The following article appeared in the November 2019 Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society Journal, and has been reproduced with permission from the authors.
The Future of Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society
by Mike Coyle and Stephen Benson
The Society has been experiencing a decline in membership numbers for several years.
Causes include an aging membership, not attracting younger replacements, the growth of online resources and a perception that the online providers can make it easy to produce your family history in a short time without carrying out researching in the traditional manner.
This has led to a falling off in volunteers, declining attendance at meetings, projects undertaken being smaller both in scope and numbers carried out.
At the Executive Committee meeting on Monday evening 14 October 2019 the branch representatives and officers discussed declining membership and felt that we needed to get answers to these problems from the entire membership rather than the committee making decisions in isolation.
We therefore request feedback from all members throughout the society and spread through Britain and around the world.
Some of the proposed options shown below are very controversial and individual views are welcomed from members.
Possible short term options:
– To increase the Annual Subscriptions, which haven’t changed in 5 years
– The make the Journal only available via email or downloadable from the website
– To close or amalgamate struggling branches
– To invest in a major recruitment activity for members and volunteers for the management of branches and central functions
– To go ahead with proposals for more online services although there may be some additional costs involved
The suggested move to make the journal only available electronically would hit remote members and those not computer literate. Other suggestions are welcomed.
If we provide more online services what do members feel is most needed?
Feel free to leave a comment below, or if you wish to contact the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society, please send all replies to Stephen Benson. His email is: Stephen.t.Benson@btinternet.com, or you can mail in a response to him at 32 Slater Lane, Leyland, Lancs, UK PR25 1TN.
My reason for reproducing this article and putting it out there, is to not only spread help the word about the Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society’s current situation, and needing some suggestions and guidance, but to highlight that this is actually a global issue with so many societies and groups facing the same thing.
I know of a few that have closed recently, and others that are struggling too.
So my question to you is, are you going through this now with your own group? What action are you considering? Have you already been through it? Did your society survive, and if so, what changes did you make that helped it?
Please share all thoughts and suggestions as it’s useful for groups everywhere to get this feedback.
In 2018, one of your local health groups contacted the Liverpool Genealogy Society asking if we would be prepared to organise a group (or groups) of members who would be prepared to go to nursing homes; retirement villages etc, and talk with the residents regarding their lives – basically to help compose individual personal family histories which could be passed on to their relatives. For those who could manage computers (perhaps with a little help) they could be helped to access details of their ancestors’ births; deaths and marriages. This could be done individually or in small groups.
We replied that we would love to do this, but unfortunately we all lived in Liverpool, Australia and travelling back and forth would be a problem. We wished them good luck with a great idea and perhaps they should contact the local family history/genealogical society to take this on.