Bikes for the World

Monday, July 6, 2015

Featured Volunteer: Ben Slade

Nobody quite remembers what brought Ben Slade to Bikes for the World but he's been around since the very beginning. In fact, without Ben, you might not be reading this now.

Ben is our volunteer, resident computer guru. That means he handles all our technical code-laden questions that only he can decipher. When we needed to talk to YOU, our valuable supporter, he made that happen. From the moment our website went live to every panicked email or phone call since, Ben has kept us connected and floating in cyberspace since we first entered the world wide web.

Director Keith Oberg knew the key to finding and rescuing bikes from garages and sheds was communication. If you've ever passed by our table at an event and Keith was there you probably heard him bellowing, "have a bike sitting in your garage you don't use?!?"

But even his voice carries only so far. And as the internet was growing Keith saw the importance of representing BfW online. But he really had no clue how to reach donors, supporter, and volunteers through the computer outside his personal email.

Thumbing through old collection contact information, many of our collection managers didn't even have email yet. Keith spent a lot of time on the phone and amassed folders and folders of paper.

But that didn't stop Ben from putting in place a computer based system that drives our organization now. Ben set up our original website after Keith purchased the url we use today. Ben also identified the need for a CRM system to communicate with our supporters and collect donations online.

Today we share information, video, pictures...all through the tools Ben set up. Our website helps donors find a place to donate an old bike. Organizations in DC, Africa, and the Philippines all use Google when looking for a solution to an expensive transportation problem in their rural villages--and find us. Scouts are introduced to BfW when looking for potential Eagle projects. To celebrate a holiday or birthday of a cyclist, one might google 'bike non-profits' to make a donation in their honor.

Our newsletter reaches over 3,000 supporters every month. Our contact list is nearing 10,000. We communicate our successes and beneficiary stories through our newsletters, which Ben helped set up. He held Keith's hand through that initial process and helped orient him through edit panes while teaching him the importance of the SAVE button, although he often forgot to use it as much as he should.

Ben was an important part of the process in creating our current website design and function. He maintains our email accessibility and updates Joomla! regularly. When Ben teamed up with Keith he was a bachelor with time on his hands. Now he is married with three young ones running around. He is still answering our questions and putting out cyber fires for us. He may not answer our less pressing issues until after midnight, but come morning it will probably be fixed.

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