The National Gardens Scheme was founded by the Queen's Nursing Institute in 1927. In 1980 it was made an independent charity and in 2005 it was made a charitable company. It is governed by a Council of Trustees and managed by a Chief Executive leading a small team of employed staff working at a central office, to support a large team of volunteers operating on a county by county basis to source interesting, beautiful gardens and look after their openings.
Over more than eighty years the NGS has established an unrivalled reputation as the organiser of outstanding gardens being opened to visitors in order to raise funds for charity. The particular area of charitable funding has always been nursing and caring; through regular annual donations the NGS has established itself as one of the most significant charitable funders of this sector.
The NGS has a rare and simple fundraising and grant-making model. Funds are raised annually by visitors paying to attend open gardens and to enjoy home-made teas or buying plants. The totals raised dictate the amounts that are donated annually within a twelve month period.
Currently the NGS's target is for 80p of every £1 raised at gardens to be donated to the annual beneficiaries. In the great majority of cases the owners of gardens donate the total amounts raised at their open days, only very occasionally are minimal expenses deducted. Their generosity is responsible for the millions of pounds that the charity is able to donate every year.