Overall 2015/16 was a good year for the National Trust. Most targets were met, long-term ambitions were set and we began the planning and delivery of the ten-year strategy agreed in 2015 called Playing our part.

 

The Trust is a large and complex organisation but the basic model upon which it runs is simple – we provide people with access to beautiful or historic places that provide physical and spiritual refreshment; people join the Trust, visit and donate money; and that money is invested in conservation and access. It is a virtuous circle. Our performance in 2015/16 proved again the success of this approach – we generated more income than ever, enabling us to spend more on the places in our care and to pursue wider plans.

Pages 4 to 5 records our detailed performance against a set of performance measures the Board agreed with staff. As well as beating financial targets, our conservation performance improved and our staff and volunteers told us they were more motivated than ever. While we will never be complacent, this is good news and a sign of an organisation that is succeeding today and clear about where it wants to be tomorrow.

In previous reports we have spoken about major investments being made to transform our internal systems. While not yet completed, most of these systems were implemented in 2015/16, ones that transform our finance, membership and till systems as well as our digital offer. We were delighted with the launch of the new National Trust app and website during the year. Other changes are less obvious but will make our back office work more effective and efficient and improve the service we provide to our members and supporters. We take our hats off to the
staff across the Trust involved in making these far-reaching and much-needed changes.

Walk around any property and you will sense an organisation which is clear about its purpose and direction, one built on past success and future ambitions. Those ambitions are defined in our strategy, Playing our part. This strategy takes as its starting point the charitable purpose defined by our visionary founders at the end of the nineteenth century – to protect, promote and provide access to beautiful and historic places. We share their vision and ambition. Our strategy defines the conservation and access priorities of today but our charitable purpose remains unchanged.

We believe we have made a good start in the delivery of what is a ten-year strategy. Investments in our backlog of conservation are starting to have an impact – our ambition is to eradicate our £300 million backlog. Further investments have been made in the countryside in pursuit of our ambition to restore a healthy, more beautiful and natural environment and in providing experiences that move, teach and inspire. The Chairman and Director-General’s report includes examples – more are included in our Impact Review.

There is more, much more to do. So this year has also been about planning – plans to transform our visitors’ experience at a number of large, high-profile properties; plans to work at a landscape scale to
re-naturalise rivers in a number of major catchments to improve land and water quality; and plans to test new ways of supporting people to engage with and look after places close to their homes and hearts.

As ever we end by thanking all our staff and volunteers together with our donors, members, centres and associations, partners and supporters. Everyone has a role to play in the Trust’s work and we are indebted to you for all you do.

We generated more
income than ever, enabling
us to spend more on the
places in our care and to
pursue wider plans
Top: Children at Brancaster Activity Centre, Norfolk.
Middle: Christmas trees and Blickling Hall lit up during the evening at Blickling Estate, Norfolk.
Bottom: A family relaxing by the lake at Prior Park, Bath.