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The National Trust is Europe’s biggest conservation body. It manages, conserves and gives public access to 1,141 kilometres of coastline, 255,000 hectares of land – much of which is of outstanding natural beauty – and more than 350 historic houses, gardens and parks, ancient monuments and nature reserves. Yet, the NT is independent of government aid, receiving no direct state funding!

The NT generates an annual income of over £260 million with a net gain of over 22%, which funds the maintenance and conservation of its properties. Four in five of the properties cannot fund their own permanent preservation. The cost is high, about £100 million was spent on conservation projects during the last reported financial year.

How is this possible without tax money? The main source of income is the membership fee (£120 million) paid by 3.7 million members! That represents a high percentage of the British population, taking into account that the Scots have their own independent Trust. Admission fees to properties generate £18.3 million annually, from a total of 17.2 million paying visitors! In addition to a staff of 4,500, the NT can count on no less than 61,000 volunteers, who contribute 3.5 million working hours per year, which equates to an estimated value of £29.2 million. Further revenue comes from commercial and trading activities (shops, restaurants, etc.). Gifts, grants and contributions are generated by private individuals, legacies, companies and institutions, and by some 300 regional voluntary supporter groups, one of these being our own Belgian Association. All these people are convinced that it is worthwhile to support the work and objectives of the National Trust: to care for special places for ever, for everyone.For ever: since 1907 this promise has the force of law. The Trust owns most of its heritage inalienably; it can never be sold or developed against their wish without the consent of Parliament.(All figures from the NT 2010 Annual Report)