Getting the Most Out of Your Membership: FGS

This is the next blog post in my series on getting the most out of your memberships by taking personal responsibility. To read the original post, click here.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is a bit different from other societies in that its main purpose is to serve members at the society level, rather than the individual level, focusing on society management and issues with records access and preservation. The website proclaims it to be “a gathering point for genealogical societies with resources to grow & thrive.” Also, “representing the members of hundreds of genealogical societies across the United States and other nations, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) is here to link the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow.” So you may not look at this group the same as you would National Genealogical Society (NGS) or the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) or your local or state society. However, the principle of getting what you give is the same.

Is your local, state, or regional society a member of FGS? If you don’t know, you can check on the “Find a Society” directory page. If they are, do you ever hear any announcements or read any FGS news in your local society’s newsletter, at their monthly meetings, on their Facebook page, blog, or other form of society communication? If not, I would guess that your society’s leadership is not taking advantage of their membership and may even be saying “We aren’t getting anything out of this membership.” Here are the FGS society member benefits (from their website):

  • Be listed in the Find a Society directory
  • Access to the FGS Members-only Area
  • Reviews of your society’s Bylaws, Newsletter, and Website
  • Access for your Board of Directors to FORUM (Anyone can subscribe to the FORUM, so even if you aren’t on the board of a member society, you can still get this valuable magazine)
  • Have your submitted events and webinars listed in Society Events.
  • Access for your Board of Directors to the FGS Webinar Archives and available Focus On Societies audio recordings from past FGS conferences
  • Access to the FGS Reach Out series of white papers, which cover topics related to creating partnerships with other organizations in your community or region
  • Access to the archive of issues of FGS FORUM from 1989 to present
  • Access to details of Partner Benefit Program discounts with companies such as MyHeritage, Genealogy Gems, Vivid-Pix, and Dell Computers
  • Access to the FGS Member Society Leadership Forum Facebook Group
  • 10 free FORUM subscriptions/year to give as door prizes at society events

All of these member benefits take a little bit of effort from the FGS Delegate (or President) of the member society. You have to submit your society’s events if you want them to be included in the calendar, you have to send an email to request those free FORUM subscriptions for door prizes, you have to log-in to your account to access the partner discounts, you have to submit your bylaws, newsletter, or website to get a review. And so on.

And if you haven’t heard anything about FGS from your society’s leaders, despite being a member society, maybe they need a delegate. Consider volunteering for this position and be a great delegate, bringing valuable member benefits to your society!

**Of course these statements may not reflect everyone’s experience. If you have had a different experience and/or a legitimate complaint, PLEASE take it up with the proper direct channels for that organization. I’m sure they want to know their members’ views and to try to make it right. This blog is only expressing my personal opinions and is not the place to vent your frustrations with a given society or organization.

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