Redefining what it means to "work"

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While on our CFxChange to Montana, we visited Foundant Technologies, our grant and financial management software company. We set up a training to learn how we might best simplify our grant and scholarship procedures. Sounds boring, right? It was far from it! Foundant Technologies is a company with just over 80 employees that landed in Outside Magazine’s top 50 places to work in 2018. It didn’t take long to find out how they made the best of list. Within the first 5 seconds after walking through the door we spot jars of candy sitting on the welcome counter!

We were not only greeted with candy but puppy kisses as well! Foundant is proud of their “casual, dog friendly work atmosphere” highlighted on the Team information page on their website. From the people who appointed their office cat the Chief Philanthro-paw officer, we think Foundant takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness by highlighting the “Dogs of Foundant” above the “People of Foundant.” (Possibly because we too, agree that dogs land higher on the social hierarchy than humans.) With water bowls on the floor and people working at their desks alongside pups, it was hard not to feel at ease immediately.

 The down-to-earth atmosphere set the perfect stage for learning. There were no power dynamics at play with us, or with anyone in the company. We walked into a room with “Welcome Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes” on the whiteboard, shook hands with everyone we passed and others brought their dogs to say hello because they heard we liked pups. Heather Fust, the VP of client services, remembered us from two years ago when we met at a conference in D.C. (She still has Penny Lane’s business card!) People at Foundant are genuinely happy to be at work, and it spills over to anyone who walks in.

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Foundant isn’t just a software or tech company…they are our strategic partner. The company operates in the land of technology all the while listening and learning from clients about philanthropy. Foundant is able to expertly merge the two fields and provide more than a just a technological solution.

For example, we met with Sammie Holzwarth who is one of the Project Managers, and is also the leader of a youth philanthropy program just like our Rose’s Youth Philanthropists! Foundant partners with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation by providing funding and training for youth in the area. Even while at Foundant for our training, employees were able to educate us on best practices for scholarship follow-ups and grant review techniques. It might seem odd that our software company was teaching us how to do philanthropy.  When you take a closer look at how Foundant structures its business and more importantly hires and takes care of its employees, it all makes sense.  

In another instance we were chatting with Ben Luchsinger, our Client Success Manager, about our grant-making program. Ben told us what he had learned at a work training about mindful self-compassion. We were a little confused, how did this work training relate to his job duties? He then told us that part of the benefits of working for Foundant is that each employee receives funding for “Professional AND Personal Development.” Annually, each employee is able to tap into two budget lines for trainings: Professional - those trainings that are directly related to your work (tasks, workflow, project management), and Personal - whatever you as a person have wanted to learn or what you find interesting (yoga, meditation, guitar lessons). Foundant puts no red tape around what you use your personal training dollars for, as long as it is something of interest to you.

You can read all about the perks and benefits of working for Foundant on their website. What we found is that even more than the unlimited time off, paid vacation (yes, they’ll pay you to take vacation) and other benefits, every step of the way Foundant is telling its employees that “we care about you as an employee, but we really care about you as a person.”

We knew this training would help us bring home tips and tricks for how to make our (and our applicants’!) lives easier. What we didn’t know is that we’d also walk away with important lessons on workplace culture. What Foundant has incorporated into their office culture is not brain surgery. They’ve actively and intentionally infused kindness and compassion into every facet of the company -two simple ingredients that have a powerful impact.  

As we look forward to Gratitude Summit 2020, we realized that a lot of what we are trying to incorporate in our own workplaces were found during our visit to Foundant Technologies.  We are grateful to be their partner in philanthropy and are excited to share our experience on both the tech side and the heart side with our nonprofits.