June 9, 2021
Incubator programme launches #GrowingNewTrusts
A blog by Catherine Leonard, INTO Secretary-General
This week, we launched our INTO Incubator! Originally planned for March 2020, we postponed first to September and then took the programme online.
So, on Monday we welcomed delegates from all over the world into our virtual learning lab! From Jamaica to Syria; Albania to Singapore; Nigeria to Haiti we have been connecting and inspiring people with the INTO approach.
Incubator programme moves online
The programme has been ably designed and led by Alex Lamont Bishop, INTO’s Deputy Secretary-General. And this has been no mean feat, particularly when converting to a digital format. How to deliver site visits virtually? How to create a sense of community and network amongst our participants? And how to avoid endless webinars and make space for smaller group conversations?
Eighteen delegates have discussions about community engagement, volunteering and different membership models. We’ve talked about site management and conservation. And also about making heritage assets financially sustainable.
Seeking inspiration from INTO members
We’ve heard a lot about the ‘mother’ Trust of course. But we’ve also had presentations from other INTO members in Belgium, Canada and Spain. These have provided incredibly helpful perspectives on how the model can be adapted in different countries.
And this was indeed the goal of the Incubator programme. To work as a group to find answers to common questions. Which governance and business model is best for my country? How do we get our first property? How will we make money, involve volunteers and grow membership? What about relations with government? How will we communicate our cause?
It also aimed to connect participants to other people around the world who share their aspirations. We cannot do any of this alone and there is huge value in collaboration, connectivity and learning together.
Humbling and inspiring
For me, one of the most inspiring and moving parts of the programme was hearing everyone’s elevator pitches.
We heard of heroic personal endeavours, protecting and preserving heritage under extremely difficult circumstances. Ambitious leaders shared their plans for reinventing their organisations, inspired by the national trust model. So much passion and determinations in the face of armed conflict, natural disasters and development pressures. And exciting plans to reengage the public, rediscover traditional skills and increase volunteering.
I found the workshop very inspiring and useful in going back to basics on where we are as a Trust and the opportunities to go forward.
The next phase of the Incubator will be unguided, as our participants continue to connect to one another and other INTO members. We’ve already identified some younger Trusts like the Czech or Georgian National Trusts who have been through the process ore recently and can provide valuable insights.
It’s been an intense experience, but one that we hope has been inspirational, enjoyable and the beginning of a successful transformation. We here at INTO HQ and our guest speakers have certainly really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and share in this way!
Thank you …
We remain deeply grateful to the Helen Hamlyn Trust and the 1772 Foundation for enabling and encouraging us to hold the Incubator programme. To Alex and Emma for organising everything so brilliantly. We thank all our speakers but particularly our delegates who have worked with the transition to a new format and engaged so brilliantly.
And it doesn’t finish on Wednesday! These are conversations and connections which will live on as we continue to support one another. The global family of National Trusts sends a warm welcome to all theses new advocates for our common cause.
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