Here are my reasons for suggesting these first 15 activities:
1 Hold a NFHM event (this could be your regular August meeting renamed or even a library open day)
Now that NFHM is a month long event, smaller societies can easily become involved by simply calling their regular August meeting, NFHM meeting. By advertising your event/s on the NFHM web calendar more people are likely to see your event and attend, it may even be a way to gain new members!
2 Visit the AFFHO website and check out the benefits of membership and consider joining.
All genealogy and family history societies have the same types of interests and issues and being part of an umbrella group such as AFFHO means you have a central place to go to for advice and information. There is no single listing for all societies in Australia and New Zealand and it is hard to gauge how popular genealogy is but the number of societies and their membership numbers is one way that we can guesstimate popularity.
3 Start a Facebook page
A number of societies already have Facebook pages and use them as a way of promoting their events, resources and publications and to attract new members. It is also a great way to attract younger people who are usually big users of social media.
4 Visit the NFHM Facebook page for updates throughout NFHM
Even if you don’t want to start your own Facebook page, you should still keep up to date with NFHM by regularly checking the NFHM Facebook page and if you haven’t already done so, you should Like the page as we are trying to get 500 Likes before the end of NFHM.
5 Plan a membership drive
NFHM is a great time to have a membership drive as everyone is talking about genealogy and there are events on. It’s probably too late for this year but why not start planning for next year – 2014 is again for the whole month of August!
6 Have a display table at your local newsagent
Most newsagents stock family history magazines from the UK and also our two NFHM sponsors Inside History Magazine and Australian Family Tree Connections. Chat to your local newsagent about hosting a display table promoting your society and genealogy – perhaps you will end up with new members and they will get new customers! Worth a try so start planning for next NFHM or perhaps even sooner.
7 Talk to your local council library about potential collaborative events
Have you done anything collaborative with your local library – perhaps you could provide them with a speaker or they could give you a display area to promote your society? There are lots of options here which would benefit everyone.
8 Start a Twitter account
You may not want your own society Twitter account but you should at least consider following a few key people in the genealogy Twitter world to get all the latest information quickly and easily. You can then pass it on to your members.
9 Put your NFHM events in the NFHM web calendar so that they are seen by more people
More people seeing your event means more attendees and perhaps even new members for the society. All too often I hear that people didn’t even know there was a society in their area and it doesn’t cost anything to put your events in the web calendar. It all helps to make NFHM bigger and better each year.
10 Investigate funding to bring professional speakers to your area (often available through local councils)
I’ve been to a few events now where the local society has managed to get some funding from their local councils to have a local genealogy event and bring speakers in by paying for their accommodation, travel costs and so on. Often local clubs, RSLs and other venues are also happy to assist as it brings in customers for them as well. Collaborative projects have a better chance of happening so talk to interested parties in your area and see if you can get a genealogy event happening.
11 Start a society blog to publicise your events and publications – try Google Blogger it’s free
Blogging is another social media tool that is easily adapted to help promote genealogy and family history societies and as it is searchable by Google, researchers are likely to find it when searching for information on your area. Some societies use Wordpress which is also a free blogging site.
12 Transcribe tombstones in local cemeteries if not already done – or perhaps do an update
A lot of cemeteries have already been transcribed in Australia but how often does your society do an update. Check out what cemeteries are in your area and work out if they need transcribing or just an update.
13 Plan an interesting speaker program for 2014
Towards the end of the year most societies start to think about their speaker program for the following year. Why not try and have some new faces this year – what about other local organisations in your area or perhaps some of your own members what to share their experiences?
14 Reward the society volunteers who keep the library open and help members and visitors with their research
Most societies have an annual thank you get together for their volunteers without whom most of our societies would not be able to continue to operate. Why not do something extra – perhaps a small thank you gift, a certificate, or similar. Make sure they feel appreciated!
15 Consider a collaborative project with your local historical society
Often local history and family history go hand in hand as we need to know the history of the area in which our ancestors lived to understand the lives they lived. In some areas the two groups form one organisation but where there are two distinct groups, consider doing something together for the benefit of all members.
The remaining 16 activities for societies will be covered by the end of August!