Q&A with United Way of Rhode Island’s Anthony Maione

The exiting president and CEO explains how MyFund is just like online banking, but for charitable giving.
Anthony Maione

Anthony Maione.

Anthony Maione has served as President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island since January of 2005. Earlier this year, he announced that he will retire from his position at the end of 2018, capping a thirty-five-year career as a nonprofit CEO. During Maione’s tenure, UWRI raised more than $170 million dollars in support of improving the lives of Rhode Islanders, changed its grant model to a three-year competitive system, moved its headquarters from the East Side of Providence to Olneyville, and established the statewide 2-1-1 call center. Following a national search, UWRI’s Board of Directors selected Pawtucket-native Cortney Nicolato to lead the organization as its next President and CEO. Nicolato assumed her role on September 24.

Here’s a q-and-a with Maione:

  1. What is United Way of RI’s purpose and focus?

Our purpose is to change lives and strengthen our community, by working together. Every word in that short sentence is important. We are focused on supporting innovative, proven programs that can deliver data that demonstrates they are creating positive change. We use that data to advocate policymakers in support of taking these programs to a larger scale, to make our state stronger. And, we always work with others; nonprofits, businesses and government sector leaders to make it happen.

  1. What do most people not know about UWRI?

Most people don’t know that 100 percent of our management and fundraising expenses are paid by a permanent trust fund. So if you donate a dollar to United Way of Rhode Island, all of it goes to help your fellow Rhode Islanders.

  1. How have donors and/or philanthropy changed in the last fifteen years?

Technology has changed everything, including both how we communicate with our community and with how we generate philanthropic support for our work. In terms of philanthropy, we developed our own application, MyFund, to take advantage of technology. MyFund is just like online banking, but for your charitable giving. You make a gift to United Way to set-up your account and can then make gifts from that account to any 501c3 in the country throughout the year using your phone, tablet or computer. We send out the check, letting the organization know the gift comes from you, and send you verification that the gift has been made. At the end of the year, you receive a single tax receipt from United Way that captures your annual giving and makes filing your taxes easy. Best of all, the service is free to you as a donor. We raised nearly $1 million in new dollars through MyFund in 2017!

  1. What advice do you have for young/emerging leaders?

I am very excited about the energy and quality of the leaders rising up in our community, especially at United Way of Rhode Island. Our emerging leaders are purpose driven, smart, and really committed to building a better local, state and national community.

My advice to them is this: All leaders need a thick skin. This is true more today than ever as there are an increasing number of platforms for public criticism of just about everything. The thing that new leaders have to keep in mind is not to let their skin get so thick that they don’t listen to anything. Sometimes criticism is a good thing, and sometimes it’s just trolling that needs to be tuned-out. They need to know the difference.

In addition, I think people are hungry for progress. I recently heard a political slogan that said, “Not left, not right – forward.” I thought that captured what United Way sees every day – people who come together from different points of view and ideology, and put on a community hat to move things forward together. It’s a real strength and the nonprofit community, by its non-partisan nature, is a great place for it to happen.

  1. Where will you go from here? (After you retire.)

There is no question that I would like to stay involved at some level. I’m interested in using my experience in leadership to help emerging leaders grow and develop their skills. I am interested in serving on a corporate (for-profit) board where the corporation wants to focus on the corporate responsibility aspect of their business. I am also kind of excited about being open to opportunities that might present themselves. Who knows what may come my way? And, of course, I’m certainly excited about a little less work and a little more fun!

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