How we are run

Heelis, the central office for the National Trust, in Swindon, Wiltshire

We are a large charity with a clear purpose and broad range of interests. Our governance arrangements reflect these and are designed to support and challenge our staff.

We endeavour to manage our affairs efficiently and transparently, making it clear who is accountable for what.

Our professional staff run the properties and the wider organisation. Our governance volunteers serve on a range of groups intended to support our staff and the Trust’s activities. Of these groups the starting point is the Board of Trustees which agrees plans and holds the staff to account for their delivery. The Council appoints the Board, holds it to account, and debates wider issues of policy.

Our constitution

The National Trust was first incorporated in 1894 as an Association Not For Profit under the Companies Acts 1862-1890.

Underpinning our governance arrangements are Acts of Parliament. The first National Trust Act was passed by Parliament in 1907. A number of successive Acts have since been introduced to update and, where necessary, revise our constitution to ensure the National Trust continues to be well governed and remains true to its cause.

The Charities (National Trust) Order 2005 describes our current governance arrangements and is the starting point for the arrangements in the Governance Handbook, available for download at the bottom of this page.

" If you’ve found this part of our website hopefully it means you’re interested in how the Trust is run. We are lucky to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of all our volunteers including those who get involved in the governance groups described on these pages. If you’d like to get involved you can look out for opportunities in our governance community. "
- Jan Lasik, General Counsel and Secretary
Dinas Oleu in Barmouth, Gwynedd

Our constitution 

The first National Trust Act was passed by Parliament in 1907, and our constitution has been updated and revised since to ensure we are well governed and remain true to our cause.

View of the Hall shrouded by thick fog. Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk.

Governance handbook 

The governance handbook ensures that delivering our vision of 'for ever, for everyone' is at the heart of our operations.

Get in touch

Here’s how you can access the help centre, manage your membership online or get help with general enquiries.

Email our Secretary

If you have any queries about governance or how we are run please contact The Secretary.