Tony Elischer

Dear Tony

I had the terrible, terrible news today that you are gone, to cancer. To cancer! The irony, for the person who helped to build modern fundraising in what is now Cancer Research UK.

For me and many, many fundraisers you were the aspirational model – if only I could be like Tony. Continually, defiantly innovative in word, thought and deed. So fearless of consequence as you pushed yourself to new frontiers in fundraising. So hard working – I have wondered at times whether you slept – and so funny. Your capacity to mimic, to crack me up into gales of laughter just when I was getting serious, was unequalled.

I would write “RIP”. But resting in peace is the last thing you would do. Rushing Into a Performance is more like the Tony that I shall always remember, as the star turn in the two closing plenaries that I produced for the International Fundraising Congress. To be historically accurate, you were the creative mind, the stage master, the script writer, the personal coach and the director of the plenaries, whilst I hung out at the back with the technicians and made occasional mumbled suggestions.

You were continually brilliant on stage because you worked so hard to prepare beforehand. And that for me was the lesson you left; prepare, prepare more, and then go for a prize twice, ten times, a hundred times your original target.

In Catalan people say of the dead that they have ‘gone to the other neighbourhood’, which seems a good way to think of you. Just around the corner, or possibly watching just over the shoulders of all of us fundraisers as we try to solve a knotty problem; you are whispering the solution in our ear.

We, all of us, will miss your colour, your company and your creativity. Yours is an act we cannot hope to follow.


8 thoughts on “Tony Elischer

  1. Dear Chris …. What a lovely homage to Tony and his work. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten, especially by the many he inspired!

  2. A beautiful tribute Chris. We just heard here today about Tony and you are quite right – his plenaries and sessions at our AFP Canadian Congress were always a delight, and left me telling myself I could so so much more and to step forward bravely like Tony.

    I am thinking of him as just “gone to the other neighbourhood” and, unfortunately he is in very good company there this particular week. I’m sure I can hear them now … Tony partying upstairs with David Bowie, William Needles, Brian Bedford, and Alan Rickman. Keep things hopping you wonderful much-loved men.

  3. What a lovely tribute, Chris. I always enjoyed Tony’s plenaries and sessions at the IOF. Such a larger than life character who inspired many. Such sad news for the fundraising world and to his family.

  4. May he rest in peace! I read his brilliant reports though I never met him! His insights shall remain with us! Hede Nyuie!

    1. Chris, bless you for finding the words. Our colleague and friend. Unique. I loved his humour and positive ‘can-do’ approach, but I will miss Tony’s serious side most – off stage – he truly lived his work, and brought an exceptionally piercing focus, enquiring mind and of course boundless energy to any challenge. And he built a business with some of the finest people in the field. I’m so sad.

  5. A really beautiful tribute Chris. Straight from the heart. Hope you’re taking good care of yourself in the wake of this awful news. x

  6. what a loss ! he was such a nice guy, so funny and captivating.
    I learnt a lot during his sessions and master classes
    Cancer played a bad trick on him !
    thanks so much, Chris, for your tribute

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