Trustees, usually unpaid volunteers, are ultimately responsible for everything a charity does

Charities are overseen by their boards of trustees. The board of trustees has overall responsibility and accountability for everything the charity does.

Trustees are normally unpaid volunteers who are interested in the charity’s work. They use their skills and experience to set the charity’s strategy and objectives and help it to meet them. An estimated 850,000 people in the UK volunteer for a total of 950,000 trustee board roles between them.

Trustees are ultimately responsible for ensuring that their charity complies with charity law and any other legal requirements. In charities which employ staff, the most senior staff member typically reports to the chair of the board of trustees.

Trustees usually meet formally every few months to review the charity’s work and make any major decisions about its strategy. In smaller charities, trustees may also have more hands-on involvement.

The Charity Commission has power to suspend or remove trustees or disqualify people from becoming trustees if they are found to have been responsible for, or aware of, any misconduct or mismanagement at a charity.

You can find the names of the trustees for any charity using its entry on the Charity Commission register.

Becoming a trustee

Nearly a million people in the UK volunteer as a charity trustee. Being a trustee is a rewarding way to make a difference to a cause you care about, and can be a good way to develop your own skills. Find out more about becoming a trustee.