More Q&A


Racial, Gender, and Migrant justice Q&A

Below, you'll find more Q&A following our Racial, Gender, and Migrant justice Q&A webinar.

General questions (including those meeting more than one priority)

What is the main difference, or diferences, between the old strategy and the new strategy?

In essence, what we have tried to do in this strategy, is be more specific and transparent about what we are hoping to achieve through our funding, and our areas of interest. By being more specific about what we want to achieve, we think Esmée can make a more engaged and longer-term contribution. This includes being more proactive and using all our tools – such as convening, commissioning research and influencing. We’ll also be able to identify areas where we can collaborate with others to unlock the change we want to see.

Is there a closing date for your funding programmes, and if so, when is it? Does it matter when, in the year, you apply in terms of decision-making? Do you have a calendar for when decisions are made?

We have no closing dates and all priorities are open on a rolling basis with no deadlines. It also doesn't matter when you apply during the year. We have a number of Board and approval committee meetings throughout the year. You can learn more about these in our guidance.

What are the main reasons you have had for previously turning down grant applications from organisations?

Esmée declines grants for a range of reasons, specific to the grant application. See our main reasons for declining applications at the Expression of Interest stage. Applications that are turned down at a later stage are given more specific feedback.

In general, how long will it take from when an application goes in until a decision is made?

It takes up to a month to get a decision at Expression of Interest stage, and then if we invite to submit a full application, it can take up to three months from the point of submission. See our guidance for more detail around our application process and the decision-making process.

If our work meets a number of your priorities, which one should we apply under? Could we speak to someone for advice on this?

We recommend you submit an Expression of Interest under the priority that feels closest to your work. Applicants will also be able to pick up to two additional priorities that their work aligns with. We would not decline a grant application if we see a strong fit to one of our priorities - even if the one selected in the application wasn't what we considered the closest fit.

Are you more likely to fund a charity with other funders or specific projects separate to Esmée?

In the assessment process, we look at the income of an organisation in terms of your other funders, commissions, and earned income etc. We don't need other funders to be specifically supporting a project for us to fund it, although in practice, it is often the case.

Do you like to speak to applicants before submitting an application? If we have specific questions about an application, can we speak to a member of your team to help advise?

You can find more about the different stages of our application process in our guidance. We don't speak to applicants before you submit an application - we ask first that you complete our quiz to check if we are the right funder for your work. Then, if so, you can complete an Expression of Interest where we ask two short questions. If we feel there is a fit, one of our funding managers will contact you at this stage for a conversation. If you're seeking general advice, you can get in touch either by phone or by email, however, as mentioned, we aren't able to give specific advice until you submit an Expression of Interest, and we think that there is a potential fit.

How are you responding to inflation and the cost of living crisis with your grants. Do you expect to see this reflected in budgets for new proposals?

We do expect applicants to account for inflation in their budgets – and have linked to the ONS’s website for the current inflation figure. This is in our guidance and also in our FAQs.

If we have a couple of different projects which we think could be suitable, in two of the different strands, are we only able to apply for one or can we apply for multiple projects at the same time?

As a general rule, Esmee tends to offer only one grant at a time, but this funding can cover a range of priorities. This is something you can pick up with us, should you decide to apply

Our ways of working are a good fit, and our work fits into a number of your long-term outcomes in a number of your priorities, but our organisational mission is much wider. As a result, none of your outcome areas feel like a good fit for a core/unrestricted application. Does that mean that we would have a better chance of success by applying for project funding within one of the outcome areas?

We consider this on a case-by-case basis. We recommend that you apply for the type of funding you think is most likely to be applicable to the work you want to deliver and the change you want to achieve. If we progress your application further, we can discuss the most appropriate funding for the work in the assessment process.

Do your impact goals and priorities apply equally for organisations who are seeking investment funding as opposed to grant funding?

Yes, our social investment support is also for work towards our aims. However, we also have additional objectives in our approach to social investment, as well as some different eligibility criteria, which you can learn more about in our guidance under 'Are we the right funder for you'.

We have several great campaigns. Would it be possible for us to submit one application for a partnership project and one for core costs/unrestricted funding? Also, do you have a preference for applications for projects/restricted funds over unrestricted?

We understand the importance of unrestricted core funding for organisations, and we tend to lean towards this kind of funding. This is particularly true in the current uncertain financial climate. Organisations may want to apply for a combination of core and project funding within one grant; this is possible by ensuring the outcomes of the grant cover both types of the work to be covered.

Also, whilst we will accept more than one application for funding (usually, not more than two) from an organisation,.we would only do so if there is not any duplication in terms of the programme of work being covered and we aren't being asked to fund the same costs twice, or the organisation is acting as the lead in an application on behalf of a partnership, and the other application is for funding for that organisation in its own right and for its own needs.

If an application is for core/unrestricted funding, would there be a maximum amount for this in relation to annual turnover?

There is not a set maximum based on turnover but we are more likely to fund requests that are proportionate to the work and impact, and size and turnover of your organisation.

Is there a minimum charity income you are looking for in order for us to apply?

One of our minimum eligibility criteria for applications through our open process is a turnover of at least £100,000. The majority of organisations we support have a turnover of above £100,000. We want to be realistic about who we're most likely to fund and avoid many more organisations spending time making applications and then being disappointed.

However, we do support some early stage and smaller organisations that are a good partner for our strategy but may not meet our eligibility criteria. This is particularly the case where we want to help pilot, test, disrupt, and support new ideas or organisations. Up to this point, we’ve chosen to focus our resources on finding these organisations proactively: by strengthening our networks, targeted referrals and monitoring the sector to seek out organisations that are doing amazing work towards our goals.

As part of our new A Fairer Future strategy, we will test out different access routes for smaller organisations led by communities experiencing racial inequity who share our goals but may not meet our eligibility criteria. We will be working with partners and our Involving Young People Collective to do this, but also welcome feedback. If you'd like to share your thoughts or have any questions, do get in touch by contacting

Is there a maximum turnover for organisations that you would support?

No. Although, in general, the larger the organisation, the greater the need to demonstrate why Esmée's funding would be needed - particularly, given the level of funding need amongst smaller organisations is so high.

Is there a rule of thumb or official guidance on how many consecutive grants one organisation can have?

We consider this on a case-by-case basis and our decisions are primarily based on ability to demonstrate impact or potential impact towards our strategic priorities, and the outcomes for each grant. We do have high expectations for organisations we have long-term relationships with, and will discuss this in application conversations. We also want to add that no organisation we support can automatically expect continuation funding.

How can an organisation best demonstrate the wider impact beyond a geographic space?

Things we could see that could demonstrate this well would be collaborative working perhaps nationally, work influencing policy and practice outside of the area of immediate delivery and clear plans for how you will collect and share learning and effective approaches.

If working with young people who are leading the work - but they can't put in their own application, and therefore need to work through the organisation working with them, does this still count as being led by the specific group, or do you only consider the organisation's demographics?

While this might not meet the criteria for an organisation being 'led by', we could consider this as youth-led work as we recognise that work with young people needs to be supported and facilitated. Do check out our Children and young people's rights priority too as this may be best to consider. You can learn more about what we mean by 'led by' in our post on how we classify organisations using the Diversity, Equity Inclusion Data Standard.

Could you please clarify if you’d accept a partnership application from two charities working together to deliver a project?

We encourage equitable partnership work but would need a lead applicant to receive the grant and be accountable for reporting. Do also see our FAQ on applying as a collaboration or partnership.

Does your definition of a 'led by and for' organisations apply to all your funding programmes?

Yes, it does. We outline what we mean by this based on the DEI Data Standard, the background behind it, and how we're using this data in a post on how we classify our data. We appreciate that some organisations who may consider themselves as 'led by and for the community they serve' may not quite meet our definition. There is space within the application (through the diversity, equity and inclusion monitoring form), that you can share what lived experience means to your organisation in terms of leadership.

We have a three-year plan that we are looking to secure funding for. Do you prefer new applicants to apply for one year of funding in the first instance and then make a consectutive application for further years of funding, or would you advise applying for funding for the three year plan in the first instance?

We actually have a preference for organisations do not apply for one-year grants, where possible. That said, we do consider development grants where this is obviously the most appropriate funding for the stage of development of the work of the organisation.

I work for a national charity where we'd be looking for support towards our discrimination work - however we are a service provider - would we be eligible if we can show that we have consulted with our clients towards our work and how we are changing our work to ensure we meet their needs?

This will depend on what you mean by 'discrimination work' and whether it is a good fit for our strategy, and also whether you can demonstrate that work has an impact beyond the people your work is directly supporting. As mentioned in the webinar, we would want to know how the work is shaped by the people most affected by the issues, how they are centred in your work, how their voices are driving the work, and their leadership being built through the work.

You spoke at the beginning about financial resilience. To what extend do you want to see organisations having a strategy for social enterprise?

When talking about financial resilience, it was in the context of what we hope to achieve as part of our Racial justice priority. In general, we do not require organisations to have a strategy for social enterprise, but we do like to see diverse funding steams where possible as this tends to indicate strong resilience.

Gender justice questions

I see from your website that the majority of your grants fund core costs or are unrestricted. We're considering applying under the Gender justice strand but not all of our work is with women - in this situation, is it possible to apply for restricted funding for a project?

We could consider applications from organisations where this is one part of your work, but yes this would probably be restricted funding to that work. However, we expect much of our funding in this area to go to women-led organisations with particular specialisms around tackling gender-based violence or other injustices. For more generalist organisations, we would need to understand why you are best placed to do the work, how you are working with others and how you will share the work.

Are there specific criteria for assessing whether a service is victim-led?

We have criteria for a 'led by' organisation, but do not have a set one for a 'led by' service. We would ask how you are defining that, how you hear the voices of those with lived experience and what their role is in shaping the work, how you support them in this role and if, and how they are supported and compensated for their time and experience.

For your long-term outcome 'The negative impacts of the criminal justice system on women and their families are reduced", are you looking to reduce the negative impacts on women who are involved with the system as perpetrators, as victims, or both?'

This outcome seeks to improve the criminal justice response for women as offenders, recognising that they may also be victims, and influencing the system to consider and understand what has led them into the criminal justice system and provide the most appropriate or effective response for them.

When you refer to women do you mean women as victims or as perpetrators?

Under the outcome related to the criminal justice system we are referring to women as offenders as we seek to influence the criminal justice response to them. In the other outcomes it would be primarily as victims/survivors although there may be some crossover in that some women may have also offended.

Under Gender justice you talked about those in the criminal justice system. But, would this also cover women held within detention centres?

Women in detention centres could come under both Gender justice and Migrant justice.

Migrant justice questions

Can Esmée support work that enables refugees in the UK to affect change in their countries of origin where they still have relatives, friends and landholdings? For instance, work could involve influencing constitutional change, informing parliamentary and other working groups, maintaining voting rights, womens rights, work that helps bring war criminals to justice, helping second generation refugees on issues such as inheritance of land, helping refugees affected by discovery of relatives in mass graves?

Our funding does need to be spent in the UK and on UK-focused work and outcomes. We recognise that in some cases working on migration justice, an international perspective is important when looking to influence policy and practice, but in terms of the work itself it does need to be UK-based. Work elevating the voices of people with lived experience is really important to us in all spaces, particularly migrant justice, so in terms of the legacy and skills gained by those involved, there is potential that this could result in a more international impact which is great but, again, the work and spending of funding would need to be in the UK.

We are a very small organisation working on migration. Our own work is focused on increasing spaces for positive dialogue, influencing policy and media debate and bringing together partners from third sector and public organisations working on relevant issues. We have a lived experience panel supporting our work and made up of people with lived experience of migration, but also working directly in related sectors to support migrant communities. Would this kind of model meet your focus on 'led by' organisations? We don't work directly in advocacy or service provision ourselves but support other organisations that do.

What we mean by 'led by' is that 75% of the Board or Management Committee, and 50% of senior staff are people with experience of the issues you are working on e.g. migration or racial injustice. We appreciate that some organisations who may consider themselves as 'led by' and for the community they serve may not quite meet our definition. At the end of each section (including the section on leadership) in the DEI monitoring form, there is a free text box where you can share any other relevant information. So in the leadership section, you can include what lived experience means to your organisation in terms of leadership.

We do also support work that is a strong fit to our strategy where the organisation doesn't meet our definition of 'led by'. However, for areas of our strategy where we want to prioritise work that is shaped by people with lived experience of the issues, we will want to understand how you are engaging, supporting, and compensating those with lived experience to shape the work. You can learn more in our post about how we classify our data.

We are a homelessness organisation looking to apply for funding towards our migrant support programme. We have strong representation from people with lived experience of homelessness in the leadership and staff of our organisation, but migrant homelessness is less represented as it is not our core focus. Would this impact the success of our application?

As mentioned in the webinar, across all our areas of work, we are particularly keen to support organisations who are led by those affected by the issues the work is looking to address. This does not mean we will not fund work that is a strong fit to our strategy where the organisation doesn't meet our definition of 'led by'. However, certainly for our justice areas, we will want to know how the work is being shaped by people with lived experience of the issues. See our post on how we classify our data for more information, including how we use the information we gather in the diversity, equity and inclusion monitoring forms.