Could you be a trustee?

Trustees have overall control of a charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. They make sure the charity meets its goals and responsibilities; and is fit for purpose. They may be known by other titles, such as directors, board members, governors or committee members. Whatever they are called, trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run.

Trustees don’t usually do the day-to-day running of the charity. They delegate this to the staff, led by the Chief Executive. However, in smaller charities and community groups with few or no staff, trustees may take hands-on roles too.

Most trustee boards meet four to eight times a year. Many boards have sub-committees that focus on particular areas of work or projects giving trustees the chance to get involved in specific areas of interest.

You can find out more about what’s involved in The Essential Trustee  - a guide from the Charity Commission.

Being a trustee can be very rewarding. You have the chance to support and shape the work and strategic direction of an organisation, and you can make a significant difference to a cause that matters to you. Depending on what the charity does, you will be making a difference to your local community or to society as a whole.

You may choose to get involved with a charity focused on a cause or an issue you are passionate about or because your life has been touched by the work of that voluntary organisation. It is also a great way to get involved in a community or find out more about the not-for-profit sector.

Being a trustee offers the opportunity for professional and personal development. It will give you experience of being a non-executive director, such as setting a strategic vision, influencing and negotiation, and managing risk. If you already have significant experience in these areas, it can be stimulating to use it in a different and potentially challenging context.

Trustees don’t get paid for their role but you can claim reasonable expenses, such as the fare for travelling to meetings.

Anyone over 16 can be a trustee (with a few exceptions - see Eligibility for trusteeship). Diversity is really important to the effectiveness of boards. So, all kinds of people, of all ages and characteristics are encouraged to become charity trustees. You don’t need to have sat on a board before.  You don’t need to have a specialist professional skill (although such skills are always welcomed) – your value might be your life experience and a connection with the charity’s cause.   And you don’t need to have years of experience behind you. Young trustees (18-35 year olds) are especially encouraged.

The time commitment varies depending on the charity. The only way to find out is to ask.

It is important to be realistic about how much time you can commit, and when you’re available. The charity’s needs are likely to be made up of a range of activities that may occur at different times of the day and vary across the year. Questions you should ask include:

  • How many trustee meetings are there each year?
  • How long are the meetings, where and at what time of day?
  • Are trustees expected to serve on committees?
  • What opportunities are there to spend time with the organisation observing its work?
  • What contact is there in between trustee meetings and how does this usually take place?
  • Are there any one-off events or annual occasions that trustees are expected to attend?
  • What induction and training will the organisation provide, and how much time will that take?

A selection of current vacancies in our area is listed on the right. To find out more, click on a role. If you’d like to apply for any of these roles, press the ‘register your interest’ button at the top of the page for that role. If you don’t see anything here that interests you, please get in touch as we may be able to point you towards vacancies advertised elsewhere.

If you have any questions about becoming a trustee or help with finding a suitable role please email or call us on 01273 234826


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