Everyone needs some sort of organization. Organizing a family reunion committee should be the first step to successfully putting a reunion together! A committee can be only one person and most likely that one person is going to be you (the lucky one reading this).
If you are planning a small reunion, think 50 people or less, then it should be okay that the committee is only one person. If it’s bigger, then do what you can to make the committee bigger. Seek out other family members or consider hiring a planner if the budget allows. Luckily if you’re organizing a family reunion you’re not the only one interested and should find others that are willing to help. Don’t be shy with asking for volunteers, that’s how most volunteers start anyway by being asked.
Every organization has to have a leader (possibly you since you began this adventure), and a family reunion committee is no exception. It is good if the leader is someone that everyone respects and will listen to as deadlines approach. The committee leader or chairperson is responsible for:
- Scheduling committee meetings and notifying the members of those meetings
- Presiding over meetings and maintaining the peace
- Making a list of volunteers (or forced volunteers) and their job assignments
- Keeping a calendar of finished tasks and unfinished business
- Motivating people to follow through (candy, food, money, fame, guilt…)
Once you get your committee together begin creating a planning binder with lists of possible subcommittees, guests, assignments, resources, financial status, and anything else that seems important at the time.
Remember those subcommittees mentioned earlier? Unless you want to do all the work yourself, you will find it necessary to assign subcommittees to handle various aspects of the reunion. Don’t be afraid to delegate whenever necessary. Just like committees, subcommittees can be a single person. If it is a small group then like above, each subcommittee should have a chairperson of its own to report back. Just in case members are losing motivation to get their assigned job done, it is still the main chairperson’s job to crack down on them.
These are some subcommittees to consider creating for your reunion team:
- Accommodations/housing: This committee selects the site(s), makes reservation room block, site arrangements and welcomes members.
- Fundraising: This committee develops all fundraising projects. They select and purchase personalized souvenirs, collects and organizes items to sell, auction or raffle at the reunion.
- Program: This committee plans and coordinates any and all reunion day activities. This includes arranging event facilities or locations, entertainment, sports events, games, ice breakers, and arranges for a public address system, if necessary.
- Food: This committee plans, chooses and provides food, works with a caterer or banquet manager, and supplies eating suggestions for local restaurants.
- Transportation: This committee provides directions, maps, and instructions for accommodations, restaurants along the way, airport pickup, and arrangements to move members to different locations during the reunion (hotel, picnic, tours, church, for example).
- Registration: This is the welcoming committee, they check in new arrivals, make and distribute name tags, gets change and collects money from any last minute arrivals.
- Photography: This committee is in charge of the photographer, videographer, and memory albums. They hire professionals and arrange payment or locate a willing family member with the right equipment and expertise.
- Awards, scholarships, and prize coordinator: This committee sets criteria, announces, promotes and supervises judging, recruits judges, orders honorary plaques and presents awards.
- Decoration: This committee makes the venue festive and welcoming.
- Signage Committee: This committee makes the reunion more easy to find.
- Scrapbook Committee: This committee watches local papers for any mention of family members or ask family members in other cities to date and send clippings. They display the family scrapbook at reunions.
- Worship or fellowship: This committee plans and presents rituals, ceremonies, memorials.
- Set-up/clean-up: This committee handles the clean up and set up before, during, and after each event or coordinates with venue staff to ensure everything is set up correctly.
As reunion organizer and chairperson, you are the main volunteer — share the joy. Interest and enthusiasm of the reunion grows with each volunteer you recruit. Make sure many others get in on the action. Mention volunteer service abundantly in your first correspondence and newsletter. For example, in the first mailing, ask for help to keep records, send out mailings, develop a program, memory book, family history, cookbook or quilt. In the second mailing include a list of who volunteered to do what and what you still need volunteers to do. In your last mailing solicit on-site volunteers.
There are those who truly have no time to volunteer before the reunion. These guests have two alternatives. The first is to contribute cash to help defray your pre-reunion expenses such as postage, printing, and deposits. The other alternative for these people is to volunteer at the reunion itself. Can they help with games for the kids? Take photos? Serve food? Don’t forget that cleanup always goes much faster with committed volunteers.
Save big by spend little to no money on services your committee volunteers can perform. Determine each need and purchase to find a volunteer solution. Do you have an artsy family member willing to design invitations? Can someone provide and arrange flowers? Would a talented chef help cater a picnic? Is there a highly organized family member with a computer willing to input and maintain the mailing list?
Hopefully you don’t have to plan the entire reunion your own, but if you do feel free to reach out I would love to be able to bring your family together for a fun, memorable gathering! Let this guide be a great organized start…happy planning!