The Genealogical Society of South Africa 
eGSSA branch 




The Strategic Planning Meeting of the National Executive Council of the Genealogical Society of South Africa took in place at 14:00 on Saturday, 5 March 2005 at the Castle, Cape Town.


1.      Present:  All delegates and NEC members as per the AGM


2.         Opening Statements:

Martin Zöllner, outgoing National President, handed over the chair to his newly elected successor, Johann Janse van Rensburg.


Martin Zöllner enlightened the new committee on the necessity of doing strategic planning for the year ahead. 


The primary aims of the Society were listed as being:  Support to our members and the general public on genealogical matters; and the processing and indexing of genealogical sources and data.


The secondary functions were: administration, publicity and help in preserving our genealogical heritage.


3.         Discussions:

In the light of the opening statements the president allowed discussion on the matters to get an idea of what the branches felt was important issues that should be addressed by both the NEC and the management of all the branches.


Concern was raised regarding the uneven growth of the Society and although more emphasis should be placed on utilizing electronic equipment, it was felt that the Society would suffer if all genealogy were done electronically through lists and web-sites. The relevance of attending meetings is still important, even in this electronic age where lists of names are easily obtained from the Internet. 


It became clear that there will always be two main types of genealogists, namely, the short-term “hobbyists” and the more serious, pure genealogists and that this should be kept in mind when trying to reach a greater audience.


In the past decade the Society has become very formal.  Many prospective members could be reached by making meetings a pleasurable, social activity.  Informal interaction between members enhances cohesion among them. 


Members are only likely to attend branch meetings should they see personal advantages in it. To achieve this one of the suggestions were that more experienced members should make a point of sharing their skills with newer members of the Society. 


The G.S.S.A. could serve an important role as a national pressure group striving towards the preservation of genealogical sources.  Ideally, the newspapers should be seeking our opinion on issues as they arise. The G.S.S.A. should be out there advocating genealogy. One way in which this can be achieved was that the Society should reach out to other cultural groups in the country as well as learners in schools. The interest of the broader community must be cultivated.


The DRC records are being well preserved, unfortunately, they are no longer directly accessible to researchers.  Endeavoring to get the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to microfilm the records could be considered.



4.   Decisions:


4.1    The national Death Notice project should be continued, and Allie Semmelink was thanked for the work already done.


4.2    Some members felt that the name of the Society leads to misconceptions as to our function.  Were it more user-friendly it might lead to more positive outcomes.


4.3    The whole meeting felt that communication is of essence.  It is possible for feedback to be instantaneous, for example, minutes of meetings within 48 hours and replies to queries immediately.  Persons submitting items should be thanked immediately.


4.4    It is to be noted that: All e-mail addresses must be made available. New membership forms must have a place for e-mail addresses.


4.5    Where members’ interests are listed, their permission should be clearly sought for the publication of their personal e-mail addresses.


4.6    The Surname research directory must find a new home and branches should submit their member’s fields of interest to the NEC secretary.


4.7    The new NEC will list and prioritise all the national projects and find project leaders for each of them by the first NEC meeting. These include the Omnibus, the new Familia CD etc.


4.8    The NEC was asked to look at ways to retain existing members as it only takes 20% of the effort to retain a member than to enroll a new one. One way is for the branch management to phone an old member when it becomes clear that he/she has not renewed his/her subscription


4.9    André was asked to submit a further letter, registered this time, to the Receiver of Revenue to ensure that we are not liable for the payment of taxes.  (The income of the Society is below R300 000.)  Due to a change in legislation, the onus now falls upon the taxpayer to clarify this with the Revenue Department.


4.10  Martin Zöllner will send Johann an electronic version of the National Brochure.


4.11  Access to original source documents of the DR church archives is no longer allowed. The Family History Centres of the Mormon Church and the UNISA library are in possession of the church records microfilms. The UNISA films only cover the period to 1900. Isabel wanted to establish what microfilms are needed by UNISA to make their collection complete. She wants to liaise with UNISA to find out if they are prepared to acquire the microfilms covering the period after 1900. This has to take place by Thursday, 10 March 2005.


4.12  Isabel Groesbeeck presented the Northern Transvaal Genealogical Furtherance project entry in video format, and as they were the only ones (shame on the rest of the branches) they were announced winners. The video was handed to Lucas to be put on DVD. The competition was announced at the first Strategic Planning Session in 2004 when the smaller branches pleaded for ideas and material, which they could use to make their meetings more attractive. It was decided that the branches should again be asked to submit an entry in 2006.


4.13  It was decided that the NEC will make GSSA products available at R5 per item cheaper to the branches, than what the products sell for, in order that the branch can make R5 profit and to encourage them to help with the sales. André will respond to the branches about whether the branches will be allowed to carry a couple of items as stock on behalf of the GSSA.



4.14  All Branches were requested to e-mail their proposed budgets for projects to the National Treasurer so that funds could budgeted and made available for them.


4.15  An urgent appeal was made that all the branches should send their final financial statements, the minutes of their AGM meeting and their proposed plans for the coming year to the NEC secretary.


5.   Conclusion:


5.1    The meeting closed at 15:50.


5.2    The next National Annual General Meeting will take place, within the required 60 days of the beginning of the year, on Saturday, 25 February 2006 in Port Elizabeth.