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What does philanthropy mean to us?
By Neil Steinberg / June 9, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

The Rhode Island Foundation’s mission is to be a proactive philanthropic leader to meet the needs of the people of Rhode Island. We are often asked: what is philanthropy, and can my contributions really help meet the needs of the community? 

At its heart, philanthropy includes giving your time, treasure, and talent. Philanthropy encompasses giving and receiving, providing support and leveraging that support to meet important needs. As one of the speakers at this week’s Council on Foundations conference pointed out, “giving is not a privilege just for the wealthy.” Here at the Foundation, we work with hundreds of generous philanthropists who give generously to all kinds of causes, all striving to improve the overall quality of life for all in Rhode Island. One thing I have learned is that philanthropy almost never looks the same from case to case. Causes, motivations, and expectations are highly individualized. To me, this makes our work so rewarding! At our recent annual meeting, we shared a video featuring the personal insights of several individuals and organizations who embrace the power of philanthropy. 


Our philanthropists do share a commitment to Rhode Island and the belief that they can make a difference. In Rhode Island, it is very clear that we need more philanthropic capital – more support for effective nonprofit organizations and the people they serve. I often make the point that everyone is touched in one way or another by these nonprofits, from libraries to health centers to arts and culture performances to environmental preservation to educational programs to critical social services.

Philanthropy does good and feels good, and when we feel good we are happier. The expression “give, give until you hurt” attributed to Mother Theresa inspires us to go to the edge of our means to help. Many will also say “give, give until it feels good!” Both are true and necessary.

Thank you to all of the philanthropists who join us in this important effort. If philanthropy is new to you, I encourage you to try it; you’ll like it! The Foundation is here to guide and support and advise, so please give us a call if there is anything we can do to assist.


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