Earlier this year, I asked what makes you join a genealogy society. I had just dropped some memberships and renewed others and I wanted to know your criteria. I have another set of questions for you on what makes you stay in any given group:
What do you like about the genealogy societies to which you belong? What makes you stay a member and renew each year?
Please comment if you can. I am very interested what you have to say on the subject.
Here's my answer on what keeps me coming back to a genealogy society year after year:
A active online presence. I'm a distance member at most of the societies to which I belong. Seeing the group exist and evolve online allows me to connect from afar. It also allows me to see where my money is going. I want to comment on their blogs and Facebook pages. I've been a member of several societies where my only contact with the group was through a mailbox. I prefer more interaction, and tend to gravitate toward societies that are willing to reach out in different ways.
A deep commitment to preserving local/regional history, or a genuine love of genealogy. I love groups that maintain a tight connection to the past. I belong to one society that is too small to have their own library, but they are in tight with the local library and have dedicated themselves to making the research room a must-see. I have no problem paying my dues to this group every year because I can see where my money is going. They have a clear mission and I support it. I also belong to a group that has few local resources, but they sure have a good time talking about genealogy. They make it fun, and I'm happy to be a member of fun.
A variety in programming and social meetings. The monthly in-person gathering with a speaker is nice, but I also enjoy less formal meetups just to talk about genealogy. I like being a part of societies that have interest groups, webinars, online chats and more opportunities to socialize.
Resourcefulness. Societies with vision get my renewals. I like knowing my membership dollars go toward groups with creative approaches to volunteer utilization, marketing, forward thinking and a willingness to try new things. This is how you grow and I enjoy being a part of groups that understand that.
In looking at these answers, I realize that I haven't mentioned society magazines, quarterlies and journals. While these are nice, and I read them (eventually), they are not the reason I belong to any given society. I keep thinking of all the time and money put into these publications, and here it's not even a factor in how I choose my genealogy society memberships. I wonder if others feel this way, or is it just me?
What about databases? The societies to which I belong either don't have them, or my research does not pertain to the ones they have. As of now, databases don't do it for me in terms of membership preferences, but I expect that to change as I join new groups.
Also, I realize that the key themes in my answers are interaction and socialization with a heavy dose of online contact. These are not the usual answers one would expect, so I'm wondering if I am off base in my preferences or not and that's how this blog post came to be.
So what about you? What are your societies doing right? I want to know what motivates you to join and stay in any given group.