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Benchmarking Survey 2019

SHARE Museums East’s annual Benchmarking data is live for returns for the 2018-19 financial year. Now in its 17th year, Benchmarking is aimed at all Accredited museums and those Working Towards Accreditation. We want to get as many of these museums as possible taking part – last year over 75% completed the survey, an outstanding return rate. Non-accredited sites who have completed the survey data will not be included in the results.

Why should I take part?
Your survey returns are enormously important to us. They support us and others in arguing the case for museums in the region, as well as providing a clear picture of your activities which helps us to target our support programmes. 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.

See below for guidance on how to use the survey data.

How to complete the Benchmarking survey

Benchmarking is short and easy to complete by a volunteer or member of staff with a good overview of their museum’s work. You can save and return to your answers at any time, and your county Museum Development Officers (MDOs) will be able to support you. The questions cover visitor numbers and engagement; museum finances; volunteers and staff; and educational work as well as challenges and opportunities for the future. The deadline for completing the survey is Tuesday 3 September 2019.

The survey is broken down into the following sections:

  1. Audiences
  2. Financial Operations
  3. Museum Workforce
  4. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  5. Advocacy

You can complete the survey online at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/G0N0. If you do not have information to hand you can save and return to the form by simply clicking ‘save and continue’ to enter a name and email. An email will then sent to you with a link to access the survey where you left off.

Multi-site museums
If you are a multi-site museum service, or a museum which hosts another Accredited collection within your museum, you will be contacted directly with a bespoke survey form. If you believe you have not received a form yet, please contact South West Museum Development and cc Natasha Montgomery who is liaising with South West team throughout the survey.

SHARE will be regularly updating the regional Museum Development Officers, so please notify them once you’ve completed the survey and whether it has been done online or through the Word version. If you are unsure who your County MDO is, they can be found on the Meet the Team page of our website.


If you are unable to complete the online survey please discuss this with your MDO. A downloadable Word version is available: East of England Annual data survey of Museums 2018-19. Off-line forms should be sent to: Rowan Whitehouse, South West Museum Development, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL or emailed to museum.development@bristol.gov.uk.

If you have any questions about completing the survey then please get in touch with museum.development@bristol.gov.uk.

How the data is used

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


  • 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
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