Fundraising and sharing the cost
Rosemary S. Wolfe, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, uses a thermometer in their newsletter to document growth of the Simonic Family Reunion Fund. Wolfe reports that family members have been very generous to help the fund toward over 50% of its goal after just one mailing. They've also established reunion fees of $20.00 per adult and $15 per child 11 to 20 and children 10 and younger free. Fees cover an enormous ethnic menu reflecting the family's Slovenijan heritage, drinks, games, prizes, music, dancing and souvenirs for everyone.
How about this unique way the McConnell Family Reunion has to make the cost of reunion acceptable to everyone. Their family is divided east and west of the Rockies which meant alternate reunions east and west for many years. But as children grew older and larger families are concentrated in the midwest and east, their reunions were planned closer to those families. Since "west coasters" have increased travel costs, "east coasters" pay for all rental expenses incurred by the reunion. They split the cost of food bought within an established budget.
"Oregon or Bust" is the goal of the 1999 Mock Family Reunion. Organizer Donna Mock Jackson, Richland, Washington, set up reunion "actions" including: make something for the raffle. She explains, "Making handcrafted items is part of our heritage. Raffle items have included pillowcases, dishtowels, afghans, crochet items, bird houses and wooden toys." Jackson encourages a variety of items to build excitement and says there'll be many winners. When raffle numbers are drawn each person chooses a prize from remaining items. All money goes to defray extra reunion expenses and members are happy to have treasures to take home.
Garlene Layne reported that the highlight of the Layne/West family reunion at Raccoon, Kentucky, was an antiques auction. Members brought family antiques or items they'd purchased. Proceeds went to reunion expenses and help for their quarterly newsletter. One item that went for a smashing $65 was a picture frame that held ten individual photos. The one who brought this item had taken some of our oldest family ancestor photos and inserted them into the slots. It was fantastic! The bidding was often fierce! Some of the other items were dishes, soda bottles, kitchen utensils, dairy cans, and handmade crafts. More money was made from the auction than we made in donations last year. It was also a way for treasures to be shared with other family members and new treasures to be made.
Yvonne McCree-Johnson hosted her McCree-Jackson family reunion in Alexandria, Louisiana. Coca-Cola contributed to the reunion. The family produces its own phone directory and has compiled a coloring book for younger members. Reunion highlights included a banquet Friday and Louisiana-style barbecue Saturday before an evening casino trip.
Families put their heads together
Reunion with a mortgage
Some of the 400 Klessig Family Reunion members toured Saxonia, a 17-room house/inn built by their ancestor, Ernest Klessig. Saxonia, built on 77-acres in 1855 in Fillmore, Wisconsin, was an inn, post office and store. They later added a brewery which became the center of social life. When Klessigs toured the house it was for sale and of interest to developers. Family members wanted to buy and restore the house, but as individuals they didn't have the money. According to Paul Williams, Janesville, Wisconsin, "if you put everybody together, then we do have the money."
They formed Friends of the Saxonia House, Inc, achieved tax-exempt status so fundraising could begin and had their offer to purchase accepted! Now they are trying to raise the money for purchase and initial restoration. They are counting on the over 800 persons with connections to Ernest Klessig. They hope their goal to create a living history museum will also interest the large German-American community. There are thoughts too of restoring one of Saxonia's original businesses as a bed and breakfast and restoring the brewery.
At the ecumenical reunion worship service, Klessigs were inspired to their new task by Pastor David Jerger. "What we are and have, has in large measure come from those of past generations who settled this land, contributed in pioneering this country and left us a heritage ..." For information contact Friends of Saxonia House Inc, 20 S. Main St, Ste 5, PO Box 8066, Janesville WI 53547-8066. from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Money for reunions is both a universal and continuous dilemma. Many reunions offer clever and realistic ideas to raise money for expenses. Some sell custom-made souvenirs (t-shirts, caps, calendars, directories, cookbooks, quilts). The price of items determines how much profit goes into reunion coffers. Others hold auctions and raffles; usually with items donated by members. Fees, memberships, dues and donations are also common ways to raise funds.
Corporate sponsorship is something many reunions would like to tap into, and while some have been successful, it requires skill, finesse and someone willing to write an excellent letter/proposal.
Find firms who know the value of directing some of their limited marketing budget to your captive audience. Corporations underwrite projects they feel will generate goodwill or beneficial exposure. Start with companies you or your members do business with or are employed by and be prepared to demonstrate why your reunion is a good way for the corporation to reach these potential customers.
Distinguish your reunion from everybody else who is trying to raise money for their organization. Corporations are very careful with their discretionary spending, but if they see a direct relationship between their product and your members, they may go for it. So making a point of what the corporation will get from you is essential. State in your request that you will prominently display the sponsor. Appreciate your sponsors by acknowledging them loudly and with appropriate pomp and signage.
We learned in an article in New Yorks Newsday that the Watts Family Reunion, Hempstead, New York, raised nearly $10,000 for their 2000 reunion. The committee projected that the reunion weekend would cost about $6,500 and they charged $20 per person. Fundraising events were held throughout the year including skating and bowling parties and dances. The excess was applied to future reunions.
The same article described costs for the Tory Family Reunion organized by Gloria Winslow, West Hempstead, New York. $50 for adults and $25 for children covered costs for a picnic, banquet (with performance by an African dance troupe) and hotel hospitality suite. Several day trips cost extra; a sightseeing excursion to Manhattan, shopping at a mall or a jaunt on a floating casino.
The Utley Family Reunion held regularly in Jackson, Tennessee, raises money to offset the cost of decorations, name tags and programs by selling Utley family calendars which are 12 months from reunion to reunion (August to July). Each month includes notes of family birthdays and anniversaries. Utley charges $10 per calendar, which covers the cost. The profit goes toward reunion expenses. The family also takes and sells photos (5"x7" $6; 8"x10" $7) and videos ($15) but they dont mark them up to make money.
Jackie Utley takes the calendar, copy-ready, to a local quick printer who makes copies, put covers on and binds them. The binding is the largest expense. Utley uses the calendar feature in Family Tree Maker and says very little of her time is involved (other than entering the info).
More fun(d) raising ideas appropriate for any kind of reunion
Auction anything left over. Have centerpieces worth auctioning. Ask creative or artistic members to make centerpieces that become collectible. Use "then and now pictures" and mementos cleverly arranged. If the reunion has special colors, concentrate on those. Auction left-over food, supplies, sodas and beer.
Audrey Delorme, Henvelton, New York, says at this years Delorme Family Reunion they will raffle a crocheted ripple blanket for 50¢ each chance. Gift baskets for men and women sell for 50¢ chances. The womens basket has bath beads, bubble bath soap, a loofa and perfumed bath salts. The mens basket will include a loofa and soap-on-a-rope, among other things. Children, newborn to age 12, receive a prize for signing in. The Delormes also have a bargain sale to help raise funds for the reunion next year.
King family is creative
Carolyn R. Clark, Kingsley, Iowa, King Family Reunion writes, “We put out disposable cameras to get an assortment of pictures to put on disk and CDs so family members can buy them. The past reunion I had a Family Tree Throw Blanket made with grandparents names and wedding dates on CD. All of the names were embroidered on the blanket. We sold tickets and held a drawing. It was a huge success.
I also had a family calendar sample made for orders. We are putting together a family medical booklet and a family cookbook. I'm already embroidering a family tree picture now for the next reunion.”
Michael Jordan helps Curtis/Butler Family Reunion!
Joan Waters, Charlotte Hall, Maryland, Curtis/Butler Family Reunion, was excited when she wrote, “Oh, we had a fantastic fundraiser selling tickets to a local basketball game, one of Michael Jordan's last games. We made over $950! A family member was able to buy tickets really cheap, months in advance of the game. We tacked on a few bucks and were still able to resell them at $20 below face value. Our planning committee divided the tickets and hit the streets. The pitch was that it was one of Michael’s last games with the Washington Wizards. The money goes entirely to the reunion. It paid all costs for family matriarchs and a disabled member, for banquet hall rental, DJ, nametags, goody bags, door prizes, youth essay awards.”