Mark Astarita

The non-profit and fundraising world has lost one of its finest with the death of Mark Astarita OBE



I was shocked to hear of the sudden and unexpected death of my dear friend, colleague and giant of the fundraising world, Mark Astarita, who passed away in Spain on Friday. Our deepest sympathies go out to colleagues, especially Imogen and Tobin, all at Astarita Aldrich & Ward and his partner Angie, son Daniel, and his wider family.


Imogen has written on the AAW website a uniquely beautiful testimony to Mark, which I encourage you to read. To Mark, With All Our Love — AAW Group (


Mark and I first met on a sunny Friday evening in 1987 at the pub next to the then offices of the UK development charity War on Want, where I was working as Fundraising Campaigns and Communications Director at the time. Back in those days, it was something of a tradition for our team to have a couple of beers together at the end of the week. That evening my colleague Gill was joined in the pub by her then boyfriend, Mark. We were immediately charmed by this young trade union worker, who was clearly a bit of a cocky “rough diamond” who, despite leaving school at 15, could more than hold his own and in any debate with those of us with university degrees and the like.


A few months later Gill, who worked in administration at the time, said in her typical style “I could be a bloody fundraiser,” to which I replied, “You certainly can”. Off she went to head up fundraising at the UK charity Prisoners Abroad with remarkable success, and when she moved on to new challenges, Mark took over her role and excelled, and so his fundraising journey began.


Gill and Mark over the years became “the power couple” of UK fundraising both winning countless awards, fundraiser of the year etc., holding senior roles in high profile charities, Mark chairing what is now the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, heading up Fundraising at the British Red Cross and acting in a de-facto global leadership role for the Red Cross/Red Crescent worldwide. Losing his then wife Gill early to cancer was a huge blow but it only served for him to double up what he gave to the non-profit world, including to the hospice sector.


Mark will be sorely missed for his energy, enthusiasm, passion, comradeship, vision, and laughter. In all my 37 years of knowing Mark, I never saw him without a smile and a warm welcome whenever we met. It is with our sadness that Mark is no longer with us, but it is with joy that we celebrate his life well lived and the tremendous good that he brought to the world through his deeds.



Daryl Upsall