Crispin Ellison

September 2, 2019

It is with great sadness that we write to announce that Crispin Ellison died peacefully with his family on Friday 30th August.

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.

Crispin started out his career in legacies in the mid-1980s while working at ActionAid and was involved in the early years of Will Aid, as the development sector came together to respond to the East African famine disaster.

It was during this time that he developed the early prototype for the legacy management software ‘FirstClass’, by bringing together a group of eight charity legacy officers to collaborate and develop a resource that would help the whole sector manage the growing number of legacy gifts more effectively.

It was his skill in bringing people together that shaped his career and lives on in the values of the legacy giving sector.

Crispin was one of the founding members of the Institute of Legacy Management, formed in 1999, and became its first Director after spending five years as Head of Legacy Administration for the British Heart Foundation.

During his time at ILM, Crispin set up the first training programmes for legacy administrators and was involved in the foundation of a professional qualification for charity legacy officers – the Certificate in Charity Legacy Administration (CiCLA).

After leaving the British Heart Foundation Crispin joined Legacy Link and eventually took over the running of the business from Linda Norgrove 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.

Sadly, Crispin was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2015 which ended his career prematurely, but even after retiring, Crispin continued to be involved in the legacy sector that he loved and was so instrumental in shaping.

Crispin 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.

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.

At Crispin’s farewell from ActionAid and the British Heart Foundation, quite unknown to them, both his managers at the time gave the same speech. That Crispin was a man of professionalism and love.

At his final farewell we say the same. We know that many of you will want to mark his passing, and once we have more information from his family about their wishes, we will pass this on.

Matthew Lagden, Institute of Legacy Management
Ashley Rowthorn, Legacy Link         


To mark the passing of Crispin, his family have set up a tribute fund in his name with donations going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. ILM will be making a donation on behalf of its members, but if you wish to make a personal donation or leave any thoughts for the family, you can find the memorial page here.


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