Application Guidelines - Collections Management

Museums Assistance Program

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Objectives and expected results for the Museums Assistance Program

The Museums Assistance Program (MAP) supports heritage institutions and workers in the preservation and presentation of heritage collections in Canada. The Program provides financial assistance to Canadian museums and related institutions for activities that:

  • facilitate Canadians’ access to our heritage;
  • foster the preservation of Canada’s diverse and rich cultural heritage (other than built heritage), including representative collections of Indigenous cultural heritage; and
  • foster professional knowledge, skills and practices related tokey museum functions.

Expected results could include activities that achieve the:

  • development and circulation of Canadian travelling exhibitions and associated interpretive material;
  • preservation and presentation of Indigenous cultural heritage;
  • implementation of key collections management systems; and
  • sharing of best practices related to key museum functions, to the benefit of multiple institutions.

Objectives and expected results for the Collections Management component

The aim of the Collections Management component of the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) is to improve professional knowledge, skills and practices and to strengthen professional standards related to key museum functions for collections management in Canada. It also supports Canadian service organizations in the development and delivery of resources or services that will benefit multiple museums.

Application deadline

November 1

When an application deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or statutory holiday, it is extended to the following working day.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding, your organization must be an incorporated, non-profit Canadian museum which:

  • provides services to the public year-round;
  • employs the equivalent of at least one full-time paid professional staff;
  • has policies for key museum functions; and
  • has a current three to five-year strategic/business plan.


An incorporated, non-profit Canadian service organization that meets the requirements mentioned above (except for policies for key museum functions) and whose membership relates to the museum sector (e.g. museums associations).


We are responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project and project-related expenses.

The Collection Management component is highly competitive. Requests for funding typically exceed our available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

Eligible projects

  • Projects related to the implementation or upgrade of a collections management system;
  • Projects related to collections storage solutions; and
  • Projects related to the sharing of best practices with respect to key museum functions. A minimum of three partners (heritage organizations) must be involved and benefit from a best practices project.

The following are examples of eligible projects under the Collections Management component:

  • introduction of new digital collections management systems, purchase and implementation of new database software, or upgrade of an existing system to add significant new functionalities in order to enhance collections information management;
  • planning, purchase and installation of necessary storage and shelving equipment, and minor capital improvements to storage spaces in order to meet professional standards and ensure the management and integrity of collections, which includes the relocation of collections to a temporary storage facility;
  • sharing of best practices, for example, the creation of professional development activities (including material) for museum personnel, such as workshops, seminars, and courses, etc. Projects could aim at preparing and helping trustees, volunteers and museum professionals to address the challenges associated with key museum functions. A minimum of three partners from the heritage sector must participate and benefit from the project; and
  • development of tools and documents by museums or related heritage associations (national, provincial, territorial, professional, sectoral) to assist museums workers and to strengthen their knowledge, skills and practices with respect to key museum functions.

Eligible expenses

Only project-related expenses, which can be of cash and in-kind value are eligible; these may include:

  • pro-rated salaries and wages directly related to the project;
  • travel for the personnel working on the project, travel expenses, which must comply with the rates permitted for travel on government business;
  • consultants and/or elders, including fees and travel, which must comply with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Travel Directive;
  • equipment rental, incremental administration costs, shipping fees, promotion and communication expenses provided that they are linked to the project;
  • evaluation of project results;
  • translation of material aimed at the public in both official languages and in another language meant to reach specific groups if applicable;
  • materials, supplies and minor capital asset costs. For collections management systems projects focused on the management of collections. For collections management systems projects, no more than $25,000 of the project funding can be used for the acquisition of minor capital assets and, for sharing best practices projects, a maximum of $10,000 of minor capital asset costs will be eligible per project;
  • staff training related to the implementation of digital collections management systems;
  • materials and supplies for the development and production of tools and documents for museum professionals; and
  • project audit fees (if applicable).

Ineligible expenses include:

  • professional development activities created and delivered on a one to one basis;
  • policy development projects benefiting only one museum;
  • costs related to participants’ attendance (including travel) to professional development activities;
  • development costs for project proposals or applications under the MAP or other federal programs;
  • ongoing operations and day-to-day collections management activities;
  • feasibility and market study costs;
  • hospitality;
  • taxes; and
  • salaries from federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies.

In-kind contributions are considered real contributions to the cost of the proposed project but are not reimbursable. Donated goods and services may be considered in-kind contributions if they:

  • are essential to your project’s success;
  • are eligible and would otherwise have to be purchased or paid for by you;
  • can be measured at fair market value (i.e. in relation to similar goods and services); and
  • are balanced by an equal revenue in your budget (i.e. total in-kind expenses equal total in-kind revenues).

We cannot fund expenses incurred before the application deadline. If you incur expenses for your project before receiving written confirmation of your funding approval, you will be doing so at your own risk.

Limits of government assistance

To ensure the success of your project, we encourage you to have other funding sources. This may include contributions from your organization, the private sector or other levels of government.

The total financial assistance received from the Collections Management component of the MAP and other levels of government (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100% of your total project-related costs.

Project funding under the Collections Management component will not normally exceed 50% of eligible expenses.

Project funding for collections management system or storage solutions projects
Maximum funding per project


Maximum project duration

1 calendar year (12 months)

Maximum funding per fiscal year
(April 1 to March 31)


Funding for projects related to sharing of best practices
Maximum funding per project


Maximum project duration

2 calendar years (24 months)

Maximum funding per fiscal year
(April 1 to March 31)


In exceptional circumstances, we can fund up to 85% of eligible expenses per project. The specific funding criteria related to exceptional circumstances include:

  • projects benefiting remote or rural areas; and
  • projects targeting under-served communities and population (e.g. youth, official language minority communities, Indigenous, ethno-cultural communities) where need is clearly demonstrated and justified.

Applying for more than 12 months

You may request funding for the same activities for a maximum of two fiscal years when related to sharing of best practices. You must show that you have the capacity to complete the planned activities on an annual basis. This is demonstrated with realistic results and budget projections as well as sound governance and continued financial viability. 

How to apply

Read these Application Guidelines in their entirety before completing your application.

You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package to be considered for funding. To obtain application forms, please contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

A complete application package includes the following completed documents, signed by an authorized person:

  • the Application Form;
  • the Project Budget Form;
  • the Application Checklist; and
  • your supporting documents:
    • copies of most recent documents as requested in the application checklist, including copies of all available quotes, to justify any procurement costs,
    • your most recent financial statements (audited if available), and
    • a disclosure regarding the participation of any former public office holder or public servant subject to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.

Where an applicant submits more than one project, an order of priority must be clearly indicated.

Application process

  • Complete, sign and date the Application Form;
  • Attach all the required supporting documents; and
  • Submit your application through only one means (i.e. by email, by mail, in-person, etc.)

Mail or in-person submissions

You can mail, courier or hand-deliver your complete application package to the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Your application must be postmarked or hand-delivered no later than the published deadline to be considered.

Email submissions

We encourage you to submit your application package electronically to the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The email must be sent no later than 11:59 p.m. local time on the date of the application deadline for your application to be considered.

Please contact us if you wish to submit your application package by fax.

How applications are evaluated

We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility before being evaluated using the national standard criteria described below. It will be compared with other applications from your region.

Failure to comply with any conditions of a previously funded project will be considered in the evaluation of your new application and could result in the rejection of your new application.

Evaluation criteria

We will evaluate all eligible applications based on merit, Program priorities and availability of funds using the following criteria:

Relevance and community engagement

  • your project helps achieve the organization’s mandate;
  • your project responds to a demonstrated need;
  • support/interest from other funders or partners is shown (documented if possible); and
  • the target audience for your project and the methods to reach it (if applicable) are clearly identified and realistic.

Project planning and management

  • your organization is able to carry out the project and has engaged appropriate experience and expertise (personnel and consultants);
  • the timeline and resources are adequate; and
  • sound project management methods are demonstrated, including risk management.

Project budget

  • the forecasted budget/cash flow is comprehensive;
  • value for money is demonstrated, expenses are justified and reasonable; and
  • all contributions are clearly identified and realistic (applicant, partners and other sources).

Impact and evaluation strategy

  • outputs and outcomes are identified, clear and reasonable; and
  • your application includes an articulated evaluation strategy that is linked to outcomes and outputs (indicators, data collection, etc.).

Organization’s capacity

  • financial stability is demonstrated; and
  • your organization is professionally managed with clearly defined governance structure, administration and policies.

Your application will be evaluated by a review committee who will compare it with other eligible applications.

Application processing time

Please refer to the Service standards for Canadian Heritage funding programs or contact the Program.

We will acknowledge receipt of your application within two weeks of receiving your application in our office.

Funding decisions

We reserve the right to target our funding to specific projects. Please note that decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final.

How funding is provided

We will determine if funding will be disbursed as a grant or as a contribution.

A grant is a payment issued to a recipient for a project. The conditions you agreed to at the time of application will apply. At the end of your project, you may be required to submit a report and/or participate in the evaluation of results.

A contribution is a conditional payment issued for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. The agreement is signed by your organization and by us, and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

You may be required to submit interim reports during your project and a final report is required if the funding is a contribution. All products being presented to the public must be developed in both official languages. Applicants are also encouraged to develop exhibitions in other languages relevant to the project.

Additional conditions may apply, if applicable, and will be included in your funding agreement.

Workplace well-being

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to promoting healthy workplaces where harassment, abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. Organizations that receive funding from Canadian Heritage must take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

Official languages requirements

We are committed to taking positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and to promote the use of English and French in Canadian society. If you receive funding, you agree to comply with the official languages requirements set out in your application and in your funding agreement.

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

If you receive funding, you must publically acknowledge – in English and in French – the financial support received from the Government of Canada in all communications materials and promotional activities. Additional requirements may be included in your funding agreement.

For additional information, please refer to our Guide on the public acknowledgement of financial support.

Access to information requests

We are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The information you submit in your application may be disclosed in accordance with these acts.

Disclosure of information

By submitting your funding application, you authorize us to disclose any information submitted with this application within the Government of Canada or to outside entities for the following purposes:

  • to reach a decision;
  • to evaluate the results of the project; and
  • to support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program

We reserve the right to audit your accounts and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of your funding agreement. We also conduct periodic Program evaluations, during which you may be required to present documentation.

You must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to perform the audit or the evaluation for five years. Demonstrated failure to maintain such records may result in the repayment of amounts previously received.

Contact us

For further information, please contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage


Department of Canadian Heritage
Museums Assistance Program – Collections Management
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M5



1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)


1-888-997-3123 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired)

Agents are available to answer your questions Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET).


Review of something (e.g. a process, an organization) in terms of compliance, accuracy and effectiveness, to determine whether it is working well and achieving its intended purpose.
Audited financial report
An audited financial report includes a statement of operations for the given period with regard to the project and is prepared by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization.
Audited financial statements
A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Audited financial statements are completed by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization. The certified accountant performs auditing activities in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
Business plan
A written document that describes your organization's current status and plans for two to five years. It identifies future opportunities and includes the financial, operational and marketing strategies to achieve your goals.
Cash flow
A presentation of all anticipated revenues and planned expenses that will occur over the length of your project. At the beginning of your project, your cash flow will have only forecasted revenues and expenses. Over time, your cash flow will be updated to reflect the actual revenues and expenses.
Collections management system
Collection management systems (CMS) are software programs designed to aid in the documentation and management of objects in a museum collection.
Individuals or groups of individuals with specialized knowledge and/or skills. They are not part of an organization's staff, management or board, but rather are contracted for a fee to provide specific services to an organization.
Documents related to the exhibition and made available to the public, such as exhibition catalogues, synopsis, brochures and pamphlets.
Emergency assistance
Financial assistance provided to help an institution undertake urgent remedial action to maintain the integrity of its collection and mitigate damage sustained following a natural disaster (e.g. forest fire, flood, earthquake).
Ethnocultural communities
A group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage. For the purpose of this definition, ethnocultural communities include Canadians of diverse culture such as, but not limited to African, Arab, Asian, Latin American or mixed heritage.
Evaluation strategy
Selection, development and ongoing use of performance measures to make judgments about relevance, progress, cost-effectiveness and success of a project in meeting its defined objectives. A strategy should include outputs, outcomes, definitions of what will be measured, data sources, methodologies for gathering data and other relevant information. Please refer to Reporting requirements and Evaluation criteria section.
Final report
A final report is submitted at the end of your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your final report needs to provide the results of the activities you have undertaken for the duration of your project and include a final report of actual revenues and expenses.
Financial statements
A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Financial statements may be audited or unaudited.
Incremental administration costs
Costs which organizations would not incur other than to comply with project administrative requirements. These costs may include expenses for material or other items associated with the provision of goods or services. Maximum 15% of the total project cost (e.g. book keeping, project accounting, long distance calls, ink cartridges, temporary subscriptions to publications or specialized services).
Indigenous organizations
Non-profit Canadian organizations whose primary mandate is to preserve and support Indigenous heritage.
Indigenous communities
Indigenous communities include First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
Indiegnous governing bodies
First Nation governments, Band Councils or Tribal Councils, Inuit and Métis equivalent governing organizations.
Interim reports
Interim reports are submitted during your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. These reports indicate the results of the activities undertaken for a specific period. In addition, they include a status report on the work to be accomplished and updated revenue and expense reports.
Key museum functions
Standard established practices in main areas of collections-related activities within a museum or heritage organization, such as acquisition, conservation, research, collections information management, exhibitions and education.
Letter of intent
Written statement presented from a venue to the applicant institution acknowledging serious intent, willingness and ability to enter into a formal agreement. The letter should include a brief description of the project and the nature of the collaboration between the two institutions, including financial considerations and the timeline for implementing the project. The document does not constitute a definitive contract; it is subject to due diligence and fulfillment of certain conditions.
Minor capital assets
Material goods with a depreciable value amortized over a period of time but not built into the fabric or shell of a building. Minor capital assets must relate directly to the proposed project.
Non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. Please refer to International Council of Museum – Definition of a Museum.
Official language minority communities
The official language minority communities are the Anglophone communities residing in Quebec and the Francophone communities residing outside of Quebec.
Operational expenses
Cash expenses paid by an organization, in return for goods or services that are not incremental to the project. These expenses are ineligible for funding.
Result of an effort to attain a goal. They are the external effects or consequences of the project that are considered significant in relation to its initial commitments. Outcomes must be measurable and may occur within organizations, communities and individuals. They may relate to behaviour, skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, conditions or other attributes. While there is less degree of control over outcomes, there should be a direct relationship between outputs and outcomes.
Most immediate results of a project. Outputs are the direct products or services produced and delivered to a target group or population, such as an exhibition, a collections or exhibitions policy, a workshop or seminar.
A heritage organization that agrees to pool efforts and resources with other like heritage organizations in order to achieve a common objective, while keeping its independence. Other heritage organizations are not recognized as partners unless they contribute directly in cash or in kind to the accomplishment of the project and benefit from its results.
Performance indicator

Data that can be used to determine whether a project has achieved its intended qualitative and quantitative results and, if so, to what degree.

Performance indicators should capture the most significant information. They must be reliable and cost-effective. To select the appropriate performance indicators, these questions should be asked:

  • Is it accurate? Will it measure the expected result?
  • Is it a cost-effective means of collecting data?
  • Can the information be obtained without infringing on privacy issues?
  • Does the information assist the project manager in understanding what will be the impact of the project on targeted heritage organizations?
  • Does it capture useful information that will assist the organization in making management decisions?
  • Will the information be communicated easily to interested parties, including funding organizations?
  • Will the information allow for a meaningful comparison between data prior to and after project completion?

a) Quantitative performance indicators

Data that can be used for evaluating progress made during a project. Quantitative performance indicators are expressed as statistical measurements such as numbers, percentages or ratios. For example:

  • the number of visitors at an exhibition;
  • the number of venues where a travelling exhibition was presented;
  • the number of collections and objects preserved; and
  • the number of participants at an activity, or users of tools.

If the project targets a specific audience, such as Indigenous, youth, rural/remote, official language minority or culturally diverse communities, identify the number of participants from the targeted community and/or the percentage of participants from the targeted community compared to the total number of participants. Other quantitative performance indicators include:

  • the number and type of professional development activities (workshops, seminars, courses, etc.);
  • the number of downloads;
  • the number of online training activities developed (webinars, kits, etc.);
  • the number of best practices tools or documents about key museum functions implemented; and
  • the number of organizations benefiting from a sharing of best practices project.

b) Qualitative performance indicators

Information that can be used to evaluate progress made during a project. Qualitative indicators are expressed as opinions, behaviours or attitudes. Whenever possible, these performance indicators are generalized by the use of a rating scale; for example, research quality is rated as excellent, average or below average. Other qualitative performance indicators include:

  • the level of satisfaction;
  • opinions of participants indicating that they have learned a great deal on a given subject;
  • comments by participants indicating that tools or documents developed could or will be implemented in their workplace;
  • observations from the participants on how the activity has led to positive change in their workplace/professional development; and
  • opinions of participants regarding the usefulness and/or relevance of the activity/tool.
Performance measures
Performance indicators that provide qualitative and/or quantitative information needed to measure the extent to which a project is achieving its intended outcomes. Qualitative data can be expressed in terms of change or comparison between two states, while quantitative indicators can be in the form of a ratio, percentage, comparison or figure.
Set of activities or functions that a recipient proposes to undertake with the financial assistance provided by a department. A project has a clear start and end date, occurs within a reasonable period of time and demonstrates measurable outputs and outcomes.
Services to the public year-round
Facilities and services are available to the public 12 months a year or upon request. Schedules and contact number for reservation are all up front and clearly displayed (website, building, brochure and advertising).
Strategic plan
Clearly written document that describes an organization's mandate, its short, mid and long-term goals or objectives, and priority actions to take. A strategic plan includes a timeframe for its execution, and identifies who within the organization, or what outside agent, will take responsibility for the completeness of the actions necessary to realize goals and objectives.
An individual working on behalf of others without receiving financial or material gain.
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