Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FGSCruise2015: Cabin-Booking Contests

FGS is sponsoring its first ever floating genealogical conference with the FGS 2015 Alaskan Cruise, August 28 to September 4, 2015.  The cruise will offer the perfect combination of sightseeing and excursions, coupled with genealogical education during sea days by four of the most respected genealogical speakers:

FGS is running two contests for all cruise attendees who have (or will) book their cabins by May 1.

Contest 1
All attendees who have booked their cabins by May 1 will be included in a drawing for a free conference registration (a $195 value).  The drawing will take place on May 1, the day conference registration is scheduled to open.

Contest 2
Twelve cruise-goers will win private consultations with the conference speakers to be scheduled during the cruise.  The sooner you book your cabin, the more chances you have to win!  The first two lucky winners are Denise O. and Selden G.  Winners will be contacted in the summer with more details about scheduling the consultations.

FGS has a block of cabins with the best rates guaranteed through May 1. Reserve your cabin by contacting Susan Smith at Cruises Inc. 

The FGS 2015 Alaskan Cruise will offer a full genealogy conference during sea days that does not encroach on time to enjoy mainland excursions.  Register for the cruise at

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Publication Challenges to 21st Century Societies

Originally appeared in The Graphic, June 30, 1877 (p. 617); courtesy of Wikimedia
If you are the editor of a society publication - whether it's a journal, quarterly, or magazine, print or electronic (or both) - you have probably experienced a few challenges along the way, from marketing to content acquisition to distribution of your publication.

Do you have recurring columns or other items that your readers can count on seeing in every issue?  Are your news items consistently out of date because they are published in your quarterly rather than in a more timely newsletter or blog post?  Are you limiting the ways your readers can receive your publication?

Guest Matt Wright (former Co-Editor of the FGS Forum) discusses these and other challenges associated with a wide variety of society publications and many ways to overcome them or use them to your advantage.

Listen to the archived broadcast of "Publication Challenges to 21st Century Societies" on the blogtalkradio My Society channel by FGS, or you can listen below:

Check Out History Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with mysociety on BlogTalkRadio 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Volunteer Appreciation Week: 10 Ways to Show You Care

Volunteer Appreciation Week: 10 Ways To Show You Care
Volunteers helping at registration,
FGS 2015
Without volunteers, most genealogy societies would cease to exist. Imagine all of the projects that your society is working on. Publishing a newsletter. Maintaining a website. Reading cemeteries. Abstracting obituaries. Assisting people with research. Hosting seminars. Preserving records. Now imagine doing all of that work with no volunteers.

April 12-18, 2015 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. It's a time when organizations across the United States recognize and pay tribute to the invaluable people who carry out the important work of the group.

Here's a little secret: Your appreciation shouldn't be limited to just one week. Volunteers don't expect to be paid (hence, "volunteer"), but they're still human. People have a need to know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Here's another little secret: If you don't appreciate your volunteers, they'll go someplace that does.

Here are 10 easy ways you can show your volunteers that you truly appreciate them.

1. Say "Thank You"

There's a reason your mother made you say "thank you." It's a sign of respect. It lets the other person know that you noticed what they did and that you appreciate it. It sounds simplistic, but simply saying "thank you" goes a long way to making your volunteers feel good about helping.

2. Award Them

Do you have a volunteer who went above and beyond on a particular project or event? Give them the award that your society has established for these special people! (Don't have such a thing? Make one. You can also issue something like a "president's certificate" to show that the society is behind it.) FGS would like to help you recognize the awesome volunteers in your society. Nominate them for an FGS award!

3. Tell Her Boss

You know that volunteer who helped get the society's financial statements in order? What about the one who was instrumental in getting a $1,000 grant? Send her boss a letter detailing what she did and how it helped your society. (Added bonus: It gives your society a bit of exposure with a business in the area.)

4. Say "Thank You" Again

Thanking the people who keep your society running isn't a "one and done" proposition. Tell them again how much you sincerely appreciate them.

5. Listen to Them

Volunteers are down in the trenches. They know how the projects are working – and how they're not working. They can have great ideas on how things can be improved. Listen to them. You may not take all of their suggestions, but the act of listening can really help people know that you care.

6. Help Them Do Their Jobs

Is there a project that's harder than necessary because of the tools that the volunteers use? Maybe the old photocopier is constantly jamming or filing cabinet drawers are always stuck. Replacing these things takes away a source of frustration – and who doesn't want less frustration?

7. Say "Thank You" Once More

Are you picking up on a theme here?

8. Give to a Favorite Cause

People can use only so many plaques and certificates. Instead of recognizing volunteers' efforts by giving them something they have to dust, give them something that speaks to their hearts. Make a donation in their name to a favorite cause. (Might we suggest Preserve the Pensions?)

9. Tell the World

Volunteers are the light of your society. Let that light shine! Tell the world about the awesome volunteers that you have. Announce it in your newsletter and on your website and blog. Send a press release to your local newspaper and include details of how their efforts impacted your society and the community at large. For examples, check out these posts on the FGS Voice blog.

10. Say "Thank You"

Few things make people feel better about helping than to have someone offer their sincere thanks. Make sure you give yours.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

So Your Speaker Cancelled, Now What?

Photo credit:

As Program or Education chair of your society, you’ve spent hours carefully crafting a speaker roster for lectures, webinars and special events. But rest assured, it will happen. A speaker will cancel. It might be as mundane as car trouble. Or as recent events have shown, it might be as significant as a political boycott campaign.  

Be Prepared

In the immortal words of the Boy Scout slogan: Be Prepared. Speaker cancellations are a risk for any type of event. In the case of advance notice, it may be a simple matter of asking a future speaker to move their scheduled topic to your open slot. It also offers the opportunity to give a new speaker or unusual topic a try. For those societies fortunate enough to have talented speakers as society members, you may be able to solicit one of them to keep a stock presentation at the ready for a short notice fill in.

Timing is Everything

Last minute cancellations are the most challenging to replace. Audience expectations are set. Some members may have made a special trip just for a particular speaker or topic. For onsite lectures and events, having a back up plan already determined and communicated to potential participants is key. Here are a few options to get your creative gears turning:

  • Host a reddit style "Ask Me Anything" session with the society president or board members present.
  • Host a panel discussion featuring the professional genealogists or repository staff in your society.
  • In the case of an event, host a panel discussion with available speakers.
  • Create your own genealogy game show in the vein of Craig R. Scott's "Last Genealogist Standing."
  • Offer a brick wall brainstorming session.

No Substitute

Unfortunately, for some cancellations there is no substitute. Webinars are particularly susceptible to this problem. Though not impossible, it is very difficult to replace a webinar with a nationally recognized speaker at the last minute to the audience’s satisfaction. Map out in advance an apology strategy and how you will communicate to the audience any rescheduling of an event.

By taking the time to address the possibility of cancelations in advance, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition speakers or present your members with a fun and satisfying alternative event. And in the event no alternative can be arranged, you’ll have a strategy in place for preserving your member’s goodwill.

We’d love to hear from you! What strategies has your society employed to cover speaker cancellations? What was the best off-the-cuff cancellation replacement you ever attended?

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