Are the Salls Going to Expand their Environmental Giving?

The Sall Family Foundation gives around $8 million a year, but to a very short and consistent list of grantees three or four recipients, to be exact. But that might be changing. 

John and Ginger Sall are highly active in nonprofits, including conservation groups, for which they’ve both served or currently serve as directors. And they’re also pretty serious philanthropists, as cofounders of their Sall Family Foundation since 1993. John is estimated by Forbes to be worth $3.9 billion, as a result of his cofounding the SAS software company. SAS is one of the most-used business analytics software suites in the country.  

Related - Sall Family Foundation: Grants for Conservation

The foundation has just a couple of causesglobal development and conservation. And its giving is remarkably consistent and focused. Every now and then, we come across philanthropists who find the groups they like, and just stick with them every year. And this couple, at least through the foundation’s grantmaking, is definitely one of these funders. 

Specifically, their biggest beneficiary is CARE, an international humanitarian nonprofit that runs programs in the world’s poorest communities. CARE gets roughly half of all the foundation’s giving, $4.75 million in 2013. 

The other two main grantees are conservation groups. The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund have each received somewhere between $1 million and $2 million in recent years. Giving has mostly been on the rise, and it’s a little different each year. Sometimes Duke University is in the mix, where Virginia Sall sits on the board of advisors for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. But that’s really pretty much it. 

Now they’re definitely not on autopilot, as they have been deeply involved with these groups for many years. And it’s hard to say exactly how much, but they have given private donations to groups like World Resources Institute. The couple also signed the giving pledge in 2012 to donate the majority of their wealth. 

Related: IP Profile of John Sall

So can we expect to see the foundation shake up its giving? Maybe. It’s hard to say because the foundation doesn’t have much in the way of a public face or access points. 

But one sign that the door might be opening a bit is that, in 2013, for the first time in recent history, they made a handful of small grants to different groups. Six nonprofits showed up on the list, most receiving grants for $50,000. Most of these groups were development nonprofits, dealing with small farmers, for example.

But it makes you wonder if the foundation is going to be ramping up, both in dollar amount and number of recipients. And with their big interest in conservation, that could mean branching out from the two big guys.