National Trust reports 383% rise in online donations during pandemic year

The National Trust has reported a 383% increase in online donations in a year blighted by the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the majority of the charity’s venues to be “put into hibernation”.

The organisation said it expected to feel financial repercussions for “some years” following the pandemic, but that business and members were returning.

The trust said a high percentage (84.2%) of its membership had been retained – about 1% less than the previous year – and it had been “overwhelmed” by the generosity of its supporters.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity, loyalty and commitment of our supporters during such challenging times,” it said.

National Trust tourism survey
The National Trust said it expected to feel financial repercussions for ‘some years’ following the pandemic, but that business and members were returning (National Trust/ PA)

“This continued support made us more determined than ever to bring people closer to nature, beauty and history.”

Figures from the charity showed that online donations had totalled more than £865,000, an increase of 383% from 2019/20.

It added that more than £580,000 had been raised during the Everyone Needs Nature appeal, from those who appreciated “the solace that nature provided during the pandemic”.

The Trust said it was “thankful” for the “relative consistency” of membership renewals despite the challenges of the pandemic.

The first lockdown occurred in March 2020 – normally one of the busiest months 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 National Trust’s Director General, Hilary McGrady, thanked the “loyal” members who had “stuck by” the charity.

“2020 was a year of firsts for the National Trust. Never before had every single property been forced to close,” she said.

“Almost the whole organisation was put into hibernation, with our staff furloughed and most volunteers asked to pause their support.

“It has been the immense, loyal support from our members, volunteers and donors, as well as some vital public funding, that saw us through the worst of what has been a terrible year for so many.

Chalk stream conservation project
The coronavirus pandemic saw many of the National Trust’s venues close (National Trust/ PA)

“It’s remarkable that, despite so many property closures and other challenges last year, we have retained almost the same number of members as we do in any normal year.

“Our supporters have really stuck by us, whether that is staying with us as members or offering record-breaking online donations, and for that I am so grateful.

“Now that most of our places have reopened and we’re recovering from the pandemic, the early signs are hugely encouraging.

“But as a charity we will feel the financial repercussions for some years to come.”