Fundraising with Bob Books – Interview with Andrew Stewart

Marianne Stenger
5th June 2018

If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a book filled with images is even more powerful still. Suffolk-based designer, storyteller and strategist Andrew Stewart recently found this to be true when he used Bob Books as a part of his targeted charity fundraiser.

“As a designer, I’m very caused-based, and I’m now in the fortunate position to select causes that I wish to partner with,” says Stewart. “I’ve worked with a number of charities, including the British Heart Foundation, faith-based charities at home and abroad and more recently, The Mix, a Youth-based charity located in Suffolk – my home county.”

The book that was designed for The Mix’s fundraiser helped to raise more than £10,000.00 and received impressive feedback. Stewart points out that because most of us are so overloaded and bombarded with information in this digital world, creating an “analogue” piece with a personally tailored message can provide a break from digital and help campaigns and fundraisers stand out.

Given the positive response to his charity fundraiser, we asked him to share a bit about the books he designed and printed with Bob Books, as well as offer a few tips for other designers looking to use photo books for their upcoming campaigns or fundraisers.

Where did you get the idea for designing a book as part of a fundraiser?

I’m passionate about books. I always start my projects by mining deeply into a subject to discover a new narrative and sometimes a different story altogether. That’s what I did with The Mix.

Sometimes, in order to go forwards, it pays to go backwards. Digital platforms are stacked and overflowing, so how do you get stand out against the noise? One way is to go analogue. Create something physical that you can hold and experience; maybe something beautiful and memorable. Be clear on the call to action and make it deadly personal.

What has the reaction to these books been like?

The first three packs deployed helped to raise over £10,000.00. The feedback we got has proven that it pays to do things differently, thoughtfully and personally. We presented a simple, portable and memorable message: ‘A personal invitation to help young people’. Recipients connected with the authenticity, loved the overall look and were compelled to review it and engage with it.

The packs instantly went into the ‘read’ pile, have been kept and remain a point of reference. They remind people about who The Mix are, what they do, where and most importantly – why. We’re now working on a light but powerful new story piece, which will be available this summer.

Do you have any tips for someone looking to design a book like this?

Books can be perceived to be expensive, old fashioned and clumsy things that few people read or care about in this transitory world we live in. Whilst this may be true to some extent, books are also an exceptional way of answering some of the most complex questions we face.

A book can be a point of ready reference that states, without ambiguity, things like values, behaviours, propositions and promises – as well as graphic standards and application guides. Books can capture stories, cases, tactics, and future-state ambitions. The stories that books contain can be picked up and transported to other platforms – like storyboards for a promotional film, or forming a ‘mediating’ point of reference in a difficult HR meeting.

Of course, stories, in all their forms, have to be carefully curated if they are to be read. Sometimes they’ll shock or amuse, and other times they’ll inform, enlighten or just entertain.

If you want to create a book with a powerful message, consider the ‘why?’ behind the story.

Think about the relevance, meaning and hoped-for response. In a time of diminished attention spans, you need to be clear on the message and super-fast with the call to action.

In some cases, a book can be worked into a strategic plan that includes digital, a short video promotion, and maybe an e-book.  Whatever you do, be sure you understand the message before determining and committing to a medium. It might involve collaborating with writers, editors, designers, photographers, illustrators, print partners like Bob Books or even your mum.

Consider what’s required and then think about how you can prepare a landscape that supports the project’s ambitions. And always remember what your end-game is. It might be to raise funds for a charity or it might be to raise awareness of a particular cause. It’s not about awards or accolades; it’s about discipline, hard work, commitment and passion – to do the very best you can.


To find out more about The Mix, visit their website here.