How to Host a Great Indexing Challenge

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Indexers and arbitrators love a good challenge, and they love working together with others to accomplish seemingly impossible goals. Those who participated in the project to index the 1940 U.S. federal census will long remember the thrill of processing more than 10 million records in a single day, and the more than 66,000 volunteers who contributed during the one-day Worldwide Indexing Event this past July will not easily forget their experience. These events allowed volunteers to link arms with others around the world in a united effort.

Such challenges, whether worldwide in scope or limited to a single stake or ward, are naturally fun and exciting and can do much to unify and strengthen Church members. These challenges can also have a lasting, positive effect on the success of a local indexing program.

There are no specific rules about how to organize and implement a local indexing challenge. Any such events should be prayerfully considered and carried out under the direction of the Spirit and those who hold priesthood keys. Over the years, some proven practices have emerged that may also help as you consider hosting your own indexing challenge.

Proven Practices

The most successful indexing stakes and wards offer challenges that are:

  • Challenging but attainable: Set an achievable goal that will stretch, inspire, and motivate your stake or ward.
  • Time-bound: More volunteers are likely to participate if the challenge has a distinct beginning and end.
  • Priesthood-led: Priesthood leaders can inspire their members to participate by both word and example.
  • Focused on participation first and productivity second: By focusing on the people involved, the increase in indexed records will naturally follow.
  • Celebrated: Help your stake or ward members maintain enthusiasm by celebrating their accomplishments.
  • Followed by a temple submission challenge: Follow up with a strong temple submission challenge to answer the question, “Now that we have met our indexing goal, what’s next?” Research shows that wards and stakes that place equal emphasis on both indexing and submitting names to the temple have higher submission rates than those that focus on submitting alone.

Preparation

Successful indexing challenges require preparation. This preparation in itself can have a unifying effect as people anticipate joining together in a combined effort.

You can prepare for your indexing event by:

  • Making sure everyone has an LDS Account.
  • Ensuring that each participant is registered as an indexer.
  • Confirming that your volunteers have an inspired understanding of why the work is important and why Church leaders encourage their participation.
  • Teaching a basic understanding of the indexing software and rules to new indexers.
  • Spreading the word to your stake through ward bulletins, announcements, social media, email, and other means.

Competition versus Challenge

Be aware of the differences between indexing challenges and competitions. Some types of competitions tend to detract from the intrinsic, spiritual rewards of indexing because they pit individuals and groups against one another instead of encouraging working together toward a common goal. Successful indexing challenges inspire participation, cooperation, and unity and allow everyone to celebrate together to form happy, motivating memories.

Adopting a Project

It is also effective when a ward or stake adopts a particular indexing project so that everyone works together on the same type of records and establishes a group expertise in that record collection. Doing so gives participants a common vocabulary to discuss their experiences and allows them to help one another when questions arise.

We hope these tips and principles will help you to host your own successful indexing challenge. If you have learned other helpful principles and practices not covered here, please feel free to share them in a comment below.– Article by Michael Judson

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