Founded in 1961, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent funders.
In 2021, we provided £51.6m in grant funding towards a wide range of work in support of our three main aims: to improve Our Natural World, secure A Fairer Future and nurture Creative, Confident Communities. We also have a £45m allocation to social investments. Our funds are generated by our investment portfolio.
Meet our people
Who's who at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Meet our staff and trustees.Our people
Our organisational values act as a guide for staff and trustees about how we work at Esmée.Read more
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our commitments on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as an organisation and through our work.Read more
Read about our commitment to addressing the causes and impacts of climate change.Read more
We publish all our grants and social investments on 360Giving, an initiative that aims to help UK funders share their data in an open and standard format online.Read more
Our approach to investing, how we invest and an overview of our investments.Read more
Information about our strategic plan including our impact goals and the outcomes we hope to achieve by 2030. We also outline how we will work in support of our mission.Read more
Esmée is governed by a Board of Trustees who meet six times each year to set and oversee the delivery of the Foundation’s strategy. We also have a number of Trustee committees, which support our work throughout the year.Read more
Open and trusting grant-making
Learn about our commitments to open and trusting grant-making, which is part of a campaign launched by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR).Read more
Working for Esmée
Our vision is for Esmée to have a diverse team of staff and Trustees – with the skills, knowledge, experience, networks and insights required to deliver our strategic plan.Read more
Our Annual ReportRead our latest Annual Report
In 1961 Ian Fairbairn, a leading City figure, decided to endow a charitable foundation with the bulk of his holdings in the company he had joined some 30 years before, M&G.
M&G was a pioneer of the unit trust industry in the UK. It grew out of Ian Fairbairn’s determination that investments in equities, previously the preserve of the affluent, should be available to all – giving everyone the potential to own a stake in the nation’s economy.
His purpose in establishing the Foundation was two-fold. In the interests of wider prosperity, he aimed to promote a greater understanding of economic and financial issues through education. He also wanted to establish a memorial to his wife, Esmée, who had played a prominent role in developing the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and the Citizens Advice Bureau. She was killed in an air raid during the Second World War.
Esmée Fairbairn’s sons, Paul and Oliver Stobart, also contributed generously to the Foundation established in their mother’s memory.
In 1999 the Foundation sold its holding in M&G as part of the company’s takeover by Prudential Corporation PLC. As a result of this sale, the Foundation’s endowment grew significantly in value. So did the size and scope of the grants it was able to make.
Today, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-making organisations in the UK.
You might be interested in
27 July 2022
A Fairer Future – developing a new strategy
Veda Harrison, Director of Creative, Confident Communities and A Fairer Future, shares our new strategy for A Fairer Future. We will open to applications in A Fairer Future in October 2022.Read more
What we're doing to protect and restore freshwater in the UK
As part of our series of blogs on our roadmap to improving Our Natural World, Simon Wightman, Esmée's lead on freshwater, writes about our support and work with others towards protecting and restoring freshwater environments in the UK.Read more
Using Most Significant Change to understand outcomes for young people leaving care
We asked the Centre for Youth Impact to run a series of workshops on ‘Most Significant Change’ for organisations on Esmée’s Young People Leaving Care Learning Programme. Learn more about the approach and read the stories of change from participants.Read more
How we work with the Involving Young People Collective
Catherine Hillis, Esmée’s children and young people lead outlines how we’re working with the Involving Young People Collective to improve our practice and support for young people.Read more