Tributes confirm Olga Alexeeva as visionary leader of global philanthropy
Tributes are pouring in from across the globe to Olga Alexeeva, whose sudden death on July 19 has left the philanthropy sector reeling.
Alexeeva had made a profound contribution to philanthropy working at its cultural edge establishing and developing philanthropy in emerging nations such as Russia and Brazil. Equally she made a huge and lasting impact on those she met at a personal level. Her death leaves an ‘unfillable void’ say her colleagues and friends.
Though starting her career as a journalist, and very much remaining one at heart, Alexeeva had worked with Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) for more than 17 years, firstly in her native Russia as Director of CAF Russia and then in the UK as Head of CAF Global Trustees.
Under her leadership, CAF Russia grew to become one of the largest and fastest-growing grant-making foundations in Russia, with over 90% of its grant-making fund coming from Russian donors. And just this week CAF has announced the success of a campaign fought by CAF Russia with others for many years that will see individual Russian donors able to claim tax relief on charitable donations.
In 2010 Alexeeva achieved a dream with the launch of her own philanthropic venture, The Philanthropy Bridge Foundation (PBF) again working to connect donors from emerging nations with charities across the world. Trustees have taken the difficult decision to close the foundation. In a statement they say: “With great regret, we have come to the conclusion that we will have to wind it down. Without Olga’s vision and leadership, and due to PBF's infancy, we don’t feel it is feasible to keep PBF going.”
Trustees are planning to establish a legacy activity in Olga’s memory, perhaps establishing a prize named after her. There are also plans to establish a fund to support her son Nikita, who needs special care.
Alexeeva was at the heart of philanthropy in both senses. She sat on numerous panels, held many posts outside her ‘day jobs’ and made many close friends through her love and passion for philanthropy and people.
The many moving tributes posted at the Alliance Magazine website, on whose editorial board she sat, speak of Alexeeva as a ‘visionary’, ‘luminary’ and ‘much loved friend’. She is remembered for her ‘humour’, ‘compassion’, ‘insight’, ‘courage’, ‘energy’, and ‘fearlessness’. The many tributes include personal recollections that illustrate Alexeeva’s unique take on the world and her love of life.
John Low, chief executive of CAF said: “Words are simply inadequate at a time like this. The news comes as a terrible shock.
“Olga was an extraordinarily passionate and compassionate woman. She was one of the leading lights in the global philanthropy community and will be missed by many, many people around the world. CAF is privileged to have counted her as one of our own. She was a highly-committed and respected colleague and friend to many.
“Our sincere condolences to Olga’s family. We think particularly of her son Nikita and extend our deepest sympathies.”
Bea Devlin, head of International Development at CAF and a close colleague, remembers Alexeeva fondly, saying: “Olga was always on the front foot with bold ideas and ready to challenge others with pithy questions. She would think the unthinkable. She is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.”
David Emerson, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations says: “Olga was a remarkable force in the field of philanthropy. I would emphasise her extraordinary ability to gain the trust of new donors especially in the growing economies, and through that she has generated a legacy for us all. Her knowledge, deep insight, and passion for philanthropy will be sorely missed.”
Tributes to Olga Alexeeva can be posted on the Alliance site.