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Why we turn things down


It is difficult to get a grant from Esmée. The vast majority of people who apply for our funding are not supported.

We hope it's helpful to share feedback on the reasons applications are not successful. We will update this page as we consider more expressions of interest, and funding proposals, under our new strategy. See also: what we don't fund, our full funding guidance, and other sources of funding.

Reasons why we turn down applications

It doesn't meet our minimum criteria

There are some general exclusions from our funding - see the list of organisations and work we don't support.

It's not the best fit for our impact goals

Most applications will not be taken forward because, based on the information people give us about their organisation and what they do, we don’t think their work is the best fit for our strategy at that moment. This judgement will be based not just on the organisation's work, but on Esmée's own plans: what other organisations we are funding, and how we plan to use our tools.

This is not a judgement on the value or quality of what applicants do. Competition for our funding is fierce and we receive many more requests than we are able to support. We have chosen to focus our support on a smaller number of grants that best fit our strategy, and that we think can create long-term change for the future. This means that most people who apply for our funding will not be supported.

It's not driving change for the future

We are looking to support work that is driving change for the future by breaking new ground, or using tried and tested models to push things forward in a new way. We fund only a tiny fraction of the vast range of charitable work that takes place in the UK and we are looking to support work that goes beyond service delivery.

It's not aiming to make a lasting difference

We fund work that is ambitious, and aiming to make a difference over the long term. The organisations we support will be doing truly exceptional work, which we think could have a ripple effect, ie: an influence that reaches beyond directly engaged to influence the policy, practice, or behaviour of others.

It's not taking a collaborative approach, or is working on a small scale

Where transformative change is needed, we want to support work delivered in equitable partnership or collaboration. We are looking for unusual collaborations and ambitious partnerships which are operating regionally or nationally, and involving or engaging a range of charity, public sector or corporate stakeholders.

It's not led by communities or people most affected by an issue

We want to see communities, or people with lived experience of an issue, being involved in campaigning or leading change.

It's not taking a preventative approach

We want to see more action taking place to prevent problems from occurring, not just to cope with the consequences.

When making decisions, we consider:

Track record:

We look at successes, but also what was learned when things didn’t go to plan.


We consider how the work could link to and complement other work we support, and increase the combined impact.

Broader context:

The opportunities and barriers, allies and collaborators, for the work; and what influence or leverage the work aims to have.

The difference our support could make:

The value our funding, and extra support, could add to this work; along with the contribution the work could make to our impact goals.