The National Trust is to launch a five-year ‘e-engagement programme’ to reach its 3.5 million members by increasing its dedicated digital staff numbers from 3.5 posts to 25. The Trust’s trustees have agreed to spend nearly £5 million on the new department for the first two years with the aim of completely revamping the organisation’s digital offering. The charity is expected to invest £2 million a year from then on.
The focus on new media follows a comprehensive year-long review of the National Trust’s digital communications by voluntary sector consultancy THINK Consulting Solutions.
Luke Whitcomb, member and visitor marketing director at the National Trust, said: “Until now our digital capability had been relatively weak. We had a small web team – with an establishment of 3.5 posts – that operated on the fringes of our marketing communications and struggled to meet the demands of the organisation.
“Yet at the same time, our research showed that both our members, and non-member visitors to Trust properties, were well above national averages in their ownership and use of digital technology.”
The new service-oriented digital media department will report directly to Sue Wilkinson, director of marketing and supporter development.
Whitcomb added: “This means that digital media will be represented at the highest level in the marketing department and allow other departments such as membership, marketing, fundraising and enterprises to really maximise their online and digital potential.”
The first two-year phase of the new programme will see the setting up of a new user-friendly content management system and the creation of a members’ extranet with self-service functionality, day-out planning services and piloting of user-generated content.
THINK’s digital media expert Jason Potts said: “Too many charities just will not invest in digital communications, nor will they bring digital communications right into the centre of their operations. The National Trust has done both of these things and it is going to serve them well over the next five years”.
The project is now being taken forward by THINK’s new signing, digital and new media expert Nick Burne, who joined the consultancy in March this year after a three-year stint as head of interactive marketing at Christian Aid.