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Necessity is Mother of Innovation

We would love to show what we have been doing for different organisations.

We can easily set up a screen sharing call and show you some of what we have been up to.

To set this up, start by dropping an Email to or calling us on 01872 226800.

Lockdown has completely changed the way we go about our daily lives. We’ve needed to be imaginative, to adapt. In addition to a few things we’ve picked up in the press this month we wanted to look at a few ways that clients and businesses have been getting creative to adapt to our new world.

We’ve also given a little insight into some of the smart thinking adopted by our clients that has helped them to adapt to some of the challenges that we have all faced:

It Wasn’t all bad.

A woman from Essex missed her 76-year-old father so much during lockdown, she enrolled as a volunteer at his care home so she could see him. Until March, Nina Ambrose visited her father, who has Alzheimer’s, several times a week.

When lockdown made that impossible and she was furloughed from her job at a cosmetics company, the former Butlins redcoat sat eight exams in order to join the activities team at the major Lodge home in Chelmsford.

She works with other residents, but her main joy is having the opportunity to see her father at the end of each session. “I feel so, so lucky to be able to spend time with him” she said. (Credit to The Week)

The Hug Tunnel

Out of everyone dealing with the pandemic, elderly people have been finding these times especially difficult. Those living alone have been unable to see their children and grandchildren for months upon end.

However, a care home in Brazil has thought of a creative solution to help reunite families and cheer up their residents.

A hug tunnel has been installed at a care home in Brazil to enable elderly residents to cuddle their loved one safely. Staff at a  care home in Rio Grande do Sol had noticed that the pandemic was getting its residence down. The tunnel – a plastic sheet with sealed armholes – can be used by appointment only and is cleaned after use. The home’s administrator, Rubia Santos said “We noticed that our senior residents were feeling sad. We thought they would be much happier if we found a way for them to hug their relatives.”

This clever invention has allowed husbands, wives, children and grandchildren to stay close to their loved ones in the most heat warming way without putting them at risk.

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Julie PentecostNecessity is Mother of Innovation

1.9 Million Strawberries Come to a Sticky End

When life gives you strawberries… Make strawberry jam!

Wimbledon bosses earlier announced that they were cancelling the championships for the first time since the second world war. Of course, Wimbledon wouldn’t be Wimbledon without endless portions of strawberries served with cream. So, to avoid all that fruit going to waste, bosses came up with a solution…

Each year fans consume around 1.9 million strawberries at Wimbledon, but with this year’s tournament no longer going ahead, 750kg of those strawberries are going to be made into a special preserve to mark the tournament this year. The remainder of those strawberries are being donated to foodbanks and schools, so nothing goes to waste.

Perhaps not the way fans were expecting to enjoy the games this year, but perfect for a lovely cream tea in the garden.

Wimbledon haven’t been the only people making big changes…

“All things Virtual is where the future is…if We can’t operate in the Digital economy, we may not be able to Operate in any economy.”  BBC Radio 4 Sat 27 June

“Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy. Coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online.” Ofcom’s Director of strategy and research Yih-Choung Teh

As a company that has been building digital products for supporter engagement for more than a decade, we were amazed that as the lockdown started to hit, an increasing number of charities together with national and international companies approached us all of whom had one thing in common. That was to have an effective means of communication for the retention, engagement, acknowledgement, and appreciation of fundraising. We are so pleased to have been able to help.

Necessity really has been the mother of Innovation! The books we have created have received tens of thousands of messages all of which have helped charities keep their audiences engaged and reminded of the valuable support they provide, especially in days such as these. Fundraising, engaging support and giving us the opportunity to give thanks for their incredible work.

These books covered everything from Legacy Recognition, In Memoriam books and Light up a Life books which can be adapted for other campaigns.

We would love to show you some of the work have been doing for  NHS Trusts, new Initiatives for Hospices, how Legacy recognition has demonstrably worked and much more.

To find out more, we would love to set up a screen sharing call and show you some of the opportunities we have already created.

There is no obligation and it would be lovely to hear your feedback too.

To set this up, please drop me an E mail, we can set up a call.

I very much look forward to hearing from you..

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Julie Pentecost1.9 Million Strawberries Come to a Sticky End

From podcasts to virtual events: 10 great sources of fundraising help & inspiration you might not know about

One of the many great things about the charity sector, both in the UK and elsewhere, is how willing people are to share what they’ve learned.

As well, of course, as the more ‘official’ resources from organisations, groups, associations, and charity media, there are all sorts of other useful and inspiring resources offered by people in the sector that you might not be quite so familiar with.

Here are a few that have caught our eye:

January saw the launch of a podcast by ChangeStar’s Richard Docwra. Making the World Better is fortnightly and sees Richard talk to people who are making the world better, exploring what they do, the issues they’re working on and why they matter, with each episode having a different guest. The first few shows have some brilliant people including CEOs of leading charities, political advisors, academics, fundraisers – and people who are working to help others in their local communities.

Another useful podcast is Four Minutes in Fundraising. This is hosted by CEO of Money4Youth Amicky Carol (Carol Akiwumi) and promises to make the principles and techniques of fundraising, such as digital marketing and fundraising, more accessible to everyone in these bite-size chunks.

Simon Scriver’s Amazingly Ultimate Fundraising Superstar Podcast is a popular one. In it, Simon, from Toast Fundraising, gets the lowdown on various issues and areas from experts in the field, offers quick tips on everything from how to get a speaking gig at a non-profit conference to making the most out of Giving Tuesday, and reviews the latest fundraising news.

The Do More Good podcast is recorded in pubs around London and beyond, and delves in to a variety of topics and interviews with people from across the spectrum, covering hot topics such as leadership, innovation, fundraising, current affairs and first-world problems over a pint or two.

Cracking Charity Chat from Beth Crackles is for those in the sector who want who want to hear from senior colleagues across the sector with each podcast giving examples of how things have worked in practice, demonstrating how good leaders approach the given subject area, and providing tips that people can apply in their own organisation. Beth’s most recent guest was Matthew Sherrington, a strategy and communications expert (Inspiring Action) chatting about his time at Oxfam, and Greenpeace USA, aligning strategy, comms, fundraising and campaigning and other big topics.

For something completely off the wall, try Four Fundraisers Talk **** – a written podcast that once a week sees good friends (and fundraising experts) Beate Sørum, Simon Scriver, Jen Love and John Lepp sit down on opposite sides of the Atlantic and chat about something reasonably fundraising related – such as Giving Tuesday, branding, and sexual harassment in the sector, which they then share. Check out the episode guide here, and it also has a helpful ‘What did I just read?’ section that explains the concept.

Over on Facebook, Fundraising Chat is an excellent group where those working in the sector can ask any question they like – from how to write a funding proposal, to what to do with too many charity places for an event, and what contactless or CRM solutions people recommend. It’s a hugely supportive forum that sees people give very generously of their time and expertise to help others.

There are also some great events. Pizza for Losers is ‘the failure inspired learning event for the charity sector’. Founded in 2019 by ‘Charity Nikki’  (Nikki Bell) to answer the need for honest and open conversations around failure, it offers a mailing list for regular failure survival tips, a really interesting podcast and occasional events – including pizza. Two are currently scheduled for June in the UK, taking place in Sheffield and London.

Fundraising Everywhere is the incredibly useful (and practical) virtual conference created to bring quality, affordable fundraising training to fundraisers across the world and hosted by Nikki Bell and Simon Scriver with a great variety of speakers, You can join from wherever you are, speakers are from around the world and subtitles are available in English, Spanish and Chinese, and all conference session are available after the event so people can also catch up in their own time. As well as two annual conferences, there are monthly webinars, and virtual support. The next events are the Fundraising Everywhere Festival in May, and Fundraising Everywhere Conference in November.

And finally, SOFII’s I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT) has been running annually since 2012, and the 2020 event takes place in London on 21 April. It celebrates fundraising greatness and innovation and sees fundraising specialists present an idea that they feel changed the face of the sector, that’s replicable, and that everyone can learn from. Crucially, the idea cannot be their own, and at the end of the night, the audience votes to pick the winning presentation and idea. 2019’s event saw 18 fundraisers present the campaign they wish they’d thought of, with British Red Cross’s Camille St Omer Donaldson winning for her presentation on the Bloody Good Period campaign.

There are no doubt many more we haven’t yet come across, so do let us know if any of your favourites aren’t on the list!

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Julie PentecostFrom podcasts to virtual events: 10 great sources of fundraising help & inspiration you might not know about

What’s been going on at The Online Book Company?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with a flurry of activity from charities wanting to ensure that their Legators are properly recognised through the median of an Online Book, as well as organisations commissioning individual books for various members of staff.

The first of these requests came from Hong Kong where sadly a partner in an international firm of accountants had died. In part due to the Coronavirus outbreak preventing people from meeting up, they felt an Online Book would be an ideal way for colleagues all over the world to add their comments and tributes, rather than trying to organise an actual card.

Next up was a call from the Marriott Hotel Group, who wanted to create an Online Book for a colleague moving on to pastures new. Once again, with messages pouring in from colleagues around the world, it has proved the perfect way to bring them all together. As someone there said: ‘How else could we get such engagement?’ Previously, they had had to resort to ‘scribblings’ on Post-it notes attached to a card.

Last week the Harry Gregg Foundation was also in touch with a request for us to create an Online Book of Condolence for him.  As some of you may well recall, former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg was also a hero of the dreadful Munich air crash of February 6 1958 that decimated the famous ‘Busby Babes’ and saw 23 people killed. Harry passed away on 16 February at the age of 87, and we helped the Foundation launch this book after his funeral. It’s filling up with some truly wonderful stories and is a lovely tribute to a very special man.

Of course, as well as providing a place where people can come together to share their memories regardless of their location, our books can also include donation links direct to a charity, providing a valuable opportunity and prompt for anyone who wishes to donate to do so.

Coming soon too is the new version of our platform, which will enable charities and other organisations to offer individuals the opportunity to set up their own book, adaptable for a wide variety of purposes including remembering pets, and recording celebrations and travels. These will also offer a fundraising opportunity. It really is very exciting, so watch this space for more details!



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Julie PentecostWhat’s been going on at The Online Book Company?

A place to remember and celebrate our supporters

A place to remember and celebrate our supporters

Guy’s and St Thomas’ rank among the oldest and best-known teaching hospitals. They have withstood the Black Death, the plague, Wars of the Roses, the Great Fire of London and the Blitz.

Today, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s busiest and most successful foundation trusts, with a long history of clinical excellence and high-quality patient care.

The hospitals provide a full range of services for the local community in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. They also provide specialist services for patients from further afield, including in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular, women’s and children’s services, kidney care and orthopaedics.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity supports the hospital by funding specialist equipment, life-changing research and the small changes that are above and beyond what the NHS can provide. Donations help to make a big difference in the lives of our patients.

Legacy and in memory gifts are integral to funding improvements for our hospitals and it’s important that we show our gratitude for these very special donations. With this in mind we created a remembrance book to celebrate our legacy and in memory supporters. By giving something back we are also able to create a lasting connection with our donors.

Emma Simpson – Legacy and In Memory Fundraiser at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity




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Julie PentecostA place to remember and celebrate our supporters

In-memory givers prove three times more likely to pledge a legacy

With legacy giving such a vital income source for so many charities, it was interesting to read of the link between giving in memory, and legacy pledges late last month.

Research carried out by Legacy Foresight, analysts of the legacy and in-memoriam sectors, revealed that remembrance is an important motivation for leaving a legacy, with supporters who had a known in-memory connection to a charity three times more likely to pledge a legacy to it. They were also twice as likely to be legacy prospects than standard regular donors giving via direct debit or standing order.

Remembrance also had an impact on how much people bequeathed. Residuary legacies (a gift given out of an estate once all debts, taxes and specific legacies have been paid) from those with a known in-memory connection were two-thirds greater in value, when compared with those left by supporters with no known in-memory connection, while pecuniary legacies (the gift of a specified amount) were double the size.

Legacy Foresight’s research showed that many people are leaving in-memory gifts in their wills too, with two in five legacy donors including at least one. Three out of five of these in-memory legacies had been preceded by a previous in-memory gift, with donations often made at or after a funeral.

Most were left in remembrance of parents, partners and in-laws, as well as friends, with three-quarters of in-memory legacies going to health-related charities.

The figures emphasise the importance of good donor stewardship during that long journey from giving in-memory or making a legacy pledge. And in fact, an earlier March 2019 survey by Legacy Foresight among its charity consortium members showed that 84% expected to be investing more in legacy stewardship over the next five years with 46% feeling it hadn’t yet become a big enough priority in their organisation.

The findings also included some tips on legacy stewardship, finding the best activities to be those that show the impact of their gift, while conveying magic, and surprising and delighting supporters. Many of the charities it questioned said they offered legacy supporters special ‘behind the scenes’ access with everything from invites to new ward openings at Great Ormond Street Hospital, to walks with a Guide Dog puppy.

It’s certainly food for thought, and for further reading, Legacy Foresight’s reports can be downloaded from its site.

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Julie PentecostIn-memory givers prove three times more likely to pledge a legacy

Fundraising without a budget? Here’s a new idea!

What if you could engage and delight your supporters – and raise funds – for just the price of a couple of links on your website?

fundraising without a budget

This month at The Online Book Company, we’re excited to announce a brand new product to help you do precisely that. Set to launch in mid February, it will enable you to raise funds simply by offering supporters the opportunity to create their very own Online Books that they can fill with their photos, videos, and memories and share.  As with other social media platforms like Facebook people will have the option of sharing with family and friends all over the world.

The Books are suitable for a whole range of purposes: supporters sponsoring or adopting an animal could create a book about them with their adoption certificate, pictures, video, thoughts and memories, while others could use them to record and remember special events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

For charities, there is no risk and for those coming on board with us before the end of April 2020 requires no financial outlay.  Through our platform we will provide your own fully branded microsite for you to direct supporters to.  Once on the microsite, they will be able to choose from a selection of templated book covers, or create their own.

The books can be branded to your charity, and each one will initially cost the individual £12.50 + VAT per year: £5 of which we will return to you annually as a donation.

The Books are simple to create, easy to update and share, and can also be printed. All the supporter has to do is upload their photos, memories and experiences into our simple system, and then publish their creation online.

As the perfect way to keep memories alive, these Books will be something people can continue to add to, and revisit. For those who also wish to have a physical copy, there will be the option to print the books, using our specialist print partner.

If you’d like to learn more about how these Books could help your charity, please do give us a call on 01872 226800 to make an appointment for a non-committal screen share, and we’ll be happy to show you!

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Julie PentecostFundraising without a budget? Here’s a new idea!

Festive glow: Christmas light trails around the UK

The festive period is upon us and Christmas is just a few short sleeps away, so to help get everyone in the mood, here is a selection of the Christmas light trails taking place around the country. Here’s hoping for dry starry nights, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and some wonderful nights out.

Festive glow Christmas lights

Christmas at Stourhead
While other National Trust properties have been putting on Christmas light trails for a few years, this is the first time Stourhead in Wiltshire has done so. Christmas at Stourhead sees a Tunnel of Light with over 100,000 pea-lights, Singing Trees, and glowing blossom and twinkling hedgerows leading visitors on a path towards thousands of illuminated lights on Fibre Optic Lawn. There is also a Laser Garden, and a scented Fire Garden among other attractions, and the chance to enjoy a hot drink and some marshmallows.  Father Christmas is also rumoured to be putting in an appearance.

When: To 30 December
Where: Stourhead, Stourton, Wiltshire

Blenheim Palace
Treetops will glisten and the Great Lake and the waterfall will shimmer and sparkle at Blenheim Palace this Christmas, while a one-mile glittering path will lead guests through the world-famous Parkland in a magical after dark experience. New for this year too are Sky-Lights, a colourful aerial light show, and The Cascade’s dynamic waterfall. There are also mesmerising and immersive ribbons of light at Vines as well as the quieter glow of flowers along Blenheim’s beautiful Snowdrop Walk.

When: To 5 January
Where: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Longleat Festival of Light

This winter, Longleat’s annual Festival of Light takes myths and legends from across the world as its theme. The legends on display include St George slaying the dragon, the giant Kraken engulfing a full-sized ship on the lake, the minotaur, King Midas, Medusa and Thor. There is also a life-sized recreation of a palace from the Arabian Nights and in total the festival features more than 3,000 lanterns, using 50,000 LED lights and 30,000 metres of silk.

When: To 5 January
Where: Longleat Safari Park, Warminster, Wiltshire

Westonbirt Arboretum Enchanted Christmas
Westonbirt Arboretum has a new Christmas trail for this year, created by fairies who have been casting their spells over the trees to transform it into an enchanted wood full of woodland characters. There is also the Arboretum’s Christmas village to visit where visitors can create some Christmas arts and crafts, explore the market stalls and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine.

When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 29 November to 22 December
Where: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury

Christmas at Kew
Christmas at Kew is now in its seventh year, and sees dynamic laser projections illuminate the Temperate House, and a dazzling arch lead to a cascade of glowing silvery shards at the Treetop Walkway. Visitors can also walk amongst immersive vines with changing ribbons of light, and wander beneath the branches illuminated with the glow of Will-o’the Wisp. Holly bushes will also sing, there will be a Tunnel of Light, and the Palm House Pond finale will see jumping jets of light dance across the water to the sound of Christmas classics.

When: To 5th January
Where: Kew Gardens, London

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Julie PentecostFestive glow: Christmas light trails around the UK

Flight Lieutenant Walker: a compelling tale of bravery from the RAF Benevolent Fund

With Remembrance Day taking place last month, we found ourselves in a thoughtful mood and, by way of remembering our lost heroes, taking another look at The RAF Benevolent Fund’s Online Book of Remembrance.

One entry in particular leaped out at us. A lovely and touching tribute to Flight Lieutenant William Louis Buchanan Walker, it is also a compelling slice of history, including as it does, an account of his experiences in the Second World War.

Fl. Lt. William Walker oldest surviving pilot from Battle of Britain

Born in 1913, Flight Lieutenant William Louis Buchanan Walker was 99 when he died, which had made him the oldest surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain.

Starting out as a brewer, Walker joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve on 2 September 1938, undergoing pilot training at RAF Kidlington, Oxford, and called up a year later on 1 September 1939, the day World War II broke out.

Posted to No. 616 Squadron RAF at RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire as a pilot officer on probation, he flew the Supermarine Spitfire.

The tribute page takes the reader through comedic as well as plain hair-raising tales of his derring dos during the war – including the day he entered an air battle whilst still in training, only to be told later he’d gone up with his guns empty, and the time, with a bullet in his right ankle, he was forced to bail out of his Spitfire at 20,000 ft, landing in the English Channel and forced to await rescue whilst clinging to a shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands.

It’s stories like this that really bring home the realities of fighting in the First and Second World Wars, leaving us truly in awe, and so very thankful for what people like Walker did for us.

Happily Walker made it through the war safely, and went back to brewing, before turning to poetry in his retirement. One of his poems, ‘Our Wall’, was inscribed on the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent alongside the 2,937 names of The Few in July 2010 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations.

Our Wall

Walker’s story is just one of many incredible tales told in the RAF Benevolent Fund’s book. What a wonderful way of paying tribute to some very special people, and of truly engaging supporters with the cause.

You can take a look at the book and read William Walker’s tribute page in its entirety.

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Julie PentecostFlight Lieutenant Walker: a compelling tale of bravery from the RAF Benevolent Fund

A trip down memory lane with the Queen Mary

Once the epitome of luxury transatlantic travel, today the RMS Queen Mary, in all her Art Deco splendour, is still offering guests the finest food, entertainment and accommodation as a hotel, permanently berthed at California’s Long Beach.

So what’s her link to The Online Book Company?

Recently, the authorities in Long Beach who are responsible for RMS Queen Mary decided to pay tribute to her last voyage and all the people who sailed with her, from Captain Treasure Jones, to crew, entertainers, and passengers, through one of our online books.

The Last Great Cruise of RMS Queen Mary

As well as a history of the ship – including her use as a troop ship in WW2, and how she more than once carried London buses over the ocean to their new owners in Long Beach ­­– the book captures many of the wonderful and often quite remarkable stories from her last cruise and paints a very vivid picture of what life on board that majestic ship was like for those who sailed with her.

RMS Queen Mary at sea

One story told by the ship’s librarian Alastair Beers, who was also in charge of the post office tells of the vast quantities of mail people sent from the Queen Mary on that final voyage. The ship had to take on a supply of stamps from each country she made port in, but ran out almost immediately. At Las Palmas for example, the ship took on a supply of 7,000 Brazilian stamps – and sold out in a day.

Others are more serious – the stowaway who was feared to have brought amoebic dysentery or cholera on board with her after she snuck on board at Acapulco – luckily it was no more serious than ‘traveller’s blight’, and the deckhand that went missing following an unwanted advance only to be found hiding once the ship had turned around and spent a good three hours searching for him overboard.

Others are simply touching, such as those people for whom Queen Mary was quite simply a home, like leading fireman Albert Pearce who was on her maiden voyage, spent ten years in the boiler room before a stretch on the Queen Elizabeth before coming back for another 11, and said that when her boilers finally went out, his life would go out with them.

The book itself is embedded into the official Queen Mary website and with the stories also includes some wonderful photos and Pathe-type news clips. There is even a recording from Johnny Mathis and others too who helped mark the end of her golden era of travel.

Do have a look yourself, and if you know anyone who sailed on her, or have a story of someone who did, Queen Mary would be very happy to hear them so do include them in the book.

Contact Us – personal Online Book enquiry form.

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Julie PentecostA trip down memory lane with the Queen Mary