Revising our strategy - update

Action for Conservation

9 June 2020 update

(original story published on 21 January 2020)

We are looking forward to launching a revised strategy for Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in Autumn 2020.

We had originally planned to launch our strategy in May 2020, but this has been delayed until Autumn 2020, due to the coronavirus. Between May and the Autumn we will be concentrating our time and funds on supporting the organisations we already fund, to help them through this uncertain time.

Adapting to Covid-19

Like many organisations we support, Esmée also needs to reassess our strategy and ways of working in the wake of coronavirus. We are sharing the current outline of our revised strategy below, but we expect that some of our thinking will need to change and we will share this as it evolves.

Our new strategy:

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will have three main aims:

  • Our natural world is protected, restored, and improved;
  • A fairer future;
  • Creative, confident communities.

In everything we do, we recognise our role as an organisation in addressing the causes and impacts of climate change.

Under our new strategy we will take a longer term view and - beginning with our natural world - we will use all our resources to unlock change. We will find partners and collaborators, work ourselves to remove barriers and secure progress, and use our voice to quietly influence policy and effect change.

Our natural world

To ensure our natural world is protected, restored and improved we will contribute to three key impact goals:

Preserved and improved species health and habitats;
• Clean and fresh water;
• Sustainable and ethical food.

Our priorities to achieve these will be: peat, freshwater, nature-friendly farming and fishing, space for nature.

A fairer future

To secure a fairer future our impact goals are likely to be:

• Protected rights for those experiencing injustice;
• A new inclusive generation of leaders and artists.

Example priorities to work towards this: tackling injustice, children and young people’s rights.

Creative, confident communities

To support creative, confident communities, our impact goals are likely to be:

• Vibrant UK towns, villages and cities; 
• Everyone can access the benefits of culture and creativity.

Example priorities to work towards this: creativity transforming lives, early action to prevent cycles of disadvantage, communities working together for change.

What will not change

We will continue to support brilliant work in the Arts, and all our sectors, in order to achieve our impact goals.

We will continue to spend c.£40m per year on grants, continue to make social investments, and maintain our commitment to supporting organisations with core and unrestricted grants.

We will continue to support new, vital or unusual ideas on the issues we care about. Ideas which could change the way we work, think, or create in future.

We will also continue to support infrastructure, “backbone”, or second tier organisations which are key to achieving our impact goals, as well as a few key players that are doing essential work across all our sectors and impact goals.


We closed to applications under our current strategy on 3 April 2020. We plan to open to applications under the new strategy in Autumn 2020.

Q. Which priorities are closing?


A. In the Arts: Organisations at a pivotal point.

In Children and Young People: Improving support for disadvantaged children and young people.

In Social Change: Participation – marginalised and excluded individuals and groups.

In the Environment and Food: all our priorities will be replaced by a new strategy.

When can I apply for funding?

We are now closed to new applications until the Autumn of 2020. If you are currently funded by us and would like to apply for continuation funding, please contact your Grants Manager directly. 

I have a grant with Esmée in one of the closing priorities, how will that be treated?

We will continue to support, value and learn from all our grants under the new strategy. If your grant ends after 1 January 2021 and you wish to apply for continuation funding, you should apply under our new strategy after it’s launched in Autumn 2020.