Pay your speakers well, folks

Recently a state genealogical society put out a call for webinar proposals indicating speakers were to waive all or part of the speaker’s fee and that it would be negotiated after the presentation. The reasoning? Because the society is a “small non-profit” and they wish the presenter to assist with “ensuring the continuation of webinar programs.”

Paying speakers little to nothing for the 40+ hours it takes to develop and execute a one hour presentation is downright disrespectful.

Seriously graphic via Bitmoji

Non-profit is no excuse

The Economic Research Institute reports the 2016 top ten non-profit executive compensation packages range from 7-13 million dollars. (1) The post provides links to additional information about income, cost of living and compensation packages in 1,000 industry sectors.

If other non-profits can significantly compensate executives, surely non-profit genealogy societies can figure out how to adequately pay speakers who are providing the high quality presentation content that makes attending society events attractive.

Closed-minded boards

Mr. Myrt’s 14 year experience with a 500 members local genealogy society left him frustrated by board members who believe non-profits cannot charge for events, bring in a profit for say an annual conference, adequately compensate speakers for travel, or pay a fair honorarium.

There were several occasions where Mr. Myrt and I paid for the featured speaker’s hotel and travel expenses from our own pocket.


Yet, we could not in good conscience, ask a colleague to speak for a mere pittance.

We also hoped the society board would see the benefits of top tier presentations.

Run genealogy societies as a business

Societies worth their salt utilize 21st century technology to accomplish education goals. At the bare minimum they should:

  • Provide a colorful, robust and frequently updated website.
  • Engage a proactive publicity team.
  • Create free Gmail accounts for each officer and committee chair.
  • Store all paperwork in the free Google Drive associated with each account, providing continuity as staff changes.
  • Develop a strong social media presence. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the current biggies.
  • Play nicely in the genealogy sandbox. Twice weekly curate content to members and social media accounts spotlighting noteworthy people, events and articles from colleagues in the genealogy community at large.
  • Recognize growth will come through contact with the younger generation via mobile devices.
  • Produce 2 minute short-subject videos promoting genealogical best practices using free YouTube resources.
  • Create eye-catching branding graphics for each video and upcoming event.
  • Hold in-person meetings at no-cost facilities such as the local public library.
  • Provide virtual attendance using free meeting technology. Current choices include Zoom and YouTube.
  • Upgrade to digital handouts storing them on the free Google Drive associated with the program chair’s society Gmail account. Share a “view only” mode link with the associated branding graphic.
  • Recognize a member benefit to digital handouts is that all hyperlinks are clickable.
  • Switch from hardcopy newsletters to digital, storing them in the newsletter editor’s free Google Drive associated with his society Gmail account. Share a “view only” mode link with the associated branding graphic.
  • Streamline the business portion of monthly meetings by having the treasurer and other reports stored in the cloud and shared in “view only” mode as above.
  • Provide more time for Q&A interaction between members and the speaker since the business meeting is shortened to less than 2 minutes. 🤗
  • Accept membership fees, donations, conference registrations, etc. using PayPal that also includes major credit card processing for those without PayPal accounts.
  • Accept Venmo for payments as above.
  • Transfer money to and from PayPal and Venmo tied to the society’s bank account to pay speakers and vendors.
  • Consider video uploads to YouTube provide closed captioning once the video is fully rendered.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

These suggestions are merely what comes immediately to mind.


A genealogy society may serve tea and cookies at meetings, but we need to move away from the ‘coffee clutch’ mentality.

Saving money using 21st century tools, releases funds to adequately compensate speakers who provide the major draw to society events.



(1) Urbaniac, Jason. “Top 10 Highest Paid CEOs at Non-Profits” ERI Blog, undated. ( : viewed 10 Sep 2019).

1 Generation – 1 Week

Working late

What if we EACH spent next week coordinating 1 generation of paper, digital and online genealogy files?

I’m starting with my PARENTS and I’ll plan on:

  • Scanning photos and documents from my paper files
  • Take digital pics of heirlooms including furniture, books, china, crystal, jewelry, the piano, the organ, etc.
  • Attaching scans and heirloom pics to mom and/or dad in my RootsMagic genealogy management software
  • Uploading scans to my AMT (Ancestry Member Tree) using RootsMagic Tree Share
  • Downloading any attached documents from my AMT using RootsMagic Tree Share
  • Uploading scans to FS (FamilySearch profiles for Dad and Mom
  • Verifying there are no additional documents on FamilySearch that I don’t have in my RootsMagic
Future Plans

After six generations are completed, I’ll create a GEDCOM file to replace my old one at the following websites:

  • FindMyPast
  • MyHeritage
  • WikiTree
This project is similar to yet different from Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.

Find out more about Amy’s idea to compose a biographical sketch, a narrative, on one individual each week, see her blog here.

For me it’s a matter of pulling together documents stored in multiple places and ensuring each place has a full set of my compiled genealogy for safekeeping.

I want to do it by couple since there is much overlap in their adult life.

I can envision breaking up future weekly tasks this way:
  • Paternal grandparents
  • Maternal grandparents
  • Great-grandparents (father’s father’s parents)
  • Great-grandparents (father’s mother’s parents)
  • Great-grandparents (mother’s father’s parents)
  • Great-grandparents (mother’s mother’s parents)
From this it would be easy to compile a book or a “52 Ancestors” biography.

Confident documents and heirloom images had been digitized I could use my genealogy software to generate the initial sketch and fill it in with personal recollection anecdotes.

Future discoveries could readily be added to my genealogy management software and to my online ancestral profiles.

Eventually this method could rid me of the hodgepodge of documents stored here, there and everywhere.One exception will be those digital images that are protected by copyright where I do not have permission to share on other websites. However, I do plan to reference such items and mention I have archived them for personal use.

I could then rest assured that copies of what Cousin Russ calls my “current thinking” are available in multiple places making it easy for the next generation to discover their roots.

Let the Buyer Beware

In response to the suggestion for purchasing what I consider to be a mainstream genealogy program, a Facebook acquaintance stated “I don’t shop online” and that’s certainly an option.

The person is new to family history and was looking for alternatives to a word processor for organizing her research findings.

The problem is many software programs are only available for purchase online, particularly as brick and mortar stores are closing left and right.

Ol’ Myrt here humbly offers the following advice to wary newbies:

1. Do not shop on a public computer, say at the library.

2. Do not shop on public WiFi. Use your password-protected home internet access.

3. Our bank suggests having an “online only card” where the user transfers only the amount required for the current purchase. It’s not a credit card with buyer protection, but the upside is that absolutely no additional purchases can be made should the card fall into the wrong hands. (My grandsons have these and their parents add allowances monthly.)

4. Order from reputable companies with reasonable consumer protections.

5. Trust prominent genealogy bloggers who have successfully ordered products from a site you are considering. They know the tried and true vendors in the genealogy vertical and do their best to ferret out the nefarious new ones. For instance, Cousin Russ knows Family Tree Maker software and regularly reports about it in his Family Tree Maker User blog. Randy Seaver reports about RootsMagic in his GeneaMusings blog.

We get by with a little help from our friends. 🤗

NGS and FGS Announce Intent to Merge

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was received from our friends at the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the announcement was made during the opening session of the FGS annual conference being held this week at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC.

FGS logo

“In a historic move, the boards of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced today their intent to merge. The two organizations, both non-profit leaders in the dynamic genealogy industry, will form one consolidated group that will continue to operate as the National Genealogical Society. Both boards approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this week and jointly announced the news at the Opening Session of the FGS Family History Conference in Washington, D.C. this morning.”

For more information, see the full announcement here:


FamilySearch: Correcting Misspelled Names

Just attended a Facebook Live with FamilySearch’s Ron Tanner. He made the following statements, paraphrased below.

On selected indexed image sets at FamilySearch you can now correct misspelled names in the index.

When viewing the image, scroll down to the bottom where the index list is shown. Click on the appropriate entry, type your correction and specify if it’s an index error or if the original document is in error.

Ron said It will take much time before this is rolled out to all indexed image sets, since FamilySearch engineers must first work the next 18 months or so update the backend architecture.