Fundraising and nonprofit life are full of intrigue, twisted paths, pure luck, genius, generosity, and more. This is the fourth in an occasional series of fictional fundraising short stories.
Alex Anderson easily removed the trustee’s fur coat from her shoulders, hanging it in the closet with the honor it deserved. “Ms. Ruby Jackson,” he greeted her. “So good to see you. The Congressman is running just a little late. Can I get you anything to drink?”
Ruby smiled at Alex. They had known each other for years, back when no one could be out. Though times had changed, they still both clung to how they thought others knew them. Now alone in President Taylor’s office suite they looked at each other and laughed out loud. “Who would have known, Alex, who would have guessed?” They both sat on the floral print sofa, sipping fresh coffee. “I still love it here,” Alex said, glancing across the suite. “Presidents may come and go, but I’m still here.” Alex knew everyone across town, and he kept an open door and ear to the ground for all three of the college presidents he had served. He scheduled luncheons to introduce students, staff, and faculty to each new leader, ordering sandwiches from the cafeteria, and typing up talking points for “Mr. President” or “Madame President” as the case may be. He was the glue, inviting businesspeople, fellow leaders in education, and elected officials to dine with the president at his college-provided home on campus.
“I appreciate how you take care of Dr. Taylor,” Ruby began. “I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into, but I believe he can make a difference. We’re all counting on him.” Alex sighed and sipped his coffee. “I don’t know Ruby. He was powerful, but he’s not who he was. He doesn’t have the title anymore.” Ruby laughed, “Is that why you keep calling him ‘Congressman?’ Do you think Jimmy needs you to prop him up?” Taking the taunt, Alex laughed back. “Jimmy? Hmmmm… now those were the days.” Ruby was shaking her head. “Alex, be good. We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to be good.” Alex reached over to hug her. “Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him. It’s just that he might not be all that you think he is.” He tried to let his good friend down lightly.
“But people owe him, Alex,” Ruby ventured, trying to turn the conversation serious again. “He has connections and Monroe-Smith College needs those. We can’t continue to be isolated. We can’t go begging, hat in hand. James can move a well-conceived agenda. We’re making progress and should have something he can sell.”
“But will the Congressman stay? If he doesn’t stay, then nothing changes.” Alex titled his head, listening for sounds in the hallway. “You’re right,” Ruby said. “But I think he’ll stay. I’m building more support for him. If we get the three largest companies behind the college, we can go places.” Alex stood up, hearing president Taylor’s footsteps outside the door. “If, Ruby, if.”