Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions?

Several people have asked me if I'm going to post some new year's resolutions for SGS. Quite frankly, no. I'm really lousy at writing and keeping resolutions--as illustrated by my totally disorganized genealogy files and office. Resolutions just don't seem to work for me, whether I've got control over what I'm resolving or not.
In the case of SGS, as president I really don't have that much control over what happens. I could resolve to double membership, bring in $100,000--all sorts of things. But I really don't have the power to make them come true.
What I can do is set some goals.
My SGS goals for 2010 are:
1. That SGS become fiscally sound. I pledge to do everything in my power to try to increase revenues and decrease expenses at SGS so that the two will be in balance. Our year-end donation drive has yielded excellent results--over $4000 in donations. For this I thank all of you who sent in money, whether it was $5 or $100. But we need to find ways to generate revenue other than begging our members to send checks. To this end, I have agreed to teach courses for the Swedish Cultural Center and the Nordic Heritage Museum with payment going to SGS. Treasurer Mary Roddy and I submitted a grant application to 4Culture in early December for operating funds. We will submit a similar proposal to the City of Seattle's Civic Partners Program this spring. Should we sell our King County Records data to Ancestry.com? Publish another book? Establish a genealogy speakers' bureau with payments going to SGS? I'd love to hear your ideas....or just come into SGS and add them to the list on the flip chart in the family histories area.
2. Increase SGS dues-paying membership. I'm not going to put a number on this, but my review of our membership history shows that we've lost half of our dues-paying members (i.e., individual, dual and library memberships that pay annual dues) in the last ten years. At the turn of the century--Jan 2000, that is--we had 1008 dues-paying members; now we have 504. On the positive side, we're only down about 10 members from last year, but our membership has been declining steadily. Most of you probably realize this is "par for the course" for genealogical societies, but we need to do better. Last year, our annual dues covered barely half of the Society's expenses. SGS can't continue this pattern and survive for long.
3. Develop a viable plan for dealing with our library situation that reflects our members' desires. I've written before about our lease expiring in 16 months and my desire for more space and better parking. But what do YOU want? Our Long Range Planning Committee has drafted a survey that members will be asked to complete starting next week. It includes questions about the Library, as well as other SGS programs and activities. Please take a few minutes to let us know what YOU think.
4. Increase member participation in SGS activities. There is a small core group of members who are actively involved in SGS classes, special interest groups, committees, volunteering, etc. What about the rest of you? What activity or event would entice you to become more involved? Is there ANYthing I can do to get you more active? Any ideas would be appreciated.
5. Improve two-way communication with our members. I've tried to increase communication TO you through regular listserv emails, this blog, and the SGS Newsletter [which is now back on schedule]. Unfortunately, I'm not getting much feedback and haven't figured out how to do that. Any ideas? Maybe the new chat sessions [see Jan 14 on the SGS Calendar] will bring some of you in. I sure hope so!
[Added on January 2nd] 6. Replace the SGS website with one that is more up-to-date, easily navigable, allows posting of members-only items [such as our King County Court Records Index], provides for online payment of dues and fees, and encourages member and non-member interactions. This is not to say that there is anything "wrong" with our current website. It is just outdated and sits on an ancestry-owned survey, which makes me nervous about posting data.
As always, I am open to any and all suggestions for improving SGS. Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "comments" word below, emailing be directly at sgspresident [at] gmail.com or just answering our upcoming survey. If I'm still writing this blog next January 1st, I'll let you know how we did on these goals.

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