Philanthropic Power Couples: Barbara and Wade West of AmFund
Meet Barbara and Wade West of AmFund
Barbara and Wade West
“Not bad for two kids from Amarillo!” Wade West whispered to his wife, Barbara, moments before they stepped into the spotlight on stage in Las Vegas. The husband-and-wife TV news team was hosting a fundraiser at the glamourous Wynn hotel before a star-studded audience of Vegas glitterati, including Simon Cowell and his fellow judges of America’s Got Talent. Wade and Barbara’s unique approach to philanthropy crystallized early in their careers when, co-anchoring in Texas, they hosted a nonstop 24-hour fundraising auction telethon for Easter Seals.
After moving to Orlando, Barbara joined the news team at WFTV, Channel 9, for nearly 25 years, and Wade founded AmFund, the American Fundraising Foundation. Almost every weekend, they hosted charitable events, raising donations by auctioning exotic trips and experiences they created.
“I don’t know how we did it,” says Barbara. “We worked seven days a week for years, flying on weekends all over the country to raise money for charities. We never charged the nonprofits anything and never paid ourselves a single penny for more than 16 years.” Wade says, “After reporting so many sad stories on the news, we wanted to make the world a better place by supporting charities that provide needed medical care, house the homeless, feed the hungry, serve disabled veterans, rescue pets, save sick children, and assist those less fortunate than we are.”
Each year, the American Fundraising Foundation (AmFund) carefully chooses organizations to support through sponsorship of events, year-end grant distribution, virtual silent auctions, and other programs to raise much-needed unrestricted funds for the important mission of those organizations. AmFund currently partners with nearly 700 organizations in support of their funding needs.
The national headquarters of AmFund is located in Florida and opens its training center to nonprofit organizations for lunch and learns as well as special programs. Its Educational Foundation is a Federally recognized 501(c)3 and provides professional training for Development Directors, Executive Directors, Board Members, and others leveraging more than two decades of fundraising experience. It offers expertise in a wide variety of topics for groups ranging in size from 12 to 1000.
Since its inception in 1999, the American Fundraising Foundation has distributed more than $50 million for worthy causes. Its signature silent auctions featuring once-in-a-lifetime experiences are presented at organizations’ special events, whether in person, virtual or hybrid events, drawing admiration, praise and excitement as the entire process elevates the event in the eyes of patrons, board members and the community.
For more information about AmFund please visit: www.amfund.org or call 407-895-8000.
Today the Wests’ national AmFund headquarters is a 10,000-square-foot building in Maitland. Employing more than 40 staffers, they support over 700 deserving organizations each year. Their total contributions to worthy charities now exceed 50 million dollars. AmFund also teaches successful fundraising techniques across the nation and has provided an additional $450,000 in “Golden Pear Grants” to deserving 501c3 organizations.
“It may not be as exciting as anchoring the news every night,” Barbara says, “but it’s great to know we are paying it forward for those who need our help.”