Party Plan: Family Reunion Fundraising

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If you are planning a major family reunion, you need some up-front money to print and mail letters to announce plans for the reunion and to make deposits on venues, hotels and caters. Check out these tips on family reunion fundraising:

• If your family has done a large reunion before, there may be funds in an account to get this new reunion underway.

• You may ask your core family members who are involved in getting the reunion underway to front funds to get things underway—these monetary contributions will be subtracted from the later-to-be-decided-upon registration fees for these family members.

You can also go on the internet to set up an account  to collect donations from friends and family. You can publicize this fund on Facebook and other social media to reach your family members.

• If your planning committee members are willing to pay for the mailing supplies and postage up front and will save their receipts, you can pay them back as soon as enough research and planning has been done so that a registration fee can be decided upon and collected. If you have enough family members’ email addresses, you can save mailing costs by using email. You can also start a Facebook page for the reunion to contact family members which will save the cost of postage and paper.

• Family members who live in the same area can sponsor a potluck dinner, a musical concert or an event at which donations for the reunion can be collected prior to the planning committee getting started.

• You can offer sponsorships of specific events where a family member, branch of the family, or family member owning a business can underwrite the cost of the event and receives credit in the program or signage.

• You can also solicit contributions above and beyond the registration fee and the donors’ names can be listed in the program.

• Your planning committee will need to decide whether to set a single per-person registration fee that will defray the costs of the venues and activities planned or to set separate costs per activities planned. The single fee is the easiest to administer because it can be collected initially and covers all events of the reunion. However, if you have a lot of local people who may come only for one day or only to specific events, they may not choose to attend if they have to pay for parts in which they are not participating. Collecting fees per event requires money collectors working at each event and requires attendees to have to keep cash or checks with them at all times.

• Give prizes (or a discount) to a select number of people who send in registration money before the deadline date (the idea is to boost participation as well as to raise working capital).

• A 50/5O raffle, in which the winner takes half the pot and the family reunion planning committee takes the rest, offers good incentive for people to participate. Prizes donated by family or local businesses can also be a nice lure.

• Collect favorite family recipes. Compile and bind into a cookbook to sell to relatives and friends to underwrite the reunion cost. You will have to have family members willing to work months in advance of the reunion to collect and test the recipes, as well as to type, format, print and bind the cookbooks so they will be ready to sell at the reunion.

• Have a yard sale, car wash or old-fashioned fish fry before or during the reunion. Any one of these can raise several hundred dollars, especially where there’s a cluster of family members who can add items to the yard sale collection or assist with the other events.

• Purchase t-shirts, sun visors, caps and other durable souvenirs at wholesale prices; customize them with the family name or logo, then mark them up a few percentage points to sell.

• Raffle a handmade quilt (made by a family quilter or have each family create a square to represent them and combined with other families’ squares), family heirloom, or other valuable items (can include a week or weekend at a family member’s vacation home, landscaping, yard work, painting or repair work by a family members, cooking for a party).

• Have a gag-gift silent auction. Ask each family member to bring a wrapped gift marked for a man, woman, child or good-for-anyone. Encourage everyone to wrap their gifts in unusual ways to entice family members to bid on them. Get the young people in on collecting bids, making change and passing out the gifts.

• Produce a slide show or video to sell following the reunion.

• Hire a professional photographer or ask a qualified family member to take a group photo of the entire family during the reunion, and sell this group shot at a profit to family members to underwrite the next reunion.

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