United Way of Rhode Island President and CEO Anthony Maione believes the local economy is slowly improving. As the man in charge of the nonprofit that raised $13 million in its last fiscal year, he knows what he’s talking about. Rhode Island is emerging from the hardest fundraising climate Maione has ever seen, but signs of life have returned.
A new initiative with Hasbro, Inc. shows the resilience and imagination of local companies willing to work with the United Way to make a difference. The new Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative engaged more than 1,000 kids in high-quality summer-learning programs last summer.
However, Maione laments that the competition for funding in a still-challenging economy often means great programs get funding over good ones.
PBN: How would you characterize the corporate-giving climate in Rhode Island right now?
MAIONE: This has been the toughest fundraising climate in my career. Rhode Island was severely impacted by the recession, individuals and organizations alike. In response, organizations cut back their operating expenses, including philanthropy. Fortunately, for us, some organizations and individuals actually increased their donations during this time period, which offset, in part, some of the decreases.
PBN: How does this year compare with last and the year before?
MAIONE: The entire nonprofit sector has been raising less money since 2008, and we are not exempt. We have taken small percentage losses over the past few years but we still rank among the top 50 United Ways in the country.
PBN: There is a lot of talk that the economy is improving. Is it showing in increased giving?
MAIONE: When the stock market improved, we saw an increase in donations of appreciated stock, and we have had some very good results in companies, despite the recession. There is no doubt that as Rhode Island comes back, so will philanthropy. Helping others is in the DNA of so many in our community. As people and companies have more to give and feel more secure about the future, they will help.