“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving,” says Brooke Havens, quoting famous fundraiser Henry Rosso. Brooke is the Chief Resource & Engage- ment Officer at UNITED WAY OF RHODE ISLAND, an organization committed to ra- cial equity and social justice, and building opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.
Originally from New York City, Brooke grad- uated with a degree in political science from William Smith College and earned her master’s in nonprofit management with a concentration in leadership from Northeastern University. She served as a fundraiser for the American Heart Association in Providence before switching to corporate philanthropy and volunteerism for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Yearning for adventure 15 years deep into their careers, Brooke and her husband took a jour- ney of a lifetime moving to Quito, Ecuador for two years to travel, volunteer, and immerse themselves in the rich culture. Upon her return Brooke discovered a renewed sense of purpose and love for her adopted state – and took on another role in corporate philanthropy with a legacy local leader, Citizens Bank. In June 2019, her career path came full-circle when she accepted her current role as the executive lead for fundraising, communications, and engage- ment at United Way just as the organization embarks on an exciting new chapter.
“I like to think that I connect people to their passions. I find people have so much to give – time, talent, and treasure – but often don’t know where to start,” Brooke explains. “The best part of my job is discovering why people want to give back to their communi- ties, and helping them figure out the how.”
Brooke is proud of how she and her team pulled together the 401Gives 2020 campaign, the organization’s first statewide day of giv- ing. While facing a major challenge, Brooke re- mained strategic, ambitious, and optimistic. “My team thought I was crazy when I suggested a $1 million goal for year one,” she remembers with a smile. “We passed that by a longshot, raising more than $1.3 million for nonprofits throughout the community in a single day.”
“We have big plans to make sure that our nonprofit sector is resilient, strong, and reflects the communities they serve,” says Brooke. “We need to develop leaders, capacities, systems, and supports that will ensure our nonprofit sec- tor thrives now and long into the future.”
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