When I read about the three genealogy society development workshops that will take place at the Southern California Genealogical Society’s (SCGS) upcoming Jamboree, I thought the themes of these workshops could easily serve as inspiration for our local societies and could be turned into a thought-provoking monthly meeting.
Consider the issues raised in the SCGS workshops:
Engaging the Next Generation. D. Joshua Taylor and Elyse Doerflinger’s presentation “will give attendees a variety of ideas on how to attract a new generation of society members and address the needs of growing society within the confines of a limited budget and/or technology.”
Making the Case: Change and Technology in Your Society. Randy Whited will “confront the situation that many societies face, the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ mentality, especially when faced with new technology or interacting with our membership or the public.” He will also “tackle how to sell the effort to the leadership and the tools needed to be successful.”
Giving Back: Put Your Cemetery Online. Thomas J. Kemp will talk about how to document everyone buried in the cemeteries in your community by putting the data online. “See how easy it is to upload photographs of each tombstone along with hyperlinks to the original records documenting that person’s life. See how easy it is to create a website for your cemetery — putting up a photograph of each tombstone along with links to that person in census, online vital records, and more. Give back to your community and make it easy for everyone to learn about the people that lived in your town.”
Imagine the number of ideas that would be generated by your members during a discussion about these topics. There are several ways to hold meetings to brainstorm ideas. Here are four possibilities, depending on your organization.
- Panel discussion. Invite three or four people sit on a panel to lead the discussion. Assign a moderator. At least one person on the panel should be a member of your board, but definitely not all. During the second half of the panel discussion, encourage the audience to participate and suggest ideas.
- Round table discussions with members. Set up several tables in a large room or in separate rooms. Before the meeting, assign a moderator and note-taker for each table. Divide the audience into small groups and assign each group to a table. After the round table discussions, everyone returns to the large room and each note-taker presents their group’s suggestions and comments. Leave time for Q&A during the presentation period.
- Formal presentation. One person delivers a formal presentation on one of the topics, followed by a Q&A period.
- Brainstorming session with Board members. Hold a half-day or one-day retreat with board members to discuss one or more of these topics.
Remember to include your long-distance members by sharing your findings and encouraging them to contribute their ideas.