Craig and Susan McCaw

NET WORTH: $1.8 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: McCaw Cellular, Clearwire, Eagle River Investments

FUNDING AREAS: Education, global economic development, conservation

OVERVIEW: The majority of Craig McCaw’s giving is directed through the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation. The foundation doesn’t accept unsolicited letters of inquiry. 

BACKGROUND: When McCaw was a sophomore in college, his father died, leaving his family with his cable business, along with a significant amount of debt. They were forced to sell the cable companies to pay the debt, save the one based in Centralia, which was left in trust to the brothers. McCaw's career has had many ups and downs since then, but he is a billionaire and has been involved in philanthropy since at least the 1990s, when he established the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation with his second wife. Giving through the foundation has tended to be around several million dollars a year.  

PHILOSOPHY: Craig and Susan McCaw signed the Giving Pledge in 2013. The couple also noted that they plan to stay on track with their personal philanthropic history of supporting education, global economic development and conservation. 

ISSUES:

EDUCATION: Craig McCaw keeps his K-12 education donations local, and has given at least a few million dollars to Seattle public schools. Meanwhile, McCaw focuses the majority of his education donation dollars on higher ed—more specifically, his alma mater, Stanford, to which he has donated at least $20 million over the years. The lion's share of McCaw’s donations went to the university’s Parent’s Club, with a smaller chunk directed toward the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Stanford’s Parent’s Club supports the school’s lecture series and provides student loans and scholarships. The Club also established the Men’s and Women’s Rest Home for students who are ill but do not require hospital care. The Freeman Spogli Institute is a research and education institute that largely focuses on global policy and economic development issues.

UC Santa Barbara has also received $3.6 million in financial support from McCaw over the past few years. He's also made recent gifts to nonprofit educational organizations like the Horatio Alger Association, Team Read, and See Your Impact. 

GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The McCaws tend to support larger, international organizations working in the field of global economic development. The Grameen Foundation USA, the microlending organization, has received millions in support over the years. The Ashoka Foundation is another major global development organization that has received around $5 million in support from McCaw. Ashoka’s global development work is relatively wide-ranging and includes activities related to economic development, social inclusion, and access to justice.

The single largest economic development donation from the McCaws in recent years was a $4 million check they wrote to Union Internationale des Telecommunications. It is a UN agency headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization focuses on improving telecom infrastructure in developing countries and works to promote the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards in global technology and communications systems.

The McCaws have also given smaller anti-poverty organization Nuru International $500,000 in support of its global development work and have also supported the Pacific Council on International Policy, an international affairs organization located in Los Angeles.

ENVIRONMENT: McCaw has been giving to environmental causes since he was married to his first wife, Wendy, who is a strong animal rights activist. Though the couple divorced in 1997, (he married his current wife, former US Ambassador to Austria Susan Rasinski, in 1998), McCawhas continued to support environment and wildlife habitat conservation efforts. He has donated $1 million to the Jane Goodall Institute and is a big supporter of the Nature Conservancy. As well, in 1994, McCaw was revealed as a major donor to The Free Willy Foundation.

CANCER: McCaw’s gifts to cancer treatment and research comprise a bit of an outlier in his giving. McCaw recently gave Dana-Farber around $2.2 million and has given $2 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation in the past. Although he has given a large amount of money to Dana Farber and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, there isn’t any real indication that he is going to start giving steadily to cancer treatment and research facilities in the future.

LOOKING AHEAD: Craig McCaw has remained pretty steady in his philanthropy over the past decade or so, making it likely that he won’t stray too far from the philanthropic path he has already established. On the other hand, the Giving Pledge commitment suggests that the McCaws will eventually have to step up their giving, so bigger things are likely to come. 

CONTACT:

Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation
PO Box 2908
Kirkland, WA 98083
contact@mccawfoundation.org