2020 SFF AnnualReport - Page 36



DONOR IMPACT
HIGHLIGHT - DONOR IMPACT
Q and A with Vinitha Watson,
Donor Advised Fund Holder
What issues are you passionate about?
W
e [my husband and I] are passionate
about supporting entrepreneurs of
color. Through this lens, our philanthropy has
focused on entrepreneurs who are serving
their communities through art, culture, policy,
technology, and entrepreneurship.
How did you first get involved in
philanthropy?
As a first generation
Indian American, I was
raised with a community
focus and a communal
spirit. My large Indian
family showed me
that when one person
prospers, it’s meant to
be leveraged so that
many can prosper. My
husband and I came
into wealth in our
late twenties. It was
overwhelming and
we felt a tremendous
responsibility to guide
this wealth in positive
ways. We started our
giving in 2005 and educated ourselves on
global issues such as lack of access to basic
needs like water. In our early days we supported
a fantastic organization called KickStart, which
provides water pumps to small scale African
farmers to enable them to grow high-value
crops to lift themselves out of poverty. We
also tried to understand the local Bay Area
34
2020 Annual Report
landscape and funded organizations such
as People’s Food Cooperative and Global
Fund for Women. We started to realize that
our consistent thread of giving was centered
around supporting entrepreneurs of color.
Around 2007, we moved back to my birthplace
of Oakland. Along with being entrepreneurs,
my husband and I are both, first and foremost,
artists. As we got more deeply involved with
our local arts community,
we saw that artists were
struggling to sustain
themselves. We also found
that our community was
not being fully supported
by traditional philanthropy.
We decided to widen our
philanthropic reach to
entrepreneurs of color who
are artists.
What knowledge and skills
do you bring to your giving?
We are early stage
philanthropists. We often
fund budding ventures led by
people of color founders who
are passionate and have some
record of success but who are still working
towards their big slam dunk. We believe that
capital needs to be used to create a runway
or a laboratory to figure out how to make the
most impact. There is an energy shift that
happens for people of color entrepreneurs
who get financial backing. The psychological
effects are enormous when they see that
someone believes in them.





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