PROVIDING CARE: Charles P. Iacono, right, vice president of philanthropy at Home and Hospice Care of Rhode Island, speaks with Dr. Edward Martin, chief medical officer at the nonprofit. Iacono says he’s seen increased support from corporations recently.
When Ocean State Job Lot co-owner Alan Perlman recently found himself with a pricing deal on Kellogg’s cereal too good to pass up that involved more stock than he could sell, he found an easy solution.
Perlman bought the 9,000 cases required and donated the extra 1,500 he couldn’t keep to six food banks in the New England region, including the Rhode Island Food Bank.
“I was able to stretch the dollars and give away three times the amount of an item as normal,” Perlman said. “Kellogg shipped it directly to the food banks, so they know it went there and now know when they have something, they can call me. It allows me to give more to [our] communities.”
That example of corporate philanthropy is the kind of micro-level giving that local business leaders and nonprofit organizations say should be in the news more often and could do wonders to dispel the negative headlines surrounding the spirit of philanthropy in Rhode Island.
Earlier this year, for example, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the Ocean State among the worst for charitable giving, reporting that a typical Rhode Island household gave 3.1 percent of a discretionary income to charity, for a total of $350.9 million in reported charitable giving, putting the Ocean State in 46th place nationwide.
By comparison, top-ranking Utah gives 10.6 percent of discretionary income per household for a total of $2.4 billion.
Nearby Massachusetts fared even worse than Rhode Island, ranking 47th with a 2.8 percent giving rate but with a reported total of $3.1 billion.
But those who deal daily with philanthropy policies and strategies say relying solely on dollar amounts only gives a glimpse into overall giving and that looking at macro-level statistics can be misleading.
Fidelity Charitable, an independent public charity, reported in The Fidelity Charitable Giving Season 2012 study that on average, Americans expect to give $2,400 to charity this year, increasing their donations from $2,100 last year.