Esmée Fairbairn Foundation launches new strategy with focus on tackling injustice

07 Oct 2020 News

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation's new strategy will see one of the country's largest grantmakers focus on three interdependent aims and play a more active influencing role. 

Its three aims are: improving the natural world, tackling injustice to deliver a fairer future, and nurturing creative, confident communities.

The funder expects to continue to spend around £40m a year on grants and social investments, but work outside of its new aims will no longer be funded.   

The strategy is intended to respond to some of the key challenges of today including climate change and the impact of Covid-19 on existing inequalities.

More active role

Under the new strategy, the funder will be providing larger and longer-term grants as well as strategic support to organisations or initiatives with
“brilliant ideas” for working towards its aims. 

This new approach will mean making fewer grants but achieving “better, and more lasting, results”.

In addition to providing grants and social investments, the foundation will also play a more active role in using its influence, its position as an asset owner and its ability to broker alliances and remove barriers.

The new strategy is underpinned by the need to tackle structural inequality, racism and the causes and impacts of climate change.

New application process

The foundation is open to new applications from midday today, with a new process that it hopes will make it quicker and easier for organisations to find out if funding from Esmée is a possibility for them. 

Organisations will be able to check their eligibility before submitting an expression of interest. 

The foundation will continue to spend around £40m a year on grants, support core and unrestricted costs, and make social investments. It will also maintain its appetite for innovation and risk as well as supporting infrastructure doing essential work within its aims.

‘Philanthropy is, rightly, under a spotlight’

The foundation's chief executive, Caroline Mason, has written an article for Civil Society Voices setting out why now is the right time to implement this strategy.

She writes: “Philanthropy is, rightly, under a spotlight, accused from some quarters of maintaining the status quo, even of baking in and making worse the inequalities we outwardly seek to tackle. We need to ask ourselves, are we really doing enough with the privilege and resources that we have? 

“The core of our new strategy is our response to this question. To be a force for positive change, to make the biggest difference, we need to be open to challenge, to adapt and evolve our practice.”

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