Foundant Technologies works to make philanthropy easier and more impactful through intuitive, cloud-based solutions focused on the needs of grantmakers, grantseekers, scholarship providers, and community foundations. Foundant aims to streamline day-to-day tasks and help maximize the impact of the philanthropic community.
Foundant did not have a dedicated space for customers to engage and share best practices—they knew an online community was central to continued success.
Vanilla's ability to create highly customized spaces made them the frontrunner in Foundant's search, but Vanilla's scalability for an out-of-the-box price solidified the deal.
Foundant initially thought that the launch would take months, as most communities do, however Foundant's new community was up and running in just a week.
Foundant experienced a considerable amount of positive customer feedback early on and leveraged Vanilla's functionalities, such as Groups, to see a boost in engagement.
Foundant knew that in order to see continued success, they needed a dedicated place for their customers to connect. Senior leadership at Foundant was aware of the benefits an online community can bring to an organization, and so they hired Kara Adams as their first-ever Community Manager to lead the charge and deliver a solution.
Not only that, but they wanted to provide a space that could connect product, sales and service leaders, answering their questions and serving as a safe space for conversations.
With many in-person events cancelled, Foundant had extra reason to provide a community for customers to connect virtually.
Foundant wanted to make sure the conversations, exchange of best practices and sharing of resources continued after in-person events.
Having two different audiences within their community, it was important to be able to provide space for each without the overhead of two different platforms.
Tasked with the job of finding the perfect platform to launch Foundant's first-ever online community, Kara began her search by browsing other branded communities to see what each vendor could offer. Kara's list, which began with 10 different vendors, was quickly narrowed down to three—with Vanilla as the frontrunner.
"We took a closer look at other Vanilla communities out there, and one thing that I noticed right away was that every single one we looked at was very different," says Kara. "I found that communities hosted on other platforms had a more uniformed look, and you could tell which vendor hosted the community, but with Vanilla, each community was so unique, beautiful, and on-brand that [Vanilla] immediately became a serious contender."
Having a highly customizable community platform that enabled the brand to express its personality and values was a must-have for Kara. "Since our company is based in Montana and everything around here is very outdoorsy, our company has adopted an outdoor theme," explained Kara. "We need a platform that would allow us to carry this theme over to the community so that when our customers go there, they're not wondering whether or not it's the Foundant community."
This wasn't the only thing on Kara's must-have list. While she knew that Vanilla checked all the boxes when it came to creating a beautiful space for their customers, she needed to make sure that the platform they chose was smooth and scalable.
“The ability to design the community to match our outdoor theme, remain on brand, and meet our company needs was something that really stood out to us.”
“One of the main reasons why we chose Vanilla was because Vanilla is a lot like us at Foundant—they hold all the same values and prioritize customer success.”
“A lot of the other vendors we looked at seemed very clunky, but it was quickly apparent that Vanilla was very easy to use and just made sense.”
“Vanilla is a great long-term solution because it has all the bells-and-whistles that we need, but they can be added when we’re ready for them and after we’ve grasped the basics.“
Launching a community can be stressful, but right from the get-go, Kara knew that this launch would be smooth. "Right from the very beginning, we had around the clock support from Vanilla," explained Kara. "What usually takes organizations about 5 months to get up and running was completed in just one week."
"The amazing support we got from Vanilla really made the 1-week launch possible, which was great because I didn't want to wait months to get this up and running," laughed Kara. "This was incredible for us since people had just started to work from home [due to the global pandemic] so getting it up fast was really important."
With what seemed like an overnight launch, Kara was ready to dive into the community and lead it to success.
After the launch of the Foundant community, Kara immediately noticed they'd exceeded some of their initial targets. One of Kara's major goals was to hit 20% Active Membership within the first few months—a target that was quickly surpassed, now sitting at 26.5%.
In addition to achieving several milestones in their first year, Kara explains that "We’ve seen increased interest in Foundant products and services after introducing our community. Prospective customers have indicated they’re ready to move forward with working with us after having been given special access to preview community discussions "
Kara and her team have also been making good use of Vanilla’s new social groups function.
Finally, an unexpected benefit of Foundant’s community has been the speed at which peers are helping peers answer questions. “The average response time in our community has been 60% faster than our support tickets for the last several months.” Kara says. “Our community isn’t focused on technological support, so our community member’s eagerness to help one another has been inspiring to witness, and is a time saver for many members of our team.”