Nick and Leslie Hanauer: Tech Grants

NET WORTH: $1 billion, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Venture Capitalist;, aQuantive

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Environment, Policy, Gun Control, Seattle Community

OVERVIEW: Nick and Leslie Hanauer do their grantmaking through the Nick and Leslie Hanauer Family Foundation, which prioritizes education, the environment, and public policy, among other issues, both locally in Seattle and on a national level. The couple are part of the Giving Pledge.

BACKGROUND: Nick Hanauer studied philosophy at University of Washington. After graduating, he worked for his family’s feather bedding company, Pacific Coast Feather, before going into the technology industry. Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 35 companies. He was the first non-family investor in, and founded aQuantive, purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. He is also a co-founder of Second Avenue Partners, a venture capital firm in Seattle.

Leslie Hanauer graduated from the University of Washington, where she studied communication and advertising. She has previously worked as an advertising account executive and media buyer. She is the president of the Nick and Leslie Hanauer Foundation and is the capital campaign chair for the board of trustees at SAAS Rising, a $35 million capital campaign to support campus transformation at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, and independent middle and high school in Seattle.


EDUCATION: Last decade, Hanauer co-founded the League of Education Voters, an organization that works on behalf of students “to support an education system that provides all students an equal opportunity for success from cradle to career." The couple, through their foundation, has supported organizations such as, a nonprofit that seeks to "encourage people, particularly school students in the United States, to learn computer science." Other grantees include Epiphany School in Seattle, League of Education Voters, Seattle Academy, and Year Up Puget Sound. The couple were primary donors and driving forces behind the launch of University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter. Hanauer supports his alma mater University of Washington, as well.

ENVIRONMENT: The Hanauers are interested in the environment. The couple's foundation has supported organizations such as Conservation International, Forterra and the Bullitt Foundation, which funds environmental organizations in the west. The couple has also supported Climate Solutions, a Northwest-based clean energy economy nonprofit.

GUNS: In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Hanauer co-founded the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, whose mission is to "put forward and support commonsense solutions to reduce gun violence." The organization was the primary backer for Initiative 594, which expands state background check laws to all gun purchases. Hanauer donated over $1 million to the campaign. The couple were also major donors to a successful gun buyback effort in Seattle.

PUBLIC POLICY: The couple has supported the Center for American Progress, Democracy Journal, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization. They have also provided funding for Third Way Institute, and Movement Strategy Center, which works with "grassroots organizations, alliances, and networks, as well as funders, to build powerful and transformative social justice movements." Nick is a partner of the Democracy Alliance, the network of wealthy progressive donors. 

Nick has long been interested in income inequality and has been outspoken on the issue. He gave a 2012 TED Talk in which he declared that “rich people don’t create jobs.” And he authored a widely read article for Politico in 2014 titled "The Pitchforks Are Coming... For Us Plutocrats." Hanauer has been a strong advocate of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, including in Seattle. 

SEATTLE COMMUNITY: The Hanauers are based in Seattle and the city is important in their philanthropy. Their foundation has supported Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Center Fund, Progress Alliance of Washington, whose vision is a "Washington State that is a healthy place to live with shared economic success and security, and a democracy that works for its people,"  and Woodland Park Zoo. The couple has also supported the Seattle chapter of the United Way, donating $200,000 in both 2014 and 2015.

LOOKING FORWARD: Hanauer has said that in his 40s, he decided to devote no more than a third of his time to "things associated with increasing [his] net worth." His outspokenness on issues such as gun control and income inequality may well translate to even greater philanthropy down the line.  


The Nick and Leslie Hanauer Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the couple but below is an address

The Nick and Leslie Hanauer Foundation
1301 Second Ave., Ste. 2850
Seattle, WA 98101