Our Annual Report and Accounts for 2021

Read our 2021 Annual Report, which gives an overview of our operations, funding and investments during 2021.

2021 was the first full year of putting our new strategy into action. We set out to play a more active role ourselves - using all our tools to effect broader change. Beyond our funding work, this includes using our ability to connect, convene, to influence decision-makers, and to commission research to understand the bigger picture and see what's on the horizon. You can see a breakdown of our spending towards our range of tools in the report.

It was one of our biggest years of grant spend: a total of £51.6m, which includes £3.9m as part of our ongoing response to COVID. For this, we chose to target our support to organisations in our portfolio working in the performing arts, as well as organisations led by and for communities experiencing racial inequity. We also commited £4.6m in social investment to 11 organisations.

Our endowment performed very well during the year, rising by 31.1% to £1.5bn. We're proud to be part of a movement of funders thinking about and taking action to use our endowments to create positive change. In 2021, this included the creation of a £10m allocation for testing the use of impact investing. We also commited to ensuring our investment portfolio will be net zero by 2040 at the latest.

We hope you find the report interesting. If you'd like to share feedback or have any questions about it, we'd love to hear from you. You can get in touch by email: communications@esmeefairbairn.org.uk.

Overview of 2021

  • £51.6m

    Total grant funding

  • 230

    Organisations awarded grants (excl. COVID, Funding Plus and TASK grants)

  • £4.6m

    Social investment committed to

  • £1.5bn

    Endowment total

Learning and Insights

  • Participatory City 1  (1).jpeg

    Insights from place-led funding

    In a new report, we share learning from the place-led funding we’ve done over the past five years, which has informed and shaped our strategy in Creative, Confident Communities.

    Read more
  • Leicestershire Cares-CEYP canoeing June 2021.jpeg

    Young People Leaving Care funding: Insights from our Learning Programme

    As part of our support for organisations we fund through our Young People Leaving Care funding, we commissioned a Learning Programme to facilitate learning, collaboration and alliances between the funded organisations, and with Esmée ourselves. This Insights report outlines our approach and what we've learned so far.

    Read more
  • HUBBUB_LeedsByExample_Conversaion_May2019 65 (1).jpg

    Building an impact-first social investment strategy

    We outline what our impact-first approach to social investment means in practice, and we share what we’ve learned, both the challenges and opportunities, from its evolution.

    Read more
  • Diversity_Hackathon.jpeg

    Addressing the lack of diversity in the environment sector

    We're pleased to share a new report from our Involving Young People Collective summarising the discussions at a hackathon on addressing the lack of diversity in the environment sector. We also share our reflections on what we learned and our next steps for making progress on this.

    Read more
  • A fast response to COVID

    A fast response to COVID: challenging how we fund

    In a new Insights report, we share feedback on our emergency response to the COVID pandemic, one year on. We also reflect on how it's challenging how we fund and lessons for the future.

    Read more

You might be interested in

  • Big House - Phoenix rising.JPG

    Using Most Significant Change to understand outcomes for young people leaving care

    We asked the Centre for Youth Impact to run a series of workshops on ‘Most Significant Change’ for organisations on Esmée’s Young People Leaving Care Learning Programme. Learn more about the approach and read the stories of change from participants.

    Read more
  • IMG_2057-2.jpg

    How we work with the Involving Young People Collective

    Catherine Hillis, Esmée’s children and young people lead outlines how we’re working with the Involving Young People Collective to improve our practice and support for young people.

    Read more
  • NfP research-signpost.png

    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