Sustaining Societies

Sustaining Societies

For years there has been periodic emphasis on “growth of our genealogical societies.” While we always welcome new members, we must not overlook another important task–sustaining the function of our existing societies.

Successful societies have established a mission such as that of SKCGS:

  • Stimulate interest in genealogy and aid individual members in compiling their family records
  • Seek genealogical and historical knowledge
  • Preserve and perpetuate the records of our ancestors
  • Promote the preservation of public and private genealogical materials

While the mission may be tailored to fit the needs of its members by time and location, one thing remains constant–who is sustaining the operation of the society?  Does the society meet the needs of its members?  Who is working behind the scenes to to accomplish that goal?  How do leaders, members and newcomers contribute?

SKCGS works toward our purpose through monthly meetings featuring knowledgeable speakers on a range of topics in the field of family history and genealogical research.  We have an Education Committee who plan an annual program, seek speakers and negotiate contractual details.

Who is on the Education Committee?

We have user groups and special interest groups for assistance with genealogical software, technology and DNA/genetic genealogy. We have this weekly blog with timely articles of interest.

Who is responsible for producing these outlets of information?

 During the Covid pandemic we developed a very successful virtual program and have gained wonderful friends and members throughout the world. The Membership Committee maintains the current database, welcoming new members and sending gentle reminders for renewals.

Who is serving on the Membership Committee?

I can go on by listing the other committees and individuals who operate SKCGS–Publicity, Outreach, Resources, Librarian, Webmaster, etc.  The point is, it takes many individuals to bring you a sustaining and healthy society.

And that is a crucial point, that the society must be able to sustain itself. It is a fact that our membership are an aging population. While our interests may not wane, our physical abilities do become diminished.  We need capable helpers to start filling in.

It is the responsibility of a leader to recruit and train their replacement.  But, in a virtual world such as we have now, how do we find willing volunteers?  How do we get to know people? We still have telephone service. Leaders–look at the membership database and call people. Find someone you haven’t “seen” recently and renew an acquaintance. Or contact a new person to find out if they have a special need–or a special skill.

Your new contact may not be ready to take on a major volunteer role but perhaps would be willing to do a one time job or a small recurring job. Many people are just waiting to be asked to help. They may already be thinking about some way to help the society; they just need a suggestion.

And, new person, please don’t be shy.  If you see a way to help the society please speak up to any of the group leaders with a question or suggestion.  You will not be stepping on any toes by offering to help.

* images courtesy of Pixabay

MaryLynn Strickland

Published with permission from South King County Genealogical Society