It takes a crowd of us to do what Tony Elischer did

Published by 101fundraising on

tonyday2By its nature, a crowdblog is a collective of ideas, case studies, best practices, and informed debate.

But at its best, a crowdblog is an incubator of ideas, predications, innovation, and a rowdy good time with a purpose. Tony Elischer was all of these.

A one-man crowdsource, many will recall his round-ups of the best and the questionable in communications, fundraising campaigns, and digital marketing he delivered through plenaries, blogs, webinars, and stage productions of Wagnerian length and drama. Some will appreciate the speaker or career coaching from him, whether formal or informal. And the luckiest yet are those who probably have never heard of Tony Elischer: the millions of supporters who, through his work and wisdom and creativity, he helped to engage with the charities that give them a reason for inspiration and hope for change.

40232_417768038715_1156988_n101fundraising joins the international community in grieving the death of Tony Elischer. We thank you, Tony, for your early support of the 101 concept, for being our first webinar guest, and for choosing 101 to be the stage for regularly blogging your latest rants, research, and realisations.

We invite the 101 community to please share below your favourite Tony memories, quips, and good (or questionable!) advice, and join us in a gin and tonic in his appreciation.

We will miss you, Tony Elischer.

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101fundraising is a crowdblog on fundraising. A free resource. A volunteer initiative. By fundraisers, for fundraisers. Want to blog once in a while? Join the crowd!


Kimberley Blease · January 14, 2016 at 23:17

Well said. He will be missed deeply.

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit · January 15, 2016 at 00:01

Thank you Tony. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for your passion and dedication to the nonprofit sector. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on 101. When we “use windows, not mirrors” we’ll think of you. RIP.

Sheena Greer · January 15, 2016 at 00:45

I was a huge fan of Tony’s, he was one of the biggest inspirations to me as I was finding my footing in the sector. I only ever met him once, but in some ways, it helped to change the course of my career.

I attended a workshop he gave through my local AFP chapter. It was an incredible day of insight, fun, and inspiration. At one point, he asked who among us saw ourselves as leaders at our organisation. I didn’t put up my hand. I loved my job, and was really great at it, but like all too many fundraisers, I didn’t have the authority or autonomy to make decisions about how we interacted with our donors. In this way, the workshop was rather bittersweet – I gained so much knowledge and insight, and yet would return to my desk knowing that I’d never have the power to implement any of it.

After the session, Tony asked me why I didn’t see myself as a leader, because he felt my contributions to the day’s discussion were valuable and powerful. I told him of my constraints, and he said “well obviously you need to get the hell out of there and start shining like the leader you were clearly meant to be.”

A few months later, I quit my job and started my own company. It wasn’t because of what Tony said necessarily, but that moment gave me great confidence in myself and my ability to find the courage to lead.

I am grateful for Tony, and so many others like him, whose big ideas propel us to aspire to greater things for our sector, and for ourselves.

Ilja De Coster · January 15, 2016 at 08:39


Many years ago, at the IFC 2005 you did the opening plenary. you hosted a presentation based on a project the project “the hands that shapped humanity” answering the key question: “why do we do fundraising?”

For me as a young fundraiser then, that was an eye opener. Indeed, being a fundraiser isn’t a technical profession, it is a social engagement. It is a passion.
Then you became my hero, my guru.

Years later, as IFC-volunteers, conference organisers and consultant, I did meet you personally. You did mentor me from time to time, you kept inspiring and pushing your thinking on and on – not only for me but a whole generation of dedicated fundraisers. But as well you were a nice human being, with a great sense of humor.

That opening plenary, I have on a disk in my car, for 10 years now I’ll listening to it regularly, when I need an energy boost. Still that opening speech of your is so relevant. I tolk you that, you smilled without saying aanything.

Tony, we will miss you. As you took on the responsability to pass on the legacy of the late Guy Stringer and Georges Smith to my generation. I, I’m sure with a lot of friends an colleagues, will take up the responsability to pass on your legacy to the next generation of passioned fundraisers.

Rest in peace,

Susi Kammergruber · January 15, 2016 at 09:28

«Never do the expected.»

Laurie Gardner · January 15, 2016 at 12:45

I knew and worked with Tony off and on for 25 years. For me his most impressive qualities were his unfailing energy and enthusiasm for our craft. Whenever I or my teams were flagging as we tried to grapple with some strategic conundrum, Tony would always invigorate the session, forcing us to take that extra leap of imagination. He will be sorely missed by many, many fundraisers.

Ed Hurrell · January 15, 2016 at 12:57

I am really shocked and saddened to hear of Tony’s death. It seems fitting he should pass the same week as Bowie. They were both pioneers who were not afraid to challenge the status quo. They both were inspirational, forward thinking sometimes outrageous (in a funny way!).

Thank you Tony for being you. You were fantastic.

Jackie Fowler · January 15, 2016 at 15:18

We are all shocked and saddened.

Tony was such a force of nature, so full of energy; so engaged, so dedicated to the sector, so passionate about all that he did. Able to take any stage, lead any group, tackle any challenge, think in new and different ways, always there to challenge, question, and inspire.

It’s tragic that his life has been cut short, and the sector has lost someone who contributed so much.

Steve Thomas · January 15, 2016 at 20:13

Over the years I took Tony to see our two big winter teams- the basketball Raptors and the hockey Leafs. He much prefered the basketball game. Constant high pressure entertainment both on the court and courtside. Reminded him of his plenaries!

Lucy · January 16, 2016 at 01:55

My thoughts in a blog http://www.lucyinnovation.co.uk/2016/01/dear-tony/

Julie Harrington · January 17, 2016 at 17:12

Just can’t believe it. We have lost a power force of our industry and someone I just thought would always be there to deliver inspiration to us all. You saw his name on any programme and thought “Oh good, that’ll be a cracker of a session….Jostle up the old grey matter.” I echo all others who say a heartfelt thank you for all you contributed, Tony.

Rest now, Tony. We shall all continue to lean on your legacy for our continued inspiration.

Diana Ruano · January 18, 2016 at 11:20

Dear Tony, I write this with tears in my eyes… And I think how many people writing their thoughts about you are in the same teary eyed state?

You were an incredible fundraiser but more importantly you were an incredible human being. Anyone chatting with you, with or without a glass of wine at hand, was overcome by a wave of passion, of energy.

From Madrid to Singapore dear Tony you are the definition of an inspiration. The world at large has lost a hell of a man.

Gracias por todo nuestro querido Tony.

Mark Flannagan · January 20, 2016 at 15:12

I am not a fundraiser but I had the very great pleasure of working with Tony in my role as Head of International Comms at WSPA, and then when I became CEO of Beating Bowel Cancer. I learned a huge amount from him.
Tony had the ability to think big, strategic, ground breaking thoughts whilst always keeping his eye on what was practical. His advice and guidance was always rooted in what could be done, with a twist of innovation thrown in.
I wish he was still here. I need his help to transform what we do. It is all much harder now.

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