Herb Sandler

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE of WEALTH: Golden West Financial Corporation

FUNDING AREAS: Asthma, Neuroscience, Progressive Causes, Social Science Research, Environment, Human & Civil Rights

OVERVIEW: Though the Sandler Foundation was formed in 1991, the vast majority of its giving has been done in the last eight years, after Herb and his wife Marion sold their company and retired. Before Marion died in 2012, the Sandlers worked together in creating several organizations that fight for progressive causes, as well as investing in medical research and other causes. Sandler is known for his extensive due diligence and his strong belief in providing general operating support and investing in strong leadership. The foundation has given away more than $750 million.

BACKGROUND: Herb Sandler attended the City College of New York, and subsequently Columbia Law School before he and 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. 


MEDICAL RESEARCH AND HEALTH: Sandler has put at least $100 million into asthma research, founding the American Asthma Foundation, and more recently the Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center at the University of California San Francisco. The Sandler Foundation has also given comparable sums to UCSF for basic scientific research and its neuroscience program. Recently, the foundation moved into supporting work on health care at Stanford University that aims to reduce costs and improve quality within the U.S. healthcare system. 

PROGRESSIVE CAUSES: The Sandlers helped create a number of progressive organizations, including the Center for American Progress, the Center for Responsible Lending, and the American Constitution Society. The Sandler Foundation is also major supporter of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and select other progressive groups. 

SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH: Sandler has supported the Centers for Equitable Growth, which engages in advanced social science research on the economy, growth, and inequality. 

ENVIRONMENT: The Sandler Foundation has given $60 million for ocean protection and restoration, climate change, and conservation in Baja. His foundation has been a big backer of Oceana. 

MEDIA: The Sandlers bankrolled the founding of ProPublica, which undertakes investigative reporting.

HUMAN & CIVIL RIGHTS: The Sandlers have given nearly $45 million to the ACLU and $45 million to Human Rights Watch, and helped create the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley.

LOOKING FORWARD: More than half of the Sandler family's wealth has already gone into the foundation, which aims to spend down over time. Sandler and his foundation have continued to take on new projects and are open to supporting new initiatives. But be aware: this funder has very high standards and only occasionally makes new investments. 


Sandler Foundation
121 Steuart Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 777-0411