Pre-application Q&A, 13 May 2024

Additional Q&A

JustRight Scotland

Esmée's strategy and funding

1. I would like to explore who you have funded in the past, GrantNav isn't proving easy to search for specific projects. Can you signpost how we can search for farming / nature related activities that you have funded.

360Giving is the portal we use for seeing near live data about the grants that we have made. You may also find information in our Annual Report. You might be interested in the mid-strategy review of our Nature Friendly Farming priority, that sets out some of the feedback we've received and priorities for the coming years.

2. I have been looking at organisations locally who are funded by EF in order to see how we’d fit into your portfolio. However, I only found some grants listed on the website. Is there an exhaustive list?

You can see what grants we've made using 360Giving's GrantNav tool. More information about this is on our funding data page, which includes a link to tips for using GrantNav.

3. Do you work with other funders such as Heritage Lottery, whose Integrated Landscapes programme overlaps with Our Natural World, to fund larger projects together?

We do work with other funders like Heritage Lottery and try to ensure that we aren't duplicating what is offered by others. Many of our grants support core costs. Whilst we do fund projects on occasion, we don't fund largely capital projects.

4. We are looking at a bid into the our natural fund framework, on behalf of a local rivers catchment partnership. Our project is related to resilient and nature friendly farming, it is fairly similar to an application that you have funded previously in a different area of the country relating to linking farming in to private finance. How likely are you to fund similar (but not the same and in different environments/contexts) projects twice?

We do look for projects that are testing new ideas and different ways of working. It is unlikely that we fund work that was identical to previous projects that we had supported. Differences could include the audiences you are working with and the nature of the financing model being explored.

5. Do you favour bids that have a promise of match funding?

We do not require or prioritise applications which have the promise of match funding but it is helpful for us to understand if our funding would bring in support from other funders so do feel free to let us know in the Expression of Interest.

6. Is your minimum grant of £30k for a single year, i.e. for work to be done in 12 months or is multi-year funding also available?

Most of our support is given over multiple years. The minimum amount stated is for the total duration of the grant.

7. Can you fund programmes that are in the pilot or early development stage? And what percentage of a specific programme are you able to fund?

We can and do fund early development stage work. We would need to be confident about the ability of the work to influence practice and policy in the longer term and the usual tests described by the panel would apply. We don't have a set percentage of costs and we can cover 100% of costs. If there are other funders involved and partnership funding, then that can help illustrate demand for the work. But it's not essential.

8. Are there any areas of the UK where you are more or less likely to fund new projects?

We aim to support change across all four UK countries. We don't have 'priority places' the way some other funders do, but take into account the needs of different places and whether or not we have pre-existing funding relationships in a place in relation to particular areas of our strategy (i.e. we aim to support partnership working within sectors and across geographical areas (city, region, town). However, do check the guidance. For our 'arts and creativity making change' funding, we want to allocate more of our funding outside of London.

9. Is there a percentage breakdown of Esmée's funding allocation by UK region?

There's a breakdown of grants awarded in 2023 by region and UK country on this page on our website: who our funding is reaching.

10. When you refer to "Priority areas" are they geographical or cultural?

Our priority areas refer to the specific areas of focus Trustees have decided to work in – these are under our three aims: Our Natural World, A Fairer Future and Creative Confident Communities. Within each of these aims you will find our Funding Priorities which drill down into particular work we are interested in supporting. Please see more here Our aims or in the guidance under the relevant aim.

11. What level of funding are you likely to grant for an organisation you have never funded before. For example is a 3-year project for around £600k likely to be funded to an organisation you have no previous engagement with?

It depends on the size/turnover of the organisation, the strength of match to priorities and what budget is available. Do bear in mind that the average grant over three years is around £180,000. I would say it is more typical for a grant at the level you’ve mentioned to go to an organisation we have funded before but there will also be exceptions to that.

12. As part of the Our Natural World priorities, I'm interested in hearing if there is interest in projects that aim to develop biodiversity credit markets.

Yes. We have been active in supporting organisation and projects that are seeking to develop high integrity approaches to financing nature, so yes. We want to ensure that biodiversity credits work is delivering for nature, but also with and through communities and farmers.

13. Are you looking for opportunities for your funding to have catalytic impact by mobilising private investments? And are you open to playing a role in enabling market-based solutions (i.e.. Biodiversity markets) to achieve this?

We do support work in this space. If you think your work is significantly different from approaches being taken elsewhere then you can submit an EOI.

14. What factors do you consider when providing core/unrestricted funding versus project funding? Is there any advice around when you might choose to make an application for core costs versus project funding? For example, if you think Esmée might be interested in 2 to 3 of your projects.

We will usually try to take an unrestricted (charities only) or core costs grant where that would support the work. If that is what would be most helpful to you then do apply for core funding.

15. Can you define unrestricted costs?

We can only give unrestricted funding to charities. It would be entirely up to those charities how they spend the funding we provide. Reporting should still reflect the outcomes and indicators we agreed with you.

16. Is it better to meet more than one aim - or did you mean more than one goal within an aim?

We think it’s great if your work fits more than one so don’t worry too much if it does. Our application process will ask you to choose an aim and priority that is the best match for your work. You will also have the chance to select which other priorities are also a match for what you do.

We also don't have a preference in terms of projects focusing on one of our priorities and projects that work across more than one priority. We want applicants to tell us about their priorities and how they align with ours. See also Catherine's answer to a similar question during the webinar (about 39 minutes into the webinar recording or question 8 in the transcript).

17. We are working with those in prison. We aim to get their feedback but it will be very difficult to position them in an active role in shaping new work, although those initiatives are taken from their feedback. Is this recognised or are there other things we can be doing?

We recognise that it may be more challenging to bring in lived experience for some groups than others. Tell us about how you are thinking about this within your organisation, what the challenges and possibilities are. It is good for us to understand the picture from your perspective and to understand the organisational approach to how you value the voices and leadership of those with lived experience, whatever the mechanism is in your situation.

18. On the importance of track record. We are a new charity set up only 3 years ago and we're interested in A Fairer Future. We are working at pace trying to bring about support systems change and part of high level conversations about policy change, but can’t evidence new policies yet based on our work. How might a charity three years young be considered?

When we look at track record, we do think about the track record of individuals within the organisation as well as the organisation itself (particularly for newer organisation) and we do also look at the potential for change, particularly recognising that some organisations are working in sectors where it is very difficult to make change, or where some groups have historically not had a seat at the table for influencing policy.

19. There has been lots of discussion regarding "people/community funding". We are a wildlife park that focuses on conservation, breeding programs for rare species and education the community. What kind of strategies would you be looking for funding wildlife related projects?

We don't fund the costs of operating zoos and collections or for species reintroductions / captive breeding programmes. We can fund these organisations when they are leading the way in engaging communities, particularly underserved communities in nature. We would be unlikely to fund work unless it had a strong element of community engagement / co-design in the development of the offer.

20. Regarding the Nature Friendly Farming topic; do you have any specific focuses - whether in terms of specific food/livestock types (dairy, horticulture, cattle, etc), landscapes or regions (beyond the focus on Peat), or approaches (regenerative agriculture, etc). Is there a preference on the types of the projects you are seeking, i.e. farmer-led, driving behaviour change from the private sector, technical solutions. Any advice you can provide on these priorities will be really helpful.

We have just undertaken a review of our nature friendly farming priority, which gives a steer on what we are currently funding and our direction of travel. Also, do take a look at the outcomes we're looking to support in the our guidance for nature friendly farming.

21. For organisations currently funded, is continuation funding possible, or are new programmes of work, experimental or previously piloted perhaps, given priority?

Many of our grants go to organisations which have had funding before. Often a continued investment on an issue is what is needed to help to create the impact we want to see. We are also interested in hearing about new approaches to tackle identified issues and want to hear from organisations which we have not funded previously and which feel they can demonstrate a strong match with our priorities.

22. I work for a charity which provides camping experiences for children with complex disabilities, life limiting conditions and short life expectancies. We work all year on recruitment, fundraising, partnerships etc but the actual delivery of our experiences are limited to an 8 week window in the summer. is the fact we don't impact our beneficiaries all year round an issue for making us fundable? (though arguably we do in terms of the onward connections we create and reducing isolation).

That wouldn't necessarily be a barrier - but please do look at our outcomes and make sure that your work is a fit.

23. We provide high quality training for young people who want to be theatre artists and create pathways to employment. We are generally working with young people who feel othered and find themselves through art. Does the “arts” count as a community? If that makes sense?

We're not sure what you mean but we have two arts-related funding priorities and it sounds like our arts and creativity making change priority may be more relevant to your work. However, please note that demand for our funding here is particularly high. Do take a look at our guidance in terms of what we're looking to support and how we're targeting our support.

24. We are MuslimaGuide, an unincorporated charitable organisation. we work to help Muslim women worldwide by connecting them as an online community with a hub for knowledge - soon to have health and skills as well. We aim to work at national levels too, so working to support individuals in their respective countries, particularly the UK as thats where we are based. The work I am keen to undertake in the UK is some help in the Health Sector for Muslim women - particularly, in regards to working women, mother's with access to mental health resources, elderly women, and relating to maternity care. Is this something you will consider?

Do have a look at our guidance under Gender Justice (within A Fairer Future aim). We have a priority within this which focuses on policy, practice, and the law better meets the needs of women experiencing multiple challenges and discrimination. While we have restrictions around funding health work, if you can make the case that your work is tackling a justice issue within this then this could be eligible. In addition, across all our aims, applicants will need to show that:

  • Their organisation is leading the way itself, or as part of a collaborative movement or partnership.
  • Their work is driving change for the future by breaking new ground, or by using tried and tested models to push things forward.
  • Their work aims to make a lasting difference, reaching beyond those directly engaged to influence the policy, practice, or behaviour of others.

If you feel you can demonstrate a good match with this priority do go ahead and submit an Expression of Interest application through the website.

25. We are seeking funding for a community programme, of which we have already secured 75% of funding. Would Esmee be able to provide match funding?

If the work is eligible for our funding and matches our funding strategy then we can contribute as match funding. We do not need to be the sole funder or have match funding requirements for our grants.

26. How important is cross-sector partnership and collaboration to this fund?

Collaboration is a key part of the funding in Creative, Confident Communities as we aim to have a place-based approach. We do not require cross-sector partnership in all our work, but where appropriate we would be interested in understanding more about the partnerships.

27. How important is it for the Foundation to see a charity has many volunteers involved in the charity in addition to staff members? Is there a minimum number Esmée would want to see? I am aware this sometimes may be asked by funders as a way of a charity showing involvement of the community.

We do ask this question as part of the Expression of Interest as part of learning more about how you work. But we don't have a minimum number.


28. What do Esmée take into account when calculating 'turnover'? Specifically, do you count grants that orgs have received from other funders when looking at the £100k criterion?

Yes, we will consider grants received from other funders when looking at turnover

29. Can non-profits apply for funding if the work we do is social good focused and on promoting community power?

Most organisations we give grants to are charities, but we do fund other types of organisations (including Community Interest Companies, and companies limited by guarantee) as long as the work they are doing with our grant funding is legally charitable. The Charities Act 2006 defines this as work that falls within one of 13 descriptions of purposes and is for the public benefit.

For organisations that are not registered charities, we need to see a copy of their constitution - a document that outlines the rules that will govern the organisation - to check that: there is sufficient public benefit; there is good governance; and there is protection against private gain.

Please do have a look at our funding priorities around Creative Confident, Communities here.

30. Would you fund software improvement, such as new databases? Or would this be under the capital exclusion?

While we have funded this in the past, there would have to be first and foremost a strong match with funding priorities. If we did support, it would normally be if the software improvement was part of a wider piece of work towards the impact you are aiming for.

31. How do you define work which is primarily the responsibility of statutory authorities? What does this mean for nature protection and recovery?

We generally mean work that is the legal responsibility of local authorities to provide using public funds – for example, social services for children and older people. So, things that are a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide.

On nature protection and recovery, we realise that what is and is not the responsibility of local authorities and other public bodies with regards to nature protection is not always clear. Whilst we would not fund duties like ensuring favourable conservation status of protected sites or work developing plans like Local Nature Recovery Strategies in England, we can sometimes fund local authorities and partnerships that they are part of where the work is charitable and not part of legal duties, such as landscape scale nature restoration projects. Like all applications, these would still be assessed to ensure that there is something innovative and different, about the work, the scale, or the people and partners it brings together.

32. We don’t meet the eligibility with turnover - do you have or know of alternative funds for smaller organisations in their early years.

You can find more information about other potential funding sources here.

33. Could an organisation funded by Esmée that meets the criteria work in partnership or be a host for a smaller organisation?

Yes they could. Only the lead organisation needs to meet our eligibility criteria.

34. Do you fund think tanks? Our work focuses on local economics and building community involvement and engagement in their local economies.

We don't have any exclusion around funding think tanks and will do when the work contributes to our funding aims and we are confident in the routes to influence policy and practice.

35. I checked about a year ago that you can fund National Park Authorities and the response was yes, but I took the test and we don't fit the quiz questions. Can I just check if you can?

We can fund National Park Authorities. Where do you fail the quiz questions? We can only fund work that is legally charitable(although the organisation doesn't have to be a charity). It might be worth sending an email through the website so we can check out what the problem is.

36. Under your criteria you say that you do not fund capital projects and refer to something called 'Social Investments' where can I learn more about this please?

There's information about our social investment here. Good Finance also has lots of good resources on understanding whether social investment is suitable for your organisation and a directory of social investors working in the UK.

37. Is there a maximum turnover an organisation can have to be eligible for a grant? The not-for-profit organisation I work for has a super large turnover (over £10m) but we would be applying for unrestricted funding for a community hub for people with a learning disability and autism, it aligns within the Esmée's strategic framework of creative confident communities, is this something we would be eligible to apply for funding?

We don't have a maximum income level. However, it's worth noting we don't tend to fund super large organisations. i.e. over £10m. In the case of your organisation, we would be need to know more about the governance of the hub and how it is managed within your organisation. We would also need to understand why external funding is necessary and how you would ringfence any funding. You would need to be very clear in the Expression of Interest that you were applying for a hub housed within your organisation.

38. If our work has global reach for the Our Natural World strand, would we need to focus our application on our UK-specific programme rather than our broader global work?

Yes, we can only fund work where the benefit falls in the UK. Organisations working globally will need to demonstrate that our funding is restricted to UK benefit. We will not be able to offer unrestricted costs in these circumstances.

39. If we are working in partnership with a limited company who lease land (meet the turnover) - and we are a CIC starting a farm - would we be able to apply in partnership?

We can fund partnerships although one organisation needs to lead on the proposal and would take responsibility for the delivery and reporting of a grant. We can only fund work that is legally charitable although we can fund organisations that are not charities - including CICs. It is unusual for us to grant fund Communities Limited by Shares as it is very difficult to demonstrate that there is no private gain received through the grant. See our FAQs (2.2) on the types of organisations we fund.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

40. Can you expand a little on the DEI data you collect and the issue as it relates to disability?

You can find more information on how we classify our data, which includes a link to the DEI Data Standard and also more about how we use the data.

41. How do you define what counts as say a Black or disabled led organisation? In terms of the team and governance?

We use the DEI Data Standard, which defines an organisation's leadership (the key decision-makers) as being ‘led by’ a particular category when 75% or more of the Board/Management Committee AND 50% of senior staff share a particular identity or experience, where staff exist. See also the link in the above question on how we classify our data.

Applying for funding

42. Our EOI wasn't successful. Can we put in another strengthened EOI, or can that only be for different activity?

You can submit a new EOI at any stage. This can be for similar work - if for example it wasn't taken forward because there was not strong evidence that the work was driven by the communities it sought to benefit and that evidence exists but that is an exception and we wouldn't usually advise submitting multiple EOIs for the same work.

43. Are there deadlines for each area of funding or is the programme a rolling one year to year?

Other than for specific programmes where a deadline is specified or are by invitation only, we have no deadlines and we accept applications throughout the year.

44. Do you take an organisations reserves into account when deciding on whether or not to award a grant?

We consider reserves levels, but we don't have a set amount/level. Since charities come in lots of different shapes and sizes and we're aware that some organisations will have for a long time struggled more than others due to systemic inequality to raise unrestricted funds, we consider reserves levels on a case by case basis.

Other questions

45. I haven't received a reply to my emails is it best to contact the Grant Director?

We're sorry about that! Please send your email to and we will look into it.