The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK by funding the charitable activities of organisations that have the ideas and ability to achieve change for the better. The primary interests of the Foundation are the arts, education and learning, the environment and social change.  

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to commit £30 million annually towards a wide range of work and takes pride in supporting work that might otherwise be considered difficult to fund.

We prioritise work that:

  • Addresses a significant gap in provision
  • Develops or strengthens good practice
  • Challenges convention, taking risks to address a difficult issue
  • Tests out new ideas or practices
  • Takes an enterprising approach to achieving its aims
  • Aims to influence policy or change behaviour more widely

We do not fund

  1. Work that does not have a direct benefit in the UK
  2. General appeals or circulars
  3. Grants to individuals or to causes that will benefit only one person, including student grants or bursaries
  4. Work that is common to many parts of the UKsuch as:
    • Mainstream activities of organisations that are part of a wider network (including branches of national organisations)
    • Services that are provided in similar ways in many locations such as refuges, hostels, night shelters and standard services for homeless people, sports associations, playgroups, play schemes, out of school clubs, supplementary schools, playgroups, youth clubs, and general capacity building/ professional development
    • Routine work to improve employability skills such as training on CV writing, interview skills, literacy, numeracy, communication, ESOL courses and activities to increase self confidence
    • Routine information and advice work
  5. Recreational activities including outward bound courses and adventure experiences
  6. Capital costs including building work, renovations, and equipment
  7. Energy efficiency or waste reduction schemes such as recycling or renewable energy schemes unless they have exceptional social benefits
  8. Healthcare or related work such as medical research, complementary medicine, hospices, counselling and therapy, education about and treatment for drug and alcohol misuse
  9. Work that is primarily the responsibility of central or local government, health trusts or health authorities. This includes residential, respite and day care, housing provision, individual schools, nurseries and colleges or a consortium of any of these, and vocational training
  10. We will not normally replace or subsidise statutory income although we will make rare exceptions where the level of performance has been exceptional and where the potential impact of the work is substantial
  11. The independent education sector
  12. Animal welfare, zoos, captive breeding and animal rescue centres
  13. The promotion of religion
  14. Retrospective funding, meaning support for work that has already taken place
  15. Work that is not legally charitable

We very rarely fund research.

Please visit the Foundation’s website for the full application process

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