Reunion Fundraising Programs

Quilt projects, cookbooks, raffles and auctions are just some of the ways to raise money to defray the costs of a family reunion.

Fundraising can defray overall reunion costs, provide funds for members who otherwise might not be able to attend or raise scholarship money for young members. Planning fundraisers will require time to develop properly, and the best ones are not only profitable for the group but also contribute to the enjoyment of the reunion. Here are some ways reunions can add to their coffers.

Quilt Fundraising Project

Many reunion groups conduct long-range, participatory, fundraising projects like quilts. Traditionally embroidered, appliquéd or patched pieces of fabric, modern materials and technology have broadened the scope of quilt making, enabling non-stitchers.

Quilts can be created by members of your group then auctioned or raffled off at the reunion. It may be wise to present your quilt idea at one reunion and the finished quilt at the next reunion. To get your members into a quilt fundraising project, buy and prepare 6”x 6” cotton squares. Send with instructions nine months in advance. Provide instruction on how they will be collected and sewn together. Stress deadlines and expect to do some prodding. Three months before your reunion send a motivational message emphasizing the deadline and include a date by which squares must be received.

Publishing Projects

Publishing projects are a great way to carry on family memories through the generations. Word to the wise—they involve many details, can be expensive and since your primary buyers are your own members, make sure they’re interested in publishing projects.

Family cookbooks are popular fundraisers and keepsakes. They are a lovely way of sharing some of life’s pleasures and preserving cherished, heirloom family recipes for future generations. Many families publish cookbooks that also incorporate family history.

Cookbooks often sell well because they are useful and other cooks are always looking for new recipes. Also, cookbooks draw recipes from many contributors, most of whom will buy copies. The more contributors you include, the more potential customers you’ll have!

A cookbook publisher’s experience and large printing capacity can reduce prices to under $2.00 each. The basic cookbook includes recipes you submit along with pages for tips and hints, preprinted recipe category dividers, acknowledgments, history, a family tree or poems.

Order an information packet from a specialty cookbook publisher to help collect recipes. Many offer workbooks that contain guidelines, options, sample pages, covers and dividers, free recipe collection forms, and suggestions for distribution and how to increase book sales.

Here’s some guidance if you self-publish your cookbook:

  • Standard cookbook size is 8½” x 11″, softcover
  • Determine how many can you realistically sell
  • Recruit volunteers to collect and input recipes, stories, traditions and hints
  • Include and stick to a deadline. When recipes start to arrive, sort into folders for each food category and eliminate duplicates
  • Clarify recipes that are confusing
  • Standardize measurements and abbreviations
  • Proofread every word and have more than one person proofread

Memory books are great to capture feelings across generations. Send every member instructions about what to write. Compile anecdotes, tales, childhood memories, special events, stories about ancestors or past reunions and pictures. Family genealogy books trace history and provide a wonderful keepsake. Ask members to submit biographies and anecdotes, along with their place in history to make foreparents come alive. Reunion videos, oral history tapes and photo booklets (new and restorations) add a strong visual element to your reunion history. Collect orders or get an idea of how many you can sell before you incur the expense of a project like this.

Pre- or Between-Reunion Fundraising

Consider some of these possibilities for pre- or between-reunion fundraising. With each of these you can negotiate group ticket and food prices, mark up the price and the margin goes into your reunion account.

  • Theater party; transportation (bus), meals and tickets
  • Fashion show; location, meal/brunch/ dessert, tickets
  • Progressive dinner; paid for by hosts, tickets
  • Casino night; rent a hall and equipment, dealers volunteer
  • Tours; transportation (bus), meals and tickets
  • Runs, walks and bike rides; establish goals and guidelines, promote event, collect pledges, set route and go
  • Bake sale, plant sale, car wash, rummage sale

Raffles & Auctions

Notify members ahead if you want to raise money with raffles or auctions. Limit games of chance to your reunion or check with your local or state Department of Revenue to ascertain whether there are any regulations you should be aware of. Ask members to donate items of value for sale/auction like memorabilia, heirlooms, gifts of fresh seasonal produce, special homemade preserves, sauces, homemade baked goodies and candies.

Corporate Underwriting

Some reunion groups have been successful in obtaining corporate support. Products and services can be just as valuable as money. Search for companies that are reunion-friendly. Enlist someone who can make an eloquent case for why a company or business should help your reunion and how your reunion might help the company. Promise to advertise your benefactor and prove it. Thank you notes are essential for all considerations. Be a reunion your benefactor can be proud of. Invite them. Honor them. Lavish them with praise.

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