Updated 15/01/21

Financial concerns are at the forefront of all our minds right now – from the grant-awarding bodies down to individual visitors coming to your museum.

It is important to know exactly how much money you need to survive in both the current situation and in variations of it as things change. There are many avenues for emergency funding out there, but not all museums will qualify.

When planning for reopening consider the benefits and the costs, as well as what you may need to fundraise for in the recovery phase. Consider whether reopening the museum is your best way forward. If the footfall is much reduced with no group visits and limited numbers of tourists, then your income may not cover your outgoings, especially if you have extra staff and cleaning costs.  Plan carefully before reopening. You could consider opening at reduced hours/days or limiting access to different areas of your museum.

Before reopening, ask yourself whether you should take a few weeks to focus on virtual programming, collections care and maintenance, fundraising or online income generation. You could also consider just opening for exclusive, ‘members only’ visits for the first month.

You can find a summary of governmental support here: summary of all the financial support  

Questions to ask yourself

  • Have you looked at your projected costs and potential income, and worked out if there is a shortfall?
  • Have you done a cost vs. benefits analysis of the possibility of opening?
  • Have you plotted your cash flow for the next 6 to 12 months?
  • Have you explored the various emergency funding avenues?
  • Are you able to generate income online through your website, donations, or an online shop?
  • Do you have a strategy to deal with income generation and any potential mitigation from the closure period?
  • Have you considered philanthropic giving, from the smaller scale (such as ‘sponsor an object for a month’) to the larger scale (such as major donors)?
  • If you operate a membership scheme, give some thought to how it might operate now and when you reopen.
  • Are you offering to refund or extend existing memberships at present?
  • Is there a way to thank loyal members when you reopen?
  • Consider reviewing your membership scheme so that is less reliant on special offers and is more about being part of a community.

 “The organisation actively identifies, develops and utilises its assets to generate income in order to fulfil its purpose.”

The AIM Hallmarks for Prospering Boards,



 British Retail Consortium guidance on re-opening

South East Museum Development’s online income generation guidance

Strategic thinking for arts and cultural organisations about how to use your data to maximise income:

Help for businesses:

Covid-19 Small Business Grants and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants

Government Bounce Back Loans:

Example of a small museum shop online:

VAT Deferrals:

Retail guides for smaller museums:

Example Cash Flow Graphs:
Appendix 5

Example Cash Flow Headings:
Appendix 6

Business grants from the government

Eligibility quiz for government grant scheme

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