Founded in 1961, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent funders.
In 2019 we made grants of £35.8m to a wide range of work in the arts, children and young people, the environment, food and social change. We also have a £45m allocation to social investments. Our funds are generated by our investment portfolio.
We have launched a new strategy, which will focus our work on three interdependent aims.
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
Our commitment on climate change.Read more
Our approach to investing, how we invest and an overview of our investments.Read more
Advisory Panel for Our Natural World
We recognise the expertise of others and are delighted to be able to call on the support of a brilliant panel of experts to help us deliver our strategy for Our Natural World.Read more
Involving young people
We want to do better at listening to and involving young people more directly with our work so we're working with the Involving Young People Collective to help us design and test ways in which we can do this.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
Information about our governance.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.
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11 January 2021
Q&A on Esmée's new strategy and how we make decisions
EVENT ON 14 JANUARY 2021: Join us for a webinar on our new strategy and put your questions to the Esmée Team.Read more
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation welcomes two new Trustees
We are thrilled to welcome two new Trustees to Esmée's Board: Professor Claire Alexander and Dr Wanda Wyporska.Read more
Caroline Mason awarded a damehood in New Year's Honours list
Our Chief Executive, Caroline Mason CBE, has been recognised with a damehood in the New Year's honours listRead more
What we're doing about diversity, equity and inclusion
This article explains where Esmée Fairbairn has got to so far, where we're headed, and pulls together our views, plans, and resources.Read more