Case Study: The Victorian Society

6th June, 2022

To see all the Rebuilding Heritage Case Studies, click here.


The Victorian Society fights to protect Victorian and Edwardian heritage. Founded in 1958, they aim to preserve Victorian and Edwardian architecture and encourage research into the art and history of the period.

The Society does this through a membership programme, holding events, facilitating visits and overseeing publications and professional development, led by a dedicated team of core staff and regional groups.

The Society campaigns for the sensitive reuse of historic buildings as a response to the climate emergency, arguing that this is far more environmentally sensitive than demolition and rebuilding.

Group of Edwardian maids, Herne Bay, 1907, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0, by 'Whatsthatpicture'.


The Victorian Society appointed a new Director in September 2020, shortly before the UK returned to working from home in response to the second National Lockdown in November, 2020.

This posed challenges for leadership – not only in relation to team-building, but also in relation to working with key volunteers and stakeholders to tackle the immediate and urgent impacts caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic.

Event income had been an important element of the Victorian Society’s financial planning strategy, but now a serious reduction in that income stream – along with refunds for cancelled events – ultimately led to making the events administrator redundant and sharing the workload across the busy team. Covid restrictions also led to fewer site visits by caseworkers.

The Victorian Society approached Rebuilding Heritage seeking support that would help them to meet both the immediate challenges caused by the pandemic, as well as its longer-term impact. They were interested in organisational development – in particular business planning – along with ideas to mitigate financial losses and undertaking a review of core activities, such as their membership offer and fundraising strategies.

Support Received

Rebuilding Heritage offered support following three successful applications, providing for the Director, Business Development & Communications Manager, Media assistant and volunteer Assistant to the Director:

Round 1 – October 2020

Round 2 – December 2020

Round 6 – July 2021

The Victorian Society accessed:

121 Support: Business Support (Creative United) Communications Strategy (Media Trust), Fundraising Strategy (Chartered Institute of Fundraising)

Group training: Leadership (Clore Leadership), Financial Literacy (Creative United Organisational Storytelling (Media Trust)

Other: Rebuilding Heritage Webinars, Heritage Update, Heritage Debate 2020, Heritage Digital

Learning Outcomes & New Directions

Business Planning
The Society used their financial data to support discussions enabling a review of how core funds were being utilised. For example, the Victorian Society had completed a refurbishment of their offices in London prior to the Pandemic. In light of the success and popularity of homeworking among their staff, they explored the idea of generating income by letting out their unused office space to other businesses.

Additionally, due to the fact that the Victorian Society were updating their financial and membership management system, they took the opportunity to look at how their data was processed. They examined how the processed data was reported to senior leaders and trustees, in order to inform decision-making at each level of the organisation.

Connecting with other leaders encouraged confidence and helped the Victorian Society to find further avenues of ongoing support.

The Society, like many other heritage amenity societies, does not readily fit the criteria for the heritage grant-making bodies because it doesn’t have a single community or building open to the public.

The consultants recommended establishing a more commercial mindset to offset reductions in grants, memberships and donations.

Membership for the Victorian Society, as for many other heritage organisations, was no longer an area of growth during the Pandemic, which had put significant additional strain on this area of income. Part of the consultancy looked at how to make membership more attractive for a broader audience in the future, with membership now growing.

Private giving and legacy giving are existing elements of the Victorian Society’s fundraising activity, but are not an area that is easy to grow or predict. The fundraising strategy has taken account of this changing picture of support.

Other Learning
The Victorian team welcomed the opportunity to think about Wellbeing for individuals as well as how to create and structure a culture of wellbeing for the organisation. This learning felt unusual and timely.


This case study was adapted from those included in the Rebuilding Heritage External Evaluation by Antrobus & Armitage.

The Victorian Society – | Twitter | Instagram

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