Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Bellstrike – Helping Small Nonprofits Build Effective Websites and Raise More Money Online


Bellstrike - Helping Small Nonprofits Build Effective Websites and Raise More Money Online

Dodd Caldwell

Bellstrike provides “instant websites for nonprofits”. With Bellstrike, nonprofits across the US can launch their own branded website and instantly begin accepting online donations in 1-2 minutes.

Dodd Caldwell, a social entrepreneur from Greenville, SC, founded Bellstrike. Dodd has worked with a number of nonprofits and private foundations and currently serves on boards of both types of organizations.

Dodd saw a growing trend of online giving that larger nonprofits were taking advantage of; however, in his own experience, he knew that most small nonprofits didn’t have the knowledge, time, or resources to take advantage of these trends. He then started studying the statistics on the sizes of charities in the US. When he discovered that 75% of the 1.2 million charities in the US had under $25,000 in revenue a year and 90% had under $250,000 in revenue a year, he knew there were likely many of organizations that needed help with websites and online fundraising. It’s Bellstrike’s goal to help small nonprofits free their time from building and maintaining a website so that they can focus on their mission.

Knowing that most small charities have little to no money budgeted towards technology, Dodd wanted to create a very low barrier to entry. Nonprofits can sign up for a Bellstrike website for free and there are no monthly charges. Whenever a visitor makes a donation on a nonprofit’s website, Bellstrike receives 9.5% with all credit card transaction fees, hosting fees, an editing platform included. If a nonprofit doesn’t raise any money online, they don’t pay anything for their website. Bellstrike uses WePay to help nonprofits accept online donations – both by credit card and bank transfer. Nonprofits set up a WePay account during the Bellstrike signup process, which generally only takes 1-2 minutes. Nonprofits only have to enter a few fields and they’re done.

One of the most unique ways that Bellstrikes helps nonprofits fundraise is through a Gift Catalog concept. Nonprofits can list all of their needs and let donors “shop” for specific donations. Nonprofits can title the need, list how much it costs, give a description, and upload a photo. They can upload needs such as child sponsorships, building materials, fuel, salaries, inkjet cartridges, etc. The Gift Catalog concept allows the nonprofit to list concrete needs, both for program expenses and for general and administrative expenses, which are usually the hardest to raise funds for. By allowing donors to see specifically what their donation is going towards, donors feel a stronger emotional connection and are generally more apt to give.

Every Bellstrike website includes the gift catalog, automatic receipts sent to donors, a blog, social media integration, hosting, credit card transactions, self serve editing, search engine optimization, e-newsletter signup, professionally designed themes, and unlimited photos, videos, files, and text. For social media integration, nonprofits can simply enter their Facebook address and Twitter name and Bellstrike does the rest. Visitors will be able to “Like” and “Follow” the nonprofit on Facebook and Twitter, respectively. Visitors can also share individual blog posts and gift catalog needs by Facebook, Twitter, and Email.

Bellstrike - Helping Small Nonprofits Build Effective Websites and Raise More Money OnlineAs a social entrepreneur trying to build a viable business, Dodd has had to make some transitions and learn new skill sets. When asked what advice he would give to other budding tech minded social entrepreneurs, Dodd had this to say, “Building a robust web application is really hard. It’s way, way different than building a static website. For any social entrepreneurs out there who are looking to solve problems using technology for the first time, keep in mind that it’s way different than just getting a website up for a friend or local business. It’ll probably cost twice as much, take twice as much time, and require you to learn twice as much as you thought.”

When asked what he thought one of the best decisions he made in the development of Bellstrike, Dodd said, “From the get-go I decided to bring on great designers. I was able to work with Rogie King of Komodo Media and Matthew Smith of Squared Eye. Impeccable design does make a difference – whether you’re a nonprofit or for-profit.”

Dodd loves to read and said that he recommended the following books to anyone interested in starting a web-based business or social enterprise:

  • Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug – for a primer on web usability
  • Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham – for general startup advice
  • Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – for advice on running a web-based business

If you’re wondering how you can help get the word out to nonprofits about Bellstrike, Dodd has these suggestions:

  • If you know someone who runs a small nonprofit, please let them know about Bellstrike as a valuable resource.
  • If you’re a web designer or developer and have individuals asking for a free nonprofit website or heavily discounted work and you’re not able to take the work on, send them over to Bellstrike where they’ll likely be able to find the solution to their needs.
  • If you’re a writer and have some great advice for small nonprofits, send us an email and we’ll see if you’re a good fit for a guest blog on the Bellstrike blog.
  • If you’re a nonprofit yourself, check out Bellstrike even if you already have a website. Bellstrike would love to have your general feedback. Also, most people who work or volunteer with a nonprofit know others who do the same. You might know someone else who could benefit from using Bellstrike.

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