Tony Elischer’s departure as a leading volunteer for the International Fundraising Congress, organised by the Resource Alliance leaves question marks hanging over next year’s programme.
Elischer resigned as a volunteer after the Resource Alliance board made a decision to ‘rest’ all key volunteers in a regular pattern to suit its timetable. In an open letter, Elischer said that he found this decision “totally incomprehensible and personally unacceptable”, concluding that the policy could only have been aimed at one person – himself.
Over the years Elischer had been responsible for organising, staging and presenting opening plenaries and for some of the larger sessions at the IFC.
Vice chair of the Resource Alliance board, Jan Krol, said that Elischer had been asked to stay on for 2011 and 2012 to help the organisation “prepare for his resting year in 2013, and to return in 2014”.
“We regret deeply that he decided himself to stop completely instead of resting … although we, of course, respect his decision.” Krol said the “door is always open for him in the RA family of which is still is a very respected and valued member”.
Krol insisted that the resting policy is “there for everyone and to help the RA and its flagship event IFC to promote diversity, transparency and to give room for new talents and new ideas”. He was unable to say what other volunteers will be rested this year.
Chair of the IFC Advisory Panel, Amanda Seller said Elischer’s resignation would not make her job any easier. “As chair of the panel I regret that Tony will no longer be working as a key volunteer. It wouldn’t be the event it is now without his contribution of time and energy,” she said.
“Any voluntary organisation’s boards can make decisions about who works with them or who doesn’t. My task to put on a fantastic IFC hasn’t been made any easier. But there is a huge amount of goodwill and affection out there for the IFC.
“The IFC for me has always been a remarkable event and it is an incredible accomplishment that happens every year. It has exceptional staff that work so hard and volunteers at the heart of the IFC as a community who come together and make it happen. The whole conference runs on the willingness to much in and help.”
Krol said that the IFC has a pool of over 150 world class and “attracts the best in the world”. He said that although Elischer’s work for the RA and the IFC has been “huge and very valuable for many years, the event has always been organised by the professional staff in the office and the advisory panel with several other very valuable volunteers”.
The Resource Alliance has been through turbulent times recently and CEO Neelam Makhijani is the fourth to hold the post in the last two years. Simon Collings, who had held the post for six years, left in March 2008 and Lyndall Stein was appointed interim CEO. Hans Wolters, who joined as permanent CEO in November 2009, held the job for five months before resigning for personal reasons. Makhijani, who has worked with the Resource Alliance as programmes director and latterly as deputy CEO for six years, was made CEO after Wolters’ departure.
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