Guide to applying: Apply for funding

In 2015 we spent £33m in grants and committed £6m in social investments to 307 organisations doing legally charitable work in the UK across the arts, children and young people, environment , food and social change sectors.

Our grants support organisations’ core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads. We do not fund building or equipment costs, or individuals. 2015 grants ranged from £5k to £1.5m (median average £100,000), with support lasting 1 - 5 years (45% 3 years). Search our database to see what we fund.

There are no deadlines – you can apply at anytime.

We have a two stage application process:

  • 1st stage: apply online. We acknowledge by email within a week and decide whether to take it further within a month.
  • 2nd stage: answer a set of questions from a Grants or Social Investment Manager. We make a decision in 2 - 4 months.

Before applying:

To make your online application you will need to:

  • Decide whether you are applying for a grant or social investment and select the appropriate online application form
  • Give details of your organisation, and what you are applying for.
  • Answer three questions in no more 1,000 words (about two sides of A4 paper):
  1. Give a brief description of your organisation and its relevant track record
  2. What do you want to achieve with our funding?  
  3. How will the grant be spent? 
  • Attach your most recent accounts (or budget if your organisation is new).
  • Attach your constitution if you are not a registered charity.

You might find it helpful to know:

Once you've started the application form, you can save and return to it at any time by clicking on 'Save my progress and resume later'. After providing an email address and password, you will receive a confirmation email which will contain the link to return to your in-progress application form.

After submitting your application, you will receive an email with a copy of your completed application for your own records.

We recommend using the following browsers both of which can be downloaded for free: Internet Explorer (Microsoft), Chrome (by Google) or Firefox (Mozilla).

If you have any questions on the application process, please check the FAQs or contact us at info@esmeefairbairn.org.uk or 020 7812 3700. 

If your application is unsuccessful:

Unfortunately we receive far more applications than we are able to fund. Of the 3000 first-stage applications received in 2015, only 1 in 10 went on to receive funding from the Foundation. We have no restrictions on reapplying, but you might find it helpful to look at why we turn down applications before deciding to submit another application.

We appreciate how challenging fundraising can be and if your work doesn't fit with our priorities please see our other sources of funding help.