Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#FGS2013 - Survive and Thrive!

I attended the full set of FamilySearch sponsored lectures during Society Day at the 2013 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. This was one:

FGS has a series of strategy papersCherie Bush and Fran Jensen presented “Survive and Thrive!” Bush is a marketing manager for FamilySearch and Jensen is a deputy chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch. They were substituting for David Rencher, FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer.

“Your society has more power and potential than you might think,” wrote Rencher in the syllabus. There are many potential members to your society. You need to position your society in the marketplace and gain exposure.

Examine the name of your society. A name change may attract new members or better communicate the scope of your society. “The National Society, Descendants of John and Elizabeth Hutchins Curtiss” changed their name in 1989 to “the John and Elizabeth Curtis/Curtiss Society.” As the family grew and the organization’s scope changed they went through subsequent name changes as well. (See

Bush reminded us of Cyndi Howell’s emphasis on mission statements. Make certain your society and mission statement are aligned. (Bush emphasized the importance of mission statements to much, she said she’d be known as Miss Mission Statement by the end of the conference.)

“Your society is only as good as your board members,” wrote Rencher. Inventory the skill set you possess. Analyze the skills you need. Check your bylaws to see if your board can be large enough to cover all the skills needed. Form an effective nomination committee that can take you from where you are to where you need to be.

Jensen contrasted societies that survive from societies that thrive. Here again a mission statement is important. To thrive, a society needs a clear definition of the society’s mission, role, and objectives.

Jensen mentioned again the importance of the board. Thriving societies have thriving boards. A member of the class shared her experience in an organization with three year board cycles. Your first year you shadow a more experienced board member. Your second year you function well. Your third year you are shadowed by your replacement.

FGS has a series of strategy papers to help with things like publications, websites, awards, and seminars. Go to Scroll down and look on the left for “Free downloads.” Select it and then select “Society Strategy Series.” There you will find 54 articles to help your society. Some of the topics are newsletters, fundraising, publications, society websites, and seminars and workshops.

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