“Family history is a destination,” said D. Joshua Taylor, business development manager for brightsolid. “It’s all about the destination.” Taylor was speaking in the opening plenary session at the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). The conference began Wednesday morning in Birmingham, Alabama. The first day of the conference is targeted to society officers. Taylor posed a question to them, “What kind of destination is your society?” If your society looks like a roach infested motel from the outside, prospective members won’t recognize what’s inside.
“It’s all about being a part of your community,” said Taylor. You should add value to your community. Become involved with the chamber of commerce, the tourist bureau, local hotels, local restaurants even. When they have questions about cemeteries or local history, they should come to you. Offer your services to local travel agents. Participate in community bake sales. Become involved with local charities.
“We need to shift our thinking. How can we invest in the community to show that we have value,” asked Taylor. “It’s a two way street between you and your community.” When the local television station needs information about family history, they should come to you. When it comes to family history, you should own your community. Offer your services to the local county clerk. When they are being bothered by an overly assertive genealogist, they can send him to you.
“Societies that have made themselves essential to their community will find themselves involved by that community.” You know things that others don’t. You have records that others don’t.
Society success is not your membership size, your seminar attendance, or to balance your budget. Society success is fulfilling your mission.
“Become that dynamic destination.”
The Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference continues through Saturday. If you’re in the Birmingham area, come on by.
Also check out the new FGS website at http://www.fgs.org/.