Becoming a trustee

What does it mean to be a trustee?

Trustees are the people who oversee everything a charity does. They set the organisation’s strategy and have overall responsibility for the charity’s work and its finances.

They’re volunteers with big responsibilities but being a trustee is a rewarding way to make a difference. You’ll develop new skills and experience, and meet a whole range of new people.

You’ll also have the chance to shape, support and contribute your ideas and knowledge to an organisation.

As many as half of charities are looking for new trustees at any one time. Some need professional expertise, such as in finance, fundraising or IT, but you don’t need to be a specialist to be valuable. Fresh perspective, commitment and some common sense are some of the most valuable things a trustee can bring.

In larger charities, trustees support and challenge the management team, whereas in smaller charities they are likely to have more hands-on involvement.

Depending on the size of the charity, trustees will usually meet formally four to eight times a year. Between meetings, you’ll be expected to read papers and keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the organisation. You may take on other commitments such as overseeing specific projects or areas of work.

Finding a trustee role

  • Do-It.org, the national volunteering database, often lists trustee vacancies
  • Trustee Bank, where members of the charity representative body NCVO members list their vacancies.
  • You could directly approach an organisation you know and express your interest in becoming a trustee.
  • You could register with a trustee recruitment agency, such as Trustees Unlimited.
  • CharityJobThird Sector jobsand Guardian jobs frequently advertise trustee roles alongside paid roles.
  • Your local volunteer centremay keep a register of local charities and voluntary organisations that are looking for trustees.
  • If your employer might be willing to support you to become a trustee – and there are lots of skills development benefits to trusteeship – you can join the Step on Board Open Programme. This is a training and matching service that will help you secure a trustee role in line with your skills, motivations and interests.