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Our new strategy
By Jessica David / March 28, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...
After an intense planning process over much of the last year, the Foundation launched in January a new strategy for 2014-2018.

The Foundation’s mission is mindful of our roots as a community foundation: to be a proactive community and philanthropic leader dedicated to meeting the needs of the people of Rhode Island. Acknowledging our evolving role, our strategy is to:  
  • Lead…by fully leveraging our unique role in the community through the integration of our core enterprises (support for a strong nonprofit sector, proactive philanthropy, and thought-and-action leadership).
  • Transform…key elements of Rhode Island’s quality of life by seeking short-term progress and long-term impact within, between, and across four strategic initiatives that draw upon the full resources of the Foundation, grants in eight targeted sectors, and select special projects.
  • Inspire…by cultivating philanthropic partners who share the Foundation’s vision for Rhode Island and help us achieve sustainable growth in discretionary, donor directed, and deferred funding.
So, what does all this mean, exactly? Concretely, here are a few key points: 
  • Our board identified eight principles to guide our work. Our challenge is to make sure that our activities and investments, individually and collectively, match these values.
  • We have identified four strategic initiatives. The first three continue our commitment to public education, primary health care, and economic security. We are also taking on the challenge of increasing philanthropy broadly in Rhode Island. (Did you know that Rhode Island ranks near the bottom nationally for charitable giving?) 
  • We will continue to make grants in eight core sectors (the three above along with arts and culture, the environment, children and families, housing, and basic human needs) with focus areas identified in each.
  • We will build on our stewardship and outreach with current and prospective donors, helping philanthropists achieve their goals.
  • In order to better inform our work, we have renewed our emphasis on outcomes. Mary-Kim Arnold, our new evaluation and learning officer, is charged with establishing tools and systems to help Foundation board and staff understand the impact of our work.
To me, the strategy supports what we believe: that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. By deliberately linking the different areas of our work – whether those are different sectors, longstanding programs and new projects, or our fundraising and grantmaking roles – we think we can accomplish more.

As we say in our plan, the Foundation undertakes this strategy with the greatest sense of humility, knowing that we play an important but limited role in a broad, complex ecosystem. We are grateful to work with many partners. I hope you’ll take a look at the plan and stay engaged with your feedback or ideas. 
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