Charting a digital roadmap for the National Trust

Strategy: Digital strategy and transformation

The National Trust has been looking after special places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for more than 120 years. The charity, which relies on income from membership fees, donations and legacies, and commercial operations, faces an exciting time of transformative technological change. They needed help clarifying their challenges, opportunities and goals for digital initiatives between 2020 and 2025.


Since 2015, The National Trust has transformed the way in which it approaches and delivers digital projects. Through initiatives such as improving digital experiences for users of the charity’s main website and innovating new digital products and services like the revamped Holiday Cottages booking platform, they’ve greatly broadened and diversified their digital footprint.

However, aware that they must continue to refine their digital offerings to thrive in an era of unprecedented change, in which a number of emerging technologies that have existed for some time are converging to change our lives, they were keen to initiate a conversation about their plans for the near future, with a renewed focus on using digital to make the Trust more accessible, relevant and contemporary.


What we did

We brought together a number of key stakeholders from the National Trust to participate in a Design Sprint process, facilitating the team’s collaboration over an intense three-day period which took in organisational context, known initiatives, and trends in the digital world to build a high-level digital road map for 2020 – 2025.

Creating a new vision for digital

Through a series of exercises which aimed to bring together the expertise, experience and contextual knowledge of key stakeholders, we helped the Trust author a single representative vision statement for the next five years, underpinned by three core values (accessible, relevant, contemporary) and a set of guiding principles for digital.

Mapping out key projects

Using the information gathered through the Design Sprint exercises, we helped the Trust put together a high-level roadmap of digital products for the period 2020-2025. This roadmap cascades down from an overarching mission into specific goals and themes for each year. Its sets out activities for supporting the current portfolio of products, for core projects and initiatives, and for innovation projects.

At a granular level, for each financial year the roadmap depicts goals, core projects and initiatives, required innovation projects, capabilities required to deliver the vision, prerequisites to achieving the vision and metrics for measuring success.

Recommending enabling activities

In addition to the roadmap itself, the Design Sprint process also output a series of considerations which are likely to impact the delivery of the roadmap as it is currently set out, a set of key questions that remained unanswered, and a set of key recommendations for activities which are required ahead of the roadmap being ratified and delivered.


How it went

The new digital roadmap provides a high-level view of the possible shape of digital projects at the National Trust between 2020 and 2025.

Over the coming months, this vision will be tested, iterated and challenged to build a robust view of the period and guide the organisation on a path of dual transformation, where equal effort goes into enabling efficiency in core operations on one hand, and innovating new digital products and services to enhance tomorrow’s visitor experience on the other.


Kjell Eldor, Product and Innovation Lead at Manifesto’s Future Foundry said:

The group worked really hard in our three days together to define a broad vision and direction of travel for the Trust, as well as the steps they need to take to get them there. Having key stakeholders together for a focused period helped us achieve this really quickly.

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