Anniversary books

What to do with an anniversary book, Part 2: Nonprofits

In my first post in this series, I focused on anniversary books for universities—why they matter for an anniversary celebration and how to use them as a complement to other anniversary projects and events. 

Nonprofit anniversaries are very different, though. Because a nonprofit relies on outside donors to fund all projects, it must strike a careful balance between showcasing the organization’s legacy and its donors, and spending too much donor money on a project that is not seen as mission-specific. When we work with nonprofits, we often start at this juncture: what kind of book will meet the needs of the celebration and honor supporters while making the best possible use of anniversary funds.

The key to achieving both is to think of an anniversary book as more than a one-time thank you gift. A book should be used in outreach and fundraising and can even be used for recruitment and mission development.

Here are some ideas:

1. Thank you gift. This is the starting place for any anniversary book. Donors give time and money and honoring their support is critical to your mission. Some nonprofits will give a book free-of-charge to all donors, while some only give to top donors—this is your choice. Remember that your book should underscore who you are and what you do and remind your donors why they support you. People donate to nonprofits because there is an emotional return-on-investment—we love feeling like we can make a difference. A book gives you an opportunity to rekindle these feelings.

2. Fundraising gift. Books make excellent gifts in fundraising campaigns. The value of a book increases dramatically when tied to a fundraising campaign, and you will earn well beyond the unit cost of the book in donations. If you plan on using your anniversary book in this way, though, it needs to be a high-quality book. A cheap book may optimize your per-unit return, but it doesn’t set you up well for the following year.

Jan Thrope’s book, InnerVisions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope, celebrates the difficult but worthwhile work happening in Cleveland, Ohio. Thrope often gives this book to area nonprofits so that they can in turn use it as a fundraising tool.

3. Outreach collateral. Books are great conversation starters. When meeting with organizations that may partner with you or support you financially, a book serves as a high-quality leave-behind. A book can tell your story in more depth than a meeting ever will and it will stick around their office longer. They may throw out your pamphlets, but they will hold onto your book.

A great example of this is the book we created for the Clinton County Foundation. The book celebrates the people and places of Clinton County and it’s given to elected officials, media, businesses, local leaders, and others. It reminds visitors and community members alike that Clinton County is more than a place, it’s a community of people with lives and histories and dreams. It’s a powerful leave-behind.

4. Talent recruitment. Finding employees who believe in your mission is crucial to building a successful organization. People are drawn to organizations where they feel like they fit in, where they are valued, where they can see themselves making a difference. A book can engage potential employees with your history and identity in a way that an application can’t.

5. Mission development. This is an extension of recruitment. When employees feel engaged with the history and successes of an organization—even those successes they weren’t around to witness or take part in—they feel more engaged with the mission. A book celebrating your organization’s legacy can help your employees feel pride in your organization’s accomplishment and fuel their drive to build on your successes.

While not an anniversary book, the book we published for Ronald McDonald House Charities was used to highlight the history and mission of the organization. It showcased in a unique coffee-table book form (the front cover opened like doors) all of the Ronald McDonald Houses around the world. It was given to each house as a display item, so that visiting supporters could see the international impact of the organization, families could feel part of something bigger, and employees could see the breadth and depth of the organization they were working for.

An anniversary book is as useful as you make it. It can languish in a warehouse to be pulled out for the occasional thank you gift, or it can become a central part of your storytelling and outreach. The former will make your book a waste of valuable donor funds, while the latter will make your book a critical part of your mission.

What to do with an anniversary book, Part 1: Universities

The question of what to do with an anniversary book is a good one—and a frequent one. We are often in the position of recommending marketing opportunities to our clients, guiding them in the use and placement of their books, and advising on print-run size. This is the first part in a series of posts discussing what, exactly, you can do with an anniversary book. This first installment focuses on anniversary books for schools, colleges, or universities. There are dozens of popular options at your disposal—anniversary alumni dinners and events, capital campaigns, concert and lecture series, limited edition apparel, anniversary logos, and so on. A well-orchestrated anniversary year ties each event and product together, weaving an anniversary story throughout, so that you aren’t simply planning and executing stand-alone projects and events.

A book, should you choose to produce one, is best used as the core and compliment to everything else you do in your anniversary year.

How does this work?

Some examples:

Celebratory dinners for prominent alumni, donors, and board members: The University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is celebrating its 125th anniversary with an exclusive anniversary dinner. They are using their anniversary book as a gift to attendees. A book “unveiling” or official presentation is also appropriate for these occasions.

Anniversary year fundraising and/or capital campaigns: A limited edition coffee-table book can be used as a gift for varying donation levels. The value of a book as a fundraising gift is inflated by its quality and context.

Internal branding: While universities differ significantly from corporations, universities can learn a lot about internal branding from CEOs. Dick Farmer, retired CEO of Cintas, didn’t sell a single book when he worked with Orange Frazer to produce a book of his company’s history. Instead, he gave them as gifts to his employees. Engaging your school’s employees with the “story” of the institution strengthens internal branding initiatives and empowers staff and faculty to be brand advocates.

Admission tools: We created a custom book celebrating the University of Dayton’s recent basketball tournament success. This book can easily be used as a recruiting tool for the school and for the athletics program. Connecting potential students with the personality and history of a team or institution is the first step in making them feel at home.

Alumni engagement: Engaging alumni is critical to building and sustaining an endowment or scholarship fund. An anniversary book is an opportunity to reengage alumni in the legacy of your institution. Nostalgia is a powerful promotional tool.

Community outreach and business development: Several years ago, we created a book of photography for the Clinton County Foundation, celebrating our home community of Clinton County. Community leaders give the book to visiting speakers and businesses, provide copies to our representative politicians for display in their offices, and give copies to all prominent businesses in the community. Like a county government, a school is constantly in conversation with its community, and many of today’s schools are seeking out creative partnerships with area businesses and nonprofits to bolster hands-on learning opportunities. A book is an introduction and a relationship builder with community members.

And, of course, you can always sell the book in your on-campus bookstore. This should never be the driving goal of a project, but it should also not be overlooked as a potential return-on-investment.

Your anniversary year is an opportunity to bring awareness to institutional goals, and begins a year-long conversation with donors, alumni, students, and faculty. It is one of the best ways to streamline and strengthen a variety of projects and campaigns into a distinct and memorable vision.

When to start planning for company anniversary books

Publishing company anniversary books is a great way to visualize your history while celebrating and pushing forward into your future. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, community nonprofit, foundation, or university, your anniversary is an opportunity to strengthen your brand and reputation while telling your story for the world to hear. Put simply, a book is a tactile—and memorable—invitation to potential clients, associates, donors, and students to learn more about you.

However, for institutions unfamiliar with the book publishing process (and its time constraints), an anniversary book can quickly become an impossible goal.

If you are considering publishing an anniversary book for your institution, consider these factors in your timeline:

When is your official anniversary celebration? We like to work backwards from here. While you may not have a specific anniversary date, knowing which month in your anniversary year will be dedicated to the book release (or general anniversary hoopla) is critical. Say your anniversary is in 2015, and you’ve decided to throw a gala in November. This is the end of your timeline.

Is your book hardcover or softcover, full color or black and white? These are the most important factors in the production timeline, as they involve printing. This is the one part of the process your publisher can’t speed up, no matter how rushed you are to have a final product. Printing time varies drastically by type of book. If you want a hardcover, full-color book, a publisher will need to allow at least three months at the printer. Going with our previous example, this would mean we need the book to be completely finalized by August 1.

How much do you need your publisher to do? Every project is different. Some clients hand us a shoebox of photos, ask us to hire a writer and photographer, and give us the shipping address for the final product. Other clients have already dedicated time to curating narratives and historical photos, photographing important people and leaders, and editing and proofreading copy. If you don’t have someone to do the writing and photography (and organization of historical materials) in-house, then make sure you allow your publisher at least six months to do this for you. Continuing our example, this means the publisher would need to have all materials by February 1.

To be done well, books take time. Using the example we've created, this book would require about one full year to produce--and this doesn't factor in the time it takes a steering committee, board, or leadership team to convene, decide on a book project, and choose a publisher. Make sure that if you are planning on publishing a book for your anniversary, that you take these factors into consideration ahead of time, so that your book project is smooth for both you and your publisher.

Releasing the Book for the Bicentennial: Revealed: Columbus

Yesterday, Orange Frazer had the opportunity to attend the media party celebrating the conclusion of Columbus’ Bicentennial Year.  Experience Columbus had commissioned Orange Frazer's book publishing services for the creation of a one-of-a-kind photographic odyssey of the year 2012, and we were honored to release the book, Revealed: Columbus, The Story of Us, on the final day of Columbus’ 200th year. The book, a 200-page coffee-table edition, celebrates the vision, innovation, creativity, and world-class leadership of the Columbus community. Jamie Greene, editor for Revealed: Columbus and program manager for 200Columbus, put it succinctly: “This book should be on the coffee table of every Columbus home and business.”

The year 2012 was filled with celebrations as Columbus reflected on its history and pushed forward into its next 200 years, doing so with all of the fanfare of a great Midwestern city.



Our production lead Sarah with lead photographer for Revealed: Columbus, Megan Leigh Barnard.

You can order your copy of Revealed: Columbus here!

Ring in the New Year With a Writing Resolution: Tell Your Story

At Orange Frazer, we believe that good stories abound. We have worked with grandfathers, CEO’s, surgeons, teachers, chefs, and daughters. We have told sports histories, highlighted success stories, photographed communities, celebrated anniversaries, and commemorated legacies. We know that the inherent value of a story lies in its telling, that with each telling a story gains new life and purpose. We know that the power of a person’s life and passion should be passed on, preserved, and reinvigorated for successive generations. img202

Jane Murray Heimlich


And it is at this time of year that we reflect on these stories—where we’ve been and the books we’ve seen unfold (and sold!)—and when we push ourselves to look forward with confidence and excitement to the stories that will come our way. Each new project is an opportunity to become an expert in a new field or a confidante of a new story. We are the collectors of facts and histories, memories and aged photographs. We have turned shoeboxes of keepsakes into gorgeous coffee-table books, musings into poignant memoirs. We know the art of shaping thoughts into stories and visions into designs, and we look forward to each new opportunity to stretch our creative muscles.

We know what we are doing for our new year, but what are you doing with yours? Do you have dreams of writing a children’s book? Is your business approaching a milestone or anniversary? Do you have collections of photos or a family history that needs preserving? Perhaps it’s time to pursue that inkling of a story that has been sitting in the back of your mind (or perhaps on the tip of your tongue) for years. Make a promise to yourself in this new year to tell your story, because Orange Frazer is listening.

Find out more about how to make your dream of publishing a reality here. Also, be on the lookout for Orange Frazer in your city, as the “Tell Your Story” tour will begin this month in Wilmington, Ohio (and will move to Cincinnati soon!). We will be visiting retirement communities, non-profits, and community centers to talk about writing as storytelling, healing, celebrating, and connecting. We will be documenting the campaign on our blog and on Twitter with the hashtag #tellyourstory.