We welcomed record numbers of visitors last year, our membership is growing, and our income also increased. As a result, we are spending more money than ever before on funding our conservation work.
As a charity, we don’t make money for its own sake, but use it to look after the 300 historic houses, 250,000 hectares of countryside and 775 miles of coastline in our care. We balance the need to raise funds with ensuring that the public can enjoy access to the places and experiences we can offer. The increasing numbers of people visiting our places and joining our charity suggests we are getting the balance right and people are enjoying what we offer.
The cost of maintaining, protecting and improving our places is significant and rising sharply. We need to fund £300m just to clear our current backlog of repairs and maintenance.
We are – and will continue to be – heavily reliant on the support and generosity of our 4.5m members to fund this work. But income from our commercial activities – such as our shop, cafes and holiday lets – is an increasingly important source of generating additional money, which is again ploughed straight back into our charitable work.
Thanks to the public’s support for what we do, we are a much bigger operation than we were five years ago, with visitor numbers increasing by around 30%
That means we need more people at our places to welcome them, and more central and specialist staff in support. In our budgeting, we are making sure that our costs grow more slowly than our income over time, so that we become more and more efficient. As a charity, we believe that’s the right thing to do.
With an annual turnover of over £500m and over 6,000 year-round staff we need significant leadership capability, but we constantly test our structures and we peg our pay to that of other organisations in the not-for-profit and public sectors.