Brad Lindsay – Co-founder of Benefacting

[quote style=”boxed”]Don’t try and do everything on your own. Get advice from people who are knowledgeable on areas you are not. Hire people to take care of things that are not your core competency.[/quote]

Brad Lindsay moved to Durham in 2004 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer science and theology from Wheaton College. He is a Certified Lasso Developer and works as a programmer and analyst for the North Carolina Hospital Association. Previously, he has also worked as a Mac specialist and a help desk analyst. Brad strongly believes in helping his community by assisting the poor, seeking justice for the oppressed, healing the sick and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

As part of that, Brad teamed up with fellow computer coder, Trevor Little, last year and developed Benefacting, a nonprofit in itself, is a marketplace where people can donate their goods and services in exchange for cash donations to their favorite charities.

Here’s how it works: Transactions, called “Benefactions,” involve two people and a charity. The first person posts details on of a service or good he or she is willing to perform or give in exchange for a donation to a charity. A second person, a potential buyer, contacts them through to express his or her interest in the good or service. The two people set up the specific details and the buyer makes a secure donation through PayPal directly to the charity. Both people can see when the donation is made so that all are confident the money reaches the specified charity. It’s a model where everyone wins: the Seller gives back, the Buyer receives what he or she is looking for, and the charity receives the funds.

What are you working on right now?

Benefacting! There’s always more we want to add and improve on the site. As part of our ongoing improvements, for example, we just launched a group page functionality on that allows organizations such as sororities and fraternities, church groups, university clubs, high school groups, businesses and professional organizations to join together to give back. It allows these groups to use Benefacting to raise money collectively, by allowing each member to volunteer goods or services based on their own individual skills, resources and schedules. The hub pages track all the members’ efforts, the total raised by the group to date and more. The group page can be used for a short-term giving campaign or as a long-term way for members to raise money or volunteer on an ongoing basis.

Where did the idea for Benefacting come from?

I met my co-founder, Trevor Little, through our church in a morning bible study and discovered we were both web developers by trade. From there, we began bringing together our families and meeting to play around with website coding in our free time. Trevor and I often discussed finding a way that we could make a positive impact in society and one day Trevor came to me with the idea of using our skills as web developers to create a website where people could use their talents, skills, resources and hobbies to ultimately help those in need. I loved how innovative the idea was and immediately jumped on board to begin developing the site.

Our goal for creating Benefacting was to make the volunteer process easier and more customizable for individuals to give back. Rather than volunteering for activities that may not align with an individual’s skills or schedule, the website helps people support charities by doing things they want to do, when they want to do them. It also lets cash-strapped individuals find a way to support a cause they care about by leveraging their skills.

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day includes some combination of the following: 1) Meeting with people about new features or projects that they would like implemented. 2) Working on designing mockups for those features or projects. 3) Writing code to implement those features or projects. 4) Meeting with other programmers to discuss the projects we’re working on and any tips or tricks we’ve learned along the way. I also have another job and a family that keep me busy!

How do you bring ideas to life?

When I’m building a new web application, or adding new features, it all starts with understanding what the need is, what the person who will be using the application wants to accomplish. From there I create mockups of how I think it should work. I get feedback from the stakeholders and iterate the design of the mockup until I have something that works. I then work on writing the code that implements the new feature.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Working from home! I love the flexibility of it as well as how productive I can be at home.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

To help pay for college, I would work nights stocking the shelves at a local grocery store during the summer. Honestly, it wasn’t a bad job, but I learned it didn’t take much to stand out from your peers: all you need is to do your work with a good attitude and be willing to help others in their work.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Don’t try and do everything on your own. Get advice from people who are knowledgeable on areas you are not. Hire people to take care of things that are not your core competency. For example, we hired lawyers to help us file for 501(c)3 status. In fact they’re still dealing with the IRS on our behalf right now, and that’s time and energy that we can spend doing what we’re good at instead.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it? is my first venture, and I’m not sure there’s been anything I’d classify as a failure. There have been roadblocks that we’ve worked to overcome or go around (some that we’re still working through), but those things help you learn and improve.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Don’t make something you think other people want or need, but make something that you want or need. One of the reasons I jumped on Benefacting was that it was a service I wanted to use.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

1.) W3Schools HTML & JavaScript reference
2.) SitePoint CSS reference
3.) RailsGuides – Ruby on Rails examples

What I love about these resources is that they’re well designed. It’s easy to find the information I’m looking for and they have relevant examples.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s the best fiction book I’ve ever read and I highly recommend leisure reading.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

This weekend. I came across a funny anecdote while reading through Rachel Held Evan’s book A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

Why do you love to do what you do?

I love solving problems and helping people. I also love playing with new technology. It’s great that with Benefacting I get to use technology to help people with their needs and goals.

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Benefacting on Twitter: @benefacting