.

BREAKING OUT OF THE BOX: CREATIVE THINKING FOR YOUR SOCIETY-- Amy Johnson Crow (again)  Sorry there were a lot of visuals in this session and hard to translate into words. We did some brainstorming about a problem given........ and finding out that we really didn't get the  actual problem. You need to really define a problem. You cannot solve a problem if you don't know what the problem is. Some questions to ask "Ask why not? What is the worst that would happen? Why are we doing this? Is it really a problem? If you need to brainstorm, do it another place rather than the same place you meet. It is felt that going somewhere else gives you a different outlook. When you brainstorm you need all  need to agree that all suggestions are taken and without judgment or without analyzing.  There is another method of problem solving called Scamper Method. (stands for Substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to other uses, eliminate, rearrange).
A website for fundraising I want to check out is Kickstart. Others were familiar with it and one has actually used it, and Paula Stuart Warren is using it right now. Everyone has nothing for great things to say.  

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: CREATING YOUR SOCIETY'S  LONG RANGE STRATEGIC PLAN (2 hours) with Josh Taylor. I have to say this was a very enlightening 2 hour session. I have been through strategic planning with the City of Citrus Heights but never with our society. Isn't this something we should have done over the last few years?  Strategic Planning is like a roadmap - with goals and benchmarks (measured and taking ownership). Goals should be short term and long term. How do you know you are successful?  Did you engage your members? Did your society move forward? We all participated in SWOT session.  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We spent over half the time on this exercise, A lot of the audience had others from their societies so they were able to do a good exercise together. I see the value in this exercise but it would be better to have a facilitator/someone neutral to conduct this exercise. 

OPENING SOCIAL - 6:30pm at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical  Conservatory  ........... sponsored by FIndMyPast  Lots of great prizes. Weather is great. Several music groups playing on the grounds and a light buffet is served. Very nice!

Yes, You know me, I am very proud of my association with Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society.  I always bring my Root Cellar T-shirt and my  swingers, Swingers are a great ice breaker. Today of all the days was perfect to wear my t-shirt and swingers.

Nothing like relaxing after a great day and a nice buffet dinner, knitting and listening to great music under the stars, Weather is great.
Nite!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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