Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wordless Wednesday OR maybe TOO Wordy: Why Do You Join a Society? Why Don't You Renew Your Membership?

Editor's note: Today's post was partly written by Sandra Gardner Benward and includes an exert from the blog "Genealogy a la carte". Gail Dever ........  

Genealogy a la carte,  a news blog, has results back from a survey Gail Dever (owner of blog) sent out "Survey results indicate genealogists join societies for camaraderie" (but a lot more) And I am sure when you read through the information you will find a lot of your reasons for joining.

.....and then a follow up  "Why did you not renew your genealogy society membership?" (very interesting and something that all societies need to address) You can click on the link above for more information but I have copied some of the suggested reasons that people do not renew their memberships.

This is the exert from the "Genealogy a la carte" blog............We have all joined societies and other groups for a specific reason and then not renewed. WHY?

What are the main reasons you did not renew your genealogy society membership?
  • I had exhausted all of the society’s online resources.
  • My research in that region was finished.
  • The newsletter did not interest me.
  • I moved away.
  • I took up another hobby.
  • The members were snobby about how genealogy research should be done.
  • I did not like how the society was managed.
  • I joined another society.
  • I was no longer learning from the society.
  • Opening hours were not convenient.
  • No parking.
  • The lectures and workshops became stale.
  • Staff/volunteers lacked adequate knowledge to assist members.
  • *There were few benefits for a long-distance membership.
  • Travel and vacation took me away too often.
  • Personal reasons, such as health and family.
  • I preferred to spend my money on subscription websites.
  • The society had become stagnant and was not adapting to new methods and technology.
  • The members were too old.
  • The members were too young.
.............does any of this sound familiar? What would it take for you to continue your membership?

*This is something that is always a problem with membership in societies for long distant member. Do we as a society have projects or activities that will interest long distant members or a draw for long distant membership - to retain them. As a member joining a society a long ways away -Yes I can find someone to help me with my research- sometimes Free sometimes for a fee.  As a member joining a society a long ways away - Yes I can support them with monetary donations to support the organization and their other projects but I only have so much to give. As a member joining a society a long ways away  - Yes there is a website, a publication maybe even a blog but how can I be of service to the organization while I are using ALL their services. Do you feel this way?  Do you want to give back to this organization? Have you asked what you can do for them?

I have one great example to share about helping a society long distance and them retaining my membership: I am a long time member of the Ohio Genealogical Society. I am a Buckeye through and through, I was born in Ohio, barely lived there before my father went into the Army and off our family went to Europe. But I still feel a connection to Ohio and to this organization. They have given me a lot of help over the years and I wanted to help the society somehow. While reading through a newly arrived OSG Quarterly I found a small article that asked for help extracting obituaries .... It said even long distant members could help.  I was excited and answered the request right away and within a couple of weeks I had a package filled with original obituaries to be extracted & keyed into their Ohio Obituary Project online connected to the Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Center & Library. I have since finished that package, sent it back and have received a second package. It is not a difficult job since everything is from the newspapers there is no interpreting handwriting. I am thrilled and I really feel like I am helping and I feel like an active member of the Ohio Genealogical Society, not just a taker so I am a continuing member.

Probably one of the main reasons I do local extractions with Root Cellar SGS at the Center for Sacramento History every Friday morning is that I am hoping that someone(s) in the other U.S. states that I am researching is doing the same as I am here in California - EXTRACTING documents and other materials. I have barely a twig on my tree of a California ancestor but I continue extracting in California in hopes that my Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut ancestors documents are being extracted by someone else living in those places. I also do extractions because it is just fun, very interesting and lots of great stories to read.

Challenge: I certainly would love to see all Societies around the country look at what long distant members can do for them. Extracting and indexing seem to be good projects for those members.     I am wondering about articles for their publications, blog or even website. People can work anywhere in the country and be a part of the technical arena.  A distant member could be a board member when societies meet virtually. Why not? Have you considered Virtual Committee Meetings, Virtual Board Meetings, Webinar's for general meetings, workshops or Seminars. This appears to be the way of the future and is all available now. At least check it out, do the homework and see it if fits your organization. 

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