Marc Gold – Changing the world, one life at a time…

Marc with a child in CambodiaHe’s been called a “Shoestring Philanthropist”, a “Philanthropic Traveler”, and a “Grassroots Philanthropist”. Any way you say it, Gold gives. He gives slowly, simply, changing one life at a time…

Parade did a “season of giving” article on Marc Gold and his organization 100 Friends. It explains the start of Gold’s philanthropy:

In 1989, while touring India, Gold met Thinlay, a Tibetan refugee, who invited him to his home. Thinlay’s wife, Tsering, welcomed him but kept holding her ears—she was suffering from a painful, deadly infection. Gold found her a physician and bought the antibiotic she needed. It cost just $1—and saved Tsering’s life. Then Gold spent $35 on a hearing aid so she could return to work and her son could go to school. “When I pressed the switch to turn on the hearing aid, her burst of joy burned into my brain,” Gold recalls. “I was thunderstruck, realizing I could restore her hearing for a relative pittance. I thought you had to be wealthy to do such things.”

He came home and wrote to 100 people, asking for donations in any amount. Two years later he returned to India with $2,200 to give. In his own words he strives to:

“…put the money to work in the most compassionate, appropriate, culturally compatible, constructive and practical manner possible. You put the donation into my hands and I put the funds directly into the hands of the needy individual or family, or a small trusted grassroots organization helping them.”

To date, 100 Friends has dispensed more than $550,000 throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His goal is to give away $1 million, which, a friend jokes, would make him a “reverse millionaire”.

Although Gold usually gives in relatively small, one-time amounts, the impact can be enormous.

  • A school for 30 children in Indonesia whose parents have leprosy. Previously the children spent their days begging in the streets for their families’ survival.
  • Prostheses and physical therapy for a 33 year old women from Hanoi who lost her legs when hit by a truck. She will now operate her own small business selling coffee from a hand cart.
  • A wheelchair for the mother of a little girl who otherwise struggled to push her in a wooden cart.

Although most of the giving is individual, 100 Friends has several initiatives, including:

  • Sister school projects that link students in the U.S. with schools and orphanages in developing countries.
  • 100 Schools Program, which aims to build 100 schools in poor areas. Five have been built so far, including a school in Afghanistan for children who had been learning in tents. About a recent trip to Tibet, Gold writes of

“…one of many students is receiving a $150 scholarship – that’s for one year’s tuition and fees. Without these funds, these students will have to herd sheep (literally!) for the rest of their lives.” [Em mine.]

  • Children’s Medical Program, which has paid for the treatment of burns, accidents, heart conditions and birth defects.
  • Nepali Girls Program – $33 buys a cow or pig for a family in Nepal, whose extreme poverty would otherwise force them to sell one or more daughters – as young as six – into bonded servitude, which is another word for domestic slavery, and through which many girls are forced into prostitution.
  • Sponsored Education – As little as $10 per month can keep a child in school.

Gold pays his travel expenses himself and has little overhead. At least 85% of the donations to 100 Friends goes directly to those in need. As he puts it:

“You give to me and I give to them.”

Marc with a man in KabulFurther reading:

Marc Gold: Grassroots Philanthropist – Article by Mike Lippitt at

100 Friends Newsletters – Lots of info, pictures, stories of changed lives, and ways to give.

Donate – Help Gold change a few lives on his next trip.


One Response to “Marc Gold – Changing the world, one life at a time…”

  1. Marc Gold – Changing the world, one life at a time… | 100 Friends Says:

    […] From The Blackbird Whistling or Just After blog – please click here to link to the original post. […]

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