February 2020: This resource is currently undergoing review and update. Some of the information and links on this page are not current, especially relating to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and in this case you are encouraged to go directly to their site and to their oral history guidance. You might also find the following fundraising guidance helpful: and


Oral history can be used in a variety of settings –community, institutions, schools, lifelong learning, funded projects, volunteer projects, academic, non-academic, etc. In terms of funding its strength of being able to be used in a number of disciplines is also its weakness. Apart from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has a positive approach to funding oral history projects that demonstrate likely strong outcomes, there is very little in the way of funders who have a clear oral history funding stream or who mention the term in their guidance notes. This is not to say funding won’t be possible, only that a tailored approach is likely to be necessary; for some funders it might be more appropriate to include oral history practice as an integral part of a wider project which meets their strategy and application criteria rather than as a stand-alone element. The use of partner organisations might be worth exploring.

A PDF version of the information contained on this page is available to download from here.
(You will require Adobe Reader to view it).

National Lottery Good Causes Funders

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Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

As a major funder of oral history projects in the UK, HLF investment has resulted in an exciting range community- and institution-led work over the past 15 years or so. Whilst HLF tends to hit the national news with funding for large capital projects, in fact the majority of grants are awarded to community and voluntary organisations to lead local activity. HLF is an outcomes-focussed funder so any application will need to show how you will achieve positive outcomes under three broad themes of heritage, people and community. The HLF outcomes that might most typically be achieved by an oral history project include:

  • Heritage will be better identified/recorded;
  • People will have learnt about heritage;
  • People will have developed skills;
  • More and a wider range of people will have engaged with skills etc

HLF offers a range of funding programmes, three general programmes – Sharing Heritage, Our Heritage and Heritage Grants – through which most oral history projects are funded, and a host of targeted programmes. The smallest grant you can apply for is £3,000. You do not necessarily need match funding for grant requests under £100,000, however, offering a contribution, whether in cash or in-kind, will strengthen your application in a competitive funding environment. For grant requests over £100,000 some match- or partnership-funding is always essential.

All application guidance and forms are available in English and Welsh and translations are available by request. Applications are made through online portal via

HLF publish a range of good practice guidance, including a document on oral history:

For other publications and guidance notes:- .

HLF offers pre-application advice. For grants between £3,000 and £10,000 you are advised to complete a brief online Expression of Interest form. For grants over £10,000 it’s recommended you fill in a Project Enquiry form, also online. This will trigger feedback from a Development Officer in your local HLF office who will advise on whether your project proposal is likely to be fundable before you invest resources in working up a full application.

Grant enquiry line
020 7591 6042/44
9am – 5pm Monday to Friday
You can also contact your local HLF office for advice about local information (HLF designates ‘Priority Development Areas’ in each country and English region where more applications are encouraged).

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HLF Funding Programmes

Sharing Heritage

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation, including public bodies, and partnerships led by not for profit organisations.
Grant Available: £3,000 to £10,000
Details: Grants programme aimed at, but not exclusive to, community organisations or organisations that are new to HLF. Funding is available, for example, for festivals, exhibitions, celebrations, local history publications, conservation of individual heritage items and volunteer training and support. This is a ‘light touch’ programme; you only need to demonstrate your project will achieve a small number of outcomes from those listed in the application guidance. Applications can be made any time. You will get a decision within eight weeks.

Our Heritage

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation, private owners of heritage* and partnerships of the above. (*NB Public benefit must always outweigh private gain).
Amount: Available: £10,000 to £100,000
Details: Many oral history projects are funded through Our Heritage. There is a one-stage application process. You will need to consider the following:

  • How will you demonstrate that the project will achieve at least two of the outcomes set out in HLF application guidance?
  • What will happen to the information and resources you are creating or conserving? You may need to talk to a public archive or similar organisation if you do not yourselves have the facilities to allow public access to the oral history recordings.
  • How will you publicise and showcase your project? How will you engage the public with the project?
  • Whether you have any contribution to make towards the project either in cash or in-kind e.g. volunteer time.

Projects can last up to five years, although most are completed within three years. Applications can be made at any time and you will receive a decision within eight weeks. You are encouraged to build in costs for a project mentor if your project team lacks expertise in a specific area of project delivery.

Decisions on projects under £100k are made by the HLF Head of Region or Country where you are based. ‘Our Heritage’ grants are paid in three instalments: up to 50% of the grant is paid at the start of the project, then 40% against project invoices; HLF retain 10% until your evaluation report has been received.

Heritage Grants

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation, including public bodies and partnerships led by not for profit organisations.
Maximum Amount: Over £100,000 – there is no upper limit
Details: This programme is for larger projects that will achieve a range of outcomes. You will need to plan plenty of time to prepare these bids. There is a two-round application process and each round takes three months to assess. There is a requirement to make a contribution to costs from your own organisation; any additional partnership funding is likely to strengthen your application.

You will need to demonstrate that your project will achieve a number of outcomes: at least one of each from the outcomes for heritage, people and communities if you are applying for under £1million; at least two of each if you are applying for over £2 million. As with other HLF programmes, you can get some general feedback on your project idea before making an application by completing a Project Enquiry form on the HLF website.

If you decide to apply you will be asked to complete a first-round application, describing your project in outline; at this stage you can apply for a development grant to help you work up the detail of your project plans should you be successful at the first round. Whether or not you ask for a development grant, you will have up to 24 months to develop a detailed second-round bid, including an Activity Plan, for consideration by HLF decision-takers. Both decision rounds are competitive.

Decisions on grant applications of less than £2 million are made by local committees appointed by HLF in each region and country of the UK. HLF’s Board of Trustees take decisions on grant requests over £2million and on projects over £100k which will deliver activity across more than one HLF region or country. Grant requests of £5million are considered by the Board of Trustees once a year. There is a fixed application deadline in November.

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Other HLF Funds

HLF administers other more targeted and/or time limited funds, these include:

Young Roots

Eligible Organisations: Any not-for-profit organisation; all applications must involve a partnership of a heritage organisation and a youth organisation – either one can lead the project.
Amount Available: £10,000 to £50,000
Details: A targeted programme for organisations who want to work young people aged 11 to 25, an audience traditionally under-represented in heritage work. Young people should have a clear role in steering and/or delivering the project. You will need to provide evidence that there is interest in the project from young people in your application.

Oral history projects have been funded through Young Roots. You will need to show how young people and other participants will learn about heritage and develop new skills as a result of HLF investment. You can apply any time and you will receive a decision within eight weeks.

First World War: then and now

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation, including public bodies and partnerships led by not for profit organisations.
Amount Available: £3,000 to £10,000
Details: This programme provides communities and organisations across the UK to explore, conserve and share the heritage of the First World War. This is a time-limited programme until 2018. There are no deadlines and applications are assessed within eight weeks. There may be the opportunity through this programme to bring historic oral history collections to a new audience through fresh interpretation.

Start Up Grants

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation, including public bodies and partnerships led by not for profit organisations.
Amount Available: £3,000 to £10,000
Details: Funding is available to set up new organisations specifically to engage people with heritage assets or to develop existing organisations to take on new responsibilities for heritage.

Parks, Townscape, Heritage Enterprise and Landscape Funding

HLF provides funding for parks, landscape, places of worship, townscape initiatives and the regeneration of buildings through a range of targeted programmes, each with their own criteria, outcomes and application timetables. These capital projects sometimes include an oral history component to help interpret the history of the site and bring it alive for the public. For details of these programmes see the HLF website:

Transition Funding

Eligible Organisations: Any not for profit organisation and partnerships led by not for profit organisations.
Amount Available: £10,000 to £100,000
Details: Funding for organisations in the UK who want to achieve significant strategic change – through acquiring new skills or knowledge, or new models of governance, leadership, business and income – in order to become more resilient and sustain improved management of heritage for the long term. You must have already received a HLF grant to be eligible for this funding.

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HLF Offices

Head Office(also for enquiries re UK-wide projects)
7 Holbein Place
Phone: 020 7591 6000
Fax: 020 7591 6001
Textphone: 020 7591 6255

East of England
Terrington House
13-15 Hills Road
Phone: 01223 224870
Fax: 01223 224871

East Midlands
First Floor
Granby House
44 Friar Lane
Telephone: 0115 934 9050
Fax: 0115 934 9051

7 Holbein Place
Phone: 020 7591 6151
Fax: 020 7591 6273

North East
St Nicholas Building
St Nicholas Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Phone: 0191 255 7570
Fax: 0191 255 7571

North West
Carvers Warehouse
77 Dale Street
M1 2HG
Phone: 0161 200 8470
Fax: 0161 200 8471

Northern Ireland
51–53 Adelaide Street
Phone: 028 9031 0120
Fax: 028 9031 0121

28 Thistle Street
Phone: 0131 225 9450
Fax: 0131 225 9454

South East England
7 Holbein Place
Phone: 020 7591 6171
Fax: 020 7591 6273

South West
Third floor
Balliol House
Southernhay Gardens
Phone: 01392 223 950
Fax: 01392 223 951

James William House
9 Museum Place
CF10 3BD
Phone: 029 2034 3413
Fax: 029 2034 3427

West Midlands
Grosvenor Hose
14Bennetts Hill
B2 5RS
Phone: 0121 616 6870
Fax: 0121 616 6871

Yorkshire and the Humber
Carlton Tower
34 St Paul’s Street
Phone: 0113 388 8030
Fax: 0113 388 8031

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Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund manages a number of other funds including Awards for All. Some of these are specific to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Unlike HLF it has no obvious programme to apply to so a bit of creative thinking may be necessary around a social inclusion and/or community involvement project. Please remember they are also an ‘outcomes’ funder. In other words you will need to be able to show clear social benefits from your project. In particular you will need to be able to work with more disadvantaged communities of interest or neighbourhoods. They have been known to fund reminiscence work as part of a wider project working with older people and/or intergenerational work.

For details of all their current funding schemes go
Some of these schemes are only relevant to particular home countries.

Other Funders

There are no other funders that specifically flag up oral history projects with their own distinct funding stream or priority. In fact it is difficult to have a direct approach to most funders with a proposal for an oral history project as oral history does not easily fit into funders’ tick boxes.
Therefore creative measures need to be employed. The following information is largely relevant to voluntary and community organisations. Most public sector organisations will not be eligible to apply for funding from, say, trusts
and charities. There are only a very small number of organisations that consider applications from individuals.

  • Try looking at themed funders – say if you have a project concentrating on disability, try disability funders.
  • Arts funders generally are not interested in oral history as a form of literature unless it is part of a wider ART project.
  • HLF apart, ‘Heritage’ funders tend to favour capital projects – buildings and landscapes, and are less keen on purely revenue funding.

As stated above there are no funders that target oral history projects in this section so wherever possible do contact the funder first to see whether they will consider an application. It saves both your and their time if they do not. Please note this is a selection of funders and is not exhaustive – some very small funders have been omitted for instance.

Local Funders

Worth looking for local funders like long standing ‘charities for the poor’ type organisations. They may not have a lot of funding (some in London and other cities do) but often are quite sympathetic to a very local project involving communities in their area of benefit. Your local Council for Voluntary Service or Rural Community Council will probably be able to help locate them. Also supermarkets like Asda and the Co-operative, Banks and Building Societies often have local funds (many operated through a national website) where staff sometimes nominate a local project or you have to work in the proximity of one of their branches.

Regional Funders

Some funders tend to cover a given geographical area, often related to a business or a founder. They tend to be slightly more flexible in terms of what they will consider for ’non-specific’ funding. Again no funders have been found
with a specific oral history priority. Most Council for Voluntary Service or Rural Community Councils will have a funding database like Grantfinder or Funderfinder that can discriminate geographically.

Nationally Based Public Bodies, Trusts and Charities

As well as local and regional funders, there are a fair range of national trusts and charities that do fund community projects – again with no specific oral history priority. Some funders of cultural projects specifically do not fund oral
history. The following might be worth contacting: NB They have been grouped into UK wide and then home country specific.

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Funder Details

UK Grants

Belsize Charitable Trust No1
Location: Oxfordshire Tel: 01235 232700
Eligible applicants: Charities or voluntary bodies UK wide
Small charity that funds (around £20,000 normally each year) among other things, heritage projects.

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Location: London Tel: 020 7012 1400
Eligible applicants: Projects that take place in the UK or Ireland.
Open Fund 2014-9 Focuses on transitions in later life and arts with a social impact. Funding average around £10,000-30,000. Simple initial enquiry form.

Charles Hayward Foundation
Location: London Tel: 020 7370 7063, 020 7370 7067
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities
Two relevant funds;

Main grants for charities with an income over £350,000. Their main priority is to protect restore and interpret past inventions, discoveries, industrial sites. Grants are awarded between £20,000 – 50,000.
Small grants for charities with an income below £350,000 priorities are to develop libraries, museums and galleries and adaptation of former industrial sites for creative and educational use. Grants are awarded up to £7,000.

Clore Duffield Foundation
Location: London Tel: 020 7351 6061
Eligible applicants:
Mainly around museum and gallery education work. No deadlines, trustees meet twice a year. High demand on funds.
£5,000 to £1m

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation – Collections Fund
Administered by the Museums Association Tel: 020 7566 7851
Two stage application process for grants of between £20,000 and £100,000 to develop collections in UK museums.

Foyle Foundation
Location: London WC1 Tel: 020 7430 9119
Eligible applicants: Charities although schools can apply but with restrictions
Main Fund – one year revenue or capital funding Learning opportunities within museums and archives average £10,000 to £50,000. Small grants £1,000 – £10,000 for time limited projects. Schools £3,000 – £10,000.

Gannett Foundation
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities working in areas covered by Newsquest owned newspapers
Smaller funder for local projects up to £10,000. Educational projects including museums. and neighbourhood improvements

Garfield Weston Foundation
Location: London Tel: 020 7399 6565
Eligible applicants: UK charities
Generalist funder with a history of funding heritage projects, capital and revenue. Major grants £100,000 and over, regular grants £1,000 – £99,999.

HB Allen Charitable Trust
Location: Hampshire Tel: 02312 632406
Eligible applicants: charities
Priority funding for heritage and museum & gallery projects, especially buildings. Most grants are around £5,000.

Idlewild Trust
Locations: London Tel: 020 8772 3155
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities
Smaller funder for work in museums and galleries and education. Grants of up to £5,000. Priority is given to projects of a national or regional interest.

John Anthony Floyd Charitable Trust
Location: c/o Smith & Williamson, London Tel: 0207 131 4000
Eligible applicants: UK wide
Grants of up to £5,000 for, among other priorities, heritage work. Applications must be made in writing.

John Ellerman Regional Museums & Galleries Fund
Locations: London Tel: 020 7451 1471
Funding is available to help strengthen regional museums and galleries in the UK by helping organisations to enhance and sustain curatorial development to attract a broader public. Normally four awards per year from a budget of around £380,000

The Leche Trust
Location: London Tel/Fax: 020 3233 0023
Eligible applicants: UK wide
Grants of up to £5,000 for various priority areas including assistance to conservation in all its aspects, including in particular museums and encouraging good practice in the art of conservation by supporting investigative and diagnostic reports;

Mercers Company
Location: London Tel: 020 7776 7235
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities
Heritage funding around library and archive projects. No minimum or maximum amount.

The Monument Trust
Location: London Tel: 020 7410 0330
Eligible Applicants: UK registered charities
A Sainsbury family trust which funds heritage projects of national or regional importance. They encourage proposals that will make a major contribution to improving economically depressed areas.

The Peter Stormonth Darling Charitable Trust
Location: London
Eligible applicants: Third sector organisations in the UK
Grants of around £1,000 to £10,000 for heritage work among other priorities.

PF Charitable Trust
Location: London Tel: 020 7036 5685
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities
Small grants funder for a variety of activities including heritage. Grants for core and revenue funding (not salaries)

Pilgrim Trust
Location: London Tel: 020 7222 4723
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities, friendly societies or recognised public bodies.
Conservation of records and archives where no other funding is available. UK charities, Friendly Societies and public bodies may apply. Small grants of up to £5,000 also larger grants – 75% of grants were under £20,000.

Steel Charitable Trust
Location: Bedfordshire
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities especially those based in Bedfordshire in particular Luton
Heritage projects can be funded. Normally grants range between £1,000 and £25,000.

Location: London Tel: 020 7566 1122
Eligible applicants: Potential social entrepreneurs, some funds only relate to England.
One of the few funders that will consider individual applicants. They fund people wanting to be social entrepreneurs. A number of different funds
funding. One example is Star People: Try It for new ideas up to £500 Do It – try it out £500 to £5,000 (average £2,000). Build It up to £15,000.

Wolfson Foundation
Location: London W1 Tel: 020 7323 5730
Museum and gallery funding mainly for capital improvements around access and interpretation. Up to £300,000

Yapp Charitable Trust
Location: Co Durham Tel: 01484 683403
Core funding for smaller charities (with total annual expenditure of less than £40,000) in England and Wales to work with older people among other priority groups. Up to£3,000.

Home Country Funders


Ballinger Charitable Trust
Location: North East England
Eligible applicants: charities and voluntary organisation based in the north east of England.
The promotion of cultural/arts projects based in the north east of England

DCMS Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund
Location: London Tel: 020 7211 6155
Eligible applicants:Museums and galleries in England
Up to £300,000 grants available for improvement work to museums and galleries

English Heritage
Location: London Tel: 020 7973 3288
Website: or
Eligible applicants:People who own or manage individual historic sites and need to repair them or understand them better; Local authorities with historic sites in their care; Organisations who want to encourage better understanding, management and conservation of the historic environment in its many and varied forms

Essex Heritage Trust
Location: Essex Tel: 01376 585794
Grants range from £100 to £10,000. Projects must be within Essex and for the benefit of the public.

Fidelity UK Foundation
Location: Kent Tel: 01732 777364
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities. Geographically confined to Kent, Surrey and London. Also specific funding for ‘substantial’ projects based in Birmingham and Manchester.
Funding for cultural activities including heritage and museums for projects over £50,000.

William A Cadbury Charitable Trust
Birmingham Tel: 0121 472 1464
Eligible applicants: UK registered charities; but only those working in Birmingham and the West Midlands
Small grants up to £2,000, (some applicants do not necessarily need to be a registered charity) larger grants up to £20,000 occasionally up to £50,000 for arts and heritage work.

Yorkshire Dales Sustainable Development Fund
Location: Yorkshire Tel: 01969 652337
Eligible applicants: Charities and community groups
A project will need to contribute in some way to National Park purposes by conserving/enhancing natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage or promoting opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy the area; and provide some local economic benefit or some benefit to a local community in the National Park. Grants can be for capital or revenue costs. No lower or upper limit but total fund £160,000 per year. Up to 75% of costs can be applied for.

Northern Ireland

Ulster Local History Trust
Location: County Down Tel: 028 677 21730
Supporting local history initiatives in Ulster by the voluntary sector.
Up to £3,000 Please note as of April 2014 grant funding has been suspended. Please check if funding applications reopen


Historic Scotland
Location: Edinburgh Tel: 0131 668 8815
Eligible applicants: Organisations based in Scotland
Voluntary Sector Grants
Historic Environment Regeneration Scheme
Funding for voluntary organisations with an interest in the heritage
Funding for historic elements of area regeneration projects.

Museums & Galleries Scotland Capital Fund
Location: Edinburgh Tel: 0131 550 4100
Support is available to members of MGS for projects that will benefit the Scottish Museums sector and support the strategic aims and priorities of Museums Galleries Scotland. Assistance is aimed at projects that will deliver a strategic change for the organisation or sector and cut across more than one of the priorities. Priorities include business development, audience development, product development. Funding between £5,000 and £40,000 with a 10% match funding requirement. Annual bidding rounds with deadlines

The Strathmartine Trust
Location: Edinburgh Tel: 01334 478644
Eligible applicants: Individuals or organisations conducting research into Scottish history.
The Trust awards various grants and awards to individuals and bodies in the United Kingdom, to support the completion of research projects and the publication of works associated with Scottish history. Grant level is £500 to £5,000

Weir Charitable Trust
Location: Edinburgh
Tel: 0131 554 7806
Eligible Applicants: Individuals and organisations with an income of less than £100,000 per year working in Scotland
Funding available for projects which explore the cultural heritage of Scotland. No minimum or maximum specified.

Welsh Grants

Cadw Civic Initiatives (Heritage ) Grants
Location: Cardiff Tel: 01443 336000
Financial assistance is available for voluntary and community projects which will help to preserve, enhance or improve the physical environment in Welsh towns and increase social awareness of heritage in Wales. Grants up to 50% of costs to a maximum of £5,000

CyMAL – Museums, Libraries & Archives Wales
Eligible applicants: Museums, galleries and archives in Wales
Innovation and development grants for museums, galleries and archives as well as links to other grants for organisations based and working in Wales.

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Useful websites

Heritage Funding Directory
Database of heritage project funders. Oral history appears as ‘spoken history’.

A database for searching for grants. Subscription required, although many local authorities subscribe.

Directory of Social Change
Publishes regular funding guides and organises training on writing good applications etc. Subscription required.

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We are always keen to hear from organisations’ experiences of funding applications – good, bad or indifferent. Please let us know what worked or what feedback you had. Any additional funders not listed above, or simply questions you may have about funding.
Robert Wilkinson – August 2014