Level of difficulty: Advanced
Cost to attend: High
Project: Class of 1956 mini-reunion in Aspen, Colorado (USA), February 1993. The mini-reunion involved receptions, seminars taught by Yale professors, and winter sports.
Lead time: 15 months
Date of event: February 1993
1 lead volunteer – 60 hours
3 volunteers – 30 hours (10 each) plus funding receptions in their homes.
2 Yale professors (travel costs and lodging paid from Class treasury)
AYA staff – 3 hours arranging for the professors and mailing notices
Results: 40 attendees (25 alumni plus spouses)
(What is a mini-reunion? Regular Class Reunions are held every 5 years at the end of May or early June in New Haven, Connecticut, the home of Yale University. Mini-reunions are smaller gatherings, usually held in different years, at different times, in different locations. Mini-reunions are sometimes held to generate enthusiasm for an upcoming Class Reunion. Sometimes they are held as a follow up that builds on the enthusiasm generated by a recent Class Reunion.)
Why a success? All of the participants felt that this was a special opportunity to connect with fellow alumni and their spouses in an unusually gorgeous setting, and to take advantage of stimulating intellectual, recreational and social opportunities.
The initial seminar topic was “Our Experience at Yale as We Remember It in the Context of the 1950s.” The response was so successful, that a similar mini-reunion was held a couple of years later (February 1995), again in Aspen, with the same professors on the topic: “The Yale of Today and How We Relate to It in the Context of Current Cultural Norms.” The Class continued with this progressive theme at its next regular reunion (1996), involving the same Yale professors in a discussion of “Future Prospects for Yale and Ourselves in an Ever-Changing Society.”
Details: The mini-reunion was a long weekend (starting on Thursday night and ending on Sunday). It was held at a premier winter resort destination. It included dinners at local restaurants, plus receptions at the homes of local Classmates. Two Yale professors led morning seminars. The afternoons were devoted to either skiing or dog sledding, depending upon the participants’ preferences.
The lead volunteer handled the conceptualization of the event in coordination with the class executive committee and the overall management of the event, including announcements, communications, registration, and the recruitment and orientation of two faculty members who were invited to join us in leading morning seminars.
No money was required up-front. Preliminary reservations based on group pricing were made with a local hotel, and participants made their own travel and lodging arrangements.
The cost of lodging for each couple was approximately $150 per night, including breakfast. Add to that the cost of two lunches and one dinner as well as lift tickets/dog sledding. Two dinners were covered by the receptions hosted by the local alumni. It was definitely cost effective – the major variable being individual airfares.
Resources needed: Most of the work was done by 4 class members, with some assistance of an AYA staff member with responsibility for the Class.
The lead volunteer organizer spent a total of 60 hours, including preparatory time with the professors, interface with the Class executive committee of which he was a member, interface with the AYA, registration administration, regular communications with Classmate participants and with the other volunteers.
The other 3 volunteers had second homes in Aspen and each spent about 10 hours making local arrangements. The Aspen volunteers were responsible for booking local restaurants and outings, including planning (and paying for) evening receptions in their own homes. The AYA staffer spent only a few hours working on this event.
Yale (AYA) contributed the help of a staff member, two Yale professors, and distribution of announcements to the Class.
The Class treasury paid for the travel costs and lodging of the two Yale professors. Local volunteers paid for two evening receptions. Otherwise participants paid their own way (reduced by obtaining group rates).
Metrics: 40 participated, including 25 members of the Class plus their spouses.
The Class consisted of approximately 900, then living alumni. Between 25% and 29% of the Class attended the subsequent 40th Reunion in 1996 in New Haven. (40th Reunion attendance was about 250 alumni plus many spouses.)
Invitations to participate were sent to all members of the class by regular mail.
Possible improvements: Some were disappointed that the mini-reunion didn’t draw a larger participation, but for seminar purposes, and in terms of connecting with one’s fellow alumni it was perfect. As the Class has grown older the ski setting became less attractive, and the Class has held mini-reunions with much larger participation in such venues as New York City and Washington, DC.