Esmée Fairbairn Foundation launches new strategy

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation launches new strategy focusing on our natural world, a fairer future and creative, confident communities

Responding to some of the extraordinary challenges of today including climate change and the impact of COVID-19 on existing inequalities, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is launching a new strategy, which will focus on three interdependent aims:

  • Improving Our Natural World
  • Tackling injustice to deliver A Fairer Future
  • Nurturing Creative, Confident Communities

Work outside of these aims will no longer be funded.

Under the new strategy, they will be providing larger and longer-term grants as well as strategic support to organisations or initiatives with brilliant ideas working towards these aims. In addition to providing grants and social investments, they will also play a more active role using their influence, their position as an asset owner and the ability to broker alliances and remove barriers. This new approach will also mean making fewer grants but giving more support to help grants achieve better, and more lasting, results.

The new strategy is underpinned by the need to tackle structural inequality, racism and the causes and impacts of climate change.

The Foundation will open to new applications at midday today with a new process that they hope will make it quicker and easier for organisations to find out if funding from Esmée is a possibility for them. Organisations will be able to check their eligibility before submitting an Expression of Interest.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will continue to spend around £40m a year on grants, support core and unrestricted costs, and make social investments. They will also maintain their appetite for innovation and risk as well as supporting infrastructure doing essential work within the Foundation’s aims.

Speaking about the new strategy, Caroline Mason CBE, Chief Executive of the foundation, said:

“Esmée has achieved a great deal since its inception in 1961 but looking at the current challenges we face, the broad, responsive approach that has been our guiding principle no longer fits the bill. We believe that now is the time for bold action. As a funder, we know we can do more and be better. By focussing on these three aims, we believe we can have a deeper and more lasting impact. There cannot be a return to business as usual.”

“We want to work with people and organisations who have the passion, courage, expertise and knowledge to deliver change in the areas we are concentrating on; especially those with lived experience. We are looking for ideas, for plans that stand a fighting chance of achieving progress, that provide insights into areas that are overlooked or unconventional but that could truly change the rules of the game. We are looking to build alliances across the public, private and not for profit sectors because we believe that we need the best of all worlds to turn our current challenges into a better future for the UK.”

Notes to Editor:

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future and strengthen the bonds in communities in the UK. We unlock change by contributing everything we can alongside people and organisations with brilliant ideas who share our goals.

The Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. In 2019 we made grants of £36 million towards a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. We also have a £45 million allocation to social investments for organisations with the aim of creating social impact.

Download the strategy below or find it here.