Starting a software company and starting a software company focused exclusively on the philanthropic sector are not the same things. After over 14 years as a co-founder of Foundant Technologies, this is one thing I can say with confidence.
I and my co-founders all came from software and tech backgrounds, so we had a good understanding of what being a tech startup meant. But when we started Foundant, we knew almost nothing about the philanthropic community. It was this same community that was willing to support us and share their knowledge, provide honest feedback, and encourage us to keep moving forward that made Foundant what it is today.
Building and relying on community is what philanthropy is all about. So, when people ask why we started Compass, our online community for the philanthropic sector, it is easy to say we knew it would be successful and appreciated. The philanthropic sector is where helping, sharing, and collaborating are always encouraged and those traits happen to be three of our primary goals for Compass.
Compass is there for you because sometimes the best answer is not just how you use the software but also what someone else has done in addition to using our technology. We are experts in our software but the more than 2,100 Compass members are all better resources for adding context, past experience, or new ideas.
Clients are able to pose specific questions about how current best practices are brought to life within a specific piece of the software (i.e., Third-Party Reference Forms), and other clients - often having used the software for longer - will respond with specific examples. Foundant staff gets to jump in and help when it makes sense, but the knowledge-sharing really belongs to the clients who are digging in and using the software.
While it’s no surprise to us that this community is willing to jump online and help one another, it has been rewarding to watch this engagement unfold.
Compass is also an open forum to share thought leadership, growing concerns, or developing movements in philanthropic best practices. We are seeing people share their disaster response plans, Covid response ideas and results, and a host of other topics to help one another become better philanthropic partners in their communities or focus areas.
With members from all different regions, funding areas, and philanthropic organizational types, the sharing aspect is powerful. Within Compass, you can find both people like you and also people and organizations very different from you with ideas that will be unique to you and your team.
When Covid hit in March 2020, we hurried our launch of Compass in response. We knew people would need safe ways to connect and collaborate with one other and, with an official Foundant online community already in the works, it made sense for us to get it into users’ hands as quickly as possible. While none of us knew what the next month, week, or even day would entail, we knew communication would be key - and that’s what we set out to support.
Our Compass Community Manager, Kara Adams, will go into more detail about that launch and what the experience to date has taught us in a companion blog post, so I won’t steal her thunder. But from my perspective - this is the culmination of years of visioning and I am proud to see it come to life. After all, we started because of this philanthropic community, it seems fitting that we give back a community you can use to further your own.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to join Compass and become a part of the conversation.