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How we are run

National Trust Council Chair, René Olivieri at the 2023 AGM
National Trust Council Chair, René Olivieri at the 2023 AGM | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

The National Trust is a large charity with a clear purpose and broad range of interests. Discover how our governance arrangements reflect these interests and how they’re designed to support and challenge our staff.

How we are organised

We aim to manage the Trust 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 that 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 meeting their responsibilities. The Council appoints the Board, monitors and supports their work, 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.

Our governance arrangements are underpinned by Acts of Parliament. The first National Trust Act was passed by Parliament in 1907. Several Acts have since been introduced to update and, where necessary, revise our constitution. This ensures 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.

Governance handbook

Delivering our vision – ‘for everyone, for ever’ – is a demanding challenge and will only be achieved through good governance arrangements.

These arrangements, which underpin the day-to-day operations of the Trust, are set out in this document: the Sixth Edition of the Governance Handbook published in February 2024. The document articulates how we are run, how we takes decisions and how we will achieve our objectives.

We have our powers conferred through Parliament. The National Trust Acts 1907 to 1971 and the Charities (National Trust) Order 2005 details the primary legislation under which the Trust operates.

The Handbook identifies the main Trust bodies which makes up our governance structure, and explains how they run their affairs, delivering the required levels of openness, transparency and accountability.

The governance structures and processes are there to demonstrate to all who care about the Trust that our organisation is well run and that it can be held to account for its performance.

If you have any comments on the contents of this Handbook please contact:
The Secretary
The National Trust
Kemble Drive

or email:

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