Insights from our Environment and Food funding

Our latest Insights report shares specific learning from our funding from our Environment and Food sectors.

The report is written for funders, charities, and anyone else in the UK who is working to bring about a more sustainable world.

It highlights the need for:

  • More core funding
  • Greater collaboration between organisations
  • A more flexible approach to supporting campaigning

What the report is based on

In May 2017 we published our first Insight Report to explain how we want to learn from the organisations we fund and to share this with those who could find it most useful.

In this second Insight Report, we are digging deeper and looking into specific sectors: Environment and Food. It is based on data from a total of 69 grants to food (29 grants) and environment organisations (42 grants). In 2016-2017, we gave £5.7m in environment grants and £3.5m in food. We also made £4.5m worth of social investments in environment and food.

Three clear lessons

Whilst the sample of grants we studied is relatively small, the findings highlight three clear and important lessons which we need to recognise in our future funding for the sector.

Encouragingly, out of the 69 grants assessed, 55 exceeded or mostly met the outcomes expected. However:‬

  • Advocating and campaigning in the sector is particularly hard in the current climate – in part because of the scale of issues involved. Out of 69 grants, 7 had in their stated outcomes campaigning, awareness raising and/or advocacy which didn’t achieve the expected results.‬
  • Organisations in the sector need more help with core costs. Esmée has always recognised the need for core cost support in environment and food. However, the report shows that this need is getting greater.‬
  • Collaboration is the key to driving change in the sector, helping organisations to achieve ambitious results which they cannot realise alone.‬

What next?

The questions and lessons in this report will inform our own funding decisions, and the development of our future strategy in environment and food.

We're also keen to hear from you in response to it - do the themes and questions resonate with your own experience? Tweet us @esmeefairbairn or contact Gina Crane on

We will continue to share regular Insight Reports into what we are learning, as part of a commitment to shared learning with those we fund, and with the wider sectors in which we all operate.