Generating income

There are a number of ways archive services generate income. These might be through their collections, expertise, or fixed assets such as buildings or equipment. As part of their business planning, archive services should consider carefully not just cost-recovery charging, but activities which generate revenue for investment back into core activities. With any commercial activity, archives should always be looking for non-monetary benefits alongside income, such as outreach, raised media or public profile, increased usage of the collection or improved preservation of original records through digitisation.

Income generation guidance

The Income Generation Guide has been produced to support archives in making decisions about generating income from commercial activities. Providing an overview of the main issues, an outline of different income-generating options and a series of tools to assist in planning, as well as links to other guidance and reading; the guide assists in the decision making process of generating income from commercial activities. The guidance is aimed at all types of archive and should be relevant to those in the HE, charitable and public sector, as well as some business archives.

Income Generation Guidance (PDF, 0.88MB)


Many archive services seek to provide greater access to and awareness of their collections through licensing agreements.

Read our guidance on licensing digital images to commercial publishers (DOC, 1.05MB)

Engaging in commissioning

This resource has been produced to provide practical guidance for archive services with an interest in engaging in commissioning. It aims to promote awareness in the archives sector of the commissioning process, the language and terminology, and to generate thinking around how archives might engage with other public services through commissioning, and so contribute to better outcomes for individuals and communities.

Case studies about commissioning

Engaging in commissioning – a practical resource pack for archives (PDF, 0.50MB)

Self-assessment guide to engaging with commissioning (PDF, 0.34MB)

Measuring outcomes for archives

This resource was produced to provide guidance for all types of archive services, not just those in local authorities, on how to create a local outcomes framework. Creating a framework will help you measure and evidence the difference archives make and its contribution to local priorities.  It will also help you make the case for continued investment of public money, develop persuasive funding bids and engage with a wider range of stakeholders.

Meauring Outcomes for Archives Resource (PDF, 0.71MB)


Some services provide paid research services. The National Archives has produced guidance on this option for organisations covered by Freedom of Information.

Guidance on Freedom of Information, publications scheme and paid research services (PDF, 0.06MB)

Other case studies

Case study – Dorset Archives Content Online (PDF, 0.03MB)