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Class Reunion Planning

What to do Before Graduation
Books on Reunion Planning
Alumni Web Sites
Using Email for Reunion Planning
Yahoo! Groups as an Email List
People Finding Links
Books on Locating People
Reunion Planning Links
Miscellaneous Reunion Tips

After finding a limited number of web pages and books on reunion planning, I have compiled the links, books and tips that I have found through my research and experience planning my own class reunion. I would appreciate hearing tips and resources found by other reunion planners.

What to do Before Graduation

If you haven't yet graduated, you have the advantage of being able to do some things that will make future reunion plans much easier.

Class Reunion Books

The Reunion Planner: The Step-By-Step Guide Designed to Make Your Reunion a Social and Financial Success! by Linda Johnson Hoffman (1999)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com
Or go to http://reunionplanner.com to order a copy.
This is an excellent book on reunion planning by professional event planner Linda Hoffman. She provides tips on using the Internet to locate class members, but surprisingly she doesn't discuss using email in reunion planning (for more about this, see Using Email below). Some editions of this book also include a CD-ROM with software for reunion planning.

Planning Your High School Reunion: Making It Fun and Easy by Rhonda Teel (1995)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com
Teel is a professional reunion planner and offers her advice on the many aspects of organizing reunions. Her book offers good ideas on fund raising, in addition to the reunion basics. She includes the very useful advice that attendance should be estimated at 30-35% of the class size, which includes guests.

So That's Who You Used To Be by Patricia Bauer (1993)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com
Bauer brings to this book many years of involvement in planning reunions for her high school class, in addition to assisting others with their reunion planning. In addition to basic reunion planning advice, she gives detailed information on mailing options, and tips on locating class members. She also includes sample letters for various purposes, name tags, and reunion book covers. In addition, she includes instructions for preparing mailings, reunion books and other materials without the use of a computer.

Alumni Web Sites

Alumni web sites allow class members to register under their school in order to keep in touch with one another. Reunion planners can post messages with reunion details to the message boards, and contact registered class members through the site. It's recommended that you post the details of your reunion to all of these alumni sites (Classmates.com is the only one that requires a subscription to do this.)

GradFinder.com - http://gradfinder.com
A free alumni web site. Registration allows you to add a profile, contact class members by email, view and post to message boards, and view member profiles. (no subscription fee)

Graduates.com - http://Graduates.com
A free alumni web site. Registration allows you to add a profile, contact class members by email, view and post to message boards, and view member profiles. (no subscription fee)

Classmates.com - http://classmates.com
This site allows you to register and add a profile for free. In addition, a free membership allows you to receive messages from other members, view partial member profiles, and view message boards. Sending a message to a member, viewing full member profiles, and posting to the message boards requires a paid membership. ($36/year)

Classmates also allows the reunion organizer (with a Gold membership) to designate themself as the "reunion contact." The reunion contact then has the ability to post reunion details, send a reunion announcement and reminders to all class members registered with Classmates.

Reunion.com/HighSchoolAlumni.com - http://reunion.com
This site allows you to register, add a profile, view and post to message boards for free. However, sending and receiving messages to other class members, and viewing member profiles all require a paid membership. ($24/year)

Unfortunately, I don't find Reunion.com very helpful for contacting class members since they require the message sender and recipient to purchase a subscription, and they don't tell the recipient who the message is from. I feel it is unlikely that someone would pay for a subscription to the site just to view a message from an unknown sender. In addition, since you can post to this site's message boards with a free registration, there is little incentive to buy a subscription. However, if there are class members registered with this site who are not registered with any of the other of the alumni sites and you don't have any other contact information for them, then it might be worth buying a subscription to try and contact them this way. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the contact info is current.

People Finding Links

Most of the sites in this listing are free since reunion planning budgets are usually small. Keep in mind that the best method for finding class members is by using email. Start by sending out a message stating that a reunion is being planned, and request contact information for the people on your email list and any class members with whom they are in touch. You can then send this same message to the email addresses you receive. After you have compiled all of this information, you can start working on the harder to locate class members.

Note: A reverse search/look-up allows you to enter a phone number or address to get other info.

AT&T's online national white pages. Search by name to find people; search by name and address to confirm an address, search by phone number and name to get an address.

Internet Address Finder (IAF) - email search and white pages

Bigfoot - email search and white pages

Switchboard.com - email search and white pages

InfoSpace - email search, white pages, and reverse search

Infobel World - international listings

Return Path
Registry of current and former email addresses. (Users must register their email address change.) Search on an old (invalid) email address to find the person's current address.

Newspaper Archives
Check with your local library to find out which databases are available to library patrons online, such as free newspaper archives. These sites are often linked from the county library's website. In addition, most major newspapers have an archive on their web site. However, only the last two weeks worth of articles are available for free.

Search Engines
Searching for names through search engines can sometimes turn up a personal, business, or college web site that will help you locate the person. Following are some of the most popular search engines.

Cyndi's List
An extensive listing of on-line resources for finding people. Many are not free.

People Finding Books

Locating Lost Family Members & Friends by Kathleen W. Hinckley (1999)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com
Great book on how to locate people, including a listing of Internet sites for people finding.

Investigators Guide to Free Searches on the Internet by Ralph D. Thomas (1998)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com

Public Records Online: The National Guide to Private and Government Online Sources of Public Records by Michael L. Sankey (2003)
Order or get more information from Amazon.com
A great source of people finding web sites, however some are not free.

Reunion Planning Links

Reunion Announcements.com - free reunion announcement postings

Reunions Magazine

National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM)

The Reunion Planner

Using Email in Reunion Planning

Email is a great way to locate class members, communicate information during the reunion planning process and keep in touch with class members between reunions. Sending email to class members during the reunion planning is a great way to ask for volunteers and contact information for other class members. Regular mailings are usually still needed of course since not all class members will have email.

Reunion committee meeting notes can be sent out by email to the committee members to remind them what decisions were made and what they need to do before the next meeting. For committee members who didn't attend the meeting, it keeps them up-to-date on the plans. Messages can also be sent out to class members to update them on the reunion plans between mailings, update the list of lost class members, and send reminders about registration deadlines.

Email newsletters can very easily be sent out between reunions every 1-6 months to keep class members in touch and remind them to send updates on their contact info to the reunion committee. Newsletters can include class member updates, and school events and fundraiser info.

An email list can either be maintained by hand through a committee member's email software or it can be set up through a free service such as Yahoo! Groups.

Yahoo! Groups as an Email List

Yahoo! Groups is a free and easy way to create a class email list. In addition, by default group members can all post to the group to keep in touch (though this option can be set to only allow the moderator to post messages if you prefer), and they can use the member listing to contact other class members individually.

The benefits of a Yahoo! Group over a hand maintained email list is that group members have the ability to join, change their email and unsubscribe without moderator intervention. In addition, when email addresses generate errors, Yahoo! automatically takes care of testing the email address over a period of time to see if it is in fact invalid or just a temporary failure; this eliminates the need for the moderator to deal with bounced email. Finally, members of the group can have the ability to post to the group.

After the group is created on Yahoo! Groups, just send an invitation message to all the email addresses collected. The easiest way to tell people to join the group is to give them the group subscription email address as posted on the group home page (usually "group name"-subscribe@yahoogroups.com).

Miscellaneous Tips

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Stacy Ichniowski
Email: stacy@tealdragon.net
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