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Who do you trust?

One of the organisations that I keep coming across during my internet researches is the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, apparently the UK's largest grant-awarding charity.

If you take a look at their database of grants awarded to environmental projects you find, among all the gifts to good causes, lots and lots of gifts to truly bad causes:

  • Sandbag
  • 10:10
  • Climate Outreach Information Network
  • Greenpeace
  • Friends of the Earth
  • People and Planet
  • The Climate Group
  • E3G

The scale of the gifts is extraordinary: some £34m of donations are identified under the Environment heading alone. And I'm certainly intrigued by all this largesse, given what the trust says about the reason it was set up by unit trust pioneer Ian Fairbairn:

He came to believe that one of the causes of inequality was what people did with their savings: those who could buy shares could benefit from the growth of companies and the economy more generally, rather than simply gaining income from interest. This thinking reflected his belief in the power of enterprise to create opportunity and wealth for all...

Ian’s initial intention [in setting up the Trust] was two-fold: to protect [his business] from hostile takeover, and to raise the level of people’s financial understanding. 

I struggled to reconcile all these donations to greens with Fairbairn's objectives: environmental organisations hardly have "wider prosperity" as their overriding objective, in fact quite the opposite. As if to emphasise this point, the Trust describes "Resolve", a research project at the University of Surrey that it has funded, as being a project to identify "alternatives to growth". Pretty remarkable use of the moneys left by a man devoted to wider prosperity, don't you think.

But then, reading a little further there is this:

However, the founding trust deed was broadly drafted, to allow for the funding of any charitable activity approved by Trustees.

Including, it seems activities directly opposed to the founder's wishes. I wonder if anyone can lay their hands on a copy.

But in the meantime, I guess the moral of the story is that trust deeds should be drawn very narrowly indeed.

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Reader Comments (29)

Now then, why would Prudential want to promote man made global warming?

To up premiums and to worry anxious people into buying more expensive [expansive?] insurance!

Of course - silly me.

'Sandbag' - how apt is that?

May 2, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

A guy who clearly has hundreds of millions who goes on about "inequality". Hmm.

And ironically ends up bankrolling green groups whose efforts to make life more expensive have a disproportionate impact on the poor, rather than those with well paid jobs in, say, greenie fake charities.

May 2, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I find it truly insulting to give taxpayers money to any on that list of trustafarians and do-no-gooders

But anyway concerning trust , I have for examples 100% trust in the Bolshevik Brainwashing Corporation
I trust them to take ALWAS the most liberal retard option available to them, and to report on the most leftwing propagandist way possible. My trust is unequivocal there. Trust is a hard thing to take away.

If I would see them parasites telling Nigel Farage is the one to vote for , then I 100% trust that it has been decided to be the most appropriate way for liberal retards to take that stance at that moment.

May 2, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Bish, you need to keep ptw under control for the sake of the blogs credibility!

May 2, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I hope that one or more of our national newspapers will pick up this story and start asking the trustees how they can possibly justify using the trusts money to promote their own political agendas. Don't any of them have a conscience?

May 2, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Big oil on one side, big charity on the other.

May 2, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

This is the natural state of large charities...they evolve into comformist conglomerates, even when they don't dissolve into scandal and mismanagement. Check the Nobel Foundation for example.

May 2, 2014 at 3:27 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

The Ford Foundation being another classic example of runaway trusteeship.

May 2, 2014 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Would you be the same Steve who wrote

James, as you know well, you are wasting your time on this blog. As for Lawson, he is no different to Blair...a man who once had a lot of power and still craves it and the attention it brings.
And you claim that ptw is undermining the blog's credibility? Sheesh!

May 2, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Steves a bit of a libtard butthead
(Tautology alert !)

Steves in it for the lining like all good progressives
Never mind the faux progressive lingo

May 2, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPtw

Mike you can't deny that Lawson and Blair love power and crave attention. Neither would, choose politics if they didn't like each of those things. Oh and to change the world for the better.

I have no intention of giving credibility to the blog or any blog for that matter but I do enjoy engaging with the silver surfers here!

May 2, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Looking at the limited financial information on the website they seem to be slowly managing their way into financial oblivion. The published returns are well below their self stated objectives. Blaming low returns in 2011/2012 on the 2008 financial crisis is just B.S.

If they continue their trajectory they will eventually become irrelevant.

May 2, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

steve your "engaging" here has about the same level as my engagement with the roaches behind the stove: imho
there should be less of them.

It is the perennial fault of conservatives to be too lenient towards the Posh Left waterholes: no, I would not want to
be a 45k a year / 32h a week London underground driver either, no I would not want to be a 200k a year BBC coordinator's job a year job either and neither would I want "sir" Nurse's first class flying "responsibilities".

But it is an existential mistake not to demand accountability transparency and mobility in all these places.
Otherwise what happens is that the red ticks take over, and the loonies run the asylum. As has happened.

Reason is then delegated to fringe blogs where steve's , probably on taxpayers' expense, come to pretend they carry the argument.

May 2, 2014 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Do you mind? Greybeards is a much more seemly description.
But what differentiates you from Zed who posts because she hates us or Chandra who posts to disrupt?

May 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

In Texas, the Baker Institute was set up former Secretary of nearly everything, James Baker. He is a staunch, rational conservative.
He lost control of the Institute almost from the get-go. It now promotes some of the silliest lefty stuff available.
All in all, if I was ever blessed (cursed) with the resources to set up a foundation, I would either maintain strict control and liquidate it during my lifetime, or I would write up a charter so tight that it would either stay on track or be liquidated upon getting off track.
The NGO/nonprofit industry is completely dominated at this point by a class of lefty parasites that specializes in using benefactor resources to fund their pals' lefty junk. since NGO's non-profits are by definition not productive enterprises, it is not surprising that lefties dominate and pilfer them so thoroughly.

May 2, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

"However, the founding trust deed was broadly drafted, to allow for the funding of any charitable activity approved by Trustees."

lol. This statement should under no circumstances be taken at face value. The latter part is merely a tautology stating that the Trust does what the Trustees decide to do; the former part is subjective opinion. Cherchez la femme.

May 2, 2014 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuther Bl't

Mike, anyone who randomly scatters commas about their posts really is not worth a discussion...

May 2, 2014 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

@ May 2, 2014 at 9:15 PM | Radical Rodent
Thanks for reminding me to punctuate in a more standard fashion.

May 2, 2014 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

It is no surprise to see the Esmee Fairbairn Trust supporting green activism disguised as charity.

One of its trustees is Sir David Bell, who is also a trustee of Common Purpose, chairman of the Media Standards Trust which was behind Hacked Off, and somehow kept his position as an assesor on the Leveson panel in spite of his glaring conflict of interest. He is chairman of Pearson which may have something to do with the FT's historical enthusiasm for the alarmist viewpoint.

Merely to recite the man's CV and trusteeships is to invite accusations of conspiracy ideation: you couldn't make it up.

May 2, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

And forced the Mirror to apologise for accusing him of funding CP, MST, Hacked Off and ironically enough the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which libelled Lord MacAlpine. Of course he didn't give his own money - he was just a trustee of a charity that gave other people's money instead - much cheaper. No doubt in accordance with best practice he stood aside from their decisions although it would not have been hard for his fellow-Trustees to gauge his wishes, given his role as Trustee of CP and MST.

May 2, 2014 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

here in the USA the list of charitable foundations hijacked by overpaid hactivists to pursue goals increasingly at variance with the purposes of the founders is long, and includes many of the largest and wealthiest:


etc. etc.

May 2, 2014 at 11:13 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Simple solution?
Remove the charity status from the above list. NZ dropped Greenpeace, so there is a precedent to shut up the lawyers.

May 3, 2014 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Simple solution?
Remove the charity status from the above list. NZ dropped Greenpeace, so there is a precedent to shut up the lawyers.

x 1000.

Good thinking - Graeme No. 3 and thinking about it didn't the French in NZ.......................?

May 3, 2014 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Joe Public,

And both are funding the catastrophilia that passes for climate pscience.


May 3, 2014 at 7:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

This take over of charities by the left is very worrying. The problem is that well meaning conservatives still give money to charities with a left wing view-animal charities are a good example.
I would suggest that charity law needs to be altered such that the views of the founder are paramount and cannot be over ruled by trustees. I would also suggest that charities are barred from campaigning against changing national policy as this political and/or supporting those who do.

A charity which undertakes cleaning up an area, planting trees, training people to be gardeners would be acceptable but not campaigning against litter. I would also limit salary of employees to twice that of national average.I would say that those who run charities do it for the love and and have already had a career from which they draw a pension.

May 3, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

One need only look at the venerable Grantham Institute, set up by the Grantham Foundation:

Carter Roberts, President and CEO WWF, US and Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund, US

There are of course lots of other well known names there.

May 3, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Fully agree with the "take over" of the charities by left wing and social engineering types. A great example is the Pew Foundation.

It was the visionary J Howard Pew of Sun Oil that essentially founded the Oil Sands industry in Alberta. Now the Pew Foundation is very much aligned with and a funder of those organizations that are attempting to denigrate and shutdown the industry.

J Howard must be spinning in his grave.

May 3, 2014 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

So who are the "trustees" - how did they get into, I assume, appointing each other? Should throw light on the "great and good" mafia.

Certainly the money does not appear to be being primarily used for the purpose the later provider intended.

May 3, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

The thing with "charities" is that there should be a modicum of "doing charity" preserved there.
That would mean no "managers" at 100k+ salaries, well above the payscales of their peers in industry.

Now of course big charities will need well paid people to do the difficult work..Which they should find by OUTSOURCING the recruitment to independent providers.

We should make sure the leftwing stench gets out, out of charities.
The work needs to be remunerated BELOW private remuneration.
Anything paid above the median should be 1. TEMPORARY 2.EXTERNALLY HIRED

This would be sensible, so we should not expect it from the LIBLABCON parasites

May 3, 2014 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

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