The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO)

Strategy update, December 2020

Blogs December 2, 2020

News from the INTO Secretariat

An update on the INTO strategy by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

This week, I started work on our 2020 annual report. The normal self-congratulatory tone of such messages doesn’t feel right this year. Although we do have lots to be proud of.  I could write about our new members, programmes and projects.  How we have supported the INTO family and strengthened our network.  But framing this in the context of everything that’s happening feels like an even more daunting task than usual.

Over the last quarter, as throughout the year, we’ve had to rethink our programmes that rely on travel.  The Incubator planned for March went online in September.  Our TAP-INTO capacity building visits became small grants in 2020, and we’ve just made our second round of awards. Other project work, like supporting new trusts in the Middle East, has been digitalised. But there have been opportunities too.  We’ve been able to launch our new website and deliver more online content. And we’ve finalised plans for INTO Places.

Our thoughts remain with everyone affected by this terrible virus. Yet here, I need to focus in on INTO, our young and ever-expanding ngo. Never has our work bringing together the global family of national trusts felt more vital and important. Thank you for your ongoing support and engagement.

– Catherine and the Secretariat team

2020 Annual Report

Our illustrated Annual Report provides an overview of INTO activity in 2020, how we are structured and what we do.

Read the report here
Delegates at the INTO Victoria 2011 Conference

INTO Family

Our family strategy is about supporting our members in the achievement of their goals by providing opportunities to collaborate and share ideas, resources, skills and knowledge, noting the importance of amplifying INTO family values during the crisis. Key programmes under this strategy include our conference, TAP-INTO and working holidays.

- INTO Strategy

Explore the INTO family

INTO Conference

We’re very excited about hosting our conference virtually in 2021. This will be a first for us but something we’ve thought about before.  As a way to reduce our carbon footprint and the cost to INTO members, whilst attracting a broader audience and range of speakers. And then we’ll be actually meeting again at INTO Antwerp 2022.  More information about both events will be available soon.

Reciprocal Visiting

We have been finalising arrangements for this new global free entry programme over the past months. INTO Places will launch next year, but you can have a sneak preview of what it’s all about on our new site.

Working holidays

With so much uncertainty around travel at the moment, we will begin advertising INTO members’ working holidays in the new year.

Working holidays are a key theme for us in 2021.  We were thrilled to receive funding from the ALIPH Foundation to work with INTO partners on a missile-damaged tower near the Chechen border in Georgia. And we will engage the local community in an international working holiday programme to deliver the restoration.

More about the INTO family

Growth strategy


In 2020 we committed to growing our reach by inviting heritage NGOs to learn about the National Trust model. The result was the Incubator, which was delivered online over three days in September. Delegates from 18 organisations joined the programme, from Poland and Egypt to Jamaica and Singapore. It was a great success thanks to innovative online teaching tools developed by our team, together with the enthusiasm and engagement of all our participants and speakers.

Countries on the INTO Incubator growing new trusts

Regional groups

Alongside the Incubator, another focus for membership growth is regional groups.  We are strengthening these networks and face-to-face meetings planned for 2020 have all gone online, apart from the INTO Africa conference in February.

This strategy is about growing global capacity for heritage conservation by helping establish new National Trusts and increasing INTO membership.
- INTO Strategy

News from our regional groups


We were delighted to co-host a two-part programme looking at the Asian heritage sector's response to COVID-19. Working with the Indonesian Heritage Trust and the V&A, we brought together diverse voices from across INTO-Asia to discuss 'Heritage and Pandemics'.

  • How can we ensure heritage plays a role in the rebuilding of places and communities as we move forwards?
  • What do we need from government and the private sector?
  • And what’s the best way for heritage NGOs to communicate and advocate those needs?
  • What messages do we need to send?
6 learnings from the webinar

INTO Americas

Our INTO Americas webinar was kindly hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation during PastForward 2020. We heard from members in Bermuda, Saint Lucia, Haiti and Puerto Rico about how they put sustainability at the heart of their work with both natural and cultural heritage.

  • How can we balance tourism and local visits?
  • What is our relationship to government?
  • What has been the impact of new conversations about social justice and equity?
  • How can plantation house museums move forward?
Watch the webinar video

INTO Europe

The Staff Exchange in European Cultural Heritage Trusts (SEECHT), project led by the Czech National Trust and INTO, offers practitioners from the INTO Europe family the opportunity to share learning and experiences which will contribute to a more open and welcoming European heritage sector.

  • What can we learn from each other so that we can improve and broaden access to all segments of the European public?
  • What is the role of our INTO Places scheme?
  • How can we bring this all together and share it among European heritage organisations and policy makers?
Read more about SEECHT

Welcome to our newest members






Delegates at the INTO Victoria 2011 Conference

Voice strategy

With our voice stragey we aim to speak out with authority and purpose on global conservation issues critical to INTO’s membership; celebrate what is unique and special about the NT approach; and support our members with their campaigns.

- INTO Strategy

Visit the Resource Hub

New website

After months of hard work behind the scenes we were delighted to launch our new website on 30 November.  It’s designed as somewhere the world can get to know our members and find out more about our work, individually and collectively.

Speaking opportunities

We’ve all got very used to online meetings and conferences recently. In September, I addressed the Innocastle Mid-term Conference on the adaptation of European country houses in times of COVID-19.  Together we reflected on the challenges faced and looked at new ways of working, of presenting our heritage and of welcoming our visitors.

I spoke at a workshop on Resilient heritage, cohesive society’ as part of the EU Week of the Regions in October.  Then I recorded various messages of support for INTO members holding their Annual General Meetings in November.

Meanwhile, Alex has been busy delivering a week of online training for our project growing new trusts in the Middle East!

Climate change

One of the encouraging things about the pandemic is how quickly people have been able to change their behaviour.  We need to learn from this and build on it in the climate change context.  When people understand the need to make lifestyle changes, they can do it.

We are currently working on a project proposal to help INTO members better interrogate EU climate data and use it to communicate with the public.

And we are delighted to have begun our British Council project with the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda and the National Trust on preserving heritage at risk from climate change.

Raising our collective voice


Trustees meeting

Our board of trustees met virtually over three days in September.  They are used to meeting online but we normally try to hold an annual face-to-face gathering.  These are a great opportunity to learn more about our hosts, in this case the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in Jodhpur.

We began with passion and vision from our INTO Ambassador, Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur.  We then made a thorough examination of our strategy, and ended on a note of true inspiration from the wonderful Ruth Abram.

Alex and Emma also prepared a beautiful and inspiring update on our Helen Hamlyn Trust project showing how we’ve been supporting INTO members from March to September.

Strength is about building financial stability and demonstrating best practice in our governance and organisational culture.
- INTO Strategy


We are delighted to welcome two new INTO Ambassadors this quarter. HRH Princess Dana Firas, President of Petra National Trust and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Cultural Heritage.  And Dr Thant Myint-U, Burmese historian and Founder and Chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust.

Fundraising growth

It seems extraordinary in these times to be thinking of growth. And yet we have had some terrific fundraising successes recently and new partnerships in the pipeline. I have mentioned most of these above, but there is a last one to note.

We are delighted to be a co-convenor in a seminar series in partnership with Historic Houses, English Heritage and the Universities of Oxford, Birmingham, Virginia and the West Indies.  Entitled the World in a Historic House: global connections and collections, the seminars will explore how country houses can better tell the whole story of their global histories.

This is so important as we seek, as organisations, to be more relevant and essential to all parts of society.  Which reminds me of a quote from Ruth Abram’s address to our trustees:

INTO members and the places they look after can become essential in their communities and the world. To that end, they must first of all listen. Being listened to feels so much like being loved, that most people can’t tell the difference. Imagine if our communities, our visitors, and our members felt we loved them. Imagine what a difference that would make.
- Ruth Abram, Founder of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Saint Lucia National Trust PINL restoration GlobalGiving

Supporting our members campaigns

This quarter we have worked with the Saint Lucia National Trust on a fundraising campaign. Using our GlobalGiving platform, we are supporting their crowdfunding efforts to help keep the SLNT alive in the face of all the COVID uncertainty.

Learn more