With less money and staff than corporations, community groups and non-profits often struggle to make their websites and social media effective. To help them, Kelly O’Brien, a Fredericton-based web designer, has established BBoards.org to allow non-profits to easily post and share content.

“We want to help non-profits and social enterprises around the world find their voices and connect with each other,” said O’Brien, who has more than 20 years of technical experience in product and business development for names like U.S. Surgical Corp. and NBTel Global.

“A few years ago, I became engaged with non-profits and I realized how few tools and resources they have to deliver on their mandate compared with corporations,” he said. “It struck me as unfair and I did a mid-life pivot from the global IT marketplace to help these organizations keep up online.”

Born in Halifax, where he worked for Enercom and AT&T, O’Brien has been developing BBoards.org in collaboration with many partners and has just completed the B4 Change accelerator program for social entrepreneurs at the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick. The six-month program helps those who found a business that meets a social, economic or environmental need and turns a profit.

“B4 Change made me feel part of the growing global social enterprise movement,” he said. “They also introduced me to the idea of the Benefit Corporation (B Corp).”

A growing U.S.-based initiative, B Corp certification requires companies to meet high standards that demonstrate their commitment to social good. Acquiring B Corp certification is tough, but O’Brien went ahead, becoming New Brunswick’s first B Corp in the process.

“It took a couple of months to get B Corp certification. There were challenges, but B Corp status demonstrates that we think differently, operate differently, and are not going to change. For instance, we’re not going to clutter our customers’ boards with adverts. We even have non-profit shareholders. It helps us establish credibility among the people we want to support.”

So far, most BBoards.org clients are Canadian, although there are a few in the U.S., Mexico and Latvia.

The venture has high-profile New Brunswick business accelerators as clients, as well as some small businesses that have been attracted by the system’s ease of use and ability to share content. Pictures, videos, links and supporting documents can all be shared in one bulletin, O’Brien said. A single click allows the bulletin to be shared to social media where links direct the viewer back to the home page where there is a donation button.

“We also provide analytics; we give clients real-time feedback on the content people are engaging with,” he said. “And we allow organizations to connect and syndicate their content on each other’s boards; it’s co-operative, not competitive.”

BBoards.org’s basic cost is $19 a month, but discounts for early adopters and groups are available.

O’Brien said he is currently talking to interested First Nations communities and plans to target large umbrella organizations that often shelter thousands of smaller groups, such as Lions Clubs International.

During these years of hard development work, O’Brien has had little time to play his treasured Les Paul guitar or listen to vinyl, but things are coming together.

“We’ve had people volunteering to help us,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful and challenging experience to bootstrap this and it’s exciting to be getting to market now. We’re aiming to build a global community of change-makers.”