Insights - our first learning report


Learning from our funding

As a broad-ranging funder, we are not expert on every issue and sector we support. The real experts are the organisations we fund. They have much greater knowledge or lived experience, and they operate in the real world, without the security of an endowment. However, as an independent funder we have an overview and a freedom which others in our sectors do not. With this comes the responsibility to share what we are learning from those we support.

Read our first Insights Report - Learning from our Funding

We have made a lot of changes over the last two years and we want the people we fund to see what we are learning from what they tell us, and how we are starting to make changes as a result. We hope it’s useful to other funders as well.

We will share our findings on this page.


Some key learning from the report:
  • We have the framework and data to compare the performance of grants of different sizes and issues across a wide-ranging portfolio
  • Making one year grants leaves organisations holding all the risk, and less able to recruit or retain staff
  • As a funder, we thought it would be hard to get grantees to tell us anything negative, but the opposite has proven to be true. Organisations are happy to give funders honest feedback, but they need to be asked
  • Esmée is too hands-off for some organisations
  • We are more able to acknowledge failure and learn from it

We hope our insights into how and what we are learning and changing as a result is interesting, and welcome any thoughts, comments, and insights of your own.