He held the door open for me the first time I went into a men’s room. He allowed me to see the framed letter hanging over the toilet from the time he was let go from his employer. He was really proud of the letter because it was the impetus for him being brave enough to start his own fundraising consulting business.
Doug Alexander was a great man, fundraiser, consultant and boss. I am not sure the first time we ever met, but he and his business partner tried to recruit me twice to come to work at the firm. The third time we made a deal and it is one of the best things I have ever done. He taught me just about everything I know about fundraising and consulting.
But he was also a family man and was very understanding that I was the only consultant at the firm with a young family and he allowed me to work part-time. That meant I had all the sweet “pitiful” and local clients and it was sometimes challenging to show good results. In fact, I think some of my colleagues used to transfer all the prospects they didn’t want to me, just to see my reaction. To this day, it is hard for me to turn away any organization. I always think I can help them in some way.
One time I spoke with a group in another state. They did not have a budget that would allow them to fly me there to meet with them, nor could they afford to come and visit our firm. This was well before working remotely was popular or possible. I believe we invented telephone consulting. All I know is that in 3 months speaking weekly by phone, we had crafted their case for support, they had recruited a volunteer in another state, and gotten a large gift for $78,000 from one donor which allowed them to meet their $80,000 annual budget. I was so proud! Doug acknowledged me in the book he and Kristina Carlson wrote, Essential Principles for Fundraising Success in 2005. FundraisingINFO.com was not the only successful company he created and sold during his career.
Doug was the most brilliant strategist I have ever seen. He could walk into the room right on time (no wasted moments) and in 5 minutes solve the nonprofit’s immediate dilemma and recommend just the right approach to fix the issue. I witnessed this time and time again.
Doug was so funny and clever. When I went on a client visit with him, he always made me drive. I always had to get the directions. I always had to do the follow up and draft the proposal for future work. I had to pay the parking and lunch. Of course, I would be reimbursed, but that man never carried cash. But, what a great way to learn the ins and outs of the business by taking responsibility early on?
And then there was the time we were all learning new technologies. Doug and I were set to share a PowerPoint presentation with a prospective client and neither of us knew how to set up the screen and connect the computer with the projector. Once we did, we still had one extra cord left over! Thankfully, we got better at this over time.
Everyone who worked for Doug adored him and was loyal, to the end. I have never seen such gratitude from so many. He modeled his work on the legacy of Be Haas and we all followed her advice. Just start consulting immediately and the client will come along with you.
Ever supportive Doug even encouraged me when I decided to leave the firm to work at my kid’s school. My boys were growing up and our lives were so complicated. It was the logical thing for my family for us to make this transition. Doug said, “Go, do what you have to do and come back when you are done.”
I spent 5 years at my kids’ school as the director of advancement and then 5 years with Doug as my consultant at another nonprofit. There we had what I called the dream team: my boss, our board chair, Doug as my friend, consultant and confidant, and me as the chief development officer. Together with a whole slew of other volunteers, we did amazing work: annual, capital, endowment, major gifts. It was a privilege to be a part of that team.
Doug sold his share of the firm and moved on to start his own practice again. When he moved out of state, I didn’t see him except at conferences. Occasionally, I would call and once again ask his advice. When he saw something I had written or done, he would get in touch with me to encourage me or congratulate me.
I am forever grateful to G. Douglass Alexander. My heart goes out to his wife, his son, his daughter and family members. May he rest in peace.