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Volunteering in the National Trust: From Attempts at Exemplars to a Quiet Revolution

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Three British volunteers founded The National Trust in the UK 1895. In 2013, the Trust celebrated the involvement of over 70,000 volunteers in this conservation charity, one that protects historic places and green spaces while opening them up forever, for everyone. In terms of volunteer numbers, 2013 was the Trust’s most successful year ever, but that success isn’t just measured in volunteer numbers. In spring 2014, the Trust began the first phase of implementing a £1.2m investment in new systems and processes to support volunteering. A senior manager outside of the volunteering team described the change in volunteering and support at the Trust over the past three years as a “quiet revolution.”

In this e-Volunteerism feature, author Helen Timbrell, Volunteering and Community Involvement Director for the Trust, identifies the key things that helped bring about this “quiet revolution” – including how the Trust approached the challenge, the steps it took, and the order in which it did the work. Timbrell also presents how the Trust operated as a team and individually. This feature article is a follow-up to last year’s e-Volunteerism story about the Trust’s “Going Local” volunteer campaign, “Thinking Differently about Volunteering: Words from the National Trust.”