Major UK funder signals new funding focus on climate and tackling inequality


Alliance magazine


Major UK funder Esmée Fairbairn has announced a new grantmaking strategy that will respond to some of the challenges of today, including climate change and the impact of Covid-19 on existing inequalities. Under the new plan, the Foundation will be providing larger and longer-term grants, as well as strategic support to organisations and initiatives, who are working on ‘improving our natural world’, ‘tacking injustice to deliver a fairer future’, and ‘nurturing creative, confident communities’. Work outside of these aims will no longer be funded, the Foundation said.

In addition to providing grants and social investments, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will also play a more active role using their influence, position as an asset owner, and ability to broker alliances to remove barriers. This new approach will also mean making fewer grants, but giving more support to help grants achieve better and longer-lasting results.

‘Esmée has achieved a great deal since its inception in 1961 but looking at the current challenges we face, the broad, responsive approach that has been our guiding principle no longer fits the bill,’ said Caroline Mason CBE, Foundation CEO. ‘We believe that now is the time for bold action. As a funder, we know we can do more and be better. By focussing on these three aims, we believe we can have a deeper and more lasting impact. There cannot be a return to business as usual.’

The Foundation, which opened to applications for their new funding process earlier this week, will continue to spend £40 million per year on grants, supporting core and unrestricted costs, and making social investments.

‘We are looking for ideas, for plans that stand a fighting chance of achieving progress, that provide insights into areas that are overlooked or unconventional but that could truly change the rules of the game,’ said Mason.

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