Understanding Travelers Philanthropy

Marc Gold: Visionary Philanthropic Traveler in Chicago Tribune

Marc Gold and friend

In February, Arlene Butler of Willowbrook asked 40 friends to consider donating money that she would give away during a trip to Thailand. She raised $3,000, the equivalent of a typical annual salary in that country, with contributions ranging from $2 to $250. Among those who chipped in with $100 was Marc Gold, a 57-year-old community college professor from California.It’s a gift that Gold has made about two dozen times to people who have been inspired by an group that he founded in 1989, the 100 Friends Project. The group is based on reaching out to friends”it started out as 100 at first, hence the name”to donate money. Gold then uses the money for what he calls “philanthropic travel,” usually a six-month trip in which the money is used to help improve lives. In mid-July, he will begin a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Among other causes, he will donate $20,000 to build a school for 1,000 boys and girls in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

During his fund raising swing through Chicago, which included stops in Willowbrook, Downers Grove and Arlington Heights and ends Sunday in Oak Park, Gold has already raised $4,000.

Funds for his organization come through word of mouth, one-on-one meetings, home gatherings, presentations before larger groups in public venues and the project’s Internet site at 100friendsproject.org

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At a fund raiser in her home Friday night, Butler, 51, related how, through a few key contact people referred by Gold, she gave $1,500 to a group that grants wishes to terminally ill children and $1,500 that covered an entire summer-activities program for an orphanage of children with AIDS. “It changes your DNA when you have a chance to go and do these things,” Butler told guests. “Marc was the inspiration for all of that.

Before about 15 people, Gold explained that it is vital for philanthropic travelers to learn how to network with trustworthy, knowledgeable individuals in a given locale, to be discerning in how they donate and to be sensitive to cultural differences along the way.

At one point, he drew guests’ attention to slides that showed a beaming Indonesian woman who had lost her husband and three children in the 2004 tsunami. “This is why I do what I do,” Gold said. “I’ve seen this look hundreds of times and I’m hooked.

The project is the fulfillment of an actual dream Gold first had as a 7-year-old child growing up in Atlantic City. In the dream, Gold is standing atop Mt. Everest and sees a family of four from a far-off village beckoning him to come and help. The images were embedded in Gold’s psyche as the years rolled by and as he developed a growing case of wanderlust. Then, in November 1989, the dream repeated itself one night. Upon waking, Gold immediately began preparing for an around-the-world trip that he launched the next month and included an encounter with an extremely poor Tibetan man living in the Himalayas.

Gold met the man’s family. His wife had been suffering from life-threatening ear infections for months. For a dollar, Gold bought antibiotics that cleared up the problem. And for another $30, Gold bought a hearing aid and had the honor of turning it on. The woman began sobbing for joy, and Gold’s life, he told the gathering, “changed in that moment.” “I realized the power that a small amount of money can make in people’s lives,” he said.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune by Matt Baron Special to the Tribune June 19, 2007, 7:13 PM CDT

Inquire now about private Philanthropic Family Safaris to Africa, Asia, South America, India and Bhutan with Marc Gold -powered by Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel Worldwide.

Learn More:
Visit 100Friends.com
Understanding Philanthropic Travel
Fast Company Magazine on Philanthropic Travel
DIY Foreign Policy: Philanthropic Travel
Philanthropic Traveler funded High School opens near Victoria Falls, Zambia
The Fable of Stone Soup
My First Philanthropic Travel Experience
Exquisite Safaris Donates 10% profit + 10% employee time + your loose change..
Affluent Parents Dedicated to Instilling Philanthropic Values in their Children
Giving while Living: The Deeper News About the New Philanthropy
Dr. Jeffrey Sachs on the Strategic Steps Out of Poverty
Are We Talking about Philanthropy Yet? No, We Are Not

Philanthropic Travelers:
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Marc Gold 100 Friends Project
Visionary Philanthropic Traveler Chellie Kew
Rachael Paulson Philanthropic Traveler
Milton & Fred Ochieng: Philanthropic Travelers
Jane Kaye- Bailey: Philanthropic Traveler
Richard Branson: Philanthropic Traveler
Angelina Jolie: Philanthropic Traveler
Karen Jacobsen: Philanthropic Traveler
Oprah Winfrey: Philanthropic Traveler
Palm Beach Life Magazine: Philanthropic Travelers

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