“Philanthropy and social impact are what brought us together—it’s deeply embedded in our lives,” says Trevor Neilson, founder and CEO of i(x) investments, an investing platform addressing areas of human need. “It’s not a choice,” adds his wife, Evelin Weber, executive director of the Malibu Foundation. “It’s who we are.” Their humble approach is a complete reframing of the familiar philanthropy model—it’s not their hobby, it’s their job. “It’s not particularly noble,” notes Neilson, who recently founded the Climate Emergency Fund with Rory Kennedy and Aileen Getty, “it’s just what you should do if you have the ability and resources.”
“Inaction is a choice,” he continues, explaining that within days of the Woolsey Fire starting, he and Weber (Malibu residents, along with their son, Max, and dog, Zuma; Neilson also has two daughters from a previous marriage) immediately sought ways to help their community. “We looked at each other and said, ‘What can we do?’” They quickly phoned friends including Miley Cyrus and Anthony Kiedis for support, launched a website, and created a structure to raise and disperse funds to low-income locals affected by the fire. (“There’s a misconception about Malibu. The fire didn’t just affect rich people,” Neilson adds.) “The fires were still burning as everybody rallied,” recalls Weber, a former investment banker who also founded Narra.life, a lending program for unbanked women, and the Philippines Foundation, which supports female artists in her homeland. “Every year, I’m [increasingly] proud of our family and the amount of change we’re able to effect,” she says.
The couple encourages everyone to make an effort, no matter the scale. “Start a neighborhood drive,” suggests Weber, while Neilson champions activism. “The youth of the world are demanding that we address climate change—it’s tremendously positive!” When asked how they keep their focus and energy, the answer is clear: They inspire each other. “Philanthropy means ‘the love of humanity,’” Neilson explains. “And when you get to do it with the person you love, it’s a wonderful thing.”