Launching our five year Funding Strategy

We are excited to share our funding strategy for the next five years with you. You can read and download it here. This is not a transformation in the way we fund, or the kinds of organisations we will support. Instead our new strategy re-frames our funding in order to be more open about how Esmée works: our priorities, our aims, and how we think we can enable real change for the future. We plan to change how we learn from, share and communicate the excellence of the organisations that we fund and hope that this will help everyone we support to have more impact.


The operating environment for foundations has changed dramatically in the last five years. With reduced public funding and continued inequality, the emerging gap between what the state can fund and what is needed cannot be filled by philanthropic funding like ours.

We will continue to be a responsive funder, without programmes or prescriptive criteria, but we are driven by our aims. By funding and supporting organisations to achieve these aims we believe we can have a positive impact on the quality of life in the UK. We aim to unlock and enable potential, back the unorthodox and unfashionable, build collective networks and catalyse system change.

We will continue to fund in the following areas: artschildren and young peopleenvironmentfood and social change. We have set out a framework for each of these – explaining the context for our funding, what we will prioritise for support, and the outcomes we hope to see as a result. We are also moving towards a single funding platform – so that any applicant approaching Esmée can be offered the right package of grant-making, social investment and capacity support.

When it comes to how we work, we would like to be an exemplar foundation for the 21st century – one which knows more, learns quickly and communicates better. We want to find out where we are effective and build our decisions on that knowledge. So we are making changes to how we track and use data, map and report on grants under our funding priorities, and share knowledge and learning.


If you recently submitted an application, or are in the process of being considered for a grant or social investment, please rest assured that our new funding strategy is not very different from how we have prioritised work and made decisions for the past few years. Part of the aim of publishing our priorities and aims is to make our decisions clearer to applicants, other funders, and to our own staff and Trustees. In certain areas – social change and children and young people – our funding priorities are now more specific, but we will continue to assess previously invited applications in the previous way.

We all look forward to working with you.