Trusts and foundations

Archive services may approach private trusts and foundations, based in the UK or overseas, to support their work. Organisations are advised to spend some time investigating the eligibility criteria and priorities for giving of individual foundations or trusts, as well as their preferred method of approach from applicants. There are online subscription directories that can help to identify relevant trusts and foundations, for example:

You will most likely be expected to demonstrate:

  • organisational competence and sustainability
  • the viability of your project
  • the need and demand for the project
  • why additional funding is required
  • how the project meets the trust’s or foundation’s specific areas of interest and their funding criteria

All grant awarding bodies have their own terms and conditions and areas of interest. Listed below is a selection of funds which regularly support archives, along with an indication of what they fund. Applicants should consult the websites of the funds before applying:

  • The Andrew W Mellon Foundation, supports grantees within five defined program areas including Art History, Conservation, Museums and Conservation and the environment
  • The Art Fund, a private body which gives grants towards the purchase by British institutions of works of art, including illuminated manuscripts and other items of value primarily for their artistic content
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, run by the Museums Association, focuses on time-limited collections work outside the scope of a museum’s core resources and could be relevant to supporting better use of archives held in museums
  • Foyle Foundation, operates a Main Grants Scheme supporting charities whose core work covers Arts and Learning and a Small Grants Scheme covering small charities in all fields
  • Friends of the National Libraries, a voluntary organisation consisting mainly of private individuals, was founded in 1931 in order to help acquire for the nation printed books, manuscripts and archives, in particular those that might otherwise leave the country
  • National Heritage Memorial Fund, a fund of last resort for the purchase of nationally important cultural property including archives
  • National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, a private charitable fund which supports conservation in two rounds, in April and October
  • The Pilgrim Trust, whose main emphasis is on projects that conserve historical buildings, monuments and collections. Improving access to collections is also a priority
  • The Wellcome Trust’s Research Resources in Medical History (RRMH), a scheme to support the preservation of materials of interest to medical historians and improve access to these and other medically important collections
  • The Wolfson Foundation, grants are generally given for capital infrastructure (new build, refurbishment and equipment) supporting excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education and the arts and humanities
  • Purchase Grant Fund, through this fund museums, galleries, record repositories and specialist libraries whose purchase funds are not directly provided by the state are eligible for government aid to acquire objects, including manuscripts and archives relating to the arts, literature, history and the human sciences
  • PRISM Fund, supports the acquisition of industrial and scientific material on a similar basis to the Purchase Grant Fund. Also supports conservation of material in this area
  • National Fund for Acquisitions, in Scotland the National Fund for Acquisitions, administered by the National Museums of Scotland, supports acquisitions by archives