Some organisations, like Britain’s National Trust are famous – with their over 500 historic homes, and more than 700 miles of British coastland protected for the public to see and enjoy.

But far less is understood about the International National Trust Organisation. Founded in 2007 and inspired to take the ideals of the British organisation worldwide, it has flourished, quietly. It now links over 76 organisation around the globe.

Some are tiny, others large – from Japan to St Helena.

The International National Trust Organisation’s annual report gives some idea of its activities.


2019 Annual Review (Weekly blog, 15 December 2020)

Posted on December 15, 2019

A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

As 2019 draws to a close, I want to thank everyone for all their support and engagement this year!   Your contributions to INTO: by participating in our events and biennial Conference; responding to our requests and supplying case studies; and joining our programmes (like TAP-INTO and Working Holidays), have helped make the global National Trust movement greater than the sum of its parts.

This year, we have seen yet more polarisation and fragmentation around the world.  And the ever-present threat of climate change, which impacts heavily on all your work. I believe that it has never been more important to have a strong, united INTO family.  Thank you for everything you do to help us achieve this.  There is much that we have accomplished together this year, only possible in partnership with our members and generous funders.   The main highlight of the year has of course been the start of our Helen Hamlyn Trust funded project.

Capacity Building for the National Trust Ideal

Entitled ‘Capacity Building for the National Trust Ideal’, the HHT grant has enabled us to do just that.   The main component has been the appointment of our new Deputy Secretary-General in March.  Alexander Lamont Bishop has proved himself an energetic, persuasive and effective resource for INTO. Hired from the heritage and international development sector, his fourth day on the job was the first of the Bermuda ICNT!  So, he immediately began work on growing the INTO family and providing more opportunities to collaborate.   I hope you have now all met Alex, either in person, by phone or email.   Other highlights this year include:

Family in 2019

‘We are INTO’ is a short film that brings to life the idea of INTO as a global family. You responded instantly to our request for help and the finished product features 16 INTO members.

The Bermuda Conference was the ‘best ever’ according to our Chair, Fiona Reynolds.  And it underlined the diversity of the amazing organisations INTO brings together. Whilst at the same time showing that the things that concern us are basically the same.

(Our next Conference will take place in Antwerp from 19-23 April 2021.  The golden thread is partnership and networking. What can we learn from each other about working together?  What strategies can we share? How can we ensure that our organisations balance heritage, social and economic values? How do we build bridges between those values?)

One of the ways of strengthening what it means to be part of the INTO family, is reciprocal visiting.  Bilateral arrangements already exist between some INTO members.  But in Bermuda, we agreed to extend this offer across as many organisations as possible. This will not only strengthen the idea of a global heritage collective.  It will also provide a structure and means to simplify and standardise the reciprocal visiting offer.   We are now asking eligible members to sign up, with the aim of launching the new programme in 2021.


We have piloted a successful travel grant scheme called TAP-INTO, funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust. These grants enable INTO members to explore new partnerships with some very encouraging results. Nick Lawrence, Assistant Director of Operations in Cornwall, provided in-situ advice to the National Trust for Canada on a potential new acquisition.  Kara Roopsingh of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago travelled to Denver to participate in Past Forward.  Clear Warner from the National Trust for Scotland travelled to Trinidad to advise on island properties.  And Karin Taylor, Head of Planning at the NTEWNI has begun her secondment to the National Trust for Jersey.

Alex is continuing to plan our National Trust start-up lab called the INTO Incubator.  This new programme brings international heritage organisations to the UK to inspire them with the National Trust model. The one-week residential take place in March 2020.

We were delighted to present our first INTO Excellence Awards in Bermuda!  The Awards celebrate the very best of our member organisations’ work around the world, often undertaken amid difficult circumstances and without seeking glory or acclaim but just trying to look after our global heritage for future generations. The Jury selected five winners that will delight and inspire all those involved in heritage conservation, wherever they are in the world.


INTO is the leading authority on the work and philosophy of National Trusts around the world.  Indeed, we are the only organisation that represents the interests of the National Trust movement at the global level.  Our major theme for 2019 was diversity.  And we sought to draw on the wisdom of the INTO family to crowd-source experiences in increasing diversity, inclusion and equality.  The campaign began in Bermuda as a main strand of the Conference.  This was built on over the course of the year and then in September, we launched Arms Wide Open.

This report contains case studies that were discussed in Bermuda, demonstrating how National Trusts are responding to the theme of diversity.  It is full of exciting links to members’ work and was written by the Deputy Secretary-General.   Catherine spoke about it at The Heritage Alliance’s International Day.  And Alex launched it internationally in Denver.  He also prepared some online resources for INTO members to use to help get the word out.  (This approach will be replicated for future ‘Voice’ campaigns.)

Europe has been another key theme in 2019.  We continue to deliver our role as knowledge partner in the Innocastle project.  This included hosting a study visit involving several INTO member organisations in May. The focus of this learning exchange was on volunteering, partnerships and business planning.  We also collaborated with Europa Nostra on a high-profile event at the Hay Festival and a Policy Debate in Paris.  Lastly, I joined senior colleagues from the National Trusts of Bavaria, Italy, Slovakia and England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the fifth anniversary of the Czech National Trust in Prague in June.

Sustainability and climate change remain another important issue for INTO. We launched our new-look, updated paper on Heritage Conservation and the SDGs in March.  Alex represented INTO and our members at the forthcoming Climate Heritage Network launch in Edinburgh. And is working with Oliver, Alex and Andrew Potts to co-ordinate our representation at COP 25 next month.


We have appointed two INTO Ambassadors in 2019: His Highness, Gaj Singh the Maharajah of Jodhpur and Hashim Djojohadikusumo, the Indonesian philanthropist and Chairman of BPPI. Both have committed to be high-level advocates for INTO and will lend credibility to our work because of their well-recognised accomplishments.

In November 2019 we recruited a new Communications Assistant. Emma Taylor’s initial focus will be on updating the website, which is being remodelled to make it more responsive to users’ needs. Funding for this post has been allocated from the EU Innocastle grant.  At the end of October, Czech post-graduate student Ondřej Chrást joined the team as an intern researching financial sustainability amongst National Trusts.

We continue to work in partnership with our members to develop new funding proposals.  Alex has recently submitted an application in support of the Haiti National Trust, for example.

There’s so much more to report on – do take a look at the links below to our regular Secretariat Reports for more information on our four strategic strands.

Forward Look

2020 will be a significant year for us.  It will see the launch of our campaign about the value of National Trusts to the world.  This will focus on the Incubator initially but will also include other opportunities, such as Ondřej’s research into financial models.  If you are interested in finding out more, do get in touch.   But more importantly it will see the projects we are currently planning come to life!   These include four regional meetings, the Incubator programme, our Board meeting and related events in India, COP 26 in Glasgow and much more!

Alongside the above, we will also be developing some new services and benefits.  Look out for our membership survey in the new year.  If you have any queries about membership, do please contact us.  We are very grateful for your continued support.

Very best wishes and we look forward to another successful year in 2020!

That’s all folks!

Before every Trustee meeting, I prepare a report summarising what we’ve been up to over the past couple of months.  There are links to this year’s Secretariat Reports below.   This year I wrote 48 blog posts.  Not quite one a week!  (Well, I’ve been a bit dilatory of late.)  And this is reflective of the fact that the team and I have decided to re-purpose this blog.   So you’ll be hearing from me less often from now on.   It’s been a pleasure sharing my reflections, news and learnings over the years.  But we’ll be doing that slightly differently in 202o as we move to our new web platform.  Thanks for reading and watch this space!

2019 INTO Secretariat Reports