Monday, August 24, 2015

Share Your Knowledge: Write for FGS FORUM

A message from FGS FORUM managing editor, Julie Cahill Tarr:

As we put the finishing touches on the Summer 2015 issue of FORUM (due out in mid-September), planning is underway for upcoming issues. We are looking for genealogy-related and society-related articles. Below is a list of working titles of topics we’d like to cover in future issues.

Genealogy-Related Articles
  • How to Choose the Genealogy Database Program That’s Right for You 
  • Cousin Connection: Reaching Out to Distant Relatives 
  • ## Tips for Finding Your African American Roots 
  • DNA Research Strategies for Adoptees 
  • How to Plan an Unforgettable Family Reunion 
  • Best Tools for Creating Interactive Family Histories 
Society-Related Articles
  • Cloud Computing, Can Your Society Benefit? 
  • ## Unique Project Ideas for Your Society 
  • Is It Time to Bring Your Bylaws Into the 21st Century? 
  • Enhance Your Membership Benefits with Special Interest Groups (SIGs) 
  • ## Ways to Engage Your Long-Distance Members 
  • Take Advantage of Discounted Technology Products with TechSoup 
If you are interested in writing about any of these topics, or if you have other article ideas, please contact me at FORUM accepts original, unpublished materials. Deadlines for upcoming issues are: September 15, November 15, and January 15.

In addition to articles, we also have a need for book and product reviewers. Those interested in being a reviewer should contact me at to discuss further.

Julie Cahill Tarr
FORUM Managing Editor

Vision Statements: what are they and why genealogical societies need them

Jack Welch, Chairman of General Electric said, "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion."

Vision Statements v. Mission Statements

Mission statements and vision statements do different jobs. A mission statement is a short statement of the purpose of an organization. It guides the actions, gives the overall goal and directs decision making. Vision statements also define an organization's purpose, but they focus on the goals and aspirations of the organization. Both mission and vision statements are designed to be educational and inspiring. However, a mission statement changes to reflect current thinking, but the vision may stay the same throughout the life of the organization. Vision statements explain to others what your organization wants to be.

What is a Vision Statement?

A Vision Statement:
  • Defines the desired future state of what an organization wants to achieve over time (goal)
  • Provides guidance and inspiration as to what an organization is focused on achieving in five, ten, or more years (future)
  • Draws people to a common work (unites)
  • Inspires others to action (motivates)
  • Written succinctly in an inspirational manner that makes it easy for all to remember and repeat
  • Provides a basis for developing other aspects of strategies and action plans (direction)

Leaders may change, but a clearly established Vision encourages people to focus on what's important and better understand organization-wide change and alignment of resources.

How to Create a Vision Statement

Step 1: Find the "Human Value" in Your Work

First, identify your organization's mission. Next, find the "human value" in that mission. For example, how does your organization improve people's lives? How does what you do make the world a better place? Keep in mind that human values are the foundation of ethics and guidelines used in daily life.

Step 2: Refine Into Values

Then determine what you and other members value the most about how your organization will achieve this mission. Condense these into values your organization has (or should have). If you have a hard time identifying your organization's values, talk to your members. What values do they think the organization stands for? Some attributes may include: honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, discipline, fairness.

Step 3: Combine Your Mission and Values

Combine your mission and values and polish words until you have an inspiring statement that will energize people — inside and outside your organization. It should be broad and timeless. It should tell others why the people in your organization do what they do.

Key Points

Mission and vision statements are succinct, inspirational statements that clearly communicate the direction and values of an organization. These statements can powerfully explain your intentions and motivate your organization to realize a motivating vision of the future. Not having a clearly defined Vision and Mission limits occasions for the organization's success and is a disservice to members and volunteers. If an organization wants engaged and productive members, it should make sure members and volunteers know how their work contributes to accomplishing the Mission and ultimately how it contributes to the Vision of the organization.

The lack of or poorly written Vision and Mission statements are lost opportunities for:
  • Attracting/engaging/retaining talent
  • Building organizational culture
  • Increasing productivity

Examples of Vision Statements

Examples of effective Vision statements include:

Alzheimer's Association: "Our Vision is a world without Alzheimer's disease."

Microsoft: "Empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device."


It's never too late for an organization to define its Vision and Mission. Some even reinvent themselves through the strategic planning process, beginning with these two core elements. Regardless of how an organization creates an effective Vision and Mission statement, it is important that they be entrenched into the culture through clear and consistent communications from the highest levels of an organization. Developing effective vision and mission statements are two of the most important tasks your organization will ever do because almost everything else you do will be affected by these statements.

Cherie Bush
FGS Director

Monday, August 10, 2015

Exciting Week for Society Management

Today we are engaging in a little housekeeping to keep you abreast of this week’s happenings in our Society Management offerings. You’ll see a few changes at as our older webinars move behind the member wall.  This week sees two events for your pleasure: a new webinar and a #genchat. We hope you’ll make time in your busy schedules to join us as much as you can.

July Webinar

Our moderator for the July Webinar, “Wordpress for Societies: No Blogging Required,” suffered technical difficulties during the original airing that left most attendees disappointed. This webinar has been re-recorded and is now available at It will be available until September 10th after which it will be accessible in the Member’s Only section. All previously archived webinar content has been moved to Member's Only at this time.

August Webinar

The 2015 Webinar Series continues with Paula Stuart-Warren presenting “Your Society Can’t Afford to Do A Seminar? Here’s How!” Wednesday August 22nd at 8pm EDT. Paula is a staple on the lecture circuit presenting at conferences and institutes alike. She’ll bring her years of experience in society management positions and conference chairing to bear on a question important to societies of all sizes.  I hope you’ll join us.

Please register for Your Society Can’t Afford to Do A Seminar? Here’s How! on Aug 12, 2015 8:00 PM EDT at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

#genchat Friday

Did you miss July’s Society Focus #genchat on Creative Programming? Head over to twitter and search the hashtag. The community was quite vocal in what they’d like to see out of their societies in terms of programming options. 

This Friday, August 14, Jen Baldwin will be encouraging genealogists to “Get Local” to advance their research. FGS will be there too sharing how local societies are essential to a genealogist’s success. No matter how far technology takes us, it will never fully take the place of societies. Join us to share with the community how your societies contributes to genealogical research through preservation, education and camaraderie.

Learn more about how to join us for #genchat events

We'll be back to blogging educational content for those who can't join our virtual events this month with posts on "Micro-volunteering" and "How to Market Your Society."
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