We recently had the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Angela Moloney, President & CEO and Christina Shabo, Project Director, both of the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to hear about their Foundant journey to date. A recap of our conversation is below, edited for clarity.
Angela Moloney, President & CEO - Catholic Foundation of Michigan
Christina Shabo, Project Director - Catholic Foundation of Michigan
Can you tell me how you chose Foundant?
Angela: When the Catholic Foundation of Michigan started our search for fund management and constituent management, I assumed we would land, like other nonprofits, with another common system. Much to my surprise, I had a wonderful volunteer who helped our Foundation research the best software. They said “Hey, have you heard of this company? I found it out in Montana; you should check it out.” And what do you know!
It was helpful to have done the exploration and know the pros and the cons of the various programs out there. After a conversation and getting an understanding of the tools that were offered, it was a no brainer for us to move to Foundant.
One beauty was that we were a brand-new organization, so we didn't have to do any importing. So, I can't speak to any of that. What I can speak to is that the quality of service has been outstanding and the value we're getting has been remarkable. When other Catholic foundation colleagues around the country hear we have fund management, scholarship management and grants management all in one platform, they're blown away. And I am very appreciative that there has been a willingness to learn, understand and grow with us as an organization at Foundant.
Thinking of the challenges that you were facing before you chose the software, can you speak to what you wanted to achieve and what the outcomes have been?
Angela: We wanted to ensure that we wouldn't have multiple platforms. I was anticipating using QuickBooks for our finances and another system for constituent management. And who knows what we would need for our fund management, right? We were looking at these various products that would need a bridge or weekly transfers to do the work of our community foundation.
As someone who has a nonprofit management background and who didn't have a CFO at the time, it was super helpful to have a consolidated system that was easy to use. At the beginning, we had one full-time person and a Finance volunteer who worked with us 20 hours a week. It was so much easier for them to have one system rather than multiple systems to learn.
Christina: When I first started, I was very skeptical. There are certain things— bells and whistles— that Foundant didn't seem to have. What made me become a lover of Foundant is the customer service. If there's a will there's a way. There’s a willingness to collaborate to find a solution to help us do what we want to do.
I don't think we would have found that anywhere else. I've worked with so many different vendors and so many different organizations. I've never really found one like Foundant that really is able to go above and beyond.
One example is when we were looking to support a major campaign, I found it very difficult to be able to track certain things in the system. I hunkered down with our Client Success Manager to figure it out. She suggested utilizing the Opportunities tab—so we were able to find a simple solution.
The ability to work with someone [at a vendor] that almost becomes a part of your own team is something that is worth trading the bells and whistles for. When it comes to small organizations, some of those bigger platforms may seem awesome, but you still have to adjust for them to work on your own projects and systems. Foundant's willingness to collaborate and find a solution is worth any trade-off.
Angela: Yes, I would echo that. With other platforms I've utilized in the past, we were always having to morph ourselves to fit the platform. It seems that in working with Foundant, Foundant tries to understand who WE are and what we need. I don't have to have a whole person dedicated to understanding the system— and everyone on our team uses it in one way or another.
Last year, we created our Catholic faithful response fund as our COVID response fund. We went look at different programs and platforms and were going to create something new. Again, it was someone on the Foundant team who said, “Have you thought about a campaign using grant catalog?” We said no, we have no idea what grant catalog is, because at the time we weren't utilizing it. Foundant walked us through all these things we could do with the grant catalog and really helped us put it together pretty darn quick. They were very responsive.
Christina: The amount of growth and the number of updates that Foundant continuously does blows my mind. The ability to constantly be innovative and changing, along with the number of features that have been added, has been incredible.
I can't imagine what Foundant will do in five years because of that ability to listen. I think it comes from working so closely with clients versus trying to create a product that may or may not work for the client. It's almost like we're building it together and that shows in the strength of the product itself.
Angela: Faith-based organizations are trying to do so much good, and they don't always have a great deal of resources to do it. Partnering with Foundant has allowed us to do the most amount of good with smaller resources, hands down. In particular, as a Catholic organization our social teaching and being socially-just is important for us. That’s a community component I see at Foundant as well that I have really appreciated.