|by Edith Wagner|
Paying for your reunion may be among your most creative challenges. There are many reasons why you may want to raise money, from paying for basics to the altruistic reason of helping younger family members attend college. Planning fundraisers will require time to develop properly. When done well, fundraisers can be both entertaining and profitable. The best fundraisers are ones that are not only profitable but also contribute to the enjoyment of the reunion. Long term projects require extra time to plan. These include soliciting corporate support, decorating and making quilts, collecting recipes and producing cookbooks and many other publishing projects such as directories, memory and history books. In this article, we'll focus on quilts and cookbooks.
"We are proud of our quilts and pleased they allow us to encourage our young to pursue higher education." So wrote Opalene Mitchell, Palo Alto, California, whose brainchild resulted in such overwhelming family involvement that the Carter-Jordan-Pennington Family Reunion raised $3,000 for scholarships. Only one quilt was planned. Enormous interest increased the number to four. Then, enough painted, appliquéd, embroidered, computer-scanned, cross-stitched squares arrived to make six quilts. The intrinsic value of the quilts is in family history and memorials, not dollar value.
Quilts are traditionally embroidered, appliquéd or patched pieces of fabric. Modern materials and technology have broadened the scope of quilt making and enable non-stitchers to participate. Color Xeroxes can be printed on heat transfer material (commonly used for making t-shirts) and ironed onto fabric. You can use slides, photographs, drawings or any small picture. For best results the transfer can be fused to the fabric with a dry mount press. Many copy shops which do Xerox transfers will also apply the image to your fabric. Textile paints are machine washable and recommend working on natural fibers. Some paints come in tubes for drawing or writing, others come in jars for brushing onto the fabric. With the popularity of hand decorated t-shirts, new products are rapidly being developed for working on fabric.
Check art, craft and fabric stores for new products and ideas. Below are themes and techniques for unique reunion quilts that can be combined with old techniques and patterns or used to create something completely new.
Pulling Together a Quilt
Here's how Opalene Mitchell's family carried out their quilt project: Reunion area chairpersons distributed and collected muslin squares for assembly. Designs included a family cake recipe, doilies brought by slave in the underground railroad, an award emblem from an early space shuttle mission, sports, hobbies, portraits, infant hand prints, buttons from a grandmother, material from grandchildren's clothes and much, much more. Each quilt had an envelope in back with quilt committee names, a record of who made each patch and what it commemorates. Each square immortalizes some event, experience or person. Going beyond the traditional uses of quilts, the committee also photographed the quilts and then made stationery, puzzles and posters to sell.
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. Cookbooks are often spiral bound and cost between $2 and $5 each to produce, depending upon size and quantity. The more recipes you include, the higher the cost per book. 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 as low as $1.75 each (minimum order 200 books). 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 cookbook publishers offer workbooks that contain guidelines, options, sample pages, covers and dividers, free recipe collection forms and suggestions for distribution and how to increase boo sales.
Some companies include a table of contents, others provide free title indexes. Each company offers cover design choices or you may use your own drawing or logo on color cover stock. A color photograph on the cover costs extra. Other options include colored paper, colored ink, laminated covers, heavier cardstock dividers and promotional materials. Weigh each option carefully. Decide if the improved book is worth the extra cost.
Some cookbook companies include:
How to Assemble Your Cookbook
Printing, assembly and binding books takes two to three months after the company receives your recipes. You are responsible to check proofs before the cookbook is printed. Payment is due thirty to ninety days from shipping. All companies allow re-orders. One company guarantees you will sell enough books to finance your order, if you charge a given minimum price and have included a minimum number of contributors. One family who published a cookbook reported they "really lucked out" with a publisher whose minimum order was only 100. The cookbook took a couple of years to complete "but was well worth the time and effort."
If you must self-publish your cookbook, answer these questions:
Mary Barile's Food From the Heart is a workbook designed to help you produce your cookbook without a professional company. Barile includes instructions and blank forms to organize and collect recipes. She recommends asking for recipe origins, including extra instructions or uses. She explains old ingredients and how to translate antique recipes. The advantage of writing and publishing the book yourself, says Barile, is that it increases your flexibility to include stories and background, a keepsake that preserves your family's heritage.
Let Your Reunion be the Beneficiary!
Solicit family volunteers to organize these events. Negotiate group rates, food, and entry/ticket prices. Mark up the price and add the difference to your reunion account. Here are some options:
About the Author
Edith Wagner is the editor of Reunions magazine, author of Reunions Workbook and Catalog and The Family Reunion Sourcebook (Lowell House, Los Angeles) in bookstores now. She collects material for this column and Reunions magazine from family reunions and invites you to share your reunion ideas, concerns or questions. You can e-mail Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Reunions magazine Web site.