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ILM founding member Crispin Ellison dies

ILM founding member Crispin Ellison dies

ILM founding member Crispin Ellison has died, following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

He died peacefully with his family on Friday 30 August.

One of the founding members of the Institute of Legacy Management, formed in 1999, Crispin Ellison was became its first Director after spending five years as Head of Legacy Administration for the British Heart Foundation. During his time at ILM he also set up the first training programmes for legacy administrators and was involved in the foundation of the Certificate in Charity Legacy Administration (CiCLA).

His career in legacies started in the mid-1980s while he was working at ActionAid and was involved in the early years of Will Aid. During this time he developed the early prototype for the legacy management software ‘FirstClass’, bringing together a group of eight charity legacy officers to collaborate and develop a resource.

Following his time at the British Heart Foundation, he joined Legacy Link and eventually took over the running of the business in 2009. Over the next nine years, Crispin grew Legacy Link into the leading legacy administration consultancy in the sector, and worked with hundreds of charities across the country.

Crispin was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2015, which ended his career prematurely although he continued to be involved in the legacy sector.

He was honoured at the ILM Conference in 2016 with a Lifetime Achievement Award and voted in as Lifetime President of ILM. He also launched a bursary through Legacy Link, to fund students through CiCLA, which Legacy Link have continued each year in his honour.

Ashley Rowthorn, Legacy Link and Matthew Lagden, Institute of Legacy Management paid tribute, saying:

“There are few people to have made such an impact on our sector, and Crispin was certainly one of them.

“For those of us that had the pleasure to work with him during his three decades in legacy management, we will remember his warm smile, his generosity of spirit, his focus and determination, and his passionate commitment to improving the standards and practices in legacy administration. There is no question that the causes he worked for, and the beneficiaries those charities support, benefited enormously from the work that he did.

“Today we mourn one of the fathers of charity legacy management, but we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him and learn from him. His character as much as his innovations will live on for years to come and everyone who works in legacy management owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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