Before you apply
- Read the guidance on this page
- Download our application pack, which explains our criteria for funding, helps you to apply for a grant and gives guidance on filling out the application form.
A fund of last resort
NHMF can help fund heritage projects of all sizes. There is no limit to the percentage of funding that can be applied for.
However, as NHMF operates as a fund of last resort, you must be able to prove that you have explored, or are exploring, all other possible sources of funding.
We can only consider paying the total costs of a project in exceptional circumstances.
What we can fund
NHMF can help buy anything which is of outstanding importance to the national heritage and either at risk or of memorial character. For example:
- works of fine and decorative art
- museum collections
- items of transport and industrial history
- historic buildings and land
In exceptional circumstances, NHMF can fund emergency repairs when a heritage asset (excluding historic buildings and structures) is at imminent risk of irreparable damage.
What you can’t apply for
- restoration costs, aside from emergency repairs
- the creation of replicas
- yearly revenue funding
- day-to-day running costs or maintenance
- the costs of payroll staff
- development studies
- research projects
- costs of general furniture, fittings and equipment
- we will not normally consider items which are less than 10 years old
- costs which have already been spent. For example, we cannot reimburse individuals or organisations for items that have been paid for or secured with a down payment or deposit.
Who can apply
We accept applications from:
- Charities (voluntary and public)
- Not-for-profit organisations
- Public bodies
Who cannot apply
- Private individuals
- Commercial businesses
What we expect from projects
Projects should meet the following criteria:
Importance to the national heritage
Your project must be concerned with buying, maintaining or preserving objects, collections, buildings or land that are of particular importance to the national heritage of the UK.
The item/s must also be in some way outstanding. This could be because of rarity, quality, association with a historic figure or event or designations.
The role of the Fund is specifically to save items that are at risk. Therefore you must be able to prove that the item/s will be at risk in some way should you not be able to acquire them.
Items that have a direct link with conflicts or those who lost their lives during them, are given special consideration. Such items still have to meet NHMF’s essential criteria, but they do not have to be at risk.
We do not define heritage, importance or risk - it is up to applicants to make the case for each.
- The price of the item you wish to buy must not exceed the current market value.
- Applicants must commission an independent valuation and submit it with their application. NHMF will also commission our own independent valuation.
- Valuations are not required for export-stopped items or those declared treasure.
- You must be able to demonstrate that you can provide an appropriate, permanent and secure home for your chosen item/s.
It is essential that all heritage items we support will be made publicly accessible. Your application should demonstrate how your acquisition of the item will provide new opportunities for the public to access it.
If an object is too fragile for long-term display or unrestricted access to land or a building could put it at risk, then managed or restricted access can be considered.
It is essential that all NHMF support is acknowledged on any display, interpretation, digital material/websites or hard copy information about your project.
How to apply for a grant
Making an application
You can apply for a grant whenever you are ready.
Our application pack explains our criteria for funding, helps you to apply for a grant and gives guidance on filling out the application form.
Download the application pack:
Submitting an Expression of Interest
The first step in making an application to NHMF is to submit an Expression of Interest using our online portal. After you have submitted your Expression of Interest, we will contact you within 10 days with feedback. If a full application is recommended, we will release the application form for you to complete.
Our grant portal
We switched to a new grant portal on 1 June 2021. Use the new funding portal if you are submitting an expression of interest or applying for funding after this date. You will need to create a new account.
If you had an application with us before 1 June 2021, continue to use the old grant portal.
We will assess your application and it will go to our next available Board meeting for a decision.
All decisions on NHMF awards are taken by our Board of Trustees. The board meets monthly, excluding July and August.
How long does it take?
We consider urgent cases to be those with a fixed deadline for purchase. Our assessment process normally takes three months from application to decision.
For non-urgent cases, our assessment process normally takes six months from application to decision.
Permission to start
If your application is successful, you will be sent a grant contract to fill out and return. You must also complete our Permission to Start form. You should not start your project until you have received our approval through Permission to Start.
Our receiving a grant guidance will help you receive your payment and update us on your progress.
Read the receiving a grant guidance: