National Trust for Historic Preservation in the US

Rating: 1 stars   3 reviews 75

Issues: Arts & Culture, Environment

Location: 1785 Massachusetts Ave Nw Washington DC 20036 USA

Mission: The National Trust for Historic Preservation, chartered by Congress in 1949, is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable. It fights to save historic buildings and the neighborhoods and landscapes they anchor.
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EIN 53-0210807
http://www.preservationnation.org
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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 1 stars  

The primary activity of The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in my view, is building its own paid membership base. Most of the top leadership is made up of professional fund developers who are not professional, degreed preservation experts. At every public event where they have a presence, their most important activity is collecting contact information that they then use to solicit memberships and donations. For instance, if you stood in line to get their really cool sunglasses at the Astrodome's 50th birthday party, you could only get those shades after turning in a contact card. That's what they do.

I do appreciate that they helped pay for the party and other things. And hey, ours is an entrepreneurial society, good for them for being effective membership builders.

But in my opinion, there is a problem with the way they manipulate public anxiety about the threat of demolition of landmarks as a way to generate memberships. Once a building is secure and redeveloped or restored their memberships and donations slow down. So they have a vested interested in perpetuating the idea that the sky is about to fall, the demolition ball is about to swing. That causes two main bad effects. One is that their drumbeat of doom and gloom makes potential investors and developers run the other way, which in turn reinforces the idea that "no one wants to invest in the property". The other is that they seem to feel the need to block, marginalize and undermine all other individuals and groups that they see as some kind of competition. I saw this up close.

When it was founded, the NTFHP was organized differently. They converted to a private corporation a few years ago. That's when the emphasis switched to primarily membership and asset development.

This should not be shocking to anyone who has had much interaction with nonprofits in general. Not that it's the rule, but there are many nonprofit organizations that operate in this way.

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Review from Guidestar
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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

The mission statement for Drayton Hall a National Trust site is centered on the preservation of the main house. Why is this site spending a large amount of money on 18th century bird prints and there is still no visitors center or museum? I was a member of "Friends of Drayton Hall" and have done research at this site. The history of he Drayton family is now presented in the main house utilizing poster boards on easels. The interpretation of slavery "African Connections" is held outside near the gift shop. This site over the past 20 years is less and less inclusive. No African American docents? Events for the wealthy who donate large amounts of money to the site? I would like to know if The National Trust has any oversight at Drayton Hall? I no longer support the National Trust as it too caters only to the very wealthy and elite in America.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Somewhat badly

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

Will you recommend this organization to others?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

I have been a member of the National Trust for Historic Presenvation for a number of years and have become very dismayed with the management of the organization. From the review of the most recent tax form it appears that this organization spends too much of its income on staff salaries and not enough on its mission of preserving historic properties. Also, as a member, I an inundated with mailings and telephone calls asking for more money. It seems to me that they spend more time and effort trying to raise funds as compared to anything else. Also, as a member I have never been asked to vote or otherwise select any of the board of trustees. In fact, I have never received any information regarding that. Beyond my yearly membership fee I would not give this organization any additional funds until I see a larger portion of revenues spent on actual presevation AND I see some member input in the governance of the National Trust.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have visted some of the trust properties and some, specifically Lyndhurst in New York, could use extra funding for the maintenance of some of the buldings on the site that have been allowed to become vitual ruins. I also receive numerous mailings and calls for more money.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

A larger portion of revenues spent on presevation. Less money spent on staff salaries. Membership input into the selection of the Board of Trustees.

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