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Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Sustainable Scottish Heritage Businesses

As the deadline draws closer for applications to the Business Support Programme ‘Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Sustainable Scottish Heritage Businesses’ we asked Fiona Skiffington, our Business Support Manager, to update and talk through FAQs.

We are nearing the end of what has been a very busy period for our new NLHF-funded Business Support Programme ‘Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Sustainable Scottish Heritage Businesses’, which comes at a critical time for the sector and is an opportunity not to be missed for ‘at-risk’ organisations in all fields.

Since applications opened back in mid-October, project partners MGS, BEFS and greenspace scotland have been working hard to develop a comprehensive programme that will support organisations of all sizes by upskilling the heritage workforce, building organisational resilience and developing sustainable business models.

We are currently at the stage of designing the final programme and selecting training partners to help us deliver a diverse and tailored programme covering the four core themes of Leadership, Governance, Business Planning and Local Community Engagement over the 18-month duration.

Our programme surgeries are ongoing and have been very well received. Demand has been high, and we added two extra dates, which are also now fully booked, to chat with organisations about the programme and answer any questions that they have.

We have received a variety of questions from a wide range of heritage organisations so far regarding eligibility, capacity, training content and delivery. To help answer any questions you may have about the programme, please see our compiled list of FAQs below.


  • We are a small organisation – is this programme suited to us?

Yes, of course. The programme is open to heritage organisations of all sizes throughout Scotland, as long as you identify as ‘at risk’ and feel that the programme will be of real benefit to you. We are aiming to reach a wide range of heritage organisations across all fields with this programme and will work with participants to create training that is tailored to your individual organisation.


  • We rely heavily on volunteers – are we eligible?

We do appreciate that some organisations rely on volunteers to deliver their work, which is why you can nominate volunteers to take part in programme for the strands you see fit. This programme is all about supporting and upskilling individuals – paid and unpaid.


  • Who can we nominate to take part in the training?

For each of the four strands, you can nominate a maximum of 2 people. This means that potentially, 8 different individuals can take part in the programme. It is completely up to you as to who you nominate for each strand and the flexibility is there for you to shape this how you see fit e.g. you may only want to nominate one person for a strand or have the same person attend more than one.

The Leadership strand would best suit senior managers and the Governance strand would be best suited to Trustees/Board members. Business Planning and Local Community Engagement may be more suited to other team members. To clarify, nominated individuals can be a mix staff, trustees or volunteers – just whoever you feel would see most benefit from the training, both for them and for your organisation.


  • We don’t own any physical ‘assets’ – can we apply for this programme?

Yes, you can. Although the programme has a specific focus on those organisations with tangible assets, it is open to all heritage organisations in Scotland across all fields.

If your work benefits another heritage organisation that does own assets, or your organisation is vulnerable and you can demonstrate a clear need for the support offered by this programme, then please do make an application. All we ask is that you provide us with as much detail as possible in your application form.


  • We are receiving funding/training elsewhere – does this affect our ability to apply?

Receiving other training and/or funding does not affect your eligibility for the programme therefore please do go ahead and apply if you are interested in participating.


  • We have little capacity to take part in the programme – is this still for us?

We do appreciate that capacity in terms of both staff/volunteers to take part and time commitment is a concern for some organisations. This is why each organisation can nominate different people to attend each strand (e.g. senior managers, trustees, volunteers).

Not only does this provide a fantastic opportunity to upskill up to 8 staff and volunteers over the 18 months, but the aim of the programme itself is to help build capacity within participating organisations.


  • Can we select which training strands to participate in?

We do expect all participating organisations to complete all 4 training strands throughout the 18-month duration of the programme (approx. 20-30 days of training in total).

We appreciate that certain strands may be of more interest to some organisations, however we do believe that all 4 strands will be of great benefit to all participating organisations and together will build increased confidence, knowledge and organisational resilience.


If you have any questions regarding the programme or your application, please contact