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
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.
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29 June 2022
What do people really think about Esmée Fairbairn Foundation?
Read the key findings and recommendations from research we commissioned nfpResearch to do on what people think about Esmée. Gina Crane, our Director of Communications and Learning, shares her reflections on the research findings, alongside what's next for Esmée.Read more
Funding Youth Activism: learning from the Act for Change Fund
A new report and resources share learning and insights on funding youth activism from over three years of the Act for Change Fund, a £3.6m partnership fund to support youth-led organisations to create and lead social change.Read more
Healthy UK seas and thriving coastal communities
Jenny Dadd, Funding Manager and Esmée's lead on our fishing in tandem with nature priority, writes about the range of work we're supporting towards healthy UK seas and thriving coastal communities.Read more
Environmental Finance and Learning Fund: initial insights
Sarah Hedley, Social Investment Portfolio Manager, shares her initial insights following the first meeting of the Environmental Finance and Learning Fund participants.Read more