Giving on a shoestring?

3 January 2011 | By Cause4 staff

Inspired by the example of his parents, active volunteers in their local community, Marc Gold philanthropic instincts developed at an early age. Merging his interest in philanthropy with a passion for travel, he first visited India in 1989 where he encountered a local woman suffering from an ear infection. Seeing her in pain, Gold took her to a doctor who cured the infection with antibiotics for just $1 and he gave her an additional $30 to buy a hearing aid.

Returning home, the teenage Gold sent letters to 100 of his friends, sharing his discovery that ‘so little money could go such a long way’. He asked if they would donate money to distribute on his next trip to India to others in need. Thus the 100 Friends project was born and when Gold travelled to India again three years later his initial $31 donation had grown to $2,200. What started out as a low-key, informal grassroots project has since developed unrecognisably. 100 Friends helps the most vulnerable children and elderly in the Third World and has provided in excess of $500,000 - with donations ranging from 50 cents to $500 - through 20 major humanitarian missions across over 50 countries. 100 Friends also embodies Gold’s philosophy that those who have received should also give – and in this way the giving cycle is extended to others in desperate need.

This notion of many people giving a giving a little has enabled 100 Friends to provide wheelchairs and rickshaws but also to take on much more complex projects, such as building schools in rural Cambodia and a community centre in Kolkata. Gold has also recently confirmed plans to build a school in Nepal and has announced his intention to ensure that a new building project is undertaken each year in an impoverished area.

Marc Gold’s example shows that in today’s age giving on a shoestring should not be belittled. On the contrary it shows just what the sum of small parts can palpably achieve.

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