Making philanthropy part of their business

Corporate advised funds through the Rhode Island Foundation offer Rhode Island-based companies a unique way to enhance their philanthropy and community impact. With a corporate advised fund, companies can make a contribution to a fund and take a tax deduction in the year that the initial contribution is made. The company can make grant recommendations in the current year or subsequent years, stretching the charitable investment over a longer time period.

Dozens of Rhode Island companies have partnered with the Rhode Island Foundation to establish corporate advised funds. For many corporate leaders, employee engagement in charitable giving is important, and corporate advised funds provide a great vehicle in achieving that goal. For example, when Blount Fine Foods established a corporate advised fund with the Rhode Island Foundation in 2014, Blount President F. Nelson “Todd” Blount explained, “Our giving has been at the corporate level. Through this fund, I want the employees to have a say in directing the money. The goal is that we, and that includes a team of employees, will work with the Rhode Island Foundation to determine where the money will go.”

Along the same lines, when Atrion established the Atrion Charitable Fund in 2015, CEO Tim Hebert’s goal was to achieve full engagement from employees and clients. “Every person in this state can make a difference,” he explained.

By partnering with the Rhode Island Foundation, companies are also able to utilize the Foundation’s expert staff and resources to assist in designing and implementing a philanthropic strategy. For example, Embolden Founder and CEO Ann-Marie Harrington saw an opportunity to elevate the company’s 15-year tradition of charitable giving through a corporate advised fund at the Rhode Island Foundation: “Now we would like to take the next step in our philanthropy and be more strategic. We want to be sure we are actually helping the causes and organizations we care about. The Foundation will be a great partner for us.”

In addition to employee engagement in corporate philanthropy, corporate advised funds offer Rhode Island companies the opportunity to create a permanent legacy in the community. Permanence was important to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which established the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund in 2005. “We created this permanent endowment to protect our ability to give,” explained Linda H. Newton, then BCBSRI’s vice president of community relations. “We have financial fluctuations like any other business. A carefully-managed endowment assures that we will be there for the community every year.”

Similarly, when Delta Dental established the Delta Dental of Rhode Island Fund, President and CEO Joseph A. Nagle observed that by establishing a permanent fund with the Rhode Island Foundation the company was elevating its philanthropy to a new level. “We are making an unwavering promise to support and sustain improvements in oral health in Rhode Island, regardless of changing business cycles or fluctuations in the economy. The Delta Dental of Rhode Island Fund will be here to make a difference in good years and bad.”

Each of these funds benefits from the Foundation’s professional investment management, deep community knowledge and philanthropic expertise, stability, and permanence. These and many other Rhode Island companies have left a lasting legacy.

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