Guide: Sources of Funding for heritage digitisation projects 2022/23


Sources of Digitisation Funding – a quick directory

Last Updated: 17th October 2022

Anyone who has embarked upon a digitisation project will know that this comes at a cost. From initial collection and transportation of delicate archives to the digitising, transcription and publishing of that material, time and handling adds up. Consequently, funding can present a real issue.

This is exactly why TownsWeb Archiving set up their annual grant scheme back in 2017, and it looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. This year (2020) we saw three successful winners, but demand was high and many applicants were unsuccessful, which is hard for everyone. However, there are other funding options available, so if you were one of those organisations, don’t be disheartened, we’ve made a quick reference directory to help you find that vital funding you are looking for. 

It is our hope that through new and existing funding opportunities, the barriers and obstacles to digitisation will slowly and surely be overcome, paving a much smoother journey from physical to digital, and the freedom, security and accessibility that this provides.


TownsWeb Archiving

The TownsWeb Archiving Digitisation Grant accepts applications for UK based heritage digitisation projects. Applicants bidding for the funding awards of up to £12,000 (4 x £3,000) have ranged from business and local authority archives, national museums and university special collections, as well as public and private libraries and galleries.

Funding Details

Types of Project Digitisation of public and private archives
Opens Annually - June
Closes 6 weeks later
Grants Available For 2022:
  • 4 x Primary grant of £3,000
  • Up to £1,000 in match funding for all eligible applicants
Helpful Links


Arts Council England

Arts Council England announced a rescue package of £1.57 billion in grants and loans following the COVID-19 pandemic and it is understood that this will be available to heritage institutions across the UK through a number of different recovery funds and grants.

Funding Details

Types of Project
  • Culture recovery fund
  • National lottery project grants - under £30,000 and £30,000+ grants
  • Open funds
Opens Always open
Closes Various
Grants Available Recovery funds, grants and open funds
Helpful Links

British Library

The British Library offers a range of grants solely for the protection of ‘endangered Archives’ which they aim to make as widely accessible as possible. Material covered includes: written, pictorial or audio formats, including manuscripts; rare printed books; documents; newspapers; periodicals; photographs; and sound recordings dated before the middle of the twentieth century.

Funding Details

Types of Project For archives that are classed as ‘endangered’ and in need of preservation through digitisation due to their cultural significance.
Opens September


Grants Available
  • Pilot - up to £15,000
  • Major - up to £60,000
  • Area - up to £150,000
Helpful Links


Charles Hayward Foundation

The Charles Hayward Foundation Main Grant programme 'Heritage and Conservation' seeks to support projects that are unique and of national importance, inviting applications for UK charities in respect of heritage, preservation and conservation projects. The grant 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 adaptations of heritage sites for education.

Funding Details

Types of Project Heritage and conservation
Opens Always open but please be aware account registration deadlines apply, so be sure to register on time for each of the following windows:
Always open for outline proposals
Closes Quarterly reviews of applications
Grants Available Up to £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 to projects that “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”. There are two types of grant and both have a two-stage application process.

Funding Details

Types of Project Projects that offer, “outstanding ideas that demonstrate the significance, distinctiveness and power of collections to people”.
Opens 2 Rounds each year: Summer & Autumn
Closes July & September
Grants Available
  • Grants of up to £90,000 over two years
  • Grants of up £25,000 over five years
Helpful Links


Garfield Weston Foundation

Garfield Weston provides funding to, “a broad range of organisations and activities that share a commitment to making a positive impact to the lives of the communities in which they work,” and this covers the arts and museums and heritage. 

Funding Details

Types of Project Garfield Weston Foundation - arts, heritage and preservation
Opens Currently open
Closes Not specified
Grants Available
  • Regular grants £100,000+
  • Major grants £100,000+
Helpful Links Garfield Weston Foundation:

They also have an ‘eligibility quiz’:


Heritage Fund

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.

Funding Details

Types of Project Local, regional and national UK heritage projects
Opens Always open (check for changes to terms during COVID-19)

Deadlines for grants over £250,000:

  • May
  • August
  • November
Grants Available
  • £3,000 - £10,000
  • £10,000 - £100,000
  • £100,000 - £250,000
  • £250,000 - £5 million
Helpful Links


Marc Fitch Fund

The Marc Fitch Fund offers special project grants which are small and intended to be of last resort for projects that might otherwise fail and have exhausted alternative funding strategies. Funding is available for applications from local and national archaeological and historical societies to digitise and publish journal backlists online (with a number of conditions attached) and which must be made available to all.

Funding Details

Types of Project Heritage digitisation projects for pre-1945 collections
Opens Always open via email submission of brief outline
Closes Applications determined in:
  • March
  • August
Grants Available Small grant (Amount unspecified)
Helpful Links


Museums Galleries Scotland (MSG) Fund

Museums Galleries Scotland provides support to the sector via a number of funds to include the Small Grant and the Museum Development Fund.

Funding Details

Types of Project Museums projects aimed at getting back on track and taking strategic steps towards becoming more resilient.
Opens Various dates
Closes November & January
Grants Available Resilience fund £1,500 - £50,000
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 offering a service to the general public. The Small Grants Scheme supports smaller charities in all fields providing their annual turnover does not exceed £100,000.

Funding Details

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 No deadline
Grants Available
  • Main grant: £10,000 - £50,000
  • Small grant: £2,000 - £10,000
Helpful Links


The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe

The Rothschild Foundation’s overall aim is to ensure the conservation and preservation of Jewish heritage material. Their aims are specifically focused on: conservation and preservation; inventories and cataloguing; digital resource creation and digital humanities; professional training; and language grants. They also support digitisation to make the collections more widely accessible, “provided the application clearly explains the purpose for digitisation”.

Funding Details

Types of Project Jewish heritage projects run by charitable organisations
Opens Spring
Closes September
Grants Available Conservation and preservation grants between £15,000 - £40,000 with a maximum of £75,000 per year for three years
Helpful Links


The Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust is working to preserve and conserve the UK's heritage through moderate funding made available through two grants open to UK charities for the preservation of such things as artefacts, books, and manuscripts. The Trust considers applications on a rolling basis and has historically provided funding for digitisation as part of a wider project. Priority is given to projects considered to be of national importance.

Funding Details

Types of Project Two grants available with an emphasis on conserving historical buildings, monuments and collections
Opens This two stage application is always open
Closes Applications determined in:
  • Stage one considered on a rolling basis
  • Stage two considered quarterly
Grants Available
  • Care of collections and objects - £1,000 - £30,000
  • Cataloguing grants for archival collections - Up to £45,000
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 under their ‘Funding for Places’ stream for which there are two rounds each year. 

Funding Details

Types of Project Funding for Places: Archives, Museums, Galleries and Performing Arts collections
  • Round 1 - November
  • Round 2 - May
  • Round 1 - January
  • Round 2 - July
Grants Available £15,000 - £100,000  (match funding required for projects over £50,000)
Helpful Links


Alternative Sources of Funding Guides:


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. Use their 'Funding Finder' tool to search for available grants.

Funding Details

Types of Project Funding for research supporting the creation of digital resources - would suggest emailing in the first instance to see what projects are currently covered
Opens Always open
Closes Various
Grants Available Various
Helpful Links


Funding Scotland

Funding Scotland provides a free online search engine to research available funds and  grants: 


If you discover any other funds or grants that you think we should know about, please do get in touch and help us to keep this resource as up-to-date and relevant as possible for the benefit of the wider heritage community. If you are applying, always check the dates and finer details because these are always subject to change. If you find anything to be incorrect or out of date, again, please so let us know by emailing

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

Best of luck with your next project!

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