Introducing the Three Pillars of the Case Foundation

Ask anyone at the Case Foundation what kind of response they get when they explain the work of our foundation through our tagline: “We invest in people and ideas that can change the world,” and they’ll tell you they are often met with a smile followed by more questions. “Hmm… interesting, like what?” or “So are you about education, poverty or healthcare?” This challenge of finding the right way to talk about our work has dogged us for some time, especially since we are not an “issue” oriented foundation, but rather one that is driven by opportunities to innovate and spark new movements—that can develop in a wide variety of different areas. So in the last year we set out on an ambitious effort to find more effective ways to communicate what we really do. The official launch of our new website today is just the first of several changes you’ll see in the coming months.

The ambitious effort to understand how we could do better began by engaging a third party set of experts to perform an extensive audit of our communication channels among our peers, partners and influencers from a range of sectors. We surveyed and interviewed these groups and individuals to help us better understand how we could more effectively share information on the work of the Case Foundation, offer lessons learned and inspire others to create change. The feedback we received—from a combination of web surveys and in-depth conversations—provided a wide variety of insights for our team. This process was invaluable to us and we are grateful to many of you who participated and allowed us to identify a number of areas for improvement, from tweaks to the way we were engaging with our audiences on Twitter, to suggestions for refining our messaging, to wholesale changes to our strategy in some areas.

As we were presenting the feedback we received from the audit to our Board, my husband, who serves as Chair of the Case Foundation, offered a simple insight: “Can’t we find a way to talk about our work in a few ‘buckets’ people might understand?” I think a light bulb went off at that moment for all of us.

Armed with a charge from the Chair, and with valuable insights from many of our stakeholders, friends and followers, a new way to convey our work began to emerge. At about the same time, we added a valuable new senior member of our team, Sheila Herrling, whose detachment from our history proved invaluable in helping us reimagine how we look at and organize the various areas of our work.

So with the launch of this new website today, you’ll see how we’ve found our “three buckets” – only we now refer to them as “pillars.” They encapsulate what we see as our three main areas of interest – Revolutionizing Philanthropy, Unleashing Entrepreneurship and Igniting Civic Engagement – and within each pillar resides our various programmatic initiatives such as impact investing, Be Fearless and Millennial engagement. We purposefully designed the three pillars so that they stand independently, yet also clearly overlap to illustrate where we recognize how our work may intersect. While there still may be an occasional outlier that doesn’t perfectly fit into one of the buckets, we think these three areas hit the mark. And while we still embrace the mission that we invest in people ideas that can change the world, these new pillars provide more clarity around the vision and aspirations of our work, as conveyed in the
image below.


This elegant image, as a graphical representation of our three pillars, by no means indicates that our work is done here. Our approach with the website, just as with change and innovation overall, is based on iterations–based on the Lean Startup principle we strongly embrace at the Case Foundation, known as “minimum viable product.” As a team, we debated if we felt comfortable launching today, when there are still some parts to fill in, and some enhancements we’ll add. In the end, we made the decision that we want to continue to refine and make better our attempts to share content, learnings and opportunities for engagement–and so with the launch today we are committing to watching and listening. We will continue to adapt our new site to reflect the changing needs of our audience and the work of the Foundation to deliver the best product possible.

On the technical front, there’s quite a lot of exciting new enhancements and we invite you to “go behind the scenes” and discover the new generation of technology and tools we’ve deployed to make your time on the site most engaging, efficient and fun – – this companion blog by our very own Allie Burns and Brian Sasscer, goes deeper into both the features and some of the thinking that led to our new look and feel. Allie and Brian did most of the “heavy lifting” on this effort and once again I feel so grateful for our amazing team! As always, we warmly welcome your feedback and insights as we move forward.

Let us know what you think on Twitter using the hashtag #NewCFsite!

Welcome to Our New Website!

This post was written by Allyson Burns and Brian Sasscer on behalf of the Case Foundation:

After a few weeks of being in “stealth mode,” we’re incredibly excited today to unveil a new look and feel here at! This is the first step in the rollout of our new “Digital Roadmap” to ensure we’re putting our best digital foot forward on all fronts.

Last year, we embarked on a full audit of the Case Foundation’s digital presence to understand how our entire web portfolio, including, as well as our social media outlets, could serve as a more effective tool for engaging with our key constituents. The audit process involved gathering detailed feedback from our partners, friends and peers in the sector – without which this new digital roadmap would not be possible.

The newly designed draws on some of the latest tools and technologies, and is designed to more clearly highlight our work and provide valuable resources for the sector based on what we’re learning. Our hope is that this new design will make it easier for users like you to find the information they want.

And as our CEO, Jean Case, has explained, related to the work of the new website – and this inquisitive process – is a new way we’ll talk about our work going forward. It was a high priority for us to take the learnings from our audit process and translate them into a user-friendly website design, content and strategy. Engaging a creative web design team, we set out to provide a fresh look with bold features, engaging content and imagery and an intuitive flow of information. You will now see an intuitive speaking navigation at the top of every page with easy-to-use drop-down menus to help you explore the site. There is also a new “Who We Are” section that features language explaining our philosophy, team structure and history (be sure to check out the interactive timeline at the bottom of the page). Another significant addition to the site is a new section titled, “What We Do” that introduces the three pillars that ground the work of the Foundation, including: civic engagement, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. We invite you to explore these pillars and the evolving program areas that are built upon them including Impact Investing, Be Fearless, Economic Mobility, Millennial Engagement and more.

We took design inspiration from a number of sites, including: TED Ed, Kickstarter and Apple, and embraced new features such as conversational filters, immersive images and “sticky” fixed navigation. The site is also now responsive, meaning you can easily view on your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device without compromising the viewer experience.

You’ll also see us continue to roll out changes across our digital platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, some of which we’ve already begun to implement. For example, you may have noticed a shift away from sweepstakes and contests as a way to interact with our communities and attract new members. Rather, we are now focused on publishing more targeted posts related to relevant social sector content tailored for each platform in an effort to garner more meaningful engagement. While we still actively review analytics related to our social media outreach, engagement is the name of the game and trumps impressions and likes.

We also heard loud and clear from the digital audit that you wanted to hear more from the individuals on our awesome team – so you’ll see us making a more concerted effort to lift up the diverse viewpoints and experiences of our team members across digital platforms. This also translates into our email strategy. Feedback from users indicated that email is a vehicle through which they want to receive updates, news and information from the Foundation. So we’ve made it easier to sign up for email and have started implementing a detailed segmentation process to make sure the information becomes more targeted and specific to reader’s needs and wants. (If you’re not signed up for our email list already, please make sure to do so in the form provided at the bottom of this page!)

That’s it for now, but the new website is a work in progress to be sure. Check back with us regularly to see what other changes and improvements we have made. And after you’ve taken a spin within the new pages, we invite you to share any feedback, as that will help us continue to improve the site.

Let us know what you think on Twitter using the hashtag #NewCFsite!