Innovation In Giving

National Trust: The Big Family Day Out

The UK conservation charity has launched ‘The Big Family Day Out’ – in a bid to get thousands more families volunteering to help preserve and protect historic places and spaces.

Up to 6.8 million families would, under the right circumstances, be willing to volunteer for The National Trust or similar organisations, according to research conducted by the charity.

The biggest barrier, says Mark Crosby, National Volunteering Manager, is people’s reluctance to give up precious time with their friends and family to do so. “[Millions of] families would be up for volunteering with organisations like us if they didn’t have to make that compromise,” he says.

Recognising this untapped potential, the National Trust set itself the challenge of changing its approach to volunteering, to significantly increase the number of people who give their time, energy and skills to help look after special places.

The solution? The Big Family Day Out: once a year (in school holidays), employers that sign up to the scheme give staff one day off to volunteer with their families for a local charity project.

As well as helping the Trust look after special places, and potentially other charities too, it gives families the opportunity to spend some quality time together and learn new skills – while helping companies boost their ethical and family-friendly credentials.


The first-year pilot in 2013 saw 185 volunteers recruited from 10 different employers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Marks & Spencer, Barclays, BT and Manchester Airport.

Feedback from the pilot was extremely positive – from volunteers, their employers and the Trust itself. Watch the video above to hear insights from some of the first participants in the scheme.

The National Trust is now running a larger second-year pilot before looking to expand the project further in 2015.

Mark Crosby says: “Our ambition is that every family will get the chance to volunteer once a year.”

The award

The National Trust was awarded £120,000 through the Open Innovation Programme to cover salary and project management costs, web design, evaluation and material development.


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