Mark Astaria to leave British Red Cross for consultancy aimed at third sector

07 August 2017 3 min. read
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British Red Cross Fundraising Director Mark Astarita has announced he will leave the charity in late 2017 to join the fundraising and search consultancy Aldrich & Ward. The decision comes after 14 years with the charity, with Astarita due to focus on work with the international entity of the Red Cross project, in his new role as a consultant.

Aldrich & Ward is a boutique practice focused on helping charities and social businesses develop and implement organisational strategies, by identifying and recruiting the best talent to secure success in the third sector. The company was founded by Tobin Aldrich – who previously led fundraising and communications functions for major charities including Concern Worldwide, WWF and the National Deaf Children's Society – and Imogen Ward – whose 20+ years' experience in senior non-profit leadership roles include being CEO of an African education charity and the Lessons for Life Foundation. Come November, the boutique will change its name to Astarita Aldrich & Ward, when their new colleague, British Red Cross (BRC) Funding Director Mark Astarita, joins the consulting firm.

Astarita has worked for the BRC for a total of 14 years, and also served as chair of the Institute of Fundraising between 2011 and 2014. Over the course of his lengthy tenure at the forefront of the third sector, Astarita has been notably outspoken, creating controversy in 2013 when he used IoF’s national awards as a platform to berated charity leaders for not defending their fundraisers – describing them as "cowards" for failing to defend their ground-staff when their efforts came under fire from critics. This later saw the Fundraising Director come under attack from British Tabloid The Daily Mail, as part of its investigation into the fundraising tactics used by some major charities. Despite this, in 2016 Astarita was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to the charity sector.

As part of his new role, Astarita will work with the International Red Cross, the global incarnation of the charity he will leave, to lead the consultancy’s work on the creation and implementation of a new global fundraising hub for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. The hub is designed to help build the fundraising capacity and expertise of the entity’s local segments, through strategic input, data analysis and global insight. In order to pursue his new task, Astarita confirmed he was not receiving a pay-out to leave BRC, as well as taking a pay-cut from his previous £120,000 a year salary.

Mark Astaria to leave British Red Cross for consultancy aimed at third sector

"I’ve been an advocate for global solutions within the International Red Cross movement for a decade," Astarita said of the move. "It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time and the opportunity came to do something about it. What could I do but step forward?"

The move was due to be announced eight weeks previously, however the news was put on hold following the terrorist attack on Manchester and the Grenfell Tower fire, national tragedies which the BRC became heavily involved in raising for. At the time Astarita said an incredible amount of money had been raised but he was concerned that the method through which it was being distributed was extremely complex, creating barriers that individuals implicated in the tragedies had trouble navigating, leaving large amounts of the £18-20 million raised for Grenfell victims alone unspent. 

While announcing his approaching departure from the BRC, Astaria said the work the charity did as a result of those two events would be among the proudest memories he would take away from his time at the British Red Cross. "I used to say the thing I was most proud of was the work we did around the bombings of 7 July 2015," he stated. "But the past eight weeks have been the most extraordinary and relentless weeks of my life: not only have we raised a lot of money, but we have also distributed a lot of it, and the Red Cross has never been more active in terms of the volunteers deployed.”