The important word here is "change." Change can be tough. As Dear Myrtle so aptly put it, "bitter power struggles are common among among members of the "old school" and "new blood" in genealogy societies." The "old blood" who have put their sweat and tears into building something don't want to see the new blood come in and apparently "undo" everything that's been accomplished over umpteen number of years. The "new blood," in turn, get frustrated with the lack of interest from the old blood in new ideas and technologies. On the other side of the equation, members have trouble adapting to change as well. There are dozens of members in my local society who don't have email or Internet, and such members can sometimes feel like their needs are being ignored as societies move more of their operations and offerings online. And then their are the members like me who pretty much live on the Internet, who find difficult to remember to renew their membership because they can't do it online!
If membership is declining, then a society is obviously not going to turn that around by doing things the traditional way they have always been done. The societies that seem be succeeding in this new era for genealogy, are the ones that are working hard to produce new publications and offer new services. This growth attracts new members and these new members, in turn, can help keep the growth alive by contributing in new ways and inciting others to join them.
If you belong to a genealogical society and want it to survive and flourish, then make it your mission this year to get involved - somehow, someway. Make it a point to vote in any elections so that your voice is heard. The members of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society are learning the hard way what happens when you don't care enough to exercise your right to vote (you should also read NYG&B Proposes to Implode on Dick Eastman's blog for both his take on the issue, as well as the comments from readers which actually address both sides of the story). Find out if there are any projects in which you can participate. If you live close by and love technology like I do, then consider offering to meet with the society board and introduce them to some of the online technologies available. Maybe you can be the one who starts up a society blog!
If you're already involved in your local society, perhaps even on the executive board, then think about what you can do to better meet the needs of your members. Jasia has written an especially outstanding series of blog posts on declining membership in genealogical societies and things that societies can do to better promote their organization, make it more accessible, meet the needs of members, and encourage more participation. Other genealogists have also shared a lot of great ideas online over the past several months. George Morgan discusses in great detail one society's decision to eliminate print publications and move the relevant content to the Web where it would be available free to the genealogical community worldwide. Read the comments on the bottom as well, and you'll see there is obviously more than one point of view to a decision like this.
Whatever your affiliation with a genealogical society, make it a goal this week (or month) to find some way to become more involved and make a difference. Save the societies!