Sandler Foundation: Grants for Environmental Conservation

OVERVIEW: The philanthropic vehicle of Herb Sandler and his late wife, Marion, the Sandler Foundation’s environmental grantmaking takes place under its “Advocate for Vulnerable and Exploited People and Environments” grants category.

IP TAKE:  This is a progressive funder that has not only supported established outfits but also helped start organizations and initiatives. Unfortunately, the foundation currently doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals, and it’s one-page landing page doesn’t offer much information beyond selected grantees.

PROFILE:  Established in 1991, the Sandler Foundation seeks to “invest in strategic organizations and exceptional leaders that seek to improve the rights, opportunities and well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.” Herb Sandler, with his wife Marion, purchased the Golden West Savings and Loan Association for a mere $4 million in 1963. The couple served as co-CEOs for more than four decades, and when the company was finally purchased by Wachovia Bank in 2006, it was worth $24 billion, netting the Sandlers $2.4 billion for their ten percent share. Sandler supports various grantmaking concerns, but does not name specific programs. Grantee lists and tax filings suggest an interest in environmental conservation.

Without a distinct environmental program, it’s unclear what environmental conservation causes Sandler supports. This approach enables the foundation to support a variety of conservation causes rather than restricting grantmaking to a handful of areas. Grants tend to range from tends of thousands to a few hundred thousand; however, sometimes grants reach into the millions like Earth Justice, which received $2 million in 2012. Other past grantees include the Sierra Club’s coal campaign, Consultative Group on Biological Diversity, Turtle Island Restoration Network in Marin County, Island Conservation in Santa Cruz, and the NRDC of San Francisco. Grants tend to prioritizes the West Coast in the United States the west coast, mainly Northern California and Mexico.


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Sandler Foundation

121 Steuart Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 777-0411


Sandler Foundation— Grants Page