We 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.
We believe that transformative change requires strong leaders and well-managed organizations with significant capacity and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Accordingly, we focus on providing meaningful levels of general support to a limited number of outstanding organizations.
We have high standards for what we fund and conduct extensive due diligence to evaluate leaders and organizations. We are not motivated to fund solely by an organization’s mission; rather, a compelling mission needs to be combined with great leadership and the ability to execute and affect change. We provide long-term support to outstanding organizations that combine these attributes.
We view nonprofit leaders and organizations as the experts and agents of change. It is about them, not us. We are not micro-managers, but rather view our role as “macro-managers” focused on big picture issues like maintaining high standards of excellence, pursuing ambitious goals and sound strategies, and assembling a high-quality team that can execute and manage risk effectively.
We look for opportunities to add value beyond just our funding and often work with grantees to catalyze their expansion and/or improved operating capacity so they can have greater reach and impact for the long-term.
We have a high tolerance for risk and look for opportunities for leverage. We have launched new organizations to fill the gaps when we could find outstanding leadership. We often issue challenge grants to encourage other donors to support organizations.
We strive for impact that makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of large numbers of people. We primarily fund nationally — not locally, regionally or internationally — and we support policy advocacy, not direct services. We are a spend-down foundation with a lean staff. We do not structure ourselves around program areas or spread funds among many groups in a field.
We do not review unsolicited proposals.
Sandler Foundation was formed in 1991 by Herb Sandler and Marion Sandler.
Here is a one-page summary of our approach, grant categories and some of our grantees.
We have also adopted Values and Guiding Principles for Grants, summarizing our operating philosophy. Herb Sandler discusses the foundation’s approach to philanthropy at Bridgespan.org.
As of December 31, 2022, Sandler Foundation had made charitable grants in excess of $1.2 billion.