Young Genealogists and Your Society
June 20, 2016
How can you engage the next generation of genealogists in your society?
7 Strategies for Success
1. Be respectful. Never assume that young genealogists are inexperienced; while they might be new to the field, it’s also entirely possible that they are not. Always treat your fellow genealogists as the peers they are, regardless of age. Not sure how to strike up a conversation with a young genealogist? Ask about his or her favorite area of research!
2. Be welcoming. Many people may find it daunting to go to a society meeting or event for the first time. Take a positive first impression to the next level by assigning a designated greeter to welcome visitors at the door, make them feel at home, and answer any questions. Without this effort, a young genealogist in particular might feel out of place or even unwanted among a group of individuals who have known each other for years. Hosting a NextGen Genealogy Network Meetup is another excellent way to reach out to and welcome young genealogists.
3. Recognize their strengths. Give young genealogists a reason to invest their time and energy in your society. All members bring talent to the table, but at times, young genealogists may be overlooked. Offer them a chance to chair a committee, volunteer at a conference, design marketing materials, write a blog post, manage a social media account, or lead a presentation—or simply ask how they would like to be involved.
4. Reduce fees. More and more genealogical societies are welcoming young genealogists by offering membership discounts to students or young professionals. Does your society host conferences or workshops? This is another area where reduced fees can increase attendance. If printing costs are holding you back, offer digital versions of your news materials to young genealogists and other members who choose to opt-in.
5. Mix up your meeting times. Whether young genealogists work, study, or have children at home, meetings held in the daytime during the week may be impossible to attend. Does your society routinely offer meetings and other events in the evenings or on weekends? Do your meetings and events have clear start and end times so that attendees can make childcare arrangements or otherwise as needed?
6. Put yourself out there. Your society won’t gain members if they don’t know it’s there. Keep your website, e-mail contact information, and social media accounts up-to-date, and if you’re not already online, know that there are many free platforms available. In addition, volunteer with local events to raise awareness of your society within your community. Has your society offered to lead genealogy classes or activities for local schools, guilds, churches, clubs, and youth organizations such as Scouts or 4-H?
7. Embrace long-distance members. Young genealogists may live far from the homes of their ancestors, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be involved in societies based in other cities, counties, states, or even countries. Offer live-streamed meetings or webinars, online databases of exclusive local records, local research assistance, and a dynamic social media presence to welcome active, tech-savvy members from around the world.
Download “Young Genealogists and Your Society” as a resource to share!
Melanie Frick, MLS, holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and is Editor of the APG eNews and Content Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. A genealogist, writer, editor, antique photograph aficionado, and Midwestern transplant, Melanie lives in Southern California. She blogs at Homestead Genealogical Research.
Shannon Combs-Bennett is a Genealogist with the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, Director of The In-Depth Genealogist, and Education Co-Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network. An Indiana native based in Virginia, Shannon frequently writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology. She blogs at T2 Family History.