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.