Donors

Little’s huge impact

We remain humbled by the vision of legacy donors like Royal Little whose generosity continues to provide invaluable assistance to people they never met dealing with issues they never imagined—decades after their gift.

Royal Little
Royal Little

When he established Rhode Island Charities Trust in 1937 to help maximize the value of gifts made to the United Way of Rhode Island, Royal Little couldn’t have imagined that his generosity would play such an important role in helping his state get through a pandemic nearly a century later.

Perhaps best known as the founder and former chairman of Textron, Royal also was an innovator in philanthropy. To this day, the Trust helps offset the United Way’s fundraising and administrative costs—allowing donations to flow directly to the community.

This was evident earlier this year when we partnered with United Way for the COVID-19 Response Fund to raise – and distribute – funds to aid nonprofit organizations assisting vulnerable populations on the front line of COVID-19 response in our state.

In accordance with Royal’s wishes the assets of Rhode Island Charities Trust were donated, two years after his 1989 death, to create a fund at the Foundation. At the time, those assets totaled $34.2 million. This legacy investment remains the largest single gift to the Foundation in our 104 year history.

Grants from the Trust have benefitted the United Way of Rhode Island for more than 80 years and will continue to do so forever. Today, the Charities Trust’s assets total more than $71 million and it awarded more than $3.8 million to United Way of Rhode Island last year alone.

In a time of such frightening instability and need, we remain humbled by the vision of legacy donors like Royal Little whose generosity continues to provide invaluable assistance to people they never met dealing with issues they never imagined—decades after their gift.