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The National Trust 

Co-creating the National Trust's First Volunteering Charter.

The Challenge

With almost 6 million people - including members, staff, volunteers, and supporters - the National Trust is the largest conservation charity in Europe. 


Following the pandemic, changes to ways of working and volunteering had created challenges for the Trust, impacting the management, attraction, retention, and overall experience of volunteering. As a result, the National Trust recognised a need to create a formalised ‘Charter’. 


The Volunteering Charter marks a significant milestone in the Trust’s history; the first time in 128 years that a document like this has been developed at and for the Trust. 

The objectives of the ‘Charter’: 

  • Ensure volunteers are at the heart of the Trust. 

  • Provide clarity and connection to the Trust’s strategy and values. 

  • Present a set of clear agreements that provide expectations around the volunteer relationship (for both volunteers, staff, and the Trust). 

  • Enable best practice internally and externally. 

  • Ensure relevance to all, future-proofing the support, attraction, and recruitment of volunteers. 

Our Solution

Our solution focused on a collaborative approach to shaping, refining, and validating the Volunteering Charter. 


The ‘Charter’ was an opportunity to re-engage volunteers and managers. Forming an inclusive and representative core working group consisting of officers from People Experience, Volunteering, Relations, and Internal Communications, together, we considered what the charter should include (both practically and philosophically) to address and drive a more consistent positive volunteering experience. 

We engaged and aligned the National Trust executive team, who presented and discussed the ‘Charter’ at both the 2022 and 2023 National Trust AGMs. 

Following the success of the Trust’s Values (Purpose & values alignment to drive culture change and celebrate 125 years), we followed a similar approach project, consulting volunteers and volunteer managers from across the UK.


In partnership with the core working group, we devised a communications plan and segmented a set of key messages.  We intended to ensure ongoing engagement with both volunteers and volunteer managers while building awareness and advocacy for a national Volunteering Charter. 

We hosted creative labs and co-creation workshops to help define, refine, and validate iterations of the Volunteering charter.  In total, more than 1,000 people from different roles and parts of the Trust were engaged and contributed to the Charter.    

As part of the programme, we also co-created: 

  • Launch recommendations – informed by a set of design principles to guide an impactful launch approach. 

  • Embedding recommendations – using the Volunteer Experience to support training, inductions, events, activities, and ongoing engagement. 

  • Success metrics recommendations - a set of metrics and dashboard that could be easily monitored to indicate the success of the Volunteering Charter across launch, activate and embedding phases. 

“The team were meticulous and attentive, really getting under the skin of our complex organisation, and providing real (and usable) insights to help us move to a new vision for our future. Simply put; great people, great service, great results.”


Project Stakeholder 

The National Trust  

The outcome


The National Trust successfully soft-launched the Volunteering Charter over the course of Volunteers Week in June 2023 with a newly formed team in place to drive wider embedding across the organisation. This team is responsible for monitoring sentiment and feedback regarding the Charter to continuously improve and ensure genuine understanding and behaviour change across the organisation.


Following this, the Trust then officially launched with wider impact the Volunteering Charter, evolving the approach based on learnings, ensuring Volunteers and Volunteer Managers had the time to connect with the information in a way that provided meaning and created genuine understanding.  

If you'd like to understand this project or our approach in more detail,

email or call 023 8082 8505

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