How our funding works
Find out about funding structure, grants outcomes and the projects and organisations we award grants to
We receive funding from the Scottish Government for distribution to museums. This supports project activity that helps museums to develop their work and deliver against the priorities of the National Strategy. This funding is only available to Accredited museums.
We sometimes also distribute funding from other sources (eg. National Lottery Heritage Fund, Art Fund) for specific activity. This is often in connection with a project or programme that we are running (eg. Forum Connections, Delivering Change). Eligibility for this funding varies.
What we fund
Our funding is project funding. This means we will fund activity that has a start and finish, specific aims and a legacy – a lasting difference that it will make for your museum and/or your communities. We are unable to offer core funding to support ongoing operating costs. Our smaller fund can support the purchase of equipment and resources that are not tied to a specific project, but you will still need to tell us what difference the funding will make.
There are a small number of things that we cannot fund. We specify these on the individual fund pages. Overall, the type and range of activity that we can support is very broad. What matters most to us is the difference your funded activity is going to make and this must be a difference that you can measure and evidence in some way.
Our six grant outcomes articulate the difference we want our funding to make. These directly relate to the themes and priorities of the National Strategy.
As a result of our funding:
- Funded organisations will be more resilient
- Funded organisations will be more environmentally sustainable
- Collections will be better cared for and managed and more accessible
- The museum workforce will be more skilled, confident and diverse
- A wider range of people will be engaging with and represented in museums
- Museums will enhance quality of life for people by improving wellbeing, supporting learning or contributing to place-making
We don’t expect that one project should deliver all six outcomes. We want to see focused projects that clearly articulate how they will make a verifiable difference against some of the outcomes. Please see individual fund pages for more details.
In line with the ambitions outlined in the National Strategy, we expect the organisations that we fund to be committed to the following principles. We expect to see these principles evident in the way that you operate and in the way that you develop projects for which you are seeking funding from us.
- Fair work
- Taking action to meet net zero targets and tackle the biodiversity crisis
- Becoming more inclusive
- Sustainable strategic development
- Working collaboratively wherever possible
Our Grants Programme
The Small Grants Fund is suitable if you are thinking about a small-scale project that can be delivered within one year and that will deliver sustainable results for your museum against at least one of the grant outcomes. It is also appropriate if you are looking for support to carry out preparation and scoping work that will inform future strategic development, or for specific equipment or resources to address a time-specific need that will make a tangible difference in line with at least one of the grant outcomes.
The Museum Development Fund is suitable if you are thinking about a larger-scale project that will take up to two years to deliver and which represents a strategic, sustainable development for your organisation in line with your own business plans and at least two of our grant outcomes. For these larger grants you will need to provide robust evidence of the potential impact so that you are clearly able to demonstrate the difference the project will make to your museum in line with the National Strategy.
How we assess applications
We publish a set of assessment criteria for each of our funds and we assess your application directly against these criteria, scoring it high, medium or low priority for funding in relation to each specific criteria. All decisions on applications in our regular grants programme are delegated to MGS staff. The guidance regarding our assessment criteria is available on each individual fund page. You should read it carefully to increase the likelihood of your application being successful.
When there is high competition for our funds, we have to take into account fair distribution of the funding so if your organisation has received funding from us recently, we may prioritise funding to organisations that have not.
Our grants team are able to advise on applications prior to submission and all applicants are strongly recommended to speak to the team before submitting an application, even for those funds for which a formal expression of interest is not required. Our capacity to seek further information from applicants during the assessment process is limited so you should be aware that we will make our assessment on what you have submitted.
We will always seek to give you verbal feedback if your application is unsuccessful and give you a chance to ask questions regarding this and any future or re-applications you may wish to make.
What happens after we award a grant
Once we have offered you an award and you have accepted it, we will have a conversation with you to clarify what reporting will be required on the project.
We want your project to succeed and aim to be as flexible as possible to help you deal with unforeseen developments and issues that may arise as you deliver your project. We therefore encourage you to stay in touch with us as you deliver your project and to notify us as early as possible of any issues. The earlier we know of any issues, the more able we will be to help you to find a resolution and ensure the success of your project. This becomes much more difficult if you do not communicate with us and if you make changes without discussing them with us, which is also a potential breech of our funding conditions.
We are required to report on the impact of the funding we distribute and therefore we want to understand as much as possible about what the funding has enabled you to achieve, but also what has not worked so well. We want our funding to support museums to try things they would not otherwise be able to, and we accept that not everything will work out as planned. Our priority is to gather the learning if this happens, for your benefit and that of the wider sector.