How do I generate funds to pay for family reunion expenses?

From Hope T., Location Oakland, TN. U.S.A

That’s a very good question, Hope.  It’s bad enough that family reunions take so much time but they can be expensive too.


In 2010 our Stewart,  3 day reunion cost $16.00 a person which is a screaming good deal for those that attend.  We don’t charge for family reunion so the money has to come from somewhere and doing the math, I figure that we are going to need about $1,500 to pay for reunion expenses.

On both sides of our family, Grandma and Grandpa, Nana and Gramps have paid for the reunion location and accommodations which has really been a blessing. They pay for the campsite, the park or the condominium for the reunion but that still leaves the food (big expense) decorations, crafts, activities and prizes.

On the Wells side of our family we "divide and conquer". We rotate through all the original children (myself and my three brothers) the responsibility for the reunion and that family makes the assignments. They assign out meals and if you are responsible for breakfast then you provide the food, prepare it and clean up. Another family will be responsible for lunch and another dinner etc. This works out quite well as each family can choose for themselves how much work and expense they choose to take on. Assignments for other activities can also be made.

On the Stewart side of our family, Aunt Peggy Sue suggested that we hold a family auction. I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about a family reunion auction. I just couldn’t get the vision for how an auction would work. Well, work it did. Our reunion auctions have paid for all the food, activities, prizes and crafts for the Stewart family reunion and we’ve been holding auctions for almost ten years.


Everyone brings something to donate to the auction. Some family members work all year to make a quilt or other special item for the reunion, some offer services such as haircuts and some bake cookies, brownies or bring produce from their garden The best sellers at our reunion are always the crocheted dishtowels Grandma makes ($40.00- $80.00) and the hand-stitched heirloom quilts that Grandpa makes ($200.00- $400.00). Other popular items are restored and framed photos of ancestors and photo memory books- anything with sentimental value. No one counts the items someone brings or judges them on how much they bid, everyone does the best they can, sometimes more, sometimes less.

I have the great pleasure of going around and talking to people about family reunions and many have shared their ideas for paying for their reunion. 

Some families divide all expenses equally, or have everyone pay individually for expenses as they incur.

Collecting recipes and producing cookbooks and many other publishing projects such as directories, scrapbooks, and history books to sell at the reunion.

Pass the hat


Food, beverage and white elephant sales. Food sales can net a nice profit if you consider carefully your reunion customers. A bake sale could feature desserts to eat right there as well as whole bakery specialties to take home.

Family yard sale


Order personalized  (imprinted) products such as t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, pens, pencils…and many more items to sell

Charge a traditional registration fee to families. Some families charge per family unit and others charge different prices based on age and family size. Average cost families are charging for their reunions are adults (ages 13 and over)- $70.00, children- $40.00. Pay electronically or elect to pay with a bank check or money order.

If some families can’t afford to pay then give them opportunities to provide service in exchange for paying fees- for instance could type in recipes for a family cookbook, maintain a family website or do family history research.


The easiest way to reduce reunion expenses is to cut back on the time your reunion lasts. If you normally have a three day reunion cut back to two or just get together for a Saturday afternoon and evening. Make your meals potluck and enjoy the time, however short, that you have with each other.

With finances in mind, some families opt not to have reunions every year.

Ask for reunion dues and ask family members to send a portion of their dues on a quarterly basis so that it isn’t a one-time large payment.

A lot of people at my family reunion presentations hold a raffle of donated items from companies or family members during the reunion. Plane tickets or electronics are good money generating items. 


Collect corporate donations or pledges for a fundraising event like a bike or 5K race. Corporations sometimes donate to large reunions where knowledge of the company’s name and contribution reaches many people.

Family reunion pocket change. Ask family members to save their pocket change during the year and bring it to the reunion. Count money by hand or take to a counting machine. Announce the grand total at your reunion.

Families all over the world are having family reunions and there are hundreds of ways to pay for them.  The most important thing is to choose the idea that you think will work best for your family and move forward.  As the years go by you can tweek your plan until it’s perfected.  Paying for a family reunion is a little like getting married- if you wait until you can afford it you’ll never do it. So make a plan, Hope, and do it! Thanks for asking the question and good luck!

Aunt MO

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