Founded in 1961, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent funders.
In 2020, we provided £53.5m in grant funding (this includes our emergency response to COVID and Funding Plus) towards 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
Our commitment on 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
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 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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30 November 2021
Supporting capacity and capability of organisations working to improve freshwater environments
To help us make progress towards our impact goal of ‘clean and healthy freshwater’, we commissioned the Cardiff University Water Research Institute to undertake a review of organisations working to restore the freshwater environment across the UK.Read more
Building an impact-first social investment strategy
We outline what our impact-first approach to social investment means in practice, and we share what we’ve learned, both the challenges and opportunities, from its evolution.Read more
Creative, Confident Communities: update to our strategy
As our work for Creative, Confident Communities has developed, we have updated our strategy to better reflect what we hope to achieve and the types of work we are looking to support.Read more
Insights from place-led funding
In a new report, we share learning from the place-led funding we’ve done over the past five years, which has informed and shaped our strategy in Creative, Confident Communities.Read more