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

Our Income Generation guidance has been produced to support archives in making informed decisions around generating income from commercial activities. It provides an overview of the main issues, an outline of different income-generating options, a series of tools to assist in planning, and links to other guidance and further reading. The guidance is aimed at all types of archive and should be relevant to those in the higher education, charitable and public sectors, as well as some business archives. This updated second edition features new and updated case studies, and includes a new section covering the limitations on what different services can and cannot charge for.

Income Generation Guidance (PDF, 1.7MB)

Collections and licensing

Many archive services seek to both generate income and provide greater access to their collections through licensing agreements.

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

Engaging in commissioning

These resources have 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 study 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 their 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)

Research expertise

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)