In our last issue, managing editor Diane Haddad reported on the state of local genealogical societies, including what some groups are doing to combat declining membership. It’s a problem organizations of all kinds – historical and otherwise – are facing. And given the discussion on the FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum, it’s also a topic genealogists are eager to talk about.
A common thread in both our expert sources’ and forum members’ comments: The biggest key to societies’ success is giving members incentive to sign up – and then stick around. As one local group’s president wrote, “Societies really need to give people good reasons to join.”
Based on the forum feedback, effective enticements include volunteers’ research help, newsletters, research libraries and cold, hard data – such as published or online record indexes and transcriptions.
As a member of several groups myself, I know the entire family history community benefits from society-sponsored endeavors. So I’m proud to announce a new program that’ll help organizations raise the funds they need to provide these and other perks. Through a partnership with the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) <fgs.org>, we’ve launched a special subscription program for the nearly 600 groups under FGS’ umbrella. When a member of a participating society subscribes to Family Tree Magazine, we’ll donate a portion of the proceeds directly back to FGS and that group. It’s our way of supporting societies’ valuable efforts – after all, without their work, we’d have far fewer resources to write about in this magazine.
Of course, we think Family Tree Magazine makes a pretty great membership benefit, too: Genealogists get to help their organizations and receive a publication full of essential, enjoyable how-to information. If you belong to an FGS member society, I hope you’ll encourage your group to join in.