Re: A Success Story and Questions - Family Reunions #poland

Stanley Diamond

In a message dated 2/16/2000 12:00:57 PM writes:

Now for my questions: we are contemplating having a worldwide reunion, but
none of us has any experience with this. Does anyone have any experience
conducting such a reunion? How long should it be? Are there
who specialize in this sort of thing? What types of activities should we
plan? What should the ratio of planned activities to informal
be? What types of activities should we hold for children etc., etc,?
While this question is probably off-topic for the JRI-Poland list, it is
certainly something most of us have thought about. As a result, I
would like to share with you an announcement >from the current
Eastman Newsletter. I am personally not familiar with the software
in question and provide the following without endorsement.

Stanley Diamond
Project Coordinator, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland

The following article is >from Eastman's Online Genealogy
Newsletter and is copyright 2000 by Richard W. Eastman. It is
re-published here with the permission of the author.


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- Family Reunion Organizer

FormalSoft, Inc. recently announced a new program, called "Family
Reunion Organizer" for Windows. I had a chance to use the program
for a bit this week and must say that I fell in love with it.

Family Reunion Organizer is not a genealogy program, although
there are many similarities. As its name implies, it is a program
to organize and manage family reunions. It works equally well on
small reunions of a few people or large national or even
international surname societies. It is a program that combines
bits and pieces of a genealogy program, an address book, a
checkbook program, an expense account manager, a mailing list
manager, a badge printing program, a certificate-printing program,
a project manager and more. It isn't a "heavy duty" program at any
one of these tasks, yet it combines all of these functions into
one nice package.

Installing Family Reunion Organizer was easy, about the same as
any other modern Windows program. Once installed, the main screen
looks like a sheet of paper containing a checklist. The entries on
the checklist include:

* Getting Started
o Enter basic reunion information
o Enter family members into address book
o Create a reunion committee
* Initial Planning
o What type of reunion should we have?
o Send a survey to family for opinions and ideas
o Select a reunion theme
o Select the reunion dates
* Select the location for the reunion
o Go online for a list of possible reunion sites
o Select and reserve the reunion location
o Locate lodging for out of town guests
* Tell the family about the reunion
o Create an invitation
o Print mailing labels
o Print tri-fold addresses on the backs of mailings
o Create a family reunion Web page
o Announce reunion at
o Send out a reminder
* Paying for your reunion
o Enter bank account information
o Create a budget
o Track expenses
o Create a shopping list
o Plan any fundraising activities
* Plan what to do at your reunion
o Schedule the meals and activities
o Assign duties to family members
o Check out ideas for things to do
o Visit message boards
* Final Preparations
o Prepare award certificates
o Print name tags
o Print sign-in sheets
* After the reunion
o Print evaluation forms
o Send thank you notes to the volunteers

The above list shows many of the program's capabilities. Each
activity can be checked off when it is completed, helping the user
to keep track of tasks. In addition, clicking on any of the above
items opens the menus for the section of the program to accomplish
that task. For instance, clicking on "Create an invitation" opens
a mini word processor with three boxes of text that you can fill
in: Opening text, Closing text and Contact information. Then there
are check boxes for such things as:

Include family reunion logo at the top
Include directions to the reunion site
Include lodging information
Include the schedule
Print a registration form on the invitation

There are further option for page layout, text font and title
font. The program also features a built-in spell checker.

Once you complete the above, Family Reunion Organizer prints a
personalized invitation for each person in the address book. The
output can be directed to the printer for immediate printing or to
a disk file that you can then edit in any word processor before
printing. If desired, you can add more graphics or a map or
include other materials using the tools built into your favorite
word processor.

The above describes only the features in "Create an invitation,"
but almost all the other menu choices have equally rich options.
You can create an address book. Even better, if your present
genealogy program has mailing addresses included, you can export
that data in a GEDCOM file and then read that file into Family
Reunion Organizer so that you do not have to re-enter all the
names and addresses manually. You can also use that same data >from
the GEDCOM file to print name badges of attendees.

I was particularly impressed with the capability of handling
reunion financials. While this program will never compete with
Quicken, it does have some nifty features. You can keep track of
funds in the checking account, create budgets and track expenses
paid against the plans, and more. It even can create shopping
lists, telling how many cans of spaghetti sauce or other needed
items to buy.

Finally, the list of printed reports available is extensive,

* Address list of all individuals in the database
* Telephone list of all individuals in the database
* Mailing labels to be printed on gummed label stock
* Tri-fold address that print directly on the backs of
brochures to be mailed to invitees
* Invitations
* Reminders to be mailed just before the reunion
* Surveys
* Thank-you notes to be mailed after the reunion
* Schedule of events
* Assignments (who brings what or who is in charge of which
* Committee members
* Budget
* Expense log
* Shopping list
* Sign-in sheets
* Nametags for each person (with an option for city and state
on each)
* Certificates (Longest distance traveled, oldest attendee,
winner of the sack race or whatever else you want)
* Evaluation form to be returned to the reunion organizers
after the reunion

Family Reunion Organizer is also tightly integrated with the
company's Web site at Here you will
find long lists of suitable locations in which to hold a reunion,
many ideas for planning purposes, and even a message board where
you can ask questions and exchange ideas with others.

The above description still doesn't cover all the features of
Family Reunion Organizer. I was impressed with the program. If you
have ever helped organize a family reunion, you will appreciate
the many features this software provides. If you are thinking of
organizing a reunion in the future, you could save yourself a lot
of wasted effort if you obtain this Windows program first. The
program also handles multiple reunions, in case you are involved
in more than just one.

There are a couple of competitive family reunion programs
available for $60 or $70 each. However, Family Reunion Organizer
is available for $29.95 (U.S. funds), plus shipping and handling.
Best of all, a free version can be downloaded online and taken for
a "test drive." You can try the program out for a while to see if
you like it before you purchase it. The demo version is limited to
5 families, but the full working version supports unlimited
families. The demo also includes a small sample database, so you
can try features without having to enter a bunch of information
yourself. The following features >from the full program are
disabled in the demo:

* GEDCOM Import into address book
* Backup/Restore
* Help files
* World Wide Website
* Word processing (RTF) export
* Spell checking
* Printouts have a "Family Reunion Organizer Demo Printout"
watermark on them

The best part is that the data you enter into the demo program is
preserved if you later upgrade to the full version. You do not
have to re-enter any data.

For more information or to download the demo version of Family
Reunion Organizer, go to:

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