Don’t worry whether feuding cousins or black sheep will come. Let them decide. Eccentric members always entertain and give everyone something to talk about. If yours is a class or military reunion, your invitation goes to all known members. Finding them may be your challenge. Members of family reunions can be endless combinations, like descendants of David and Angela Cabrol who emigrated from Germany in the 1800s and settled in Hometown, USA. That could be thousands by now. Family reunions are often three generations (parents, children, grandchildren) or cousins who grew up together but have scattered around the world, or anyone with the same first or last name or your own definition of family.
How to Communicate – Consistency is key. Deliver regular email or snail mail updates. Mailings (letters, fliers, postcards, newsletters) get most people’s attention. Some get posted on refrigerators. Email reduces costs and can be used for surveys, announcements, recruitment of volunteers or donations and registration.
Don’t Forget Facebook – Facebook pages provide another level of communication and community. Post information before and summaries and pictures after your reunion. There are free or super cheap ways to create websites for reunions—check out the resource section at ReunionsWorkbook.com.
Word-of-Mouth – Ask members to talk up your reunion as they get together in person or as they are communicating on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.
Publicity – If you are searching for members or simply want the world to know about your reunion – publicize it with local papers or press release services found online. Send a notice – or better yet an invitation to local or specialty newspapers and associations. Invite them to come and cover your event.
Invites – What’s Inside? – Your invitation must publicize dates, details and deadlines. Include prices, accommodations, special events, themes, contests, any special guests, programs or activities. Your goals are to encourage early registration and build anticipation for your event.
One of your greatest challenges will be getting members to respond to your communications. Always include deadlines and stick to them. Stuff keepsake orders, accommodation instructions, meal choices, directions, maps, special requests and events (tours, parties, auction, raffle) inside the invitation envelope.
If your members respond instantly, skip this. If not, offer incentives for responding early. Set two deadline dates and for the earlier offer a 5% discount, priority rooms, preferred seating or something free or discounted. Celebrate the first response by sending an email to the group or posting on Facebook, “…This year for the 11th consecutive reunion, Auntie Kirsten got her reservation in before anyone else!”
Final Pre-reunion mailing – Your last correspondence before the reunion should include final details and deadlines, an updated program or schedule, any costs or fees – especially outstanding fees, accommodation information, directions and instructions.
Budgeting for sending invitations:
For each mailing you should count
Paper x (#) = $ _______________
Printing x (#) = ______________
Envelope x (#) = _____________
Labels (material + printing) x (#) = ________
Postage x (#) = ________
Total $ ________