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Measuring economic impact

Information on how to use the Economic Impact Toolkit to find out the impact your museum makes on the local economy, and using economic impact in advocacy.


Museums make a substantial impact to Scotland’s economy, providing jobs, generating tourist spend, and supporting local trade. 

The impact your individual museum makes to the economy is also important, and knowing the facts and figures about your organisation’s impact on jobs, local trade, and visitor spend can help you to make a more convincing argument for the value of your organisation as a cultural asset and an intrinsic part of the local community. 

When advocating on behalf of your museum with local, national or international decision makers it’s important to provide information   that will align with their priorities. Illustrating the financial benefits or activities of your organisation will ensure your organisation fits with broader economic agendas and will help to raise your profile.

This type of information can be especially helpful when advocating on behalf of your museum with those organisations who have a direct interest in the local economy, including Local Authorities and local/regional development bodies (BIDs, HIE, etc.). Many funders also find this information particularly persuasive; demonstrating the economic impact of your museum’s work helps to justify investment of public money into culture and heritage.

What is economic impact?

Economic impact is the value assigned to the jobs, purchases and visitor spend generated by an organisation. Using figures about economic impact is one way to demonstrate the important role played by your museum in the local community, through the contribution you make to the economy. Economic impact is not, however, the only way to demonstrate how valuable your museum is: please also see our resources on measuring social impact.

How is Economic Value demonstrated?

Analysis of economic impact generally looks at the effect of an event or organisation on the economy in a specific area. The following are generally taken into account when assessing the economic impact of an organisation:

  • Expenditure on goods and services;
  • Expenditure on employees;
  • The organisation’s impact on the tourism industry (number of visitors, length of stay in area, spend per head); and
  • The geographical location of all of the above.

How do I start?

You are ready to measure the impact your museum makes on the local economy. It doesn't have to be complicated. You probably already have a lot of the information you need already to use our Economic Impact Toolkit which includes a Worksheet and our Economic Impact Calculator. 

Here is the Worksheet that you can use when collecting the necessary information. We also have advice on developing visitor surveys to measure economic impact.

A step by step video tutorial is available at the bottom of this page to help you use the worksheet and toolkit.


Economic Impact Worksheet (DOCX, 76KB)


What now?

Once you have gathered the information outlined on the Worksheet, you can begin to input your data into the Economic Impact Calculator which is essentially an online tool that will help you calculate the economic value of your museum, undertaking all of the complex calculations for you. The Calculator has been designed to be simple to use and has been tailored specifically to museums’ needs. It enables museums and archives to analyse their spending to demonstrate to funders, and the wider community, the positive impact that their services have on local and regional economies.


Alma UK Impact Model Toolkit Updated 2 (XLSX, 228KB)


Key elements of the Calculator are:

  • All calculations for user museums or archives are undertaken automatically and it has in-built processes to identify and iron-out any anomalies;
  • It captures volunteer contributions and is able to assign a value to this element;
  • It converts all impacts into an overall, combined assessment for an organisation,; expressing this as a ‘jobs created’ figure, an ‘expenditure’ figure, and a ‘value added’ figure.

The Calculator was developed on behalf of ALMA-UK – a voluntary cross-nation partnership, dedicated to enhancing the public value of archives, libraries, and museums UK-wide. It was updated in October 2017. 

You can get guidance on how to use the Calculator and further information on the technical elements of the worksheet below.


Economic Toolkit Guide 2016 (DOCX, 285KB) Museums and Archives Technical annex 2016 (DOCX, 65KB)

Museums Services

If your organisation looks after more than one museum, you will want to aggregate the findings so that you can present findings from your group of museums. This will enable you to see the impact you are having in the geographical area you represent.

The Economic Impact Aggregation Calculator was designed alongside the Economic Impact Calculator. You can download the Aggregation Calculator and associated guidance below.


Aggregation Economic Toolkit 2017 (XLSX, 480KB) Aggregation Economic Toolikit Guide 2017 (DOCX, 442KB)

Using your impact numbers for advocacy

Generating facts and figures that quantify the value of your organisation is really just the beginning: the important part is how you use them! Please refer to our guidance on advocating effectively for your museum on how you can begin to use this data to advocate for your museum.

Video tutorial

Before you begin to use the Economic Impact Toolkit (Worksheet and Calculator) you may find it helpful to watch this step by step instructional video on how to get the most out of using the toolkit. 


For further information, please contact:

Heather Doherty

Research and Analytics Manager

0131 550 4127