On Monday evening a group of fifteen or more genealogists plugged their headsets into their computers and joined an audio conference call on Skype, hosted by this newsletter. The results were interesting to me, and, hopefully, to all the other attendees.
First of all, this was very much like a telephone conference call with one exception: there were no telephones involved. All the attendees simply talked and listened by using headsets plugged into the sound cards on their computers. The conference call was free of charge with no toll calls involved. All attendees used computers connected to the Internet.
Most of the attendees were experienced genealogists and long-term members of genealogy societies. Most either are or have been officers. We did have a couple "strangers" wander in who were not familiar with genealogy. I even had my first need to kick out a person for profanity. This fellow obviously was not a genealogist. Such shenanigans are rare in genealogy chats, either by voice or by keyboard. I was so surprised by his outburst that I momentarily forgot how to eject a participant. However, once I recovered, all I had to do was click the mouse three times to kick the scoundrel out of our conference call.
Some of the topics discussed in this week's "Genealogy Society Management & Promotion Skypecast" included the following:
PayPal has been a very successful method of selling society publications and accepting memberships online. In one case, a state society increased book sales by 500% immediately after offering PayPal for the first time! That's right, a 500% increase in online sales in the first year that the society accepted PayPal payments. The same society reports that online membership applications also increased significantly at the same time although not by the same percentage.
DNA seems to generate a lot of interest. Having speakers and presentations on DNA seems to attract more people to meetings.
At meetings, one society always asks for "Great moments in genealogy." Attendees are encouraged to report of any significant success stories, either recent ones or stories from years ago.
Considerable discussion focused on how to encourage people to volunteer for positions as club officers. One strong suggestion was to seek volunteers from non-genealogists. For instance, young CPAs are encouraged to volunteer at non-profits. They make excellent society treasurers. There are similar opportunities to find newsletter editors (journalism students?) or webmasters.
That latter topic spurred a conversation about finding or training genealogy webmasters. The group did not reach any definitive conclusions.
One observation that rung in my ears was that "any society without a recently updated web site shows that it obviously does not care about attracting new members." That isn't an exact quote, but I think it is close.
We finished with a brief discussion about how to handle club officers and board members who elect to ignore the society by-laws. Several cases were cited where society presidents run meetings without regard for by-laws, stifling any opposition. The suggestions were to (1.) get ready for a long and difficult battle, (2.) wait for the next election and work hard to vote the rogue(s) out or (3.) quit and start your own genealogy society with officers who are more attuned to members' needs and desires. Proposal #3 seemed to generate the most support.
My thanks to everyone who attended. I hope you will return.
I am going to propose that we have a similar "Genealogy Society Management & Promotion Skypecast" on the second Monday of next month at the same time. That will be at 10:00 PM Eastern U.S. time on October 9. Bring your headset!
If you would like to experiment with the free Skype software and your headset and sound board before next month's "Genealogy Society Management & Promotion Skypecast," join us any Thursday evening at 10:00 PM Eastern time (that's on Friday in some parts of the world) at http://www.eogn.com for our "general-purpose" weekly Skypecast. There are no predefined topics on the weekly "general-purpose" weekly Skypecasts.