The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

The Esmée Fairbain Foundation
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

This is Part 5 of a Guide to Social Entrepreneurship Foundations. In these series of articles we will highlight top international Foundations focused in social business and social entrepreneuship.

About the Foundation – Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation works on improving the lives of people and communities throughout the UK. This is achieved through funding charitable organisations that have good ideas and the ability to deliver positive change. The organisation is one of the biggest independent grant providers in the UK, offering £30 to £35 million annually. The foundation considers work which others may find hard to fund.

Management team and founders
Caroline Mason CBE is currently the Chief Executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Mason has a history of working in the social sector and has also served at Big Society Capital as COO, and previously to that at Charity Bank. Mason is entrepreneurial and set up Investing for Good, a social investment advisory firm, and one of the first of its kind. She also benefits from lengthily work experience in the financial sector, with Reuters. She also serves on the board of Social Enterprise UK, Ethex and EVPA.

James Wragg is the director of operations, focused on the support services and leading in areas such as the administration of governance, grant making systems, finance, information systems, human resources, planning and policy. He deputises for the CEO as required. He is the Chair of a charity that works with children and families in London. Before working at the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Wragg served at Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales.

The funding at the organisation is run by John Mulligan, Director of Funding Development, and Sharon Shea, Director of Funding. Both have a specialist area of social change. Marie Mathilde Suberbere is the organisation’s Finance Director.

The main mission of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is to improve the quality of life throughout the UK.

Geographical Location
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation only supports organisations that can bring a direct benefit to the United Kingdom. Its office is located in Kings Cross, operating with a staff of around 27 people.

Areas of Focus
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation works in the areas of arts, children and young people, the environment and social change. For the arts it focuses on organisations that are at a turning point, the development of emerging talent or driving social change.

In the area of children and young people, its funding is focused on social and emotional development of disadvantaged children and young people, the rights of vulnerable children and young people, the root causes of low educational achievement and political participation for young people.

In the environment it is committed to a focus on connecting people with nature, conservation of natural environments, countering the impact of people and also focusing on less well known organisms. With social change it focuses on the marginalised, improving community life and addressing injustice.

In addition to making charitable grants it also has a finance fund. The fund is worth £26 million and it is dedicated to investments in organisations that plan to provide a social benefit as well as a financial return.

History – Founders
Ian Fairbairn is the founder of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the organisation was founded in 1961. Fairbairn was a city worker that made a decision to invest in a charitable organisation, M&G. M&G grew as a result of Fairbain’s hard graft, with an overall aim of promoting improved understanding of economic and financial challenges through utilising education. His wife, Esmée, had been killed during World War II in an air raid, and Ian Fairbairn was also eager to put in place a memorial to her. The sons of Esmée Fairbairn, Paul and Oliver Stobart have given sizeable sums to the Foundation. The organisation grew considerably in 1999 when it sold its investment in M&G. This has enabled it to make much more significant grants.

7. Types of Grants/Awards and Funds available
The type of funding that is offered to the organisations that are supported is grants. The following video, made by the foundation, explains how to write a strong application:

8. Examples of types of organizations funded
One of the grants awarded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has been to the Fostering Network. The goal of this project has been to introduce foster care to social pedagogy. The approach taken works towards building relationships regarding children in foster care, and takes a step away from following procedures. the Fostering Network has set up six demonstration sites across England and Scotland where it has tried this approach. It is working to demonstrate the impact that this can have, particularly with regard to stability for foster children and educational improvement. In total, £900,000 was given across four years to this worthy project.

Another undertaking that has been supported to the tune of more than £2 million in grants has been the UK Drug Policy Commission. This organisation is an independent entity that reviews drug policy and practice in the UK. The organisation analyses areas such as impact of drugs, stigma, the impact of the media, enforcement crime and media controls and policy and systems. It has been estimated that illegal drugs cost the UK £3 billion a year, but there is limited evidence regarding what works and what does not, and the UK Drug Policy Commission seeks to rectify this by offering evidence and suggested policies.

9. Approach to education and social enterprise
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation supports educational projects with its grants, where they meet the funding requirements, and fit with the aims and goals of the organisation. In particular, it focuses on addressing root causes of low educational attainment. For example, one recent grant it has funded in this area was CDI Apps for good. This is a project that is focused on curriculum development, raising academic attainment, social change and social mobility. In this case the project was awarded £319,500 in 2014. The goal of the project is to help students learn to create mobile, social and web applications that directly address issues that matter to them.

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation supports social enterprise through its Finance Fund. Its primary purpose is to support charities.

Social media channels

Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 1- Skoll Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 2 – Ashoka Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 3  – Schwab Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 4 – UnLtd
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 5 – The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 6 – Jasmine Social Investments
ntelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 7 – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 8 – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 9 – The Clinton Foundation
Intelligenthq Series on Social Entrepreneurship Foundations Part 10 – The  Young Foundation

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