March 11, 2011

‘Loveland 365’ shows love for nonprofits

“Loveland 365” puts the love in Loveland, but will it be enough? There’s less than a month left for the project to make its goals to benefit local nonprofits.

“Loveland 365” is a hard-bound, high-end coffee-table book showcasing 365 pages of unique and interesting aspects of the Sweetheart City. All profits from the sale of each book will go toward a Loveland nonprofit group of the buyer’s choice.

Buyers may select their favorite charity or organization on the “Loveland 365” website, www.Loveland365.com, where the book is sold for $44.95. If 3,500 “Loveland 365” books are sold, selected charities stand to make up to $20 per book.

However, by the end of February, only 500 copies had been sold. The break-even point after printing costs is 1,000 books; to meet the project goal to donate $70,000 to participating nonprofits, the book must sell 3,500 copies by April 1.

“Loveland 365” is John Giroux’s brainchild. The owner of Family Mortgage Co. organized a group of community members and business owners from the Loveland Chamber of Commerce to help him conceptualize the book, business model and marketing strategy.

“I moved to Loveland about eight years ago and very much enjoy the benefits of living here, the beauty and the people,” Giroux said. “Loveland is kind of a special place. I’m blessed to have a good family and be living in a healthy, safe environment. It reminds me of my childhood, when once was all right in America. I got nostalgic.”

Rather than raising the capital for the book’s production upfront, the community group, which is not a formal entity or nonprofit organization, is selling the concept of the book. Buyers are promised a 9-by-12-inch, high-quality, beautifully bound book, an heirloom piece for posterity, a timeless time capsule for their families.

Presales tough

Still, prospective buyers of “Loveland 365” can’t see it or touch it. The book exists only in the imaginations of the volunteers doing the writing, editing, designing and photographing. Even on the Internet, there are photographs and product reviews on which to base purchasing decisions.

“It’s been difficult to sell something that doesn’t exist,” Giroux said. “People are having a difficult time with that. It’s been a challenge.”

The presale business model can be a tough one.

“We didn’t necessarily anticipate that people would be as hesitant as they’ve been in some cases,´ said Brad Shannon, principal of Shannon Marketing Communications. “The presale business model is one of the things we’re still trying to figure out. A lot of people want to see and handle the book before investing in it. We weren’t really in a position to front the money to make the books, so we took this presale model to make it work a little better for us.”

While the presale model has met some resistance, there has also been a nonprofit learning curve. Though local nonprofits stand to benefit the most from the sale, and sales and marketing tools have been provided free-of-charge, few of the nonprofits have marketed the books as expected.

“Nonprofits have loved the idea,” Giroux said. “It’s an original marketing plan to get nonprofits to market the book, because they would benefit from the sales. However, not knowing anything about the nonprofit world, I now realize they’re all overworked and underpaid and we’re throwing another fundraiser on their plate.”

Bente James, assistant director of House of Neighborly Service, one of the nonprofits that stands to make the most from “Loveland 365,” admits that she didn’t really understand the project at first.

“You know, at first I think it didn’t really register what this project really was,” James said. “Then I thought, ‘Oh, let’s get on board with this.’ I would’ve loved to be out of the gate last year at summertime – we have our big events in the summertime with a lot of people – but we didn’t really catch on until November.”

Once they understood the project’s model, House of Neighborly Service put a link to “Loveland 365” on its website, sent out information in newsletters and asked donors and volunteers to spread the word.

Alternatives to Violence has also put the “Loveland 365” project on its website and will be promoting the project at the upcoming Pastels on Fifth Street fundraiser.

Every penny that Alternatives to Violence makes from the “Loveland 365” project will go toward the building of a safehouse for battered women in Loveland. When complete, the project will be the only safehouse in Colorado built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

“I honestly don’t know how much money we’ll make, but having our name out there associated with the project is great,´ said Lynda Nielsen, executive director of Alternatives to Violence.

Final push

As the final sales push revs up, the volunteer crew is making final decisions about which photos get included and editing the final copy.

The biggest feature of “Loveland 365” are photographs taken between Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010. Each day Giroux, or one of the other photographers on the project, took a picture of something interesting happening around town.

Each page also features a photograph of each day’s the sunrise by Giroux.

“The tagline is ‘365 People, Places and Things That Make Loveland a Sweetheart City,’´ said Bob McDonnell of BobsHeartBeats.com, a writer and editor on the project. “Some of them are people and places that you would know, that are iconic. But some are less known, like an ice fisherman. We took his picture and interviewed him. We did take photos of the famous sculptures, buildings, monuments, people, organizations, the Veterans Day Parade, the hanging of the hearts and Hearts and Horses. We wanted to make it a real mix.”

The Loveland 365 project may be entering its final phase, but Giroux’s new project, “365 Sweethearts of Loveland,” is just blooming.

Giroux and his group are thinking about a daily calendar for 2012 featuring an outstanding Loveland woman on each page. All profits will go toward breast cancer services or breast cancer research in Loveland. The calendar will be available for delivery in November, for the important Christmas sales.

Nominations for Loveland Sweethearts are being accepted at Loveland365.com, with any Loveland woman who has donated her time, talent or treasure toward good causes in Loveland eligible.

“Loveland 365” puts the love in Loveland, but will it be enough? There’s less than a month left for the project to make its goals to benefit local nonprofits.

“Loveland 365” is a hard-bound, high-end coffee-table book showcasing 365 pages of unique and interesting aspects of the Sweetheart City. All profits from the sale of each book will go toward a Loveland nonprofit group of the buyer’s choice.

Buyers may select their favorite charity or organization on the “Loveland 365” website, www.Loveland365.com, where the book is sold for $44.95. If 3,500 “Loveland 365” books are sold, selected…

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