Inside Foundant – the Blog

Foundant Summit: A Client Perspective

As you are probably aware by now, plans for Foundant Summit 2015 are well under way. However, if you haven’t attended one of our Summit events in the past, you may not be aware of the less obvious benefits they can provide. Of course, the opportunity to train in the GLM system with your CSM or ask questions and provide feedback to our development team are invaluable, but what you may not have considered is how being with other Foundant clients – GLM users just like you – and working closely with one another as you work in your systems might afford benefits that long outlast the days spent at Summit.

We have been lucky enough to have several clients share their Summit experiences with us.

Lindsey Sauer, The Russell Family Foundation (with Kristen Cullen, HRK Foundation): 

Kristen Cullen with Chris Dahl and Linsey Sauer

Kristen Cullen (left) with Chris Dahl (Foundant VP of Development) and Linsey Sauer at GMN

As a grants manager, I often go to GMN and jumped at the chance to attend the initial Foundant Summit in 2012. While there, I met several individuals that I have stayed connected with either through e-mail or continued conversations at other conferences and events.

In fact, continuing relationships is what got me to Foundant Summit 2013. Like many others in this field, I have a defined budget for professional development opportunities, and Summit 2013 was just a bit outside what I could fit in that budget. While attending GMN, I re-connected with a colleague, Kristen Cullen, whom I had previously met at Foundant Summit 2012 and we reminisced about Montana and all of the lessons learned when being in a group created solely of Foundant users. This, combined with the Foundant sponsored dinner with the always hysterical Daren and Chris combo, had me wishing I could make it to South Carolina. Fast forward a few weeks, Kristen and I had continued to connect over e-mail and we decided to split the hotel fee by sharing a room – a plan that allowed me to attend Summit 2013!


Kristen Cullen, HRK Foundation (with Stephanie Fuerstner Gillis, Arabella Advisors):

Kristen and Stephanie at the 2014 Exponent Philanthropy National Conference

Kristen (left) and Stephanie at the 2014 Exponent Philanthropy National Conference

Stephanie Fuerstner Gillis and I met on the Foundant Online Client Community a few years ago when we were getting ready to attend the first Foundant Summit in the fall of 2012. We were both coming from two different directions, she was arriving from San Francisco and I was arriving from Minneapolis, and we were arranging to share ground transportation from Bozeman to Big Sky.

We had a van full of Foundant clients and a very informative driver, who gave us the history of the Gallatin Valley on our hour ride down. By the time we arrived, not only had we learned a great deal of history about the area, but Stephanie and I realized both our families hailed from Alsace, Switzerland and perhaps we were distantly related. That solidified the connection and we enjoyed a great weekend learning all about GLM and meeting new people.

After the Summit, we kept in touch by email. This past fall we reconnected like old friends at the Exponent Philanthropy Conference in Washington DC, and we’re anticipating another reunion at the 2015 Summit in Arizona. These connections are what make Foundant such a special community and a big reason I’m looking forward to attending another Summit.

Julie LaLuzerne/Paula McCarty, Raibrook Foundation:

The opportunity to attend the 2013 Foundant Summit in South Carolina was a welcome trip for two women from Wisconsin. Brrrrrr! Paula and I were fortunate that our Board of Directors approved both of us for travel and training. Paula was new to the system as she was hired earlier that same month, but had familiarity with Foundant since she helped our foundation transfer its legacy files to the active/online system. Ground floor training gave her a leg up to mastering the benefits of Foundant’s customizable grant management system. As a seasoned veteran of Foundant GLM, I was able to grasp and incorporate the new enhancements to the system, but individual attention was always available when needed.

In the opening Welcome Reception in South Carolina – amid seafood, hors d’oevres and napkins – we met Diana Maxwell, Associate Manager of Grants for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her national trust and our private foundation experiences were oddly familiar. We soon found ourselves sitting next to each other in seminars and joining each other for meals. We even “took pity” on her and gave her a ride on a rainy day – all two blocks! We said our good byes and vowed to stay in touch.

Fast forward to late October, 2014. When we found out that the Exponent Philanthropy National Conference was in Washington DC, we immediately contacted Diana who is based in DC. Tickled that we would see each other again, she arranged breakfast together and then a tour of her offices. The opportunity to see Foundant in action at another organization was priceless. We were able to ask questions and see first-hand solutions. We discovered additional ways to use Foundant and passed on a few tips of our own. As an aside, I identified a photo on the Historic Preservation’s project wall, in Diana’s office, as our own local city’s steel bridge that the National Trust for Historic Preservation aided in saving! It’s a small world, after all.

Diana, Julie, and Paula

(LtoR) Diana Maxwell, Julie LaLuzerne, and Paula McCarty

Diana Maxwell, National Trust for Historic Preservation:

When I attended the 2013 Foundant Summit, I had only been working with Foundant for about seven weeks. There were a lot of things to learn, but there were also a fair amount of sessions that were a bit beyond what I was ready for. Luckily, in addition to all the great knowledge and skills shared, Summit was also a great way to meet other users! I kept seeing Julie and Paula from the Raibrook Foundation in sessions, or at meals, so we introduced ourselves and shared a bit about our work. They knew they’d be in Washington, DC, where I live, this October for the Exponent Philanthropy Conference, so we made tentative plans to meet up while they were here.

Months passed, and one summer day I got an email from Julie – a few emails and calls later, I helped with some DC tourist ideas and we set our meet up time. We met up for breakfast and had a good time discussing our similarities, particularly in working with grant applicants and grantees. I showed them around my office and we looked together at my organization’s Foundant Portal and exchanged some tips we’d found that worked well, like how we’re using the easier mail merge feature to create cover sheets for our Finance Department when we pay out grants.

It was so nice to meet Julie and Paula at the Foundant Summit, and to see them again at home in DC. I saw them at two very different points in my Foundant life – the first time I only vaguely knew what I was doing; now I’m an old pro! Both times it was a great opportunity to talk about the challenges we face in our roles as foundation grant managers, which are surprisingly similar, and ways we’ve found to overcome or at least make those challenges a bit easier. I look forward to continuing our friendship at future Foundant Summits, and will be sure to give Julie and Paula a call the next time I’m in Wisconsin!