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Foundant Technologies Case Study

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.

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The Challenges

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.

The Search

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.

The Launch

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.

The Results

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.

Forums reinvented
“[Launching a brand new community], which usually takes about 5 months to get up and running was completed in just one week.“
Kara Adams
Community Manager

The Challenges

No Dedicated Space

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.

Vanilla

Foundant was lacking a place for customers to connect directly with each other and engage on a personal and professional level. Customer feedback indicated that this was something they wanted; a place to build peer-to-peer connections and share best practices. I was tasked with building and launching this new online space, and was very excited to get started.
Vanilla

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.

Pain Points

Need to Adapt

With many in-person events cancelled, Foundant had extra reason to provide a community for customers to connect virtually.

Continuing the Conversation

Foundant wanted to make sure the conversations, exchange of best practices and sharing of resources continued after in-person events.

Space for Multiple Audiences

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.

With these goals in mind, Kara began her journey to build and implement Foundant’s first community.

The Search

A Quick Pick

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.

Customizability

Customizability

“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.”

Big Personality

Big Personality

“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.”

Smooth UI and UX

Smooth UI and UX

“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.”

Scalable

Scalable

“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.“

“Since this was going to be our first ever community, we didn't want to implement all the bells-and-whistles at once,“ said Kara. “We needed a solution that would allow us to start simple, and, once we laid a solid foundation, roll-out all the tools and functions we need for long-term success.“ What Kara found appealing about Vanilla was that the range of functionality was massive—it could be made, at any time, as simple or as elaborate as the brand wanted. Ultimately, this scalability helped solidify Kara's decision to go with Vanilla, but finding out that all these bells-and-whistles came at an out-of-the-box price, was the cherry on top.

The Launch

A One Week Job

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.

The Outcomes

Exceeding Targets

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.

Vanilla We've been having a lot of success using groups to support events that have moved from in-person to virtual. Giving people the opportunity to converse in a group and network online is helpful in continuing conversations. Vanilla

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.”

Reflecting on the Foundant Journey

Foundant knew that having an online community could provide them with a solid foundation to build customer connections and increase engagement levels. But not just any online space would do; Foundant needed a community that could match the look and feel of their brand, leading them directly to Vanilla. With an anticipated launch of 5 months completed in just one week, Foundant is now seeing just how much having a community can make a difference. Do you want to have a journey similar to Foundant's? Connect with our team—we'd be glad to chat!