Climate Action Toolkit

Climate Action Toolkit

This toolkit represents a comprehensive response to the pressing challenge of climate change, which not only poses a threat to the environment but also amplifies existing social injustices and inequalities. Its primary objective is to equip independent museums in the Highlands with the necessary resources and methodologies to effectively incorporate climate action into their operational framework while fostering meaningful engagement with their communities.

We acknowledge the challenges faced by many small museums that may already be operating beyond their capacity. Embarking on the sustainability journey can indeed seem daunting and overwhelming, particularly when viewed as a massive undertaking. However, the toolkit aims to alleviate this concern by emphasising that sustainability can be seamlessly integrated into existing plans and projects, thereby becoming an intrinsic part of ongoing museum activities.

By presenting a step-by-step guide, complete with lists, glossaries, and do-it-yourself policy kits, the toolkit seeks to demystify the process of becoming more sustainable. Rather than viewing sustainability as a separate and burdensome task, museums are encouraged to see it as a pathway to enhancing resilience and attractiveness to funders. By strengthening sustainability practices, museums not only contribute to climate action but also position themselves as more appealing destinations for visitors and potential revenue sources.

Ultimately, the toolkit strives to streamline the sustainability journey for museums, allowing them to devote less time to administrative tasks such as policy development and more time to engaging in meaningful sustainability projects and events. By providing practical resources and guidance, the toolkit aims to empower museums to navigate the sustainability landscape with confidence and enthusiasm, driving positive change within their communities and beyond.

Why should museums & heritage organisations take action?

  • It makes financial sense: save money. Action now, saves costs later. It is cheaper to address climate and adaptation measures now rather than leaving it. Make links to Sustainable Development Goals to strengthen funding applications.
  • Climate and social justice – ensuring a just transition.
  • Educational enrichment – assisting with behaviour change.
  • Enhance reputation.
  • Attract and retain staff.
  • Press opportunities – opportunities for museums to spread the word about the great work they do to be more environmentally and climate friendly.
  • You can tackle multiple issues and there are opportunities for co-benefits. E.g. nature and biodiversity, employment, reduce pollution, community wealth building
  • Current and future regulatory requirements: to secure funding in the future.
  • Meeting current legislation ≠ safety: Climate change is happening fast but regulations and guidance are slow to change, currently lagging 12-20 years behind the science.
  • Important to act now to avoid cascading risks: Full impact of climate change is difficult to quantify. E.g. Extreme weather disruption, fluctuating prices of materials.
  • Crossovers with health and safety. E.g. Storms and flooding, pests and diseases, rising temperatures.
  • Mitigation isn’t enough and we need to reduce negative environmental and climate impact.

Download the resources you need below and/or get in touch if you would like any help with getting started. This toolkit was developed in partnership with Ki Futures with thanks to funding from Museums Galleries Scotland.

The Full Toolkit

Getting started and templates –

Museum Sustainability in 8 Steps

Awareness: Starting to think about sustainability in your museum

Setting Your Baseline

TEMPLATE_Environmental Action Plan

Sustainability Strategy Development

Accreditation climate actions

Easy wins and project inspiration

Curating climate stories and quick wins

Storytelling for the Planet_ a place-based approach for museum audiences

The Plastic Age_Future Archaeologists

Understanding the terms and building a case


Cultural Heritage Goals – Sustainable Development Goals

Resources & Training

Understanding Climate Change

Museums a Central Role

Rethinking Missconceptions

Funding tips

Funding Sources

e-Hive Training Resources

e-Hive Training Resources

Many Highland museums have turned to the Collection Management System eHive in recent years due to its simple and clear functionality, allowing museums to utilise volunteers to help with their documentation and collection management. Its ability to share objects online to a wide, international audience is an added bonus! To support museums in using eHive and training their volunteers as appropriate, here are some key resources to help you on your journey.

This ‘Connecting Collections Training Manual’ provides instructions on the parts of the collections documentation process that relate to the use of eHive. It was created by Jo Clements for Ullapool Museum.

This document from Project Ark entitled ‘Cataloguing Standards’ was created to support small museums in New Zealand in using e-Hive.

Dan from Grantown Museum (and also chair of MHH) has made a series of short films which introduce you to the platform and offer guidance on getting started using eHive.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Podcasting 101!

Podcasting 101!

So you want to make a podcast? XpoNorth did a series of instructional blogs that go through the key skills of recording, editing and distribution. You can access them all here:

Podcast blog 1: Recording –

Podcast blog 2: Mixing and Post Production –

Podcast blog 3: Distribution –

Good Governance

Good Governance

Governance is the term used to describe the trustees’ role in:

  • The long term direction of the charity, including its objectives or purposes;
  • Implementing policies and activities to achieve objectives;
  • Complying with legal requirements;
  • Accountability to those with an interest or ‘stake’ in the charity.

‘Good governance should happen throughout a charity. The trustee board is responsible for good governance but they rely on many different people to be able to govern well: staff, volunteers, advisors and stakeholders.’ – NCVO

“Good governance is fundamental to effective museum activity”

Charity trustees are the people who have the general management and control of the administration of a charity. Depending on the individual charity’s constitution, they may be called Board members, directors, management committee members, charity trustees, governors or patrons.

The underlying principles are contained in section 66 of the 2005 Act, which sets out charity trustees’ general duties. The charity trustees must act in the interests of the charity.

Most relevantly they must:

  • Seek to ensure that the charity acts consistently with its purposes
  • Act with care and diligence; charity trustees must manage the affairs of their charity with the same care and diligence that it is reasonable to expect of someone managing the affairs of another person

A board is accountable to:

  • Transparency is an integral part of board behaviour. On an individual basis this applies to trustees who must declare all interests and potential conflicts of interest, there must be no hidden agendas or divided loyalties. Reporting must be open and honest. Rolling internal audits ensure that controls are in place and working effectively;
  • Conflicts of interest need to be managed, this is a legal requirement. Where someone is a member or employee of another organisation then that relationship must be recorded and regularly updated. A trustee cannot represent the interests of another organisation while acting on behalf of the museum. A register of interests must be in place and updated every 12 months, alongside a current policy on conflicts of interest.
  • A board must acknowledge and manage risk. The Board retains overall responsibility for risk management and discusses and decides the level of risk that it is prepared to tolerate. It promotes a culture of prudence with resources but also understands that being over cautious and risk averse is itself a risk.

What Makes a Really Great Board?

  • Good boards must “Review, reflect, learn and develop” – Leading Governance. This is an ongoing process of skills development and learning (see The Learning Board by Bob Garrett), that is used to develop an ethos of improved effectiveness and best practice. The board that doesn’t commit to development risks not having the skills, expertise and diversity to lead its organisation successfully, Bob Garrett puts this very clearly in his book The Fish Rots from the Head –

For organisations to survive and grow, their rate of learning has to be equal to, or greater than, the rate of change in their environment”

  • A balanced, informed contribution from all trustees that leads to a consensus in direction. It’s essential that all voices are heard, that trustees arrive at meetings informed and prepared, and that there is an ability within a board to challenge and debate issues openly;
  • There must be transparency at all times to engender trust from stakeholders in the decision making process;
  • Mutual respect between trustees and between trustees, management and volunteers. There must be clear lines of communication and clarity of roles and responsibilities. To avoid undermining staff and risking reputational damage it is essential that the Chair and the CEO/Director/Senior Volunteer work closely together to ensure that all communications between board and staff goes through them. A common damaging habit is where trustees become involved in day to day operations;
  • A good chairperson is essential. They must have strong leadership skills, provide structured agendas and make sure that accurate and relevant information is available in a timely manner to enable the board to make effective decisions;
  • A proper process for ensuring ongoing board renewal must be in place. 9 years as a trustee is the maximum recommended by the Code of Governance 2010. Diversity should not be considered a ‘tick box’ effort. To really ensure that you fully represent all your stakeholders, and have the skills and experience in place to effectively deliver your organisational goals there must be genuine diversity on a board.

Role of the Board

  • The board should be clear about the museum’s purposes and ensure these are delivered;
  • Develop and leading the organisation’s mission and strategic direction in line with the museum’s purposes and values;
  • Ensure that the museum complies with all legal and regulatory legislation as a minimum requirement, ideally they should demonstrate leadership by continually improving and developing best practice;
  • Really effective planning and control, ensuring that agreed targets are in place and are measurable and achievable;
  • To ensure a high standard of governance, ethics and behaviours throughout the organisation, boards must lead by example and ensure trustees behave accordingly;
  • To select (and where appropriate remunerate) the CEO and ensure effective management;
  • To ensure adequate resources are in place, the board is responsible for ensuring that the organisation has a deliverable and realistic fundraising strategy in place.

Role of the Trustee

  • The trustee must effectively prepare for and contribute to board and committee meetings;
  • To be well informed about the organisation’s purpose, strategies, services and operating environment;
  • To be prepared to challenge the CEO in an open and constructive way, and to support them and their position within the organisation;
  • To advocate for the museum;
  • To maintain balance between strategy and management;
  • To question effectively and share responsibility for decisions;
  • To undertake other roles as required, for example interview panels, disciplinary appeals etc..;
  • To avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, disclose potential conflicts of interest immediately to the Chair.

Role of the Chair

  • To lead the board and ensure its effectively meeting its goals by
    • Making sure resources are used efficiently;
    • Ensuring high standards of governance and leadership at all times from the trustees;
    • Representing the museum;
    • Assessing and auditing the effectiveness of the board/trustees and putting in place processes for the continual development of the board – The Learning Board. Governance development should be a part of any strategic plans.
  • Ensuring the board is efficient and effective by
    • Properly planning meetings and making sure all trustees have relevant information to make decisions;
    • Putting in place process for induction of new trustees;
    • Ensuring energy is focussed on priorities and not on the minutiae of day to day operations, this is the role of management;
    • Securing professional advice where needed;
    • Ensuring the board is kept informed of performance data;

Establishing a good, balanced working relationship with the CEO to enable effective planning, control, support and appraisal.

Useful Links

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator –

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations: Setting up a Charity – Get Started Guide –

Voluntary Action Scotland –


Volunteering Scotland has an amazing list of resources to help you manage and support volunteers. It includes templates and guides to creating volunteer induction packs, role descriptions, policies, measuring impact and creating an inclusive environment. All these resources can be downloaded here:

Heritage volunteering group is another good site for resources and support –


Inspiring fundraising aims to help everyone in the heritage sector in Scotland raise funds for their organisation, cause or project, effectively and with greater confidence. It is the most comprehensive guide to understanding the principles of funding, developing a strategy and writing a case for support. Visit the website below:

Useful websites and organisations

The following websites contain general fundraising information as well as information specifically related to trusts and foundations. They are updated regularly and contain links to funders and their application guidelines. As funders can (and often do) change their criteria and grants programmes, it’s useful to check these sites regularly or subscribe to their email updates. (updated daily; free newsletter) (updated frequently; email newsletter) (The Association of Charitable Foundations – links to member trusts’ and foundations’ web pages and general advise on framing applications) (a free e-info service providing current information on cross border grants and international fundraising sources; free subscription) (has a range of resources, including lists of trusts) (The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation (SCVO) (Trusts registered in Scotland on the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) website) (Trusts registerd in England and Wales on the Charities Commission website)