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Business Support Programme

Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Sustainable Scottish Heritage Businesses

About the programme

The NLHF funded Business Support Programme, ‘Surviving to Thriving’ (StT) has been developed by MGS, Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), and greenspace scotland to support heritage organisations in Scotland to develop sustainable business models.

The programme will deliver a comprehensive resilience and leadership training programme for approximately 40 heritage organisations (approx. 80 individuals) across Scotland.

Training will be tailored to the needs of participants, focusing on four main themes of leadership, governance, business planning and local community engagement, and will be delivered through leadership cohorts, training courses, organisational interventions, and bespoke facilitated sessions.

Designed to build resilience across Scotland’s heritage sector, StT will invest in individual and organisational capacity through a focus on building confidence and knowledge in business practice.

This project is designed to upskill and support the work of the heritage workforce across Scotland, including representatives from at-risk organisations in all fields, but with a specific focus on those organisations with tangible assets.

Training will directly engage with the heritage workforce at vulnerable organisations and will seek to address the skills gaps identified as required for a thriving heritage sector.

The programme delivery will commence April 2021 and run for 18 months, with the expectation that participating organisations participate in between 20-30 days training within that time period across the four strands.

Eligible organisations will be awarded a community grant to enable them to fully participate in the skills programme.

Training Strands


The core strand of this programme will focus on Leadership and training will encompass leadership  styles, personal and professional development, change and performance management, leading others to grow and develop, and how to support teams to develop shared values and create a shared vision.


The training delivered in this strand should focus on interventions designed to support trustees to understand their responsibilities, how to define their roles and how to work more strategically to embrace business opportunities. This strand should include training on good practise around sustainable board development and recruitment, including the potential to explore youth partnerships within this context. It is expected that this strand be tailored for each individual participating board.


This strand will support participants to embrace the opportunities that come from running their heritage organisations as businesses and give participants the skills to approach challenges strategically. A business planning course should be designed to support participating organisations to embark on effective forward and business planning, including exploring and mitigating risk, understanding VAT and balancing social and economic missions that are tailored to their organisations requirements.


This strand will support organisations to better understand engagement as heritage businesses, including offering training in working inclusively and effectively with communities and building the crucial relationships required to enable heritage businesses to thrive as part of their locality and as part of the growing place agenda.

Training will address participant skills gaps in digital marketing while considering the organisations wider communication core activities and challenges. This strand of learning will also include training around evaluating and communicating the impact of heritage businesses as part of a wider advocacy strategy, helping these organisations to better articulate the impact they make on a local and national level.

It is expected that the strands of Leadership and Governance will be delivered in the first nine months followed by Business Planning and Community Engagement in the second nine months.

Programme Benefits

  • Individual participants (and their organisations) will have increased their skills in the areas they need to operate thriving heritage businesses
  • The heritage workforce will be better able to manage change, embrace opportunity, and mitigate risk within their organisations
  • Participants will have greater well-being through the establishment of peer-support networks and professional cohorts
  • Participants will feel more confident through training and facilitation, and better able to share good practise across and beyond the heritage sector
  • Heritage businesses will be equipped with confident, skilled, empowered staff and leaders who are motivated to embrace new opportunities to deliver their work

Programme Timeline

  • Applications open - 15 October 2020
  • Applications close - 3 December 2020
  • Participants announced - January 2021
  • Programme begins - April 2021
  • Programme ends – September 2022

To be considered for this programme, please complete and submit your application by 12 noon, Thursday 3 December 2020.

Questions about the programme

If you have any questions about the programme, we will be holding surgeries on the following dates:

  • Thursday 5 November 2020 (10.30am – 11.30am)
  • Tuesday 10 November 2020 (1.30pm – 2.30pm)
  • Thursday 19 November 2020 (1.30pm – 2.30pm)
  • Tuesday 24 November 2020 (10.30am – 11.30am)