Heritage Emergency Fund grants of £3,000 to £50,000


The Heritage Emergency Fund is now closed to new applications. Read more about our funding programmes



We are providing a package of support for the heritage sector as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

This includes increased advice and support, longer-term skills and capacity building initiatives, and a £50 million Heritage Emergency Fund to provide emergency and/or recovery funding for those most in need.

The Heritage Emergency Fund is accepting applications for two grant levels, £3,000 to £50,000 or £50,000 to £250,000, to cover emergency and/or recovery costs during this difficult time.

The application criteria and priorities are different for each level of funding.

This guidance is for grants from £3,000 to £50,000 to help organisations deal with immediate risks and become more stable. We have been working closely with partners and stakeholders and have decided to extend the duration of this funding so we can continue to provide support. The application form will now be available until 12 noon, 31 July 2020.

We will prioritise funding against the criteria listed below.

The application process is also outlined below.

Guidance on preparing your application, provided by one of our experienced consultants, is available as a short video.

Who can apply?

As a National Lottery distributor, we are prioritising urgent funding in the heritage sector. We want to safeguard heritage sites and organisations we have previously invested in to ensure they are not lost to the public.

To apply for grants of £3,000 to £50,000 from the Heritage Emergency Fund, you must be:

  • a not-for-profit organisation
  • a current or previous recipient of a grant directly from us
  • an owner, manager or representative of heritage, or be able to show you have delivered participatory heritage activity

You must meet all three criteria above to apply for funding through the Heritage Emergency Fund. If you do not meet these criteria, you may be eligible for other support as we develop our longer-term strategic support or other initiatives.

We are not accepting applications from:

  • statutory organisations, for example, local authorities, even if you have previously received funding from us
  • private owners of heritage, even if you have previously received funding from us
  • organisations that have previously only received funding from us for project grants of £10,000 and under
  • organisations that have a direct funding relationship with and sponsorship by departments of Government. These organisations should approach their sponsor bodies for any additional support rather than applying to the Heritage Emergency Fund.
  • organisations that have already accepted emergency funding from another National Lottery distributor, unless you can make a clear case that each grant is needed to cover distinct activity relevant to each distributor. As part of our focus on maximising the impact of National Lottery Good Causes investment in communities, organisations that have been funded by different National Lottery funders should, in the first instance, choose the most relevant fund and apply only to them.

How will we prioritise applications?

We will prioritise organisations that:

  • have limited or no alternative access to other sources of support, for example, from Governments, other National Lottery distributors, other emergency funding from trusts and foundations
  • have already tried other options to stop being at risk such as putting projects on hold, rephasing milestones, repurposing other funding to support day-to-day operations, minimising costs but maximising the function of existing projects (value engineering)
  • are in greater financial risk from COVID-19 due to a reliance on trading or community fundraising income streams
  • are in greater financial risk due to limited reserves

We will also prioritise where:

*Heritage at Risk is defined as:

  • heritage that is likely to be lost, damaged or forgotten
  • heritage that is designated as ‘at risk’
  • physical heritage sites that are decaying or neglected
  • heritage at risk due to financial difficulty
  • intangible heritage and cultural practices that might be lost
  • important habitats and species in decline

In assessing applications, we will also consider the material difference our support is likely to make in the context of the organisation, its size and relative to the scale of the risk faced by you and the heritage you look after. We are working with Governments and other funders to consider what other support might be available where our funding will not be enough to address the challenges faced.

Due to high demand for this type of funding, organisations will be a lower priority for support if they:

  • are better placed to access emergency funding from other sources
  • have significant and ongoing resilience issues pre-dating the COVID-19 emergency. If this applies to your organisation, we recommend you discuss these issues with your local team, as we may be able to provide advice and support through our longer-term strategic initiatives.
  • completed their last National Lottery Heritage Fund project over 10 years ago.

What will we fund?

The Heritage Emergency Fund is short-term funding to support the immediate actions needed to stabilise operations and manage unforeseen risks.

You can apply to us for a grant between £3,000 and £50,000 to cover essential costs for up to four months.

You may also apply for activity that will help your organisation begin to recover and follow guidance from government.

This could include increasing your digital activities during this period, testing and consulting on new activities that will help your organisation's recovery, and reviewing and revising your strategic operating plans.

Partnership funding is not required.

We want to support organisations to actively deal with immediate risks, to help you become more stable and to work towards longer term recovery.

As a guide you could apply to us for costs to:

  • stabilise your organisation in the immediate term to make sure the vital heritage you care for is not put further at risk by COVID-19 (for example, staff costs to allow you to respond, design and deliver plans)
  • help you plan and initiate mothballing of (putting aside or withdrawing from use) your heritage asset/s and other approaches to protecting heritage that is at risk
  • run immediate risk management reviews and the actions identified as needed to safe-guard your organisation
  • reconfigure business plans, governance and activity needed to help safeguard the future of your organisation
  • cover essential operational costs, for example, site security, maintaining climatic conditions for collections, or managing livestock on habitats
  • help you manage your site during social distancing. This could include additional staff to help manage queues, PPE for staff and volunteers, training, additional cleaning, implementing contactless payment methods, or temporary structures to help manage visitors, like shelter for queues or additional toilets
  • get advice from professionals, for example on risk, safety, how to support your staff or on new business models
  • cover essential IT equipment and connectivity costs to support homeworking and activities to enable your organisation to put information online and to interact with your community/customers.

What won't we fund?

  • costs that are eligible to be covered by Government support, for example, furloughing
  • the remaining salary costs for staff on furlough not covered by the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, or any additional salary costs above the furloughing cap
  • redundancy costs of staff not funded by a current National Lottery Heritage Fund project
  • costs that are avoidable in the short term. We will let you know if we think this is the case and remove these from your grant request
  • overhead costs you will incur beyond four months from the point of your application, we may consider some recovery costs that are slightly longer term if that makes sense for your organisation (for example, business plan reviews may need more time to understand the impact of COVID-19)
  • anything that contravenes Governments’ advice on COVID-19
  • recoverable VAT
  • costs related to promoting the cause or beliefs of political or faith organisations

How to apply to the Heritage Emergency Fund

Before you apply

If your National Lottery Heritage Fund project is complete, please speak to your local engagement team for advice.

If your National Lottery Heritage Fund project is still running, we recommend you speak to your investment manager before you start an application. We will discuss the options available to you.

If you need to apply to us for any direct capital costs for an existing National Lottery Heritage Fund project, make sure you speak to your investment manager before you apply. We may be able to offer an increase to your existing grant instead.

When you are ready to apply

Please ensure that you have read the guidance thoroughly, that you are eligible to apply, and have prepared your answers to the application questions in advance.

If you are applying for £10,000 or more, you also need to send us a supporting document, as described below. Once you have submitted your application, we will email you with instructions to upload your supporting document. This is an automated email so please only send your supporting document.

Supporting document to send us for applications of £10,000 or more:
  • A month by month cashflow forecast for your organisation covering at minimum the period for which you are applying for funding (by cashflow we mean a document showing the flow of income and expenditure you anticipate).

Please use notes to explain the assumptions you are making regarding any reasonably anticipated income from any other emergency funding sources, and expectations about re-opening sites to visitors.

Please note: the application form cannot be saved as you go along, it must be completed in one go.

If you need any support or advice before you apply please speak to your local team.

the Heritage Emergency Fund is now closed. Read more about our funding programmes

Once you have submitted your application

We will check that your organisation and application meet the criteria outlined above. If your application does not meet the aims of the fund it may be rejected earlier in the assessment period, and we will let you know this at the time. We may contact you for more information when we begin assessing your application.

We will get back to you with a decision within two to four weeks. We may decide to offer you a different amount to the amount you request. Your grant award will be confirmed in writing.

This process is designed to be as quick and simple as possible, while still ensuring our funds are allocated to those who are most in need.

If you are awarded a grant

You will need to submit additional forms on our system so that we can make a payment.

We will let you know when you need to do this and guide you through the process. If you are awarded a grant, we will send you a new grant award letter and you will need to complete a permission to start form. When you have completed this process, we will pay 100% of your grant upfront.

We will not be accepting resubmissions under the Heritage Emergency Fund due to the immediate nature of this funding.

Reporting on your progress

We would like you to keep in touch and let us know if the risk to your organisation changes. There will also be two points where you will need to formally report to us: once during and once at the end of your project.

We are developing our support package and will be able to provide advice and business support opportunities online and through new programmes to be launched once social distancing measures are eased.

We are developing our approach to emergency support during this difficult time and your experience will be used to help shape future emergency interventions from us and from our partners.

Evaluating the impact of the Heritage Emergency Fund

We, and other National Lottery partners who are also offering emergency support, will want to be able to track the impact that this has had for individual organisations, places and communities.

We will be putting in place an evaluation and will require you to take part in some straightforward data collection to support this.

Thanking National Lottery players

We understand that safeguarding the future of your heritage, your organisation and staff and volunteers will be your priority.

While social distancing measures are in place, we will ask successful applicants of grants to work with us on acknowledging their receipt of a Heritage Emergency Fund grant through our communication activities, including acknowledging the role of The National Lottery.

Additional support

There are other sources of support and funding available from Governments, and these are listed on our website.

Read the Heritage Emergency Fund Accessibility Statement

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