Governance

How is the National Trust run? Who makes the fundamental decisions that shape our future? As an influential volunteer, it could be you.

A charity, a conservation body, a curator of beautiful places and spaces – and so much more. We’re also a major commercial enterprise, a retailer, a restaurant chain, a visitor attraction. There is no other organisation in the UK like the National Trust. And it’s that exceptional breadth of opportunity and challenge that makes working with us so incredibly stimulating.

Working with us in a non-executive capacity is a wonderfully rewarding experience: it’s an opportunity to have a real say in our current and future operations. In return for your time, knowledge and expertise, you’ll have the chance to shape our work as you help to grow the nation’s love of special places.

Whatever your area of interest, you’ll find a range of appealing non-executive opportunities here. The places we look after are varied and for everyone – we’re keen to reflect this in our governance community. We welcome applications from people of all ages, areas and backgrounds who can positively contribute to our work. The details of our appointment or election processes are clearly outlined in each vacancy.

A summary of how our governance structure works is available here.

The principles underlying our non-executive appointments

We recognise that one of the most important means by which openness, transparency and accountability can be achieved is through the appointment or election, as appropriate, of high-calibre volunteers capable of overseeing the governance arrangements of the Trust, ensuring that it remains focused on achieving its mission efficiently and effectively.

The Board of Trustees and the various Nominations Committees of the Council play a key role in the process of non-executive appointments and elections. An external member sits on each of these Nominations Committees to increase the rigour of our procedures.

Before an appointment or election process is initiated for any of the bodies in the governance structure, the relevant committee will take into account:

  • the aims and purposes of the body concerned
  • the knowledge, skills and experience required for the position in question
  • the intention to create a diverse and effective body
  • the intention to meet standards of good governance
  • the intention to avoid conflicts of interest.

These aims will be pursued in a manner proportionate to the nature of the positions to be filled.

The Committees will ensure that appointment and election processes are:

  • conducted in an open and transparent way
  • applied in a fair, equitable, objective and impartial manner
  • designed to be thorough, robust and expeditious
  • applied consistently
  • fully explained and readily comprehensible.

Typical governance opportunities

Trustee

Our Board of Trustees is the National Trust’s governing body. In many ways, they’re our guardians, our conscience. Their role is to ensure that we have a clear vision and a strategy in place, and that we’re doing everything we say we’ll do. 

Council Member

Providing guidance and perspective, appointing our Trustees and ultimately holding the Board of Trustees to account, the Council is the guardian of our spirit and long-term objectives. 

Committee Member

Our Audit, Investment and Senior Management Remuneration Committees provide oversight and assurance in their specialist areas and report into our Board of Trustees.

Other types of non-executive opportunities

Member of a Regional/Country Advisory Board

With a real passion for your region, you’ll advise, support and challenge Regional/Country Directors and their teams to help them deliver the Trust’s strategy in their area.

Member of an Advisory Group

With your specialist perspective, and skills and knowledge which complement that of our staff, you’ll provide advice to assist in developing and delivering the Trust’s strategy in one of the following areas: Historic Environment; Natural Environment; Collections and Interpretation; Commercial.

Meet our volunteers

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Elizabeth Hamilton

    appointed Council member

    Originally a plant ecologist and woodland management specialist, I’ve worked and volunteered in countryside protection and conservation for a variety of organisations since 1977. I have supported and admired the Trust’s work for many years and enjoy exploring coast and countryside properties as well as the Trust’s houses and gardens. With governance experience as a county branch chairman and national board trustee for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), I was delighted to be asked to become CPRE’s appointee on the Trust’s Council. It has been fantastic to meet many people involved with the Trust and have a role in guiding the organisation. The Trust is concerned with such a wide range of issues that every Council member has something to contribute, so it’s been a learning experience for me too.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Sanya Sheikh

    elected Council member

    Working in the digital technology sector I am acutely aware of how important it is to stay connected. My support for the National Trust stems from my belief that there is no more important connection than the one we have with nature. The Trust undertakes an incredible breadth of work, much of which I would not have known about prior to joining the council. For those interested in a voluntary governance role, the council offers a fascinating and rewarding insight into the Trust, as well as the opportunity to be able to help guide it towards a more successful future. As a Council member I have been impressed by the passion and expertise of my colleagues and believe a further diversity of voices would only benefit the organisation as a whole.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Justin Atkinson

    member of the Audit Committee

    I sit on a number of boards including one as an Audit Chairman, so hopefully I bring a current, external perspective to this role. The Trust is a large organisation with annual revenues of more than £500m and has the responsibility of looking after several billion pounds worth of heritage assets. Therefore, it is very important that the governance function ensures that the financial reporting processes and internal controls framework are robust. I am pleased to be able to play my part in this and to work alongside high calibre people who work with such dedication, enthusiasm and commitment.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Bob Brown

    Chair of Northern Ireland’s Regional Advisory Board

    I worked for the National Trust on Strangford Lough in my earlier years, and my career as a marine biologist and general nature conservation has kept me involved with the Northern Ireland team ever since – after all, we do have about 22% of Northern Ireland’s remarkable coast! But my enthusiasm for the Trust is much broader than that. Some of the most iconic landscape and cultural features, landscapes, gardens, historic houses, are in our care and they’re vital to a community still trying to find itself after years of conflict. I was delighted to be offered a place on the Regional Advisory Board – we have a central role to play in advising the team on the challenges this presents, horizon scanning for issues, providing local feedback. Later, to be appointed as Chair, gave me even greater insight into the dedication and skill of our staff and volunteers and how the whole system fits together. There’s no organisation like the National Trust in the world, and it’s a real privilege to be a small, but hopefully useful, part of it.

  • Volunteer Margaret

    Michael Walker

    member of the Historic Environment Group

    I work for St Modwen, a leading regeneration specialist which owns the 725 acre Trentham Estate in Staffordshire. The challenges and opportunities we face at Trentham are little different to those experienced by the National Trust. I believe in using the significance of the past to help support the revival of gardens and landscape in contemporary ways which are relevant to their audience today. The Trust cares for truly amazing places with an extremely experienced and professional people. The Historic Environment Group is invited to look at a diverse range of issues which includes gardens and landscape, as well as offering specialist advice to the teams on the ground. We are here to support the Trust but I often feel that we gain as much out of the time we contribute in terms of our own learning and CPD as the Trust receives from us in return.

Current governance opportunities

Here you’ll find information on current and future senior governance opportunities.

Please remember, we welcome applications from people of all ages, areas and backgrounds who can positively contribute to our work. If you don’t find the role you are searching for today, we'd still love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us.

2017 Election to the National Trust's Council

  • We are expecting six election vacancies on our Council in October this year.  The following information tells you about our Council, its role, the time commitment and how you can stand for election.

    About the Council

    Our Council is a group of 42 volunteers (reducing to 36 in 2018).  Half are elected from the membership and half are appointed from kindred organisations which we call appointing bodies. 

    Our Council is the guardian spirit of the National Trust as embodied in its core purpose.  It is not our governing body, but its specific responsibilities are to appoint our Board of Trustees (including the Chair and Deputy Chair) and to monitor and support our Board’s work and performance.  Our Council debates important issues of strategy and policy and shares its views about them with our Board. 

    Our Council’s specific responsibilities are described in section 1.13 of the Governance Handbook .

    Our Council’s strength comes from the breadth of knowledge of our appointed and elected members – most important we look for people with a real passion for the Trust and who love what it stands for. Some of our Council members go on to become Trustees.

    Following a consultation in 2015, our members agreed to reduce the size of the Council from 52 people to 36.  This reduction has started and will be achieved over the next two years and be complete in 2018. 

    You can read more about our Council’s role here and its current members on our website .

    Please read and note our Code of Conduct which applies to all governance volunteers.

    Council member terms and time commitment

    Council members are elected from October 2017 for three years, and usually serve a maximum of two terms, subject to re-election.  You and can expect to spend about ten days a year on Council business.

    There are three Council meetings a year, including one which is held as part of a three-day visit hosted by one of our regions or countries. The time commitment is spread across these activities and takes account of the amount of reading time and other preparation needed to fully engage with Council business. The dates of Council meetings in the twelve months following the election are as follows (note these are provisional at February 2017):

    • Wednesday 7 February 2018
    • Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 June 2018
    • Wednesday 3 October 2018

    Council membership is a voluntary role but we reimburse expenses.

    What skills and experience are we looking for?

    We welcome applications from people of all ages, ethnicity and backgrounds, who can contribute to our work. You should be able to demonstrate a broad range of the qualities and experience we’re looking for – find out more about these here. In particular this year, we are also looking to enhance the diversity of the Council with enhanced representation of members from East Anglia, Midlands and North of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Please note that in order to be eligible to stand for election to our Council, our constitution requires that candidates are Trust members.

    About the election

    Anyone who thinks they meet the criteria noted above and is able to contribute to our Council is welcome to apply.

    The election is overseen by our Council’s Nominations Committee whose role is to recommend to our members those candidates it believes will make the most suitable members of our Council.  This role forms part of our constitutional requirements.  The members of the Nominations Committee are Nichola Johnson (Chair), Peter Bate, Nick Buckland and Anne Casement.  

    We are expecting six vacancies this year.  The Committee’s aim in matching its recommendation to this number of places is to ensure, as far as possible, that the membership of our Council reflects the breadth and depth of the Trust’s work.

    The election material is published to our members in the Trust’s magazine and online in September 2017. Any current members of our Council who are standing for re-election should note that attendance records for meetings will be published. The outcome of the election is decided by a members' ballot with the results announced at our Annual General Meeting on 21 October 2017.

    How to apply and closing date

    If you would like to stand for election, please send us the following:

    • A statement or covering letter which you can use to explain, not included elsewhere in your application, that you think might be helpful to the Nominations Committee;
    • A CV;
    • A passport size photograph (of high definition quality – this can be posted or emailed to us);
    • A completed candidate information form which includes your election statement and supporting details;
    • A completed declaration and affirmation form;
    • A completed Equal Opportunities form (optional).

    Please ensure your application reaches us by 5.00pm on Wednesday 29 March 2017Applications can be emailed or posted using the addresses below.

    Next steps

    The Nominations Committee will meet in April to review applications and will invite for interview those candidates whose applications are closest to the criteria for this year’s election. You can expect to hear from us about progress with your application towards the end of April.

    Interviews will be held in mid-May 2017. Interviewed candidates can expect to hear from the Committee’s Chairman about whether they are to be included among the recommended candidates before the end of May 2017.

    Please note that the election statements of all eligible candidates, whether or not they are invited to attend an interview with the Nominations Committee, will go forward for publication to our members. Anyone wishing to withdraw from the election process should notify us by the end of May 2017.

    Contact us

    You can contact us and send your application to:

    Jo Cooke
    Deputy Secretary
    National Trust
    Heelis
    Kemble Drive
    Swindon
    SN2 2NA

    Email: governance@nationaltrust.org.uk
    Telephone: 01793 817663
    Fax: 01793 817401

    Thank you for your interest – we look forward to hearing from you.