Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughts on The Genealogy Society

Our state genealogy society is going through some changes. So this brings this up in my mind as I am on the board. Let's discuss genealogy societies.

These questions came from a genealogy friend of mine.

1. Do you expect to pay dues to organizations (and how much)?

Yes, but I expect them to be reasonable. I think the lowest dues I pay is $20 and the highest is probably $48. Those seem reasonable depending on what funds are used for, and the benefits derived (see next question). 

2. How do you expect those dues to be used? If more than one, how do you split it?
a. To give you exclusive access to materials (members only access)
b. To cover the operational expenses of the organization (utilities, supplies, copies, equipment, etc.)
c. To purchase additional materials for research (books, microfilm, etc.)
d. If not a genealogy society, to support charity
e. Other, what?

This could be expanded to say how do you want them used.
Okay I expect all three of a genealogy society. I don't want B (covering expenses) but I realize it's a necessary evil. Other organizations I'm in do support charities or give scholarships, so I know that's part of my dues (the $48 one). I don't know how you split it, as I suppose it depends how much you need for choice B, and then A and C can be evenly split with what's left. And one has to hope there is something left. 

3. Do you expect or want a newsletter? How do you want it sent? By email, posted on web site, snail mail (paper copy), or a combination.

Yes I like a newsletter. Why are you paying dues if you don't want to be informed? If it's posted on a web site then I like a link sent to my email reminding me to check it. I don't need a hard copy; I'm all about saving money to have it go to something else besides stamps, paper and ink. 

4. Do you, or would you, consider volunteering your time to help the organization? Even if you are not local, there are usually still ways you could volunteer. If so, how much time would you consider (per week, month or year)?
I would add to this if you volunteer, do you expect free membership? And should the board (who volunteers their time), therefore get free membership?

Yes I do volunteer my time for this group I am referencing. I would consider for other groups but one cannot spread oneself too thin. So maybe currently I would consider 10 hours a month or so. 
I added the following because one society of mostly younger folks offers free membership in trade for volunteer hours. I think this is a great option for younger folk who might have more time than money, and maybe for older retired ones too. I also think the board, assuming they put in "enough" hours, should get free membership. 

5. Do you expect organizations to host programs, classes, entertainment, a conference or some other type of outreach?

I think this is a nice benefit for members and a good way to draw people in. So yes I think some type of class, program or conference is a nice benefit. 

5b. I'm asking because I am conference coordinator. How much would you pay for a 2-day conference with 8 presentations, one hour each with about 5 given by a nationally known speaker? Would you want lunch included or register for that separate? (So many people now a days have food limitations that sometimes this is good.)

Answering my own question, I expect to pay $75 for the 2-day conference, $40 a day without lunch. If a nice lunch is included, add $20 per day, so $110-$115 for 2-day conference including lunch, $60 for one day. If lunch is just a sandwich, chips and fruit, knock the lunch down to $10. And I expect lunch to be an option in registration, not because I have food limitations, but I know many people who do. 

6. If you thought the society could be improved, would you be willing to help on a committee, or serve on a board, to encourage and help change?

Yes in fact I have. Last year (2014) I was disappointed to only see less than 40 attendees at our annual conference so I volunteered to help, became conference coordinator and was happy to see double that (about 80 people) at our 2015 conference. 

This is all the questions my friend had. I thought I had another one but I can't think of it again. It will come to me right after I post, because that's the way it goes.

Yay, I thought of it before I posted.

7. How often do you expect a society to meet? This could vary depending on type of society and location. Do you want to always meet in person, or are conference calls or online meetings acceptable?

Answering my own question again: If a society is local (in one's own county), then I think monthly meetings in person are acceptable. If a society is state or regional, then I think quarterly is enough in person. If more meetings are necessary, then I think conference calls or online meetings should be considered and used. 

Okay I think that's it. Feel free to add your own questions below in the comments. Also feel free to answer these in your own blog, and leave me a link in the comments. Or leave your answers in the comments or send me an email or message. I am interested in more people's opinions. As always, thanks for reading. I may suggest this as a discussion for #genchat too, if we haven't done it already.

1 comment:

  1. I thought I had posted a quick one paragraph with tongue in cheek about #4. Since it didn't go through, and your have broadened the window of questions I started with, I give you my two cents or so on all of them.

    1. Yes, and the dues have ranged from nothing to $100 a year (at the level I joined). I have three rules that must be met before I join anything: a) I absolutely support their mission or cause, b) my donation of time or money will add value to them or future generations, or c) that I am supporting/recognizing a group because of the time and energy they invest in others.

    2. I very seldom expect anything back for me personally, unless it is an organization I am supporting that teaches and/or trains me to improve my skills or knowledge. For example, the end of this year the Southern California Genealogical Society will be getting a sizable check from me, because I've used their free online classes on/off for years and it's more than time I say thank you.

    I am adamantly opposed to materials being restricted to members only, especially at a local level. I do a lot of indexing and transcriptions, and I'd rather anyone and everyone have access to them and not just 100 people who get access because they paid $10 in dues. Having said that, there are some groups or companies I have no issues with supporting because I realize I'm actually paying for their staff time and expenses to make the materials searchable and not for the materials itself.

    I do feel a large hunk of the dues should go to support the organization. Copiers, printers, utilities, furnace filters, whatever are expenses that need to be covered. You fail to support that infrastructure and the organization will vaporize.

    3. I don't expect newsletters or magazines unless that is the primary reason they asked me to join. When I send a check to the Smithsonian, I get a membership but I am primarily subscribing to their magazine (and that is how they promote it). I know of at least one organization which now gives you the option of getting just their quarterly magazines at a lower rate vs. joining....guess which side is the bigger income producer. ;-) And eventually some of them will convert to a full membership with both the magazines and funding for the organization.

    I do not like electronic newsletters - not emails, not PDF attachments, not an online version I can print off. I want hard copies I can write on, file, tear out sheets I want to reference later, etc. without having to print off something. I also like that they remind me of meetings, and again it's part of my tickler system. I'd rather pay a postage/handling fee than get it electronically. Being from a small organization, I have nightmares of thinking about what it would take to send out both hard copies and electronic copies.

    4.Yes, I think everyone should volunteer to the ability they are able, as an organization cannot survive without them unless they have the financial ability to have a paid staff. I do not think free membership should be a benefit. I've volunteered 40-50 hours a week on an average, for almost 25 years at our local history/genealogy free membership, even though I'm probably at or above 60,000 hours now. I don't feel cheated at all.

    5. I think this will vary tremendously. Personally, I'm leaning towards less structured programs/classes and more informal and through different methods than traditionally used. Again, it comes down to the number of volunteers and how deep those budget pockets are.

    6. Yes, and I think all members should. Actually I'd encourage everyone to try to they know they'll like, and one they don't think sounds very good (you may just surprise yourself).

    7. I'm struggling on "what I think" about this one. The answer I give today may or may not be what I feel tomorrow. I can make a logical argument for many answers.