Part II of our Black Philanthropy Month Spotlight on Lola C. West
For Black Philanthropy Month (BPM) we are highlighting stories of those who are committed to informing, inspiring, and investing in Black communities. Through a series of interviews, we will explore the various ways leaders are celebrating and emphasizing the importance of investing in Black leadership from within the Black community in Brooklyn and beyond.
In this second installment of our interview with Lola C. West, Managing Director of WestFuller Advisors and member of the Foundation’s Spark Prize Committee, we discussed her giving philosophy and her work in community-based philanthropy.
Above: Portrait of Lola C. West by Alain Schroeder. Image courtesy of Lola C. West.
What drives your giving?
Stacey Abrams (left) and Lola C. West (right) at the Foundation’s 2019 Invest in Brooklyn Dinner.
How was your experience as a member of the Spark Prize Committee?
Are you involved in other types of collaborative, community-based philanthropy?
Yes. I sit on the board of the Donors of Color Network, which is an organization that was started in 2019, and the research began in 2016/17. I'm a wealth advisor, so how philanthropy is distributed is always important to me. Before, I was a fundraiser where I worked with major Black nonprofits around the country. I did most of their fundraising, so I wore that hat. Then I became a financial advisor, and I handle investments in certain small nonprofits and foundations. It's two different hats, so what happens is that philanthropy is always important to me.
One of the arenas where I observed that there really was a dearth of organizations was around people of color and what their giving was. So I participated in some studies where you had to have a million dollars in investable assets, and give 5% away, or thirty million and still give 5% away. My business partner was the first person interviewed for this study about donors of color. When we talk about donors of color, we're talking about all cultures and races other than white. So the study was done on Native Americans, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, Filipinos, people from around the world, because that's who lives in New York, that’s who lives in America. We interviewed 112 people, and of those people, 78% of them were wealth creators, they didn't inherit the money. What we're looking at is what the power in philanthropy is for people of color. So that's what we're doing right now. It's incredibly important to me because by creating the Donors of Color Network what we're doing is having the funds distributed by people of color, in ways that support people of color.
Black Philanthropy Month, celebrated in August, was created in August 2011 by Dr. Jackie Bouvier Copeland and the Pan-African Women's Philanthropy Network (PAWPNet) as an annual, global celebration of African-descent giving.