Mark McGoldrick was a singular figure, a man of immense accomplishment and an unbridled heart. He left us far too soon. Mark’s passing compels us to recognize that his life – bold, strong, and eminently compassionate – has indelibly influenced the lives of those he encountered, and those he never met, children in vulnerable circumstances around the world who now live better lives because Mark McGoldrick chose to see them.
I first met Mark over the phone. He had sent a letter to the Global Fund for Children office to let us know that he intended to make a generous gift and wanted to know the best means to do so. When I got the message from my colleague, I immediately set about scheduling a call to speak with him. At the time, Mark was in Hong Kong co-leading the Goldman Sachs Special Situations Group. I set up a call with him. A few weeks later, I was awakened by a phone call at 2:10 in the morning telling me that Mr. McGoldrick was waiting for my call. I had misinterpreted the time difference. Mark’s assistant put me through. Flustered, I opened with a profuse apology, at which Mark chuckled and told me that the time/day difference happens all the time.
During our conversation, I was able to explain GFC’s unique model, the type of organizations we sought to fund, the lives of the children within these organizations, and the businesslike considerations that lay at the heart of stretching precious philanthropic capital. At the end of it, Mark thanked me, then said he had changed his mind about his investment in our work. Inwardly crushed, I asked him where our model came up short. But at that he laughed again and told me that in fact he had decided to double his investment.
Mark’s relationship with GFC began early that morning and grew for well over a decade. Our team learned a lot from Mark – he questioned, and challenged, and dared, and through it all, GFC became stronger, wiser, and more efficient. He helped teach me that the best nonprofits must blend their ideals with solid business principles, and that good works alone cannot sustain them; that they must be buttressed by sound economic planning, the careful and efficient allocation of resources, and a stewardship of trust placed in our grantee partners’ work.
It was at Mark’s urging that GFC launched its UK Trust. Building upon his own longstanding relationships within the London business community, Mark helped bring together the initial resources and extraordinary individuals that got us off the ground, and he became the founding chair. Today, Global Fund for Children UK Trust’s footprint has grown to comprise a substantial portion of GFC’s assets and, more significantly, the work those assets accomplish. Mark became the Chair of the Board of Directors in the United States, a logical evolution for one whose quiet passion had come to shape the way we worked and the way we thought about that work. Mark’s sentiments were shared in an insightful Wall Street Journal article over a decade ago entitled “Risking More to Serve Children”.
We look at the arc of Mark’s life now. His status at Goldman Sachs is legendary. It was that business acumen that he brought to GFC and to his other philanthropic pursuits. Mark was truly a global citizen by the places he lived; the places he traveled; those with whom he worked and who came to see both his brilliance and his compassion; the organizations that were able to savor his friendship; and, in the end, all those children whose lives glow brighter because of his dedication to their wellbeing. The legacy of any life is the effect it has on those who have shared it, and Mark leaves behind a wonderful and loving family – his wife Debbie and his children Rebecca, Charlotte, and Sam.
Genuinely curious, immensely generous, alive to the world around him – we are forever better for having walked beside Mark McGoldrick, and we recognize that his remarkable spirit will go on forever.
Founder, Global Fund for Children
President & CEO
Society for Science
Executive Publisher, Science News
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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