Getting the Word Out

There are many ways for families to communicate. While receiving mail is always fun, it’s become a lot easier to communicate by e-mail which is what m5ore and more reunions are doing. Reunion organizers universally ask about not only getting the mailings out but getting the responses back in again. If you have some sure-fire ways to help others succeed at reunion communicating, e-mail us.

Reunion surveys

Matt Ragen, Seattle, Washington, shared pre-reunion surveys the Ragen Family Reunion used for two reunions. Survey details and information presentation are posted on the family website at The family had several intents:

reunion survey

In the first survey, answers were anonymous. That meant people could be bold and some answers were pretty interesting. (At the reunion, family members were asked to guess who may have given particular answers.)

Second Survey

For the second survey, there were roughly five times as many people attending.

They couldn’t ask the same number of questions (and manage the results) so they cut the number of questions and made the results non-anonymous. (The website lists results without names.) While not blind, it helped reunion-goers identify people with similar interests. An interesting item in the second survey asked extended family what family history questions they had. The elder generation answered some questions!

Each family branch held reunions over the last year. Each reunion conducted a pre-reunion survey. Reunion sizes varied and surveys were designed for different reasons.

For the smaller group, there were two objectives and a longer questionnaire. They wanted to uncover common family interests, facilitate conversation and guess who was behind some of the answers. Survey responses were anonymous.

The larger reunion (120+ people) came second. It was large enough that some branches had not met. Experience changed the objectives in the second survey to produce icebreakers and questions emphasizing family history. Survey results were not anonymous, as it would be challenging enough to find the person who gave each answer.

The family surveys appear below.

Survey #1 – Summer Year One
Everyone was asked to complete a fairly simple ten question survey. The goal was to get everyone thinking about the family and their interests. The results provided information for guessing games.

  • Question 1: Please list the best three books you have read over the last year. Titles can be in any topic (non-fiction, beach trash, business, poetry, children’s, etc.)
  • Question 2: If you had one month free of all responsibility and unlimited funds to travel in comfort, where would you take a dream vacation? Up to four stops on your itinerary are allowed.
  • Question 3: If you could have a lunch date with any three people (across time and space boundaries), who would they be?
  • Question 4: If you were stranded on a desert island for a month, what three items would you want to have to relieve the tedium? Assume that you are stuck for between 28 and 31 days with nothing to do and your rations would be at least at the “Survivor” level.
  • Question 5: Who are your three favorite musical groups?
  • Question 6: What are your two favorite food splurges?
  • Question 7: What are your three favorite non-kid-related things to do in your free time?
  • Question 8: What is your most vivid memory of time spent together with the cousins when we were children? (N/A for cousins’ spouses)
  • Question 9: What achievement or activity are you most proud of over the last year?
  • Question 10: Now that we have left our immature years behind, what single piece of wisdom would you like to leave for the next generation?

Survey #2 – Spring Year Two
For the next family reunion, they thought that it would be fun to conduct a quick survey of the entire family. This survey turned into one of the more anticipated items of discussion around the dinner table.

survey next family reunion
The objective was to get a perspective of the entire family through a few simple questions. The results produce a “snapshot” of the family’s collective interests.

  • Question 1: Please list three people who you would most like to have lunch with irrespective of any era, geography, or language barriers.
  • Question 2: In the last 12-18 months, what single achievement or activity are you most proud of?
  • Question 3: What of our family history are you most interested in learning about? Who do you think may be able to provide information?
  • Question 4: What are your three favorite things to do in your free time that are NOT child-related?
  • Question 5: Please list your two favorite books of any genre that you have read during the last year or so. In addition to the title, if you remember the author, please include him/her as well.

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