Communication key to raising funds at Rhode Island Foundation

CHIEF COMMUNICATOR: Arianne Corrente joined the Rhode Island Foundation six years ago and is now focused on raising the profile of the nonprofit as vice president of marketing and communications. 
CHIEF COMMUNICATOR: Arianne Corrente joined the Rhode Island Foundation six years ago and is now focused on raising the profile of the nonprofit as vice president of marketing and communications. 

2022 C-Suite Awards: Nonprofit/Social Service Agency | Arianne Corrente, Rhode Island Foundation vice president of marketing and communications

Arianne Corrente has worked at the Rhode Island Foundation in Providence for six years, where she has served as the vice president of communications and marketing for about five years.

In her role, she’s tasked with getting the word out about what the foundation is working on, including what grants and programs are upcoming, as well as sharing the stories of donors and grant recipients.

The Rhode Island Foundation has been in existence for more than a century, making it one of the oldest community foundations in the country. Through its work, the foundation seeks to help “thoughtful individuals, families, organizations and corporations make smart, effective change.”

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The foundation’s mission is three-pronged: to actively inspire philanthropy and increase permanent resources for the state; to invest in important community programs through grants; and to provide leadership and a forum for dialogue on critical community issues. Within these goals, a priority is to improve economic, educational and health outcomes for all Rhode Islanders.

Neil D. Steinberg, the foundation’s CEO and president, says Corrente has the ability to communicate with donors, grantees and stakeholders in ways that are not only informative but also interesting.

“As we’ve raised awareness with her leadership, we’ve raised more money, and as we raise more money, the community benefits,” Steinberg said. “[Corrente’s] done an excellent job getting the word out.”

Steinberg says Corrente has also worked to evolve the foundation’s newsletter, which reaches about 17,000 people and takes a narrative form. According to Corrente, the newsletter has about a 30% open rate, which is her barometer for success, and which she notes is high for philanthropic nonprofits.

Corrente and her staff have developed ways to engage with various social media platforms, learning which sites – such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – cater to which communities and posting accordingly.

Corrente says LinkedIn is the space most inhabited by professional advisers and Facebook tends to be a place for other nonprofit groups and community members, adding, “Twitter is the best place to repurpose news stories and engage with the press.”

In addition to online correspondence, the foundation continues to communicate with donors through a paper copy of its annual report, as well as a magazine that is published twice a year.

“Her style is very proactive and action-oriented,” Steinberg said. “From my point of view, she’s a great adviser – she shows leadership inside and outside the foundation.”

In addition to her role with the foundation, Corrente is also a member of the R.I. Ethics Commission. She was appointed by then-Gov. Gina M. Raimondo in 2017 and now serves as the vice chairperson.

“I’ve learned a lot through that work,” she said, noting it’s an extension of public service work.

Before arriving at the foundation, Corrente worked for Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., and was deputy chief of staff for former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. Through that work, she collaborated with the foundation on the housing bond campaign in 2006.

“I really enjoyed working with the team and learning more about what the organization did,” she said.

When a job opened at the foundation, Corrente applied and embraced the switch from public service to public philanthropy, which she says are related.

“I was really excited to find an organization where I could continue an element of that public service – and be on the philanthropic side of things,” she said. “[Now] I’m lucky to manage a team of five really incredible communicators.”

Corrente says she’s proud to work at the foundation and do her part to realize its mission. In 2020 and 2021, the organization raised roughly $25 million, and “that went right back out the door in the form of grants” for COVID-19 response and relief funds, she said.

“The work that we’re able to do, [especially] in this time of crisis and need, is really motivating,” Corrente said, noting that it’s helped sustain her through the pandemic, providing her with a sense of purpose.

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