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Developing your project and application

We want to support you to develop strong proposals for project funding. On this page we provide guidance on how to approach aspects of projects within your application, and how to avoid common application mistakes.

All potential applicants should read this guidance along with guidance on our grant outcomes and commitments for funded organisations and our grant assessment criteria. This guidance may change so please do review it even if you have read it for a previous application.

We strongly recommend that you read this page before contacting the Grants Team as this will help your discussion with them.

Using evidence to strengthen your case for support

The need for your project will be very clear to you. You may have been dealing with the issue, or considering the opportunity you want to address, for some time and be familiar with it and the benefits of your proposed approach. However, a common mistake in applications is to forget to help the assessor to understand these things as clearly as you do.

Including evidence with your application will help the assessor to better understand your proposed approach. This will vary depending on what the proposed project is but some examples of evidence are:

  • Photographs of the space or displays that you want to refurbish
  • Photographs of the collections storage issues that you need to address
  • Feedback that you have received from visitors or consultees that has informed your plans
  • Consultancy reports that have informed your plans
  • Energy efficiency reports
  • Visitor or volunteer data that you have gathered that supports the need to do the activity
  • Letters of support from groups and other stakeholders who will benefit from the activity
  • Current costs and the savings that could be made if the activity is undertaken
  • The numbers of enquiries that you receive that you are unable to address without doing the activity

You should be able to clearly articulate what the consequences of not undertaking the project would be for your organisation. Ask yourself why it needs to take place now and why is MGS funding needed?

Reporting on impact

We’re primarily interested in understanding the quantifiable difference that the funding is going to make and we’ll want to hear about this difference when your project has completed. We’ll ask you in your application to tell us what you are going to measure as you deliver your project and what evidence you’re going to collect so that you can demonstrate the tangible difference that the funding has made. When you’re selecting which of our grant outcomes your project is going to deliver against you should be thinking about what impact you will be able to demonstrate. If you do not articulate this it can be challenging for your assessor to rate your application as likely to have a strong impact.

The project plan

The project plan that you complete within our application form is one of the things we consider when we are assessing the deliverability of your project. You should therefore ensure that you break down your project into all the steps you will need to take to fully deliver the project, including evaluation and impact reporting. One line stating the delivery of your primary project output will not be sufficient.

Evidencing costs and procurement requirements

When you complete the project budget in the application form we ask you to tell us how you have calculated the individual costs. We ask for this information because we want to be confident that your costings are as accurate as possible and that any grant we offer you is going to be enough to enable you to achieve your objectives, but not an over commitment of funds that other projects could be benefiting from. We also want to be able to see that your application represents good value for money.

For costs of less than £250 we will accept a written explanation of how you established this costs in the notes column of the budget table as a minimum.

For individual costs exceeding £250, we expect you to attach a quote or price comparison such as a screen grab of, or link to, a web page.

Please note that for the purposes of your application, only one quote per item is necessary.

However, if your application is successful, you will be required to use the following procurement guidance: 

  • When you are procuring single goods or services worth between £1,000 and £5,000, you should obtain at least two quotes. This can be done privately by contacting whichever suppliers you wish to approach, if they are appropriate for the contract type. 
  • As your Award is constituted of public money, where the contract is worth more than £5,000 you should follow standard public procurement guidelines as set out by the Scottish Government. Suppliers for contracts worth between £5,000 and £50,000 may be procured privately by approaching at least three selected suppliers by email. However, Scottish Government best practice recommends that contracts worth between £5,000 and £50,000 should be managed through the Public Contracts Scotland website. Quick Quote facility, which is a secure way to receive responses and can act as an audit trail if required.
  • Public Contracts Scotland is a free-of-charge service where buyers in receipt of public funding can advertise contracts for the supply of goods, works, and services.
  • Contracts worth more than £50,000 must be managed via the open Public Contracts Scotland advertising portal 

Fair Work First Compliance

Fair Work First is the Scottish Government’s flagship policy for driving high quality and fair work, and workforce diversity across the labour market in Scotland by applying fair work criteria to grants, other funding and public contracts being awarded by and across the public sector, where it is relevant to do so. Through this approach the Scottish Government is supporting employers who adopt fair working practices, specifically:

  • payment of at least the real Living Wage;
  • providing appropriate channels for effective workers’ voice, such as trade union recognition;
  • investment in workforce development;
  • no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts;
  • action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace;
  • offering flexible and family friendly working practices for all workers from day one of employment; and,
  • opposing the use of fire and rehire practice.

Museums Galleries Scotland are required to introduce two elements of the Fair Work First policy for all new grant offers issued from 1 July 2023. These are: for employees to receive at least the Real Living Wage; and for workers to be provided with appropriate channels for effective voice.

Further information can be found in Fair Work First – Guidance for funding applicants.


Funding for temporary employment contracts

Our funding can be used to support new, fixed-term project posts.

If you’re seeking funding for such a post you will be required to supply certain information in your application as listed below. These requirements reflect MGS’s commitment to Fair Work and to supporting museums and galleries to deliver better recruitment and employment practice.

You’re required to supply the following in your application:

  • The hours per week, duration, and salary. Please note that we require that any post we fund pays at least the real Living Wage but also that the salary must be appropriate to the position – in line with Museums Association Salary Guidelines where relevant (we would expect this to include an increase accounting for inflation since 2017). Please take time to ensure that the hours, duration, and salary are consistent in your application – checking that what you list in your job description is consistent with what you put elsewhere in your application.
  • A job description and person specification. Please note that we require that qualifications are listed as desirable criteria unless the role cannot be undertaken without the stated qualification. Instead, state the experience needed for a role. There are certain requirements for your recruitment materials (of which the job description is one) in the next bullet point.
  • Information on how you will advertise the post. You will have to tell us how you will advertise the post in your application. Any temporary post that represents a contract exceeding £5,000 must be advertised outside of your organisation. If you have any queries regarding this in your circumstances, you should discuss these with the Grants Team prior to submitting your application. Please note that if your application is successful, it will be a condition of award that when you advertise the post, your recruitment materials clearly state salary, contract type and length, and that you must offer candidates recruitment materials in other (suitable) formats and offer reasonable adjustments for interviews.


Funding for freelance contracts

Our funding can be used to support you to offer freelance contracts for consultancy or other services or short-term work.

If you’re seeking funding for freelance contracts, you will be required to provide certain information in your application form:

  • The contract duration and value
  • A brief that you will ask suppliers to respond to
  • Your process for procurement. This will need to include reference to how you will ensure that your chosen supplier is suitably qualified and, where relevant, accredited. If your application is successful, and your contract value is for between £5,000 and £50,000 you will be required to get a minimum of three written quotes from competitive sources in response to your brief. Contracts worth more than £50,000 must be managed via the open Public Contracts Scotland advertising portal 

Increasing access to collections

If your project will create new engagement opportunities we expect you to consult with your current audiences and non-audiences to find out what they are interested in and what they want, in order to inform and shape what you produce.

For any work around engagement, we expect you to demonstrate an awareness of who is not your current audience. You should be aiming to widen the range of people who are engaging with and represented in your museum. We want you to think about those who have faced barriers previously to engaging with your museum and for you to be seeking to work with them in genuine co-creation, so that what you produce truly removes barriers for them and represents them. It is important to move beyond simply “consulting” them on what you already plan to do but to involve them at a point when they can genuinely influence how you develop your activity.

Whenever you use our funds to consult with communities of origin or those with lived experience we expect you to ensure that they are offered appropriate remuneration for their contributions.

We also expect any project with the central aim of improving collections knowledge and management to include an element about increasing access to those collections.

There is advice and guidance on our website for:


Digital projects

If your project involves the creation of a digital product or digital engagement activity, it is essential that you have researched and established that there will be an audience for this  and how you will effectively promote the product or activity to that audience. You must include the evidence of this research and audience in your application.

If you will be paying a developer to create a digital product for you, then you must have a clear brief that you, rather than the developer, has written.

Digital products that we fund must be built on open source, or comercial open source format and your application must indicate your plans for ongoing maintenance of the product and how you will resource these costs.

Capital projects

If you’re applying for funding for capital works, which includes new buildings, refurbishment, improvements to displays, and anything that involves fixed assets, then you will need to tell us about:

  • Security of tenure. We will need to know that you have security of tenure for at least five years. You may own the property or have a lease or other form of agreement that has more than five years remaining, but we will ask for confirmation of these arrangements.
  • Permissions. It is your responsibility to check if any permissions are required for the work to be carried out, from the Planning Authority, other regulatory authority, or your landlord, and to let us know that you have done this. You should allow an appropriate amount of time to obtain planning permission in your project plan if you have not already obtained this, and let us know of any preliminary discussions you have had about the proposed work. You should obtain permission from a landlord for the work to be carried out before you apply for funding and confirm that this has been done.
  • Briefs and tenders. You will be asked to provide briefs and indicative quotes with an application to substantiate your grant request. If a grant is awarded, you will have then be expected to obtain confirmed quotes. For work with a contract value of between £5,000 and £20,000 you will be required to get a minimum of three written quotes from competitive sources in response to your brief. For a contract exceeding £20,000 you will be required to go through a formal tendering process. Briefs should be written by you to articulate the need you are seeking to address and should not be written by a supplier.

Scoping, planning, or preparatory research work

You can apply to our Small Grants Fund to do scoping, planning, and preparatory research in preparation for larger scale, strategic project work, for which you may plan to apply for grant support from MGS or from other sources.

When we fund activity of this nature, we will expect your application to include the steps necessary to take this work on to the next stages in order to reduce the risk of the funding paying for reports and plans that are never used. For example, one of the project outputs being a costed implementation plan to which the governing body has committed. You should discuss what will be appropriate in your case with one of our Grants Team.

Partnership projects

We’re keen to support museums to work in partnership and welcome partnership applications. We define a partnership as an agreed relationship between two or more organisations with a shared vision who gain mutual benefit from working together to achieve common goals. Arrangements where one organisation simply delivers (paid or unpaid), a service that another organisation uses, are not regarded as partnerships.

We can accept partnership applications from one lead partner organisation on behalf of the partnership, or from a constituted group of museums. We always expect there to be a partnership agreement setting out the shared objective(s) and the roles and responsibilities of partners. This can be formalised after an award as been offered, but if this is not in place prior to application, the application must at least include written confirmation from the partners that they are committed to the project and clear plans for how the partnership will be managed and how it will manage the grant.

How our funding works

Find out more about funding structure, grants outcomes and the projects and organisations we award grants to.

How our funding works