The Rhode Island Foundation manages its finances to make sure that its capital endowment grows in perpetuity, a key function of its identity as a community foundation.
The proof that it does so effectively, says Neil Steinberg, foundation president and CEO, is in the numbers.
In 2009, during the recession, foundation assets totaled $524 million; in 2013, those assets had grown to $792 million. The endowment, which doesn’t include assets like property, represents the bulk of that 2013 total, he said.
“Our investment and financial-management policies are designed to support our mission, to be a philanthropic and community leader dedicated to meeting the needs of Rhode Island over the long term,” Steinberg said. “This is a privilege, to do what we do. We’re not declaring dividends; we’re all about giving back as much to the Rhode Island community as we can.”
A community foundation is an independent philanthropic institution serving a specific geographic area. Rhode Island’s public charity, like its peers around the country, makes grants to enhance quality of life and manages fundraising from donors, including legacy gifts.
In 2013, the foundation collected more gifts – $43.7 million – than it gave out in grants – $31.1 million to 1,389 recipients. And those grant awards were a record for the organization.
“That increases our endowment even more,” Steinberg said. “We get asked all the time, ‘Why do we still need to raise money?’ Because the community needs more philanthropic capital and the need exceeds that.”
The foundation provides grants in several areas: arts and culture, housing and special programs, health and human services, education, economic security and environment. But priorities include public education, health care, economic development and economic security, Steinberg said.