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Small Grants Fund

Any organisation that runs an accredited museum in Scotland can apply to Museums Galleries Scotland for up to £15,000 from the Small Grants Fund.

Purpose of the fund

Our Small Grant Fund exists to support museums to develop their work and deliver against the priority areas of Scotland’s museums and galleries Strategy.

The fund can support:

  • Small scale project work
  • Acquisition of equipment and other resources to address time specific needs 
  • Preparation and scoping work to plan and inform future strategic development 

In all cases you will have up to 12 months to use the funding and you must tell us what difference the activity will make for your museum in relation to our grant outcomes and how you will measure and report this impact.  

Our grant outcomes

  1. Funded organisations will be more resilient  
  2. Funded organisations will be more environmentally sustainable
  3. Collections will be better cared for and managed and more accessible
  4. The museum workforce will be more skilled, confident, and diverse
  5. A wider range of people will be engaging with and represented in museums
  6. Museums will enhance quality of life for people by improving wellbeing, supporting learning, or contributing to place-making

You are required to demonstrate that the funding will make a difference to your museum in line with at least one of our grant outcomes.

You should consider carefully what you will be able to measure to report this impact as a direct result of the funded activity. There is no expectation for one project to deliver against all six of the outcomes and you should not be tempted to say that you will deliver outcomes that you will not be able to evidence at the end of your project. Doing so will weaken your case for funding rather than strengthen it. 

Additional guidance about what we are looking for in respect to each of these outcomes can be accessed by clicking on each of the outcomes above. You must read this guidance before starting your application.  

Who can apply for this funding?

  • In order to be eligible for MGS funding organisations must be able to demonstrate compliance with the Scottish Government’s Fair Work First policy which requires workers to receive payment of the real Living Wage and have access to appropriate channels for effective voice. The is a Scottish Government requirement for all recipients of public funding implemented from 1 July 2023. Further information can be found in Fair Work First – Guidance for funding applicants.
  • Organisations that run Accredited museums in Scotland 
  • Museums that have official “Working Towards Accreditation” status can apply for up to £3,000 from the fund for activity directly linked to achieving Accreditation.
  • Accredited museums on behalf of partnerships, which may include non-Accredited museums 
  • Formally constituted groups of museums (eg. geographical forums) which include Accredited museums which will benefit from the funded work. 
  • In exceptional circumstances we may be able to accept applications from organisations that do not run Accredited museums themselves but are working in close partnership with Accredited museums to meet a need identified by those Accredited museums. Please be aware however that in the vast majority of cases we would expect the application to come from the museum and any exceptions would have to be agreed as eligible through discussion with MGS prior to submission.

Expectations of funded organisations

As well as being Accredited, we expect the organisations that we fund to be committed to certain principles in the way they operate and develop projects. We expect the organisations we fund to be committed to: 

  1. Fair work
  2. Taking action to meet net zero targets and tackle the biodiversity crisis
  3. Becoming more inclusive 
  4. Sustainable strategic development
  5. Working collaboratively wherever possible

Please ensure that you read our further guidance regarding these expectations by clicking on each of the commitments above so that you are able to answer the relevant questions in your application.

Our Assessment Criteria

When assessing your application, we will consider and rate the strength of the case you have made with regard to the below criteria. Applicants must remember that our funding rounds are competitive so you need to make as compelling a case as you can against these criteria.  

Remember that the person reading your application may well have no prior knowledge of your museum, needs or circumstances and that providing evidence of the case you are making will make it much more compelling.  

All of these criteria are relevant no matter what your proposed activity is or how much you are applying for, but our Grants Team can help you with what level of detail and evidence might be relevant for your particular case, so please discuss this with them. 

The need to do the activity you are seeking funding for 

We need to understand why you need to do what you are proposing. You should help us to understand what would happen or be lost if you did NOT do this work. Remember to include evidence – this can be anything that helps us to see how vital it is that you do this work and that you do it now rather than in 6 months or a years’ time. Remember that what might be obvious to you may not be to someone who is not in your museum and working around this need every day. 

How well researched and developed your project idea is 

We need to understand why your proposed approach to addressing this need is the most appropriate way to do so. Tell us about the research and consultation you have undertaken, advice you have sought and how you have explored how others have addressed similar issues. You must demonstrate that your proposal represents value for money and that you have ended up with the most cost-effective option. 

 The impact that your proposed activity will have   

We need to understand what difference the funded activity is going to make for your museum and visitors and how it will deliver against our grant outcomes. We are looking for the things that you will be able to measure to evidence impact as a direct result of the funded activity. We will also be looking at how you will sustain the benefits resulting from the funding after the funding comes to an end so that we can be sure our funding will move you forward, rather than leave you back in the same position you were in before you undertook the funded activity. 

 Your adherence to the commitments we expect of organisations that we fund 

Please refer to our guidance around our expectations of organisations that we fund and if you have any concerns or questions regarding these or demonstrating your commitment to the principles, please contact our Grants Team. We are aware that different organisations are at different stages in the way they operate in relation to these principles. So aside from specific requirements (such as the requirement to be paying the real Living Wage) what we are looking for here is evidence of your understanding and application of  these principles in your specific circumstances, rather than seeking to compare your activity and progress around these to that of others.  

 Your need for financial support to deliver the project 

Consideration will be given to whether your organisation is more able to support the activity from your own reserves than other applicants that are applying, or whether you have more funding avenues open to you than other applicants. In the interest of fair distribution of funds, we will also take into account the amount of money you have previously received from MGS when there is high competition for funds. However, please note that the success of your application will not be jeopardised by any money you have previously received from MGS as part of a partnership application or, if you are applying as a partnership, by funds previously received from MGS by individual partners. 

 The deliverability of your project 

We need to be confident that you can deliver your project and that you have a strong chance of delivering the outputs and outcomes that you have identified. We will therefore be looking to see that your activity is fully planned out and carefully budgeted. 

What can’t I apply for?

  • Core operating costs 
  • Routine maintenance and like for like replacements  
  • Acquisitions of collections  
  • Work that has already started, or will start before our published decision date, other than preparatory work that you are covering from your own budgets 
  • Any more than 5% contingency (10% for capital projects) 

How much can I apply for?

  • Accredited museums can apply for grants between £300 and £15,000. 
  • Museums with Working Towards Accreditation status can apply for up to £3,000 for support with activity that will help them to achieve Accreditation.  
  • You can apply for 100% of the costs of the work you are proposing but we welcome financial contributions from the applicant organisation or other sources wherever possible as this enables us to support more museums with our limited funds. 

All awards are offered at a percentage of the total project cost so if you do not spend as much on your project as indicated in your application the amount that you can claim from us will be reduced proportionately. The maximum amount you will be able to claim will be stated clearly in any offer of grant.

How to apply

Before you begin an application, you must read the following: 

We advise you to submit an expression of interest to This should be no later than the EOI deadline for the round to which you intend to apply (see below). 

All applicants must have submitted a Fair Work First Employer Declaration no later than 10 working days before the application deadline.

All applications must be submitted via our online application portal MGS Online. A PDF of the application form is available in the Supporting Documents section below. This is for reference only and all applications must be submitted online. 

Apply via MGS Online 

When to apply

Prior to submitting an application, applicants must submit a completed Fair Work First Employer Declaration form and return it to Applicants need only submit this form once per financial year. You can access that form and further guidance on our Fair Work First – Guidance for funding applicants webpage. The declaration should be submitted no fewer than 10 working days before the application deadline. If a declaration is not submitted we will not be able to assess your application.

You can get in touch after the suggested expression of interest deadline, but please get in contact as soon as possible so that we’re able to provide appropriate advice before the application deadline.

Supporting documents
Getting started with MGS Online
(PDF, 586 KB)
Example Small Grants Fund 2023 application form - Reference Only
(PDF, 416 KB)
Fair Work First Employer Declaration Form
(DOCX, 87 KB)

Contact the Grants Team

Our Grants Team are available by telephone on 0131 550 4115 or through email.

Email Grants Team