Our work

Insights and learning

Little Ouse Headwaters Project (LOHP)

We learn so that we, and the organisations we work with, can make intelligent and evidence-based decisions about how to be effective in a complex environment.

Our approach to learning is guided by two questions:

  1. What does the world look like for the issues, organisations and people we support?
  2. Where are we making most and least progress and why?

Below you'll find our insights reports - sharing what we've learned from our funding - along with research or evaluation reports we've commissioned, and key publications from work we fund

  • IYPC values (1).png

    Values for co-production between Young People + Organisations

    Esmée's Involving Young People Collective share 10 values for co-production between young people and organisations. In this blog, Thalia and Betty, from the Collective, share how the work developed as well as their hopes that it will help to start conversations on best practice.

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  • Coventry Youth Activists.png

    Funding Youth Activism: learning from the Act for Change Fund

    A new report and resources share learning and insights on funding youth activism from over three years of the Act for Change Fund, a £3.6m partnership fund to support youth-led organisations to create and lead social change.

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  • Mussel line

    Factfinding and Future Prospects in UK Aquaculture

    A new report commissioned by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and written by Melanie Siggs and Key Traceability, explores what the organisations working in UK aquaculture feel are the key risks and opportunities in relation to the development of UK aquaculture.

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  • The Rivers Trust - Thames Rivers Trust, checking water quality (credit: Paul Colley)

    Understanding impact in social investments

    Understanding the impact of our social investments is critical for our learning and ensuring that we are an effective investor. In a new report, we outline how we assess the difference each social investment is intended to make, how we track its progress over time, and how that shapes our learning as an investor.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • River Dee, Wales.jpg

    Supporting capacity and capability of organisations working to improve freshwater environments

    To help us make progress towards our impact goal of ‘clean and healthy freshwater’, we commissioned the Cardiff University Water Research Institute to undertake a review of organisations working to restore the freshwater environment across the UK.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • UK Fisheries

    UK Fisheries - Transformational change by design

    A new report commissioned by Esmée to provide an independent view on the implications of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on UK fisheries.

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  • Social-Change-Home-Page-Highlight_560x560px.jpg

    Insights in Brief: Social Investment and COVID-19

    A new report sharing what we've learned from our social investments in light of Coronavirus, and how we could use this to inform the stages of rescue, recovery and revival.

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  • Leap Confronting Conflict-painting.jpg

    Lessons from supporting young people with care experience during COVID-19

    Read a report sharing insights on supporting young people with care experience through COVID-19.

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  • FairforYou_2.jpg

    How our impact-first approach led us to our first Perpetual Bond

    We share our learning from our social investment into Fair for You and our first Perpetual Bond along with how it could open up finance options for social purpose organisations looking for equity-like investment.

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  • Sistema Scotland

    Insights from our response to COVID-19

    In this Insights report, we summarise how we responded to COVID-19 and what we learned about ourselves as a funder as well as what organisations we support have told us about how they've managed and some of the risks they now face.

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  • Emerging funding opportunities for the natural environment

    Emerging funding opportunities for the natural environment

    We are pleased to share a new report: Emerging funding opportunities for the natural environment, which we commissioned to review the current landscape for innovative funding of environmental enhancement across the UK.

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  • Climate Change & Social Change

    Climate Change & Social Change

    A report by Ten Years Time that shares stories of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable. It also offers recommendations for funders on what they can do to address these pressing issues.

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  • RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

    Food, Farming and Countryside Commission: Our future in the land

    The Food, Farming & Countryside Commission calls for a bold and urgent transition to a sustainable food system by 2030 and sets out recommendations for policymakers, business and communities to respond to the challenges.

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  • How core funding makes a difference to outcomes

    Esmée's insights on core funding

    Despite rising need and falling incomes in the charity sector, the overall amount of core funding has “remained reasonably consistent” over the past five years. We've published our insights on core funding with recommendations for funders (including us) to help change that.

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  • Helping Communities Build

    Helping Communities Build

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  • An Ocean of Value

    An Ocean of Value

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  • RSA Our Common Ground

    RSA Our Common Ground

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  • Insights from 10 years of social investment

    Evolution not revolution, 10 years of social investment

    To mark the 10th anniversary of our Social Investment Fund, we’ve written a report reflecting on the achievements, insights and lessons learned to date.

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  • Learning to collaborate: CSEFA Final Report

    Learning to collaborate: CSEFA Final Report

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  • Insights from our Environment and Food funding

    Insights from our Environment and Food funding

    Our latest Insights report shares specific learning from our funding from our Environment and Food sectors. It's written for funders, charities, and anyone else in the UK who is working to bring about a more sustainable world.

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  • Insights: Learning from our funding

    Insights: Learning from our funding

    Read our first Insights report, which shares learning from our funding.

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  • Listening-for-change.png

    Listening for change

    Listening for Change is a report commissioned by Esmée and the Blagrave Trust based on an anonymous survey of organisations towards the end of 2016 to shed light on their experiences of working with Trusts and Foundations.

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