11 October 2011
Volunteering Outside the Box
As members of the Ontario Genealogical Society should be aware, the lack of volunteers to run the Society and the branches is reaching a critical stage. Three of the ten Directors positions on the OGS Board are vacant and two positions are filled by Past Presidents. In Ottawa Branch, the Chair, Treasurer, Secretary and Program Coordinator positions are empty and many of the other directors have served for long times. I was Chair for almost eight years because we could not find anyone willing to take on the role (and still cannot). Most other branches are in similar situations.
Despite these opportunities, many of the four thousand members of the Society seem to be willing to sit back and hope somebody else will do the job. I am sure that some of them are involved in other organizations and others have done their time with the Society. But groups like OGS need volunteers to operate. There are a few paid staff at the Provincial Office but we cannot afford to have all the work done by them. As a result, tasks are falling through the cracks and the remaining volunteers are getting tired of doing extra work.
I am not a great one for looking outside the box but perhaps there are other ways to handle some of these jobs. In Ottawa, we have one volunteer who lives in Hamilton and handles our publicity for us. We are hoping to hold at least some of our Board meetings on line, so that some of the volunteers would not have to live in the area. OGS has already done this with Executive meetings to save on travel costs.
I know that some branches have two or more people handling one task. At least one branch has co-chairs, so that they need only do part of the work. Another has a snowbird for a Chair, and others fill in when she is away for the winter. Others have committees so that they can share the work of producing the newsletter or arranging the meetings. There are probably other ideas for handling the work that needs to be done.
I have talked to some branches about sharing their workload but have yet to see this put into practice. Could one person do the same task for a couple of branches? With the use of e-mail and on-line meetings, I don’t see why not? It would mean more work for that person but not necessarily twice the workload, as there should be some overlap.
Consider what will happen to you if the Branch disappears? Or even the Society? What will you lose? What will you miss? How will it impact on your research and your enjoyment of the hobby? Will you do anything to prevent this? Do you have any ideas to help out? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org