Home / Support / Grants

Benchmarking Survey 2019 – 2020

SHARE Museums East’s annual Benchmarking data is live for returns for the 2019-20 financial year. Benchmarking is aimed at all organisations registered within Arts Council England’s Accreditation scheme; including those officially working towards. We would like to thank previous participants, last year over 130 museums responded, equating to a 75% response rate. 

You can access last year’s information sheet here

Why should I take part, especially given the current climate?

This survey is extremely importantly in advocating for the importance of museums and heritage organisations in the region.  The data aids us – and you – to demonstrate the importance of your museums and their social and economic impacts to funders and stakeholders, both locally and regionally, which is important in sustaining investment in our sector. Many museums regularly use the survey data to demonstrate their importance to their funders.

We understand that the recent months have been extremely difficult for museums and there are many uncertain variables about the future of museums. However, by completing the survey we will be able to reflect the impact of closure has had on museums and utilise the data for future advocacy purposes.

Please note, that non-Accredited museums should not complete the survey as their data will not be included in the results.

A few changes have been made to the survey….

At the end of last year, the survey was reviewed by our funders, Arts Council England, to improve data collection  as requested in the Mendoza review. One of the outcomes at a national level, is the survey to help inform policy-makers/funders and help identify trends at a regional and national level.

The South West Museum Development Team (SWMD) who organise the survey on our behalf have made some changes as per the review recommendations.

The most significant change is how museums access the survey – this will continue for future surveys. Instead of accessing a specific link each museum will be registered to the survey. 

How museums register for this year’s surveys is explained below:

The following processes applies to museums which completed the survey last year, and which ARE NOT also a multi-site organisation (a museums service), sponsored by the MOD, or National Trust or English heritage sites.

  • From Monday 20th July, an automated email from Smart Survey will be sent to the registered email address of museums that completed the 2018/19 survey. The subject of the email is to confirm if that particular email address should be registered for this and future surveys. Please check your junk folder
  • Please note, we recommend that the survey is connected to a ‘generic’ email account that multiple people across an organisation can access.
  • Those confirming that the email address is the correct contact will be added to the survey list.
  • Non-respondents/bounce backs will be noted by SWMD and reported to SHARE.
  • Either your regional Museum Development officer or a member of the SHARE team will contact representatives of organisations to obtain a relevant contact address.

My Museum has been recently added to Arts Councils England’s Accreditation Scheme or did NOT completed 2018-19 survey

  • A member of the SHARE team or your regional MDO will contact you to see if you wish and have capacity to participate.
  • If yes, organisations must complete a short registration form (collecting core contact information) before being registered and receiving access to the survey
  • These organisations will receive access to the survey from the 24th August. 

My organisation is either National Trust or English Heritage

  • SWMD have an agreement with your organisations at central level to collect the data separately. Sites under these National Organisations will not be registered. This also applies to museums sponsored by DCMS (National Museums) or the MOD. 

My organisation is located within another museum’s site  (a ‘co-located site’)

  • If your organisation is a co-located site you will be treated as a single site and if you completed the 18-19 survey will receive an email from the 20th July
  • If your organisation is a co-located site and did not complete the survey you must complete a registration form.

My organisation is part of a multi-site

  • Multi-site organisations will complete a separate survey and will receive an automated email from smart survey. Please check your junk inbox 
  • If your site is a multi-site organisation as well as a NPO, you will follow the multi-site process.

Due to everyone working from home for the immediate future SWMD will not be able to accept paper forms. Please contact the SWMD team via email. 

Completing the survey and reminders

When you have registered for the survey, the system will send auto reminders on a fortnightly basis to those organisations who have yet to complete the survey. If your organisation wishes not to receive these auto-reminders please email the SWMD team. 


The deadline to complete the survey is the 18th October.  Organisations who do not complete the survey data will not be used for further data analysis. It is important that organisations complete the survey with as much accurate data as possible.

Survey Breakdown and further information

The survey is broken down into the following sections:

  1. Site Information (opening hours)
  2. Audiences
  3. Museum Workforce
  4. Financial Operations
  5. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  6. Advocacy
  • Organisations now will have the opportunity to skip sections that have yet to be completed and there will be options to select ‘do not know’ instead of zero/yes/no.
  • Organisations will not be able to submit paper copies of the survey.
  • With the changes to the process and the survey, SWMD will be providing guidance documents. These will soon be available.


If you are unable to complete the online survey please discuss this with your regional Museum Development Officer or email us directly.

If you have any questions about completing the survey then please please email the SWMD team. 

How the data is used

From the 2018-19 survey we know that:

  • there were 4.7 million visits to museums in the East of England
  • museums contributed over £119 million to the regional economy 
  • 321,471 people participated in museum learning activities 
  • museums in the region employed 1,849 staff
  • there were 8,153 museum volunteers contributed 708,000 hours to museums, with a value worth £9.3 million

From the 2017-18 survey we know that:

  • there were more than 3.5 million visits to museums in the East of England
  • museums contributed over £56 million to the regional economy
  • more than 274,000 people participated in museum learning activities
  • museums in the region employed 1,473 staff
  • and over 10,000 museum volunteers contributed an incredible 582,000 hours to museums, with a value at least of £4.2 million

The data is used by many museums for advocacy tools to report to funders and local councillors

Previous data can be found in the Research and Data section of our Resources pages:


  • Benchmarking 2011-2012
  • Benchmarking 2012-2013
  • Benchmarking 2013-2014
  • Benchmarking 2014-2015
  • Benchmarking 2015-2016
  • Benchmarking 2016-2017
  • Benchmarking 2017-2018
  • Benchamarking 2018-2019


  • Benchmarking report 2009-2010
  • Benchmarking report 2010-2011
  • Benchmarking report 2011-2012
  • Benchmarking report 2012-2013
  • Benchmarking report 2013-2014
  • Benchmarking report 2015-2016
  • Benchmarking report 2016-2017
  • Benchmarking report 2017-2018


  • Benchmarking – Making your data count –  A guide to use of Benchmarking in advocacy (Dr Harriet Foster)
  • Benchmarking Data and its use (Dr Harriet Foster)
  • How to use Benchmarking data effectively for funders
  • Benchmarking and Politicians – use to use the data effectively to develop relationships with your local politicians
  • Becnhmarking and the Media – Information on how to use Benchmarking data when providing information to the media
Sign Up to SHARE e-News