Tony Elischer parts ways with International Fundraising Congress

Director of Think Consulting Solutions protests that a policy on "resting" volunteers leaves him sidelined

Tony Elischer
Tony Elischer

A leading figure in the annual International Fundraising Congress has decided to play no further part in organising it because of a policy that he says will "sideline" him.

Tony Elischer, the director of Think Consulting Solutions, has played a key unpaid role in the congress for almost 20 years. This has included six years on the board of the Resource Alliance, which runs the event, and three years as the IFC chair.

But in an open letter to other IFC speakers and volunteers, Elischer says he is resigning as a volunteer because the Resource Alliance board has decided to rest all key volunteers on a regular basis to suit its timetable.

"I find this totally incomprehensible and personally unacceptable, as frankly this whole ‘policy’ can only be targeted at one person - me," the letter says.

"The way it is currently positioned is simply to sideline my role as a volunteer.

"No charity pushes away its key volunteers, especially when they work tirelessly behind the scenes, happy to support others and see their success and joy."

At this year’s congress in the Netherlands in October, Elischer’s role included giving the opening plenary session and one of the main closing sessions on the future of fundraising, as well as playing a large role in organising the event.

He told Third Sector that he was still "passionate" about the congress. He would be attending next year and hoped to be allowed to continue to contribute as a keynote speaker.

Neelam Makhijani, chief executive of the Resource Alliance, said the charity had enormous appreciation and respect for Elischer but that the congress "cannot be a one-man show".

"Depending on one person is ridiculously high-risk, and some parts of it had become totally dependent on him," she said.

Makhijani said the resting policy did not apply only to Elischer, but to all IFC volunteers. She added that he had applied to speak at next year’s event, but the programme would be decided by an advisory panel.

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