Let’s face it. It’s been a challenging year. It's been difficult for individuals and families, but it's also been difficult for businesses, organizations, and societies.
Genealogy societies are an important part of the family history community. They are the place where researchers gather to learn and share. They are the purveyors of education through programming, Special Interest Groups (SIGS), seminars, and conferences. Members are kept up-to-date on the society and other genealogical interests via a periodical (magazine, journal, or newsletter), blog, or social media account.
Individuals volunteer their time, talent, and experience to make societies a place that benefits the community. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of volunteers to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Starting in March, many societies were forced to cancel meetings. It seemed at first that this was a momentary inconvenience. Soon, however, when reality dictated that groups would not be meeting in person for some time, societies had to make some tough decisions, including whether to meet online or not meet at all. Many societies met the challenge. They learned how to hold a virtual meeting. They trained their volunteers and, in some cases, their speakers how to use this new technology. They figured out how to provide programming differently. Some societies even provided all-day seminars to their members and the larger genealogy community.
While many societies have adapted to the new reality, that's not a possibility for all societies due to technological know-how and cost. I've had societies tell me, "we are barely surviving," "we aren't sure whether our members will renew their membership." It is a tough time, and it helps to know you're not alone. There are other organizations in the same boat who have ideas that may help.
As we conclude 2020 and look towards possibly not gathering together in person until later in 2021, what are your genealogy society plans? Too often, even in "normal" times, society board members may feel isolated from other societies. We all benefit when we can share ideas and our experiences, whether they worked or not.
Let's help each other and share ideas about making the most of society management in these unusual times. Tell us about your society in this time of COVID and what changes you've made. Not sure what to write? Consider addressing some of the questions in the comments below :
- What did your society do differently during the pandemic?
- Are you holding meetings? If so, how?
- If you are holding meetings, aside from being online, how else are they different?
- Is there anything that is NOT working for your society?
- Is there anything your society is NOT doing that you did pre-pandemic?
- Have you tried something new that you plan on continuing?
- What has your genealogy society done to reach out to non-members?
- What are your plans for 2021?
- What recommendations do you have for other societies?
I look forward to hearing from you and what you have experienced.