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We understand the capacity challenges which the archives sector faces, particularly in winning funding: our consultation in 2022 told us that 75% of archives have ten staff or fewer, and 83% make five or fewer grant applications per year.

We have a responsibility to deliver a programme that is clear, simple and accessible to the sector which we serve. The National Archives has set itself these five tests, to guide how we operate as a funder:

Need: we will provide funding which the archives sector needs, which may not be available elsewhere, and which supports our mission, vision and objectives. We have identified the sector’s priorities for funding, and want to spend every grant where it is most impactful.

Knowledge: we are a practising archive, as well as a funder. Wherever possible, we should share our knowledge and expertise with grantees, as well as providing funding. We will work with experts, within and outside of The National Archives, to provide feedback on every application, and to support grantees where we have expertise – and we will learn from grantees, when they have expertise to share with us.

Partnerships: we believe that archives work best when they work together. To derive greatest benefit from our funding, every one of our grants should build connections or facilitate knowledge exchange across the sector. We will fund consortia and networks, and work in partnership with other funders wherever we can.

Flexibility: wherever possible, we should lower barriers to accessing funding, and make grants as accessible as we can. We will make applications short and simple; we will support applicants through webinars and the provision of guidance; we will not ask for information that we do not need; and we will answer questions, at every stage of the process.

Evidence: we want to make the case for further investment in the archives sector. We will collect data, create evaluable outputs and outcomes, amplify our grantees’ voices and celebrate their successes. We will fully realise the societal benefits of archives, and advocate for their future.

We will continue to award grant funding through open, competitive calls, assessed by panels of experts from within and outside of The National Archives. Find out more about our grant programmes on these pages.

We hope that your experience of applying to and winning funding from The National Archives will be as easy as possible. If you have any comments to share about our approach, please do get in touch.