The CASSOC Symposium for Growth and Success

Volunteers and Events, 2023 - November 19, 2023

Session Summary (no resources)

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Session Summary

The meeting focused on discussing issues with volunteerism and associated participation in events. The participants discussed their recruitment strategies, use of social media, genealogy resources, and the importance of volunteers in organizations. The need for collaboration and joint events with other societies and organizations was emphasized. The challenges faced by different clans in attracting members, particularly in Canada, were also discussed. . The discussion emphasized practical solutions, and best practices were shared with the session participants. The session finished with a Q&A after the panelist presentations, as follows, in order of appearance.

Recruitment Challenges in Clan Council Committees - Paul Johnston, President and Chief Commissioner, Clan Johnston/e in America


Paul discussed the recruitment challenges their clan faces for council and committee positions. He highlighted that they often struggle to find enough volunteers, with some ending up filling multiple roles. To address this, they have implemented a membership system that automates certain processes and provide flexible timing to avoid burnout. They also regularly publish a call for volunteers in their newsletter, detailing the job descriptions and highlighting areas where they need help, such as the co-treasurer and co-editor roles. With regards to outreach, engagement, and merchandise strategies, Paul presented on the effectiveness of their quarterly outreach efforts, emphasizing the importance of persistence in achieving breakthroughs.

The importance of approachability, inclusivity, and being memorable - Terence Myles, VP and Highland games Coordinator for Clan MacNeil in Canada

Terry, shared his experiences and strategies as a games coordinator for Clan Mcneil. Terence discussed his approach to engaging with visitors at the games, emphasizing the importance of approachability and inclusivity. He also mentioned the use of attractions like an old Scottish map of the clans, a book called Kith and Kin, and tartan books to engage visitors and provide them with a tangible connection to their heritage. Finally, he highlighted the importance of selling merchandise as a way for visitors to connect with and remember their visit to the games.  Terry emphasized that their focus is on providing a memorable experience for their members, rather than making a significant profit. He mentioned that next year's plan includes a gathering in Fergus, Canada, which has not hosted a Clan Mcneil event for decades. Terence also highlighted the efforts of Vince Mcneil, their president, in genealogy and the potential benefits for members. He also shared updates on the financial status of the Coburg Highland games, which has improved from a $50,000 debt to a $50,000 surplus in the past three years.

Recruitment Strategy, Social Media and Genealogy Resources - Barbara MacLennan, Clan Maclennan Executive,  Past President and Past Vice-President

Barbara discussed her clan's use of social media and online seminars to stay connected and share information. She announced the next worldwide gathering in Scotland in July 2024. She also highlighted the efforts of their webmaster, in conducting genealogy research and organizing online seminars. 

Clan Gatherings, Leadership, and Membership Challenges - Doug Doughty, Clan MacAulay Commissioner for Central Canada

Doug emphasized the importance of work-life balance among volunteers, the use of social media for communication, and the resources available to clan members, including a clan commissioners guide.  Doug emphasized the importance of visiting other clients to learn from their methods, and attending international clan gatherings to foster commitment and connection among members. He also highlighted the value of these gatherings in identifying potential leaders and encouraging younger member involvement. Doug also discussed the importance of geographic diversity within their worldwide clan. Later, Paul shared that their membership system, Community Enterprise, is instrumental in managing their document management, online store, and members-only website. Terence discussed the challenges of building membership and volunteers in Canada, and shared stories of successful events and volunteers. He also mentioned the importance of training younger members to take on leadership roles.

 Q&A Highlights 

  • Recruitment, and Technological Updates
  • Sharing a Commissioner's Guide document
  • Collaboration and Volunteer Engagement in Kids' Events
  • Potential for joint events with other societies and groups
  • Sensitivity to national branding of clan/family organizations
  • Need to mindful of French Canadian needs for Canadian groups
  • Use of PayPal to aid in membership retention
  • Perspective and deterrence from fee disparities especially when paying in US funds
  • Importance of training, supporting, partnering with experienced member
  • Value of standardized materials


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