Blog

Latest News and Updates

Our Story – How We Became The Online Book Company

This month, rather fittingly, as it’s a new year, we’ve been talking beginnings. We’ve just sent out our first Online Book Company monthly newsletter and are looking forward to sharing our clients’ wonderful stories, what’s new with our books and, by popular demand, a seasonal photograph of Cornwall.

Everyone who works here is familiar with our deeply personal origin story but we thought it may be time to share it with our many clients, friends and connections:

Finding Meaning in Tragedy

The idea behind the venture that was eventually to become The Online Book Company was born of our founders, friends, Jonathan and Hugh, both losing their brothers. Keen to keep the memories of their loved ones alive, they realised that this very human need would be shared by others the world over and so, in early 2006, the concept behind our initial business, Friends and Relations, was born.

Making the most of emerging technology, Jonathan and Hugh came up with a way of creating individually dedicated, interactive online sanctuaries, far removed from the bustle and noise of social media platforms. Intuitively designed and translating the familiar experience of perusing a book or writing an entry, online, the books focused on offering a seamless user experience.

Keeping Memories Alive

Stories, photos and videos could be added, shared and commented on, milestones remembered and celebrated, and feelings expressed. Time and again, family members and friends, no matter where in the world they were, could turn to these online books for solace, and find comfort in actively keeping memories alive.

Making A Difference

Some of Friends and Relations’ early clients suggested that it would be great if the books could be used for a wider good. Their desire to make a difference – offering the opportunity for people visiting their loved ones’ books to make a donation to a charity or organisation that had meant a lot to the person being remembered – was just one of the developments that saw Friends and Relations evolve into The Online Book Company we are today.

Fast Forward To The Present Day

Our unique, interactive online books serve charities, businesses and other organisations: promoting causes, fundraising, recognising donors and legators, and celebrating supporters and service.

Their original purpose, however – a means for people to connect with one another, tell their stories and honour individuals and causes – remains firmly at the heart of everything we do.

read more
Tim COur Story – How We Became The Online Book Company

“Sgt Allen Was My Father”

How one Online Book helped shape our business

The story of one particular Online Book – the British Cyprus Memorial Book – played a significant role in the developments that have seen us become The Online Book Company we are today.

This book was established a decade ago (2009) to commemorate the fallen British servicemen of what became known as the Cyprus Emergency that ran from 1955-1959. Much engaged with to this day, the Online Book enables friends, family and comrades to discover and share stories of, and pay tribute to their loved ones as well as remembering them on special days. Its establishment marked the first time official recognition was given to those who had lost their lives in the campaign.

A son’s discovery

Company founder and Managing Director, Jonathan Haward recalls,

“An entry in the book on 28th July 2009 by David Clifton is one I shall always remember.

Opening with the words: “Sgt Allen was my father” it went on to say how, in coming across The British Cyprus Memorial Trust’s remembrance of Sgt Allen in the online book, he had learnt, for the first time, how his father had died.

Too young to remember much of his father himself, and with a mother who had been reluctant to talk of that terrible time, he had grown up not knowing anything about his father’s death.

Sgt Allen, a 28-year-old Regular from Clare, Suffolk was murdered by three masked gunmen who had intended to take him hostage in retaliation for an EOKA man facing the death penalty for the murder of RAF Cpl Hale three months earlier. The unarmed Sgt Allen put up such a fight that they shot him dead. His killers were never caught and he is buried at Wayne’s Keep in the British military cemetery in Cyprus.

How one online book helped shape our business

Finishing with the words, echoed in other tributes, “I am very proud of him,” it brought home to me, with heart-rending poignancy, the immeasurable value of what we had created and was instrumental in my decision to sell my other business concerns and make Friends and Relations my over-riding passion.”

Helping the Cyprus Veterans organisation

Now running to over 1600 pages, The British Cyprus Memorial Book, has been instrumental in the Cyprus Veterans organisation’s work in finding and contacting the families of the 372 British servicemen who died on active service during the four-year Emergency, and offering them recognition for the sacrifices made by their loved ones.

A growing number of families have now attended special ceremonies and been awarded the Elizabeth Cross* as well as honouring their loved ones with General Service Medals and Memorial Scrolls.

The book also carries an additional section “Also Remembered” that pays tribute to the 26 servicemen killed on the island before the end of 1959 but not included within the UK Government’s time frame of the conflict.

Late last year we learnt the wonderful news that some 10 UK-based veterans, now in their 80s, were able to attend the Remembrance Sunday Service in North Cyprus last November. And at the beginning of 2019 we helped Cyprus Veterans track down the son of Sgt Alexander Mills Brown who had posted a moving tribute to his father in late 2015. Preparations are now under way for Sgt Mills Brown’s son, Duncan, to receive the Elizabeth Cross.

* Note: The Elizabeth Cross was introduced in 2009 and is awarded in national recognition of the loss and sacrifice suffered by the families of those service personnel killed on operations in the line of duty.

read more
Tim C“Sgt Allen Was My Father”

How an 80 Year Old novice IT user is remembering his fallen friends….

Between 1955 – 1959, Royal Marine, Brian Moon fought alongside his comrades in the Cyprus Emergency. He recently posted in The British Cyprus Memorial Book of Remembrance, in tribute to a fallen comrade, Raymond Thomas Greening, who was one of 372 brave men who never returned home.

It’s been gratifying to see how people of all ages have engaged with this online book over the years. It’s drawn in contributions from people of all ages, from comrades of those who died, to relatives, friends and descendants, who’ve all left beautiful tributes.



The British Cyprus Memorial Online Book of Remembrance

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, take a moment to read Brian Moon’s deeply moving tribute, which shows that age need be no barrier to online supporter engagement: (On a Mobile leaf through to page 609).

jonathan@theonlinebookcompany.com

read more
Tim CHow an 80 Year Old novice IT user is remembering his fallen friends….

HOW ONLINE BOOKS ARE HELPING DRIVE LEGACY GIVING

HOW ONLINE BOOKS ARE HELPING DRIVE LEGACY GIVING

The value of legacy giving is indisputable. Gifts in wills make up just over a quarter of all charitable donations among the top 100 UK fundraisers (Charity Financials Top 100 Fundraisers Spotlight report) and constitute 14% of all fundraised income received by UK charities.

What’s more, unlike most areas of fundraising, legacies are projected to continue growing by around 2.7% per annum over the next five years – from £2.8bn in 2017 – to reach £3.3bn in 2021 (Legacy Foresight’s Legacy Giving 2017 report).
At a time when a challenging socio-economic landscape increases the pressure on charities to be continually growing their income streams ahead of inflation, this marks them out as particularly significant element in the fundraising mix. However the subject of gifts in wills can sometimes prove difficult to introduce into fundraising communication meaning that opportunities for doing so end up being overlooked.

 

AN EASY WAY TO PROMOTE LEGACY GIVING

Our online legacy books were originally designed to help charities build stronger relationships with their supporters – being able to recognise, celebrate and engage with supporters and their families in real time, from anywhere in the world. Many of these charities have identified having an online book as being an important factor in helping them promote awareness of and further drive legacy giving, from gifts in wills to living legacies.

Michael Clark, Gifts in Wills and In-Memory Manager of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust sums up his organisation’s collaboration with The Online Book Company thus:
“The importance of gifts in Wills to the long term aims of a charity, and thanking the supporters for including a gift is of paramount importance…We must take the same time to thank donors during their lifetime and after their death as we do in influencing beforehand, and I am delighted to be working with the Online Book Company to make this happen.”

 

A BESPOKE, COST-EFFECTIVE APPROACH

Ranging from the simple to the multi-functional, our online books are always tailored to fulfil each and every charitable organisation’s specific needs and budget, while being designed to reflect distinct brand identities. Creating a dedicated and permanent online space, they fully integrate into a website and are accessible from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

 

A BETTER WAY OF SAYING THANK YOU

Online books make it easier to have a conversation with supporters about legacy giving. The impact of gifts in wills and living legacies can easily be demonstrated and the books are a user-friendly and accessible means of recognising, celebrating and thanking legacy donors. Donors’ families and friends regularly revisit and contribute to these books on an on-going basis.

“There is nothing quite like the sanctity of a traditional Book of Remembrance. The online book is not designed to replace this but to extend its reach, all the better connecting people and causes, and offering solace.”
Jonathan Haward, The Online Book Company

 

A NEW CHAPTER

After all, people’s values, personal interests and experiences bring them to believe in, volunteer for and support particular causes and charities. Honouring their legacies in an online book ensures their contribution is never forgotten:

“RNIB’s [online] Book of Remembrance gives us the opportunity to recognise those who have left a gift to us in their Will. These gifts are vital as they fund nearly a third of our work, making it possible for more people with sight loss to achieve their potential and face the future with confidence.”

To find out more about our online books and how we can help you, call 01872 226800 or email: jonathan@theonlinebookcompany.com

read more
Tim CHOW ONLINE BOOKS ARE HELPING DRIVE LEGACY GIVING

How Online Books Helped Extend the Season Of Goodwill

You may not wish, in the words of Wizzard’s seasonal anthem, that it could be Christmas every day, but wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way of making that festive spirit of giving last longer?

Towards the latter part of last year a number of hospices chose to extend the scope, reach and lifespan of their Light Up A Life campaigns by complementing their traditional fundraising with one of our dedicated online books.

Hospice Light Up A Life online book of dedications

With all the data now in, the results of these online campaigns were quite outstanding and we couldn’t wait to share some of the highlights:

Increased Donations

Online donors were a generous bunch – almost half opted to give more than the suggested minimum donation with campaigns that didn’t stipulate a minimum sum attracting overall higher single donations of, on average, £16.57. And we must mention the fact that one online book netted a remarkable £2000 single donation!

GDPR Should Not To Be Feared!

While the engagement that the online books fostered was encouraging in itself, it soon became apparent that being bold about embracing GDPR paid dividends.

Hospices that sought 4-way GDPR-compliant opt-ins from their supporters emerged with the highest rates of engagement: a whopping 77% rate of opt-ins as opposed to a mere 47% for a single tick box. 67% of those opting in, favoured email communications, with over a fifth choosing interaction with multiple marketing channels. From these findings it would seem that GDPR presents a valuable opportunity to build a more engaged audience.

Stronger Supporter Relationships

Supporters enjoyed being able to see and share their dedications and donations in real time, engaging with the hospices at their own pace. The books focused on making it as easy as possible for supporters to interact – particularly noteworthy was the online booking for Light Up A Life services and the capability of offering a choice of payment options. Those that offered multiple payment methods garnered the highest levels of engagement and lowest rates of abandonment.

Extended Reach

Going online with a dedicated book extended both the reach and lifespan of the Light Up A Life campaigns. Supporters, family members and friends who weren’t in the hospice’s immediate area could join in and feel closer to the cause and the facility for replicating physical entries, online, was cited by many as a particularly lovely feature.

Reduced Admin

Getting dedications and donations direct online cut down on the amount of time and money hospice staff had to spend on admin. Capabilities such as online bookings made planning a whole lot easier too.

Great ROI

Setting up an online book garnered a three to three and a half times return on investment for the hospices as well as making it easy to measure results.

An Online Book Isn’t Just For Christmas

Some of the hospices that adopted online books for their 2017 Light Up A Life campaigns found that in keeping them open a little longer they were already getting interaction for the 2018 campaign. As a result they chose to keep their books open all year round.

Now their supporters can remember and donate on birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions too. Light Up A Life 2018 will see them coming up with a customised seasonal design for an additional boost to their fundraising efforts.

 

To find out more about how our books could help with fundraising, supporter engagement and any number of initiatives, call 01872 226800 or email us at jonathan@theonlinebookcompany.com

read more
Tim CHow Online Books Helped Extend the Season Of Goodwill

Brother Kames Kimpton, Online Book of Remembrance

Online Book of Remembrance to Brother Kames Kimpton

We are honoured to create the Book of Remembrance to Brother James Kimpton after a lifetime of service ‘Reaching the Unreached’ (RTU).
Brother Kimpton started working to better the opportunities of those in abject poverty in Sri Lanka in 1952.
Following the expulsion of all foreigners in 1964 he moved to India, managing a training school for destitute boys in Madurai.

Setting himself and others the highest standards of integrity and commitment working with RTU over 52 years has organised the building more than 8700 homes and 2500 wells.
Deeply spiritual he relied on his Christian faith in building a thriving organisation admired throughout the world.
Never retiring, he passed away in India in October 2017 being sorely missed by those he helped and worked with to the end.

This book is rather special in featuring messages in both English and Tamil, being the local language.
https://www.theonlinebookcompany.com/OnlineBooks/Kimpton/Contributions/RTUpeoplepastandpres/0
The online books support both typed and pasted non-latin characters ensuring inclusion of communities worldwide.
Reading the inspiring messages in the book is a fitting tribute to a very special humanitarian who cared more for others.

The Online Book of Remembrance to Brother James Kimpton
read more
Tim CBrother Kames Kimpton, Online Book of Remembrance

Rotary International

Rotary International call for help

We were flattered to receive a telephone call from Rotary International in Tanzania asking if we could help them by creating an Online Book of Condolence to celebrate the life of Sam Owori, their incoming International President, who died before taking up his office.

We put together an Individual condolence book for Sam which has received some lovely messages from literally all over the world.

Rotary International book of Condolence to President Elect, Sam Owiri
read more
Tim CRotary International

Fears of GDPR

Fears of GDPR

It might be that the with many in the 3rd Sector taking well deserved Summer holidays, news is a bit thin and there appears to be an underlying fear about the implications of GDPR.

We very much subscribe to the view that, GDPR should not be regarded as a threat but much more an opportunity to clean up one’s databases and re engage on a stronger footing with those who want to be engaged with.

Word in the press has been that the RNLI’s early GDPR grooming has proved to be a great success.

GDPR is all about keeping in contact with willing supporters via targeted campaigns not bombarding historic mailing lists of uninterested recipients. GDPR compliance is the impetus for good housekeeping and demonstrates the respect organisations have to their supporters and wider society by reducing spam mail.
Implementing GDPR compliant contact preferences should be viewed as the opportunity to enhance an organisation’s reputation as well as secure themselves from financial damage with the ICO very willing to publicise and prosecute.

read more
Tim CFears of GDPR

Firefighters Memorial Book

Firefighters Memorial Book

The Firefighters’ Memorial Trust Online Book is the probably one of the most comprehensive books we have produced and has the details of every known fire-fighter who has died in Service since 1754.

This includes chapters for those members of the Salvage Corps, whilst on Military Service including the Boer War, Fire Watchers and Fire Guards from the Second World War and those actively being researched.

It really is a remarkable historical tome and is the Only place in the world where all the records are held in one place and fully available for the public to gain access and look up those relatives who may have been in the Fire service.

Members of the public are invited to help by submitting details on unidentified individuals and incomplete records.

Included in the book is a chapter listing those whose anniversary falls on today, from 1754 to last year.
This Day in History

Particularly poignant are the darkest days of the World War 2 Blitz, claiming the lives of scores of Firefighters, Fire Watchers and Fire Guards serving in cities and towns around the UK.

List of names in The Firefighters Memorial Trust book
read more
Tim CFirefighters Memorial Book

Making a Move for the Royal Signals Memorial Book

Flash move for the Royal Signals Memorial Book

This month has seen a technological upgrade to Royal Signals Memorial Book, we are proud to to have produced and host for the Royal Signals.

Their original book was designed using “Flash” technology which is no longer being supported …. the natural successor is HTML5 which works incredibly well across all platforms and has none of the device limitations endured by its predecessor.

The new book was launched with a flurry of social media sent out by the Royal Signals which resulted in lots of re engagement from their supporters, old and new.

Please visit the book, you may discover a relative or ancestor inside.

List of names on The Royal Signals Memorial Book
read more
Tim CMaking a Move for the Royal Signals Memorial Book