Guide: Sources of Funding for heritage digitisation projects 2019

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Sources of Funding – a quick directory

Anyone who has embarked upon or has, indeed, read about our many digitisation projects will know that it’s not without its costs. From early collection and transportation of delicate archives, to the digitising, transcription and publishing of that material, careful time and handling adds up and funding can present a real issue.

As a result, TownsWeb Archiving set up their annual grant scheme back in 2017 and demand looks set to keep it rolling for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner and one runner up, but there are other funding options available too. So, don’t be dissuaded; it’s definitely worthwhile conducting a little research. To help we’ve made a quick directory to get you started.

It is our hope that, through funding opportunities, the barriers and obstacles to digitisation will slowly and surely be removed, paving a much smoother journey from physical archives to digital archives and the freedom, security and accessibility that it affords. As a result, digitisation will keep on growing.


Sources of funding for Digitisation Projects:

TownsWeb Archiving

The TownsWeb Archiving Digitisation Grant accept applications for UK based heritage digitisation projects. Applicants bidding for the funding awards of up to £6000 have ranged from business and local authority archives, to national museums and university special collections from public and private libraries and galleries.

Types of Project Digitisation of public and private archives
Opens 19th June 2019
Closes 28th July 2019
Grants Available
  • Primary Grant £6,000
  • Secondary Grant £3,000
  • Match Funding £500
Helpful Links

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust provides funding to support cultural heritage digitisation projects, provided that they support or relate to one of the organisations priority areas where work seeks to make a positive change across the UK, or across one or more of its member countries – England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Types of Project Cultural heritage digitisation projects
Opens Always open
  • March
  • August
  • September
Grants Available £10,000 - £150,000+
Helpful Links

Heritage Lottery Fund Grant Programmes

An open programme for heritage projects across the UK using revenue generated from The National Lottery to fund digitisation projects and heritage enterprise by not-for-profit organisations and private owners of heritage and partnerships. There are a number of different grants available.

Types of Project Local, regional and national UK heritage projects
Opens Always open
Closes Deadlines for grants over £250,000:
  • May
  • August
  • November
Grants Available
  • £3,000 - £10,000
  • £10,000 - £250,000
  • £250,000 –£5 million
Helpful Links

The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe

The Rothschild Foundation’s overall aim is to ensure the conservation and preservation of Jewish heritage material. They offer a range of grants for charitable organisations concerned with heritage preservation, including digitisation projects, “provided the application clearly explains the purpose for digitisation”.

Types of Project Jewish heritage projects run by charitable organisations
Opens June
Closes Spring
Grants Available Archives and Libraries Grant
Helpful Links

Charles Hayward Foundation

The Charles Hayward Foundation Main Grant programme seeks to support projects that are unique and of national importance and invites applications for UK charities in respect of heritage, preservation and conservation projects and covers funding for pictures, manuscripts, books and objects for public display, use and interest. It also covers the development of libraries, museums and galleries and adaptions of heritage sites for education.

Types of Project Heritage and Conservation
Opens Always open
Closes Quarterly reviews of applications
Grants Available £20,000 - £50,000
Helpful Links

Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund

The Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund is run in partnership with the Museums Association and awards up to £1.2million per year and “have a strong link between relevant collections and audiences; are able to use the project to contribute to the long-term plans of the organisation(s); and are ambitious, interesting and sometimes exploratory”.

Types of Project Museums, galleries and partnerships – projects of up to 3 years
Opens 2 Rounds each year: March & September
Closes September
Grants Available £20,000 - £120,000
Helpful Links

The Golden Bottle Trust

The Golden Bottle Trust was established by the bank in 1985 to donate money to a diverse range of UK-based causes and covers the funding to arts, culture and heritage with the aim of, “deploying some of the Trust’s invested capital for positive social impacts”.

Types of Project Projects in respect of arts, culture and heritage
Opens Not stated
Closes Not stated
Grants Available 2017 awarded 344 grants totaling £1,782,423
Helpful Links

The Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust is working to preserve and conserve the UK's heritage through moderate funding made available to UK charities, to include artifacts, books, and manuscripts. The Trust considers all applications for funding digitisation projects, but does give funding priority to projects it considers to be of national importance.

Types of Project Main emphasis on conserving historical buildings, monuments and collections
Opens Always open
Closes Applications considered quarterly
Grants Available Up to £15,000
Helpful Links

Marc Fitch Fund

The Marc Fitch Fund offers special project grants which are small and intended to be of last resort and for projects that might otherwise fail and have exhausted alternative funding strategies. Applications are considered for the, “cataloguing, scanning, transcription and study of significant primary resources”.

Types of Project Heritage digitisation projects for pre-1945 collections
Opens Always open
Closes Applications considered:
  • March
  • August
Grants Available 2018 awarded 23 grants totalling £69,424.00
Helpful Links

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust offers funding in respect of UK based archive and library collections through the Research Resources Award scheme and to those working in “a publicly-accessible library, archive, museum or digital repository”. Projects must have “the potential to make a significant difference to health research in the humanities and social sciences”.

Types of Project To develop library and archive material for humanities and social science researchers
Opens Always open to email submissions
Closes Applications considered:
  • April
  • October
Grants Available Up to £500,000
Helpful Links

Clore Duffield Grants Programme

The Clore Duffield Foundation mainly supports cultural learning and museum, gallery, heritage and performing arts learning spaces in relation to UK charities with a small number of grants being approved each year.

Types of Project Heritage and cultural learning
Opens Always open
Closes Approved:
  • June
  • December
Grants Available £10,000 - £1million
Helpful Links

The Mercers Company

The Mercers Company offers grants under three key areas: young people & education, older people & housing and church & communities. In order to establish if your project is covered it would be advisable to email them direct with specific details.

Types of Project Projects that fall within one of the three key areas
Opens Always open
Closes Considered every four months
Grants Available Up to £25,000 per year.
Helpful Links

Museums Galleries Scotland (MSG) Fund

Museums Galleries Scotland provides support to the sector via strategic investment in order that Scottish museums may develop their work and improve outcomes in four key areas: collections, audiences, sector workforce and sustainability.

Types of Project Small Projects
Opens Always open
  • February
  • -une
  • - September
Grants Available Small Project Fund – Up to £5,000
Helpful Links
Types of Project Projects relating to recognised collections
Opens Always open
  • April
  • October
Grants Available Museum Development Fund £5,000 - 40,000
Helpful Links


British Academy for Humanities & Social Sciences

The British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences pledge around £25 million in grants every year to a wide variety of projects. Their grants are primarily post-doctoral research based but digitisation of humanities and social science-based resources have been funded. When applying for the Academy’s small research grants, “applicants can propose a wide range of possible outcomes from their research. These can include the digitisation of material that will be subsequently made available online.”

Types of Project Projects relating to post-doctoral academic research
Opens Not currently open
Closes N/A
Grants Available Up to £10,000
Helpful Links

The Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation has a long history of supporting the arts and humanities and recognises the importance of the cultural sector, providing grants to charities and organisations with charitable status. The Foundation offers specific funding streams for both the Performing Arts and Museums & Galleries, and will consider funding cultural heritage digitisation projects depending on the significance and importance of the collection(s) being proposed.

Types of Project Archives, Museums, Galleries and Performing Arts collections
Opens 2 funding rounds each year
Closes Unknown
Grants Available £15,000+
Helpful Links

Arts & Humanities Research Council

The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) offers a number of funding streams that will support the creation of digital resources, with a variety of projects funded, including their Standard Research Grants and Follow-on Funding scheme.

Types of Project Funding for research supporting the creation of digital resources
Opens Always open
Closes Unknown
Grants Available £50,000 - £1 million
Helpful Links

The Foyle Foundation

Supporting UK charities and state schools only, this foundation operates two grant schemes open to heritage digitisation projects. The Main Grants Scheme supports charities whose work covers Arts and Learning, with priority given to sustainable projects which offer a service to the general public. And the Small Grants Scheme supporting smaller charities in all fields providing their annual turnover does not exceed £100,000.

Types of Project Digitisation projects for charitable institutions with an emphasis on sustainability, public benefit and accessibility (Main Grant scheme – learning)
Opens Always open
Closes Decisions in 4-6 months
Grants Available £1,000 – under £200,000
Helpful Links

If you discover any other funds and grants, please do let us know and we will happily include them here. Funding opportunities are subject to change so, if you find anything to be incorrect or out of date, then please let us know by emailing or tweeting @townsweb so we can keep this page as relevant and helpful as possible.

If you found this article useful, you might also like our Best Practice tips for Planning a Digitisation Project post.

Good luck with your project!