Loyal membership thanked for support
A 383% increase in online donations has been reported by the National Trust.
The huge rise came despite the pandemic when most of the charity’s venues were “put into hibernation”.
Online donations were more than £865,000, an increase of 383% from 2019/20.
However at the same time nearly 1,800 people have been made redundant as it looked to plug £173m in lost income as a result of lockdowns.
The conservation charity’s latest accounts for the year ending 28 February show total annual income fell from nearly £681m in 2019/20 to £508m in 2020/21.
The charity said this was largely down to the closure of most of its properties, including shops, cafes and holiday cottages, and all its events being cancelled.
This resulted in the number of visits to its sites halving from 2019/20 to 13.6 million.
The organisation, founded in 1895, said it expected to feel financial repercussions for “some years” after the Covid crisis, but that business and members were returning.
The trust said 84.2% of its membership was retained during 2020/21 – about 1% less than the previous year – and it was “overwhelmed” by the generosity of its supporters.
It added that its “everyone needs nature” appeal raised more than £580,000 from those who appreciated “the solace that nature provided during the pandemic”.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity, loyalty and commitment of our supporters during such challenging times,” the trust said.
“This continued support made us more determined than ever to bring people closer to nature, beauty and history.”
The trust, which is Europe’s largest conservation charity, said it was “thankful” for the “relative consistency” of membership renewals despite the challenges of the pandemic.
The first lockdown in March 2020 came during a month that is traditionally one of the busiest for the organisation. “When normally we would see our peak recruitment of members, our places were closed,” it said. “As anticipated, the pandemic led to a decline in membership in 2020/21.
“Despite the challenges that people faced, the number of people who renewed their membership remained relatively consistent with previous years at 84.2% (down from 85.4% in 2019/20) for which we were thankful.”
The charity looks after more than 500 heritage properties which include historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments and social history sites.
Its conservation efforts continued throughout the pandemic with £83.8m spent on houses, collections and gardens.