Esmée Fairbairn Foundation grants decreased in 2022

02 Aug 2023 News

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation made grants of £36.2m last year, down from £51.5m in 2021, according to its annual reports and accounts for 2022. 

During 2022, 64% of main grants awarded were for core or unrestricted costs. Previous accounts state that 2021 was one of its biggest years in terms of grant spend, with 61% of grants awarded for core or unrestricted costs.

In 2022, the foundation provided £40.6m in funding, which includes the £36.2m in grants awarded, £2.7m in social investments committed, and its first impact investment of £1m.

The foundation said 2022 has been a year of “transition and transformation”, and when it first launched its strategy, A Fairer Future, in 2020, it “knew there could not be a return to business as usual, and that we needed to take time to determine what role we should play”.

A Fairer Future focuses support on organisations that are grappling with the complexity of systemic inequity. 

The CEO of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Caroline Mason,  wrote in the report: “We temporarily closed to applications in A Fairer Future as we completed the development of our strategy, identifying five priority areas. We had to make some difficult choices, but we believe that by narrowing our focus, we can make a deeper and lasting impact.”

During 2022, it reviewed 779 eligible expressions of interest which is “lower than we'd usually expect due to the temporary closure to applications in A Fairer Future”. It also reviewed a total of 206 proposals, awarding 188 grants.

Investments down

The market value of the foundation’s investments at the end of 2022 was £1.303bn, compared to £1.482bn in 2021, a decrease of £178.3m after spending.  

“With weaker financial markets as a result of high inflation and other events, our endowment was down by 9.6% to £1.3bn,” the accounts explain.

They add: “Our main global equity funds fell substantially during the year, more than twice as much as their benchmark which was down 7.8%. Our non-core global funds also fell more than their benchmark but, given our bias towards funds investing in growth stocks, these results were not too surprising. We have been using the market correction to look for opportunities to deploy our cash balance which has been higher than average for some time now.”

Following a commitment to a net-zero carbon strategy for its investment portfolio, the foundation increased its allocation to enhanced ESG investing to 5%, around £70m, of the overall portfolio.

The foundation made a commitment that its investment portfolio will be net zero in terms of carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest.

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