Who we are

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, MBE. We are now an international animal welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for their livelihoods.

Our mission

To transform the quality of life for donkeys, mules and people worldwide through greater understanding, collaboration and support, and by promoting lasting, mutually life-enhancing relationships.

Our values

Compassion, collaboration and creativity are The Donkey Sanctuary's values. They are the key to our journey as they represent what we stand for and what we measure ourselves against.

What we do

We have 10 sanctuaries across the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to over 7,000 donkeys and mules. We provide rescue and rehoming services to thousands of donkeys in distress across the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Within the UK, we run a Schools Education programme, transforming the perceptions and attitudes of school children with regards to the welfare and care needs of donkeys, along with highlighting the importance and positive impact of donkeys in the lives of the people who depend on them globally.

We also run Donkey-Assisted Therapy benefiting the wider communities around our sanctuaries in Sidmouth, Ivybridge, Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Italy. Our Donkey-Assisted Therapy programme helps vulnerable children and adults develop life skills by connecting with donkeys on an emotional and physical level.

Our structure

We are a UK registered charity (No. 264818). Our international headquarters and largest sanctuary is situated in Sidmouth, Devon.

We have two non-charitable trading subsidiaries, Donkey World Limited (No. 4452098) and The Hayloft (Donkey Sanctuary) Limited (No. 06807104). All net profits are donated to The Donkey Sanctuary, helping to support our vital work.

We take pride in our collaboration with local and national suppliers to enable us to fulfil our charitable vision. These include:

  • Consultancies
  • Food and beverage suppliers
  • Graphic design and print agencies
  • Media agencies
  • Travel agencies
  • Veterinary suppliers.

The Donkey Sanctuary against modern slavery

Modern slavery is a very serious crime where people are exploited for criminal gain without respect for their welfare or rights[1]. By nature it is often hidden. It can take many different forms including labour exploitation, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation. The perpetrators range from private individuals, small businesses or organised crime networks[1].

Modern slavery has no place within our organisation or any of our supply chains.

Delivering our vision sustainable and ethically

We operate numerous internal policies to ensure we achieve our charitable objectives in a sustainable, ethical and transparent manner. These policies help to protect our employees’ wellbeing and aim to reduce the risk of exploitation and allow prompt recognition and resolution if there are any concerns. Policies are available to all employees and include:

  • Code of conduct
  • Complaints policy
  • Compliance policy
  • Procurement policy
  • Safeguarding vulnerable people policy
  • Whistleblowing policy
  • Volunteering guidelines and policies.

Modern Slavery Act statement

This statement is published under section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015[2]. This statement sets out actions The Donkey Sanctuary is taking with reference to the current financial year, ending 31 December 2020. This statement is approved by our Trustee Board and CEO, and will be reviewed annually.

We are undertaking the specific steps as listed below to guard against modern slavery and human trafficking. We are committed to continue to develop and build upon these activities.

  1. Publish this statement in our Trustees’ Annual Report and on our website.
  2. Develop a position statement on The Donkey Sanctuary’s policy towards modern slavery and human trafficking issues that may affect our charity.
  3. Publish information for all staff on modern slavery and human trafficking issues and our steps to counter risks.
  4. Provide training on detection and prevention to staff most likely to come across modern slavery and human trafficking issues within their work for The Donkey Sanctuary.
  5. Add compliance with the Modern Slavery Act into our mandatory terms for new supplier agreements.
  6. Seek positive confirmation from our main suppliers of their compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.


[1] Modern slavery awareness booklet. Home Office. 2007 (cited 19 February 2020).
[2] Modern Slavery Act 2015, c.30 (cited 27 February 2020).