Esmée Fairbairn Foundation - funding priorities in the arts, children and young people, the environment, food or social change. 

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities throughout the UK both now and in the future. We do this by funding the charitable work of organisations that are building an inclusive, creative and sustainable society.  


The Foundation offers grants to organisations doing legally charitable work in the UK across the following range of priority areas:

  • The arts.

  • Children and young people.

  • The environment.

  • Food.

  • Social change.

Applicants should apply for the amount that they need. The Foundation does not set limits and makes grants across a fairly wide spectrum of sizes.

In the past grants have ranged from £2,000 to £1.5 million with the support lasting from one to five years. Funding can be used for core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads.

Small grants of £60,000 or less are also available for one-off projects, or for testing out new ideas and collaborations (general running costs are not supported at this scale).

Who Can Apply

  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations with a regular annual turnover of at least £50,000, that are properly constituted and involved in legally charitable work in the UK.

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate a track record to successfully deliver the work.


General exclusions:

  • Organisations with a regular annual turnover of less than £50,000.

  • Organisations without at least three non-executive trustees or directors.

  • Work that is not legally charitable.

  • Work that does not have a direct benefit in the UK.

  • Grants to individuals, including student grants or bursaries.

  • Capital costs including building work, renovations, and equipment.

  • Work that is common to many parts of the UK such as:

    • 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.

    • Standard work to improve employability skills such as training on CV writing, interview skills, literacy, numeracy, ESOL courses and activities to increase self confidence.

    • Mainstream activities of organisations that are part of a wider network (including branches of national organisations).

    • General information and advice work.

  • Work that does not set out to have a wider impact beyond the lives of the direct beneficiaries. It must have plans to change the way professionals like social workers or artists work in future; or changes attitudes to an issue, or affect policy.

  • Academic research unless the applicant can demonstrate real potential for practical outcomes.

  • Healthcare which has a clinical basis or related work such as medical research, complementary medicine, hospices, counselling and therapy, arts therapy, education about and treatment for drug and alcohol misuse.

  • Work that is primarily the responsibility of statutory 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.

  • Funding to replace or subsidise statutory income, although rare exceptions may be made where the level of performance has been exceptional and where the potential impact of the work is substantial.

  • Animal welfare, zoos, captive breeding and animal rescue centres.

  • The promotion of religion.

  • Retrospective funding.

How To Apply

This is a rolling programme and applications may be made at any time.

The Foundation currently receives about 2,000 first-stage applications each year, of which only one in ten is successful. As a result, it has created the online eligibility quiz to ensure the applicant's request for funding fits one of the funding priorities.

Applicants should read the guidance notes which can be downloaded from the Foundation's website  

The Foundation operates a two stage application process. First-stage application forms are available to complete online at the Foundation's website.

Successful applicants will then be invited to complete a second-stage application form.