Inside Foundant – the Blog

Learning About Education Foundations in Philly


In early May I had the opportunity to go to Philadelphia and attend the National School Foundation Association (NSFA) National Conference as an exhibitor and sponsor. We decided to attend this conference to learn more about a new market segment for Foundant. Education foundations from all over the United States attended to network with peers and learn how to become stronger foundations, giving more back to their schools. There were also a surprising number of attendees that were starting new education foundations from scratch.

Over two days of the conference I visited with many attendees and got to learn a lot about Education Foundations. Like all of our clients, they are made up of tremendous people working hard to give back to the schools in their communities. Without their help, the students of these schools would miss out on some great education programs that the foundations fund. When compared to our average client, they are small in both staff and budget, spending the majority of their time and effort on fundraising and building relationships in the community. Every kind of fundraising event – from galas and coupon books, to golf tournaments – help them raise money to support their budget and provide funds for grants and scholarships. Most of the attendees that I spoke with do not use an online grants management system. The most common reason for this was budget. With a staff of only one or two managing a grants cycle and 10 or so scholarships, the need for GLM by these foundations is great. We had fantastic discussions on how to get creative in finding a way to fund GLM. Many of our smaller clients have overcome this obstacle by working with donors or other foundations to pay for the software. I look forward to working with the NSFA and their member foundations to overcome this challenge. Foundant believes strongly in the work that the education foundations are doing and want to do everything we can to help them become more efficient and effective.

After the conference was over on Friday afternoon I stayed in Philadelphia for another day so I could explore the city. I had never been to Philly and definitely was not disappointed. The history of that great city is just amazing to me…. remember that, in Montana, our history only goes back to the early 1800’s, and our historical buildings only date back to the mid 1800’s. I toured Independence Hall, which construction was completed on in 1753 – this tour is a must if you are visiting Philly. I also went to Christ Church, which was the first parish of the Church of England, founded in 1695. I just can’t get over how elaborate the architecture is on these buildings, how they were built without our modern tools is a testament to the craftsmen of the time. The Christ Church Burial Ground, located not far from the church, was very cool. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried there, including Benjamin Franklin. At the start of the conference we were taken on a bus tour of Philly, which was great to see a lot of the city in short amount of time, but if you have time make sure to take a walking tour of Old City Philadelphia. My self-guided walking tour was great, but I’d definitely pay for a walking tour next time. Of course, no trip to Philly is complete without running up the Rocky steps.