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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.

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Tim COur Story – How We Became The Online Book Company

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

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

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

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Tim CHow Online Books Helped Extend the Season Of Goodwill

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.

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Tim CFears of GDPR

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
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Tim CMaking a Move for the Royal Signals Memorial Book

Waterloo 200 Schools

Westminster-Abbey-steps

 Here, we see pupils and teachers acting as representatives for the some 200 schools, from throughout the country who were invited to attend the 200th anniversary service that took place at St Paul’s Cathedral last week. The feedback from The Waterloo 200 schools who have been interacting with the Online Book we created for the event has been terrific. The students have really done an outstanding job of researching the Waterloo soldiers and artifacts, with some fascinating write ups being uploaded!

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Bethany HibbsWaterloo 200 Schools

Marking the bicentenary of The Battle of Waterloo, with Waterloo Teeth!

Today marks the bicentenary of The Battle of Waterloo, but with so many fascinating stories to pick up on, deciding what we wanted to share on our blog was indeed, a challenge. We decided however, to mark the occasion with a look at ‘Waterloo Teeth’.

Kindly shared with us by Zac Fine of ‘Fine Content’, and published in The Sutton Guardian, our attention is drawn to an ancestor of ‘George Thomas Keppel’, Dr Tom Keppel, a Surrey based dentist, who is using the bicentenary of the battle to remind people how fortunate they are to live free from toothache.

Dr Keppel told Zac, “200 years ago most people lost many teeth and experienced agony in the mouth throughout their lives” adding, “Waterloo flooded the dentures market with ‘Waterloo Teeth’- good front teeth ripped from young soldiers killed in the battle”.

Similarly it was great to see the BBC feature ‘Waterloo Teeth’ on their news site:

‘The prospect of thousands of British, French and Prussian teeth – sitting in the mouths of recently-killed soldiers on the battlefield at Waterloo – was an attractive one for looters.The teeth would have been pulled out with pliers by surviving troops and locals.’

I think we are all very grateful for dental technology and practice having come so far over the last 200 years, but how fascinating to see how the advanced technologies we now utilize, developed and tie in with the narratives of historic events such as The Battle of Waterloo.

To read the full article from Fine Content please visit: Fine Content Article

Waterloo Teeth BBC article : BBC News Article

 Find out if any of your ancestors fought in the battle: Waterloo Descendants BookWaterloo 200 Bicentenary

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Bethany HibbsMarking the bicentenary of The Battle of Waterloo, with Waterloo Teeth!

The Day The Online Book Company ‘Made a Mint’ …. To give away at the National Funeral Exhibition

 Today saw the delivery of some minty treats, to The Online Book Company Office, they really do look mint!

Beth (being ever so entrepreneurial), suggested that we should follow in the footsteps of the man who invented the Polo, (who made a mint) and sell them on!

But Julie, sensing a real ‘predicamint’ arising, said that we had a responsibility to spread minty fresh breath among all those who visit The Online Book Company at the National Funeral Exhibition. Harry said ‘Bah Humbug’ (just like the sheep who hated mints) but knew deep down that the mints would be a lovely thing to give to all those who come to see us, in Hall 1 stand 100 between the 12th and the 14th of June.

mints2mints

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Bethany HibbsThe Day The Online Book Company ‘Made a Mint’ …. To give away at the National Funeral Exhibition

‘ellenor’ and their Online Memory Book

Here at The Online Book Company we’ve created a new, innovative online memory book for the hospice charity ‘ellenor’.

The charity provides care and support for families facing terminal illness in Kent, and is unique in looking after patients of all ages and their families. Inspired by the moving stories frequently shared with staff, the hospice decided to create a more permanent place for memories to be shared.

The book allows families to share precious moments and commemorate the lives of their loved ones – allowing them to do more than include a name in a physical book.The book is a reflection of the ellenor ethos – where care extends far beyond the realm of nursing – and believe it will strengthen links with ellenor’s patient and family support team.

It was an inspiring experience working with staff at ellenor. We’re delighted staff are happy with the results and it’s great to see the first stories appearing in the memorial book!

The link to the book is: ellenor Online Memory Book and feel free to have a read about some of the fantastic work they do.

ellenor.x

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Bethany Hibbs‘ellenor’ and their Online Memory Book

Commemorating a Very Special 200th Anniversary…The Battle of Waterloo

You may..or may not be aware that we are fast approaching the 200th anniversary of ‘The Battle of Waterloo‘!

2015 rather importantly,marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and in recognition of such, the ‘Waterloo 200 Project’ has evolved. Waterloo 200, is dedicated, with its partners the National Army Museum and Culture 24, to ‘commemorating’ the vital event and showing just how relevant Waterloo remains today.

The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo provides a unique opportunity to remember the historical significance of this event and how it acted as a catalyst for change. Given the extensive structures which now exist within the European Union, the profound habit of cooperation and pooling of sovereignty to defend and promote European values and common interests, the commemorative themes of multi-national cooperation,  integration and of pan-European security and stability are relevant and timely.

Hence there was a need to commemorate, but to also celebrate the important Historical intricacies of the battle and all those who fought to bring to an end to 23 years of war, and that’s where we came in!

waterloowaterloo2

The Waterloo 200 Descendants book provides a space, within which some truly remarkable stories can be and have been shared. All too often, documents and stories are ‘locked’ away, spread across the archives of vast museums even, or simply just untapped in some by-gone memory or family relic. The descendants book we have created provides a real opportunity to unearth never before told stories, to present them in our bespoke online book, and to preserve them for future generations in a way that is open, accessible and dare I say interesting!

We were fortunate enough to have ‘The Western Morning News’ pop by so we could share with them some tales of the exciting things we get up to and hence wanted to share the article they so kindly put together.

Western Morning News Article

If you would like to take a peak at, or even add your stories to our Waterloo 200 Descendants book please follow the link below!

http://www.nam.ac.uk/waterloo200/about/

Speak soon and thank you for reading the Blog! Beth (The newest and youngest member of the team!) x

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Bethany HibbsCommemorating a Very Special 200th Anniversary…The Battle of Waterloo