The National Trust has reported a huge surge in online donations over the course of the last reporting period. The almost fourfold upturn in online giving came during the 2020-21 financial year, one that coincided with the pandemic year when many people were stuck at home during lockdown and numerous of the charity’s venues were mothballed since visitors were not allowed to attend them. According to the financial report the National Trust issued for the last financial year, online donations grew by a staggering 383 per cent.
The National Trust reported that in excess of £865,000 was given to it by online supporters during the worst of the pandemic which meant significant changes for the museum and visitor attraction sector from the start of 2020. Compared to the trust’s performance with online giving in the 2019-20 period, this constitutes a huge increase, but it should be noted that – along with other institutions in the country – income from in-person visits also fell dramatically. The National Trust reported that it still expected that it would be feeling financial repercussions of the enforced closure of many of its properties for some years going forwards. Nevertheless, the organisation said that both business and ordinary trust members were returning in greater numbers now that social restrictions in the country were easing.
Importantly, the National Trust also said that it had continued to retain members despite its membership not being able to enjoy all of the visits to its properties that would have otherwise been possible. According to their annual report, 84.2 per cent of its members remained so over the course of the last financial year. Although this was down in the region of one per cent compared to the previous reporting year, the trust said that it had been overwhelmed by the loyalty of its members in such a difficult period of its long history.
According to the report, the National Trust was able to raise in the region of £575,000 thanks to a specific appeal it ran under the strapline that everyone needs nature, a reference to the organisation’s many open-air sites. “ During challenging times,” the report read, “the continued support we have enjoyed has given us more determination than ever before to bring people closer to beauty, nature and history.” The trust’s director general, Hilary McGrady said she was thankful to members who had stuck by the institution.
Nevertheless, the National Trust also made approaching 1,800 of its workforce redundant in the same period. Despite the generosity of its donors and the continued strong membership figures, the charity reported that it still needed to account for £173 million of lost income as a result of the pandemic. The National Trust maintains over 500 heritage properties in its portfolio which include historic houses as well as gardens. The trust, the largest conservation charity in Europe, also owns industrial monuments and sites of importance for social history.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.